Anyone else completely exhausted after NCAA Baseball Tournament Regionals?
From Sunken Diamond and College Park to the Gulf of Mexico and Rocky Top, there were so many wild, wacky, and wonderful regional games that it was almost too much for our baseball brains to process. Thank goodness for ESPN+ and Squeeze Play, though by the time we hit the wee hours of Monday night/Tuesday morning, analysts Mike Rooney and Chris Burke looked like they’d gone four straight days getting yelled at by North Carolina head coach Scott Forbes. Sorry, heels – too soon?
It’s never too early to look back on what we just saw, especially when there was too much to see all at once. So, without further ado, here are the top 10 NCAA Regionals superlatives.
Best A-Rod Impersonation at A-Rod Field: Yohandy Morales, 3B, Miami
The man they call Yo Yo went deep three times at Alex Rodriguez Park in Miami in Game 1 against Canisius, and his team needed the home runs after falling three points behind the Golden Griffins. Morales rounded the Coral Gables bases to chants of “Yo Yo! Yo Yo!” though for most of the weekend he could have made those rounds in a “Row Row” like rowboat because Tropical Storm Alex kept raining down on his parades. The Miami native became just the fourth player in legendary Canes baseball history to hit three home runs in a postseason game, joining Scott Lawson (2010), Kevin Brown (2001) and Lale Esquivel ( 1999). By the way, you’re going to hear a lot about that 1999 team over the next few weeks. He is the most recent No. 1 seed overall to win the College World Series, a streak Tennessee is trying to end. Speaking of Tennessee, Yo Yo had a Flight-type swagger as he circled the bases on Saturday. Unfortunately, his team’s season ended on Sunday.
Yohandy Morales became just the 𝐅𝐎𝐔𝐑𝐓𝐇 Hurricane of all time with three homers in a postseason game, joining Lale Esquivel (’99), Kevin Brown (’01) and Scott Lawson (’10). pic.twitter.com/9Biw6QvYXm
— Baseball Canes (@CanesBaseball) June 5, 2022
Best Tribute to Those Leaving: Air Force Head Coach Mike Kazlausky
The Falcons made the regional final in Austin against the host Texas Longhorns and ended their season on Sunday afternoon, but Coach Kaz wanted to make sure his outgoing seniors got their due, so he brought the eight to the post-match press conference. All will immediately become active military personnel, ranging from ballplayers to second lieutenants.
The Air Force brought all of its lieutenants to postgame press conferences following its season-ending loss to Texas. pic.twitter.com/yF1bRsUXDI
— Danny Davis (@aasdanny) June 6, 2022
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAABaseball) June 6, 2022
Best football team disguised as a baseball team: Oklahoma State
The Cowboys played in two playoff games on Sunday and fell behind in both, losing 12-0 (!!!) to Missouri State in the afternoon and 8-7 to Arkansas on Sunday night. The Pokes won both games, 29-15 and 14-10. That’s 43 points scored in one day. Last fall, the Oklahoma State football team went 12-2 and topped 43 points in a single day just twice. If you include the Cowboys’ Saturday loss to Arkansas, they scored 55 points in two days, nearly half of the 115 total points scored by the four teams Saturday and Sunday. While they scored only three points Monday night, they were eliminated by Arkansas. Yet on Sunday, you must have thought that somewhere Pete Incaviglia stopped felling trees with his bare hands and pulling trucks with his teeth to stare at the Stillwater scores and smiled.
— OSU Cowboy Baseball (@OSUBaseball) June 6, 2022
Best loss in history: East Carolina
The Pirates are the best college baseball program to ever make a trip to Omaha. ECU is making its 32nd NCAA playoff appearance and 17th this century, including seven trips to super regionals since 2001, but has no College World Series appearances to show for. On Sunday, the Pirates suffered their first loss in 21 games, but bounced back for a 13-4 win over Coastal Carolina on Monday. Now they’re hosting Texas in Greenville, North Carolina, where they’re already teaching kids how to salute the Horns…down.
— Ashley Williams (@druminator228) June 6, 2022
Best robbery: Vance Honeycutt, CF, North Carolina
The Diamond Heels had big problems against the Georgia Bulldogs in the Chapel Hill area, clinging to a 6-5 lead late in the ninth. It was then that freshman center fielder Vance Honeycutt, whose name has been most resounding in North Carolina, saved the day and possibly the season with a perfectly timed jump and snatch from a potential home run by Georgia’s Joshua McAllister.
HOLY RH VOL!! 😱
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAABaseball) June 5, 2022
Best baseball thing we’ve never seen before: Jorge Corona, C, Louisiana Tech
The story of what Louisiana Tech had to overcome over the past four years to become an NCAA Tournament participant is truly inspiring, from a 2019 tornado that destroyed their ballpark to a promising season cut short by COVID-19. one year later. In the opener of the Bulldogs tournament in Austin, sophomore Jorge Corona hit two homers, one of which was a grand slam inside the park. Yes, you read that right. Your eyes didn’t deceive you, unlike those of Dallas center fielder Baptist.
GRAND SALAMI TIME… Inside the park ‼️
— Diamond Dogs (@LATechBSB) June 4, 2022
Best use of junk food: Texas A&M and Pringles
Perhaps the best part of the playoffs is the rise of all the weird and lucky mascots that appear in the dugout, from Arizona’s taco hat to Tennessee’s fur coat and “Daddy Hat.” But the most delicious lucky charm is in College Station. And no, it’s not Lucky Charms. The Aggies had long been frustrated with their neighbors at TCU, who seemed to repeatedly prevent A&M from achieving playoff glory. So last year they hired longtime Horned Frogs head coach Jim Schlossnagle. Speaking to his new team, Coach Schloss said the shots were like Pringles chips, “once you get one shot, you want another and another.” His team turned that into a rallying cry, carrying cans of Pringles everywhere they went, getting Pringles T-shirts to wear under their jerseys, and munching on Pringles in the dugout. After beating – you guessed it, TCU – to supers, they got a tweet from – you guessed it, Pringles – and maybe there will be some crunchy NIL deals in the future. ‘A&M. At the very least, they get free boxes of chips.
👀 https://t.co/xFifH66D8m pic.twitter.com/T2wHh4g4we
—Texas A&M Baseball (@AggieBaseball) June 6, 2022
Best way to get banned from Michigan State forever: This Louisville game second call
After taking a 7-2 lead in the first inning in Monday’s regional final against Michigan, Louisville fell behind by two and was stuck until the eighth inning. Then there was a bang-bang play at second base. The Cardinals’ Jack Payton snatched a ball from the left wall and came in second just as the Michigan shortstop slipped the tag on base. Payton was rated as safe, and on video examination it appeared that Payton’s fingers were marked, causing them to move visibly. However, the call held. Had Payton been taken out, the inning would have ended with a 9-7 lead over Michigan. Instead, Louisville’s Levi Usher tied the game with a two-run single and Cameron Masterman followed by smashing a two-run homer to take home the deciding run.
I have no idea how even after review the runner was found to be safe pic.twitter.com/dCvlvWpShZ
—Stephen Schoch (@bigdonkey47) June 6, 2022
Best summary of a program: Texas State pitches Tristan Stivors
I haven’t been shy about my crush on the state of Texas in 2022, and why should I be? They’re a serious bunch of mullet-wearing, mustachioed, hitting dudes for a school making just their sixth NCAA appearance and their first since 2011. The Bobcats have flirted with the top 10 all year, thanks in large stoppage party closer to Tristan Stivors, the national saves leader with 18. But on Monday night, TSU head coach Steven Tout took Stivors to the Stanford mound as a starter in a final playoff game regional. It was the first start for the Castroville, Texas native since pitching for the New Mexico Junior College Thunderbirds … in March 2019. And he wears No. 13. He had seven valiant innings with 9 K and gave up only one run, via a second-run solo homer. But, alas, that was not enough…
I had a crush on a very deadpan man @TxStateBobcats baseball all season. Now, in the regional finals, they start the national saves leader, who hasn’t started a game since college in 2019 and wears number 13. It only makes my love for them stronger. #RouteToOmaha pic.twitter.com/cNbQQQWC8R
— Ryan McGee (@ESPNMcGee) June 7, 2022
Best walk-off: Night, Sunken Diamond Night
There was no shortage of nominees in this category. Central Michigan vs. Liberty, South Mississippi’s 10th inning single to defeat Kennesaw State in the perpetually bonkers Hattiesburg region, Virginia’s Coastal Carolina closing and Maryland’s Nick Lorusso with his 11th inning against the wall that defeated UConn and held home-court elimination for the Terps on Sunday night. But in the end, the biggest hit was the all-round ending hit, Stanford’s Trevor Haskins and his #Pac12AfterDark Single Heard’ Round Palo Alto knocking out Texas State in the final game of regionals.
THIS. JUST. PAST.
— Stanford Baseball (@StanfordBSB) June 7, 2022