Oregon pulled off the biggest comeback in the history of super regionals to move within a win of reaching the College World Series for the first time in 69 years, and Duke edged closer to its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament’s final eight in 62 years.
No. 2 national seed Florida and TCU also won their super regional openers Friday and are one victory away from clinching spots in the CWS beginning next week in Omaha, Nebraska.
Since the tournament went to its current format in 1999, the winner of a super regional opener advanced to the CWS 78% of the time (144 of 182).
Drew Conley hit a walk-off single to right in the ninth inning for Oregon, which erased an 8-0, third-inning deficit and beat tournament darling Oral Roberts 9-8. Before Friday, teams that trailed by eight runs or more in a super regional game were 0-96.
This wasn’t even the Ducks’ biggest comeback of the season. They trailed Arizona 10-0 after two innings on April 1 and rallied to win 13-11. Oregon won its 10th straight game and ended Oral Roberts’ 21-game streak, which had been the longest in the country.
Oregon will head to the CWS for the first time since 1954 if it can beat the Golden Eagles again Saturday.
Oral Roberts was a No. 4 regional seed as the automatic qualifier from the Summit League, which ranked 28th out of 30 conferences in RPI. The Eagles won three straight in Stillwater, Oklahoma, last week. Now they must beat Oregon twice to become the lowest seed to reach the CWS since Stony Brook in 2012.
The Blue Devils opened their best-of-three super regional with a 5-4 win at No. 7 national seed Virginia. Florida defeated South Carolina 5-4 in Gainesville and TCU beat No. 14 Indiana State 4-1 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Virginia had entered Friday 35-4 at home, but two of those losses were to Duke in an Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season series.
Duke went ahead 5-4 in the eighth inning and secured the win when left fielder Tyler Albright caught Jake Gelof’s deep fly to the wall to end the game. It was the first time in 46 games that Virginia had lost when tied or leading after the sixth inning.
Duke’s only CWS appearances were in 1952, 1953 and 1961. This is the Blue Devils’ third super regional since 2018. Duke won its 2019 opener against Vanderbilt but lost the next two games.
Florida, which was swept in a Southeastern Conference series at South Carolina in April, got homers from Josh Rivera, BT Riopelle and Tyler Shelnut in its 5-4 win. Brandon Neely got the final out after Will McGillis homered to pull the Gamecocks within a run in the ninth.
TCU is playing its best ball of the season as it goes for a sixth CWS since 2010, and first under second-year coach Kirk Saarloos. The Horned Frogs are 18-2 since May 1.
No. 14 Indiana State had come from behind in each of its three regional wins. The loss was the Sycamores’ fifth in 42 games.
The four other super regionals open Saturday: No. 16 seed Alabama (43-19) at No. 1 Wake Forest (50-10); Texas (41-20) at No. 8 Stanford (42-17); No. 12 Kentucky (40-19) at No. 5 LSU (46-15); and Tennessee (41-19) at Southern Mississippi (45-18).
TCU announced the attendance at a record 8,812 at Lupton Stadium, quite a feat for a venue with a listed seating capacity of 4,500. The overflow crowd was along the right-field line, outside the right-field fence and on the outfield berm.
Florida drew 8,439 to Condron Family Ballpark, the largest crowd ever at an on-campus baseball stadium in the state of Florida.
THAT MIGHT LEAVE A MARK
South Carolina pitcher James Hicks made one of the defensive plays of the day when Wyatt Langford’s hard comebacker hit him in the side. With a runner trying to score from third, Hicks gathered himself and threw Langford out at first to end the inning and keep the game tied 3-all in the fifth.
DUKE GETS SCARE
Duke got a scare in the eighth inning of its game when Virginia catcher Kyle Teel’s pickoff throw hit Luke Storm in the face as he dived back to first base.
Storm is a right-handed batter, so the protective ear flap is on the left side of his helmet. He was trying to get back to the bag after taking a big lead, and Teel’s throw hit him on the right side of his face.
The athletic trainer and coach Chris Pollard tended to Storm, and he stayed in the game.
AROUND THE HORN
TCU is 5-0 when winning Game 1 of a super regional. … Freshman James Tallon set the Duke school record with his 12th save. … Jonah Cox’s bunt single in the first inning for Oral Roberts extended his hitting streak to 45 games, the sixth-longest in Division I history.
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