Three teams advance to first super regional

June, 7, 2011

After a day full of blowout laughers, it only seemed appropriate that Monday was capped by a pair of white-knuckle knock-down, drag-outs that will go down in college baseball history for their heavy meaning.

What we learned after an extraordinary day on the diamond:

The Hot List

1. You can't kill the Cal Bears.
This team has Jason Voorhees-type resilience. This program was on a slab at the morgue back in January, but got new life with some major league donations. But tonight was the greatest Houdini act of all, as the Bears entered the ninth inning down 8-5. A few gifts from Baylor and a clutch bases-loaded, two-run single by Devon Rodriguez clinched the 9-8 win and sent the Bears into a dogpile out in the middle of the field.


2. It's impossible to choose between Dallas Baptist or Cal in the super regional round.
It's the ultimate underdogs versus the program that was nearly extinct. The Patriots have been a D-I program for just seven years and are the working definition of a Cinderella. But look at Cal: The Golden Bears have had their program nearly disbanded three times this year and are now going to the super regionals. How's that for stepping up big time?

3. Bringing your weekend aces in as closers can win your team a regional.
Augie Garrido went back to starters Cole Green and Taylor Jungmann in the later innings to effectively put the clamps on the Golden Flashes in a 5-0 win. Now, do you think UCLA noticed? The Bruins could've used No.1 overall pick Gerrit Cole or No. 3 pick Trevor Bauer to put out the fire that UC Irvine burned them with in the ninth inning Sunday night.

4. We should listen to Big East coaches.
Louisville head coach Dan McConnell told me he laughs every year at college baseball writers who see Big East teams lose early in the season and then forget about them. On April 13, UConn stood at 17-12-1, No. 90 in the RPI and fresh off a loss to Yale. Today, the Huskies completed a 28-6 surge with a 14-1 blowout win at Clemson to advance to the super regionals.

5. We discovered that college baseball is at its highest level ever.
We've seen more and more college baseball talents filling in first-round slots in the MLB draft. Of the 33 players picked in the first round of the 2011 draft, 19 came from the college ranks -- and nearly all of them Division I players.

Regional superlatives

Inning of the Day: The first inning.
You know how important it is to get on the board first? In five of the six games that ended today, Texas, UConn, South Carolina, Dallas Baptist and Cal all scored first in the opening frame and went on to win the regional. The sixth team, Florida State, scored the first three runs of the game with Alabama in the second inning before going on to win.

Tour de force: Mike McGee, Florida State.
It took two days, but McGee was a two-way Tide-killer in the 11-1 rout of Alabama. He threw the first five innings, giving up three hits and one earned run to get the win. Offensively, he was 3-for-5 with three doubles and a team-high three RBIs.

Tour de force II: Chris Haney, Dallas Baptist
The emotionally charged closer for the Patriots shut down all five batters he faced in DBU's 11-9 win versus Oral Roberts. Haney picked up Saves 13, 14 and 15 in Fort Worth this weekend, tossing 3.1 innings, striking out six and giving up just one hit.

Weather glitch award: College Station Regional
Monday saw massive thunderstorms roll through the Brazos Valley and push Game 7 of the College Station finale between Texas A&M and Arizona to Tuesday. The winner of Tuesday's game will take on Florida State on Saturday.

The comeback kids

Friday: Lost to Coastal Carolina 13-1.
Since then: Outscored opponents 46-15 in four wins.

Friday: Lost to Baylor 6-4.
Since then: Came from behind three times in four games, including Monday's 6-1 deficit to Baylor, which they won in the ninth.

The super-new awards

Three teams will advance to the super regionals for the first time.

• Connecticut: The Huskies have made 16 Big Dances in all, but this is just their second NCAA tournament appearance since 1994.

• Dallas Baptist: In seven seasons of D-I play, this is only the second NCAA appearance for the Pats. They went 0-2 in 2008 in the Houston Regional.

• California: This is the 12th appearance in the NCAA tournament for the Bears. Prior to this weekend, they had won just two tournament games since their 1992 CWS appearance.

Eric Sorenson, who runs College Baseball Today, and Walter Villa are regular contributors to ESPN's college baseball coverage. Follow Eric on Twitter: @stitch_head

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