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4 more teams win NCAA regional titles, head to next round

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KMIZ

By ERIC OLSON
AP Sports Writer

Four of the eight matchups for the NCAA baseball super regionals were set Monday night after Oregon State, East Carolina, Louisville and Auburn wrapped up regional titles.

The best-of-three super regionals begin Friday and Saturday and will determine the field for the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, beginning June 17.

The matchups so far: Notre Dame (38-14) at No. 1 national seed Tennessee (56-7), Auburn (40-19) at No. 3 Oregon State (47-16), Louisville (41-19-1) at No. 5 Texas A&M (40-18) and Texas (45-19) at No. 8 East Carolina (45-19).

The rest of the pairings will be known after regional finals late Monday.

Matthew Gretler hit a tiebreaking homer for Oregon State in the seventh inning, and No. 1 starter Cooper Hjerpe pitched the last two innings in his first relief appearance to secure a 7-6 victory over Vanderbilt.

“I felt good, and I told them if you need me, I’m ready,” said Hjerpe, who was working on two days’ rest after throwing 100 pitches over 6 2/3 innings Friday.

Auburn won a regional on its home field for the first time since 1999, beating UCLA 11-4 in the completion of a game suspended Sunday night because of rain.

Cameron Masterman’s tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning sent Louisville to an 11-9 victory over Michigan and into the super regionals for the seventh time since 2013.

East Carolina’s eight-run seventh inning broke open a 13-2 victory over Coastal Carolina.

Southern Mississippi is back in the super regionals for the first time since 2009 after taking the lead in the ninth on a sacrifice fly to beat LSU 8-7.

RUNS APLENTY

Auburn became the first team in SEC history to score at least 50 runs in its first three tournament games. The Tigers outscored their opponents 51-18 and hit 12 doubles and 11 homers.

“Our offense was the No. 1 key. No. 2 was our three starting pitchers,” coach Butch Thompson said. “It’s nice when you’re at this stage and you play your best baseball of the year, and I thought we did that.”

A MOUNTAIN TOO HIGH?

East Carolina is in its third straight super regional and looking to reach its first College World Series. The Pirates have played in the tournament 31 times, most of any NCAA team that’s never advanced to Omaha.

The Pirates are 1-12 in their six super-regional appearances, and they mustered a combined two runs over four games in the previous two.

LET’S PLAY HOCKEY

Dan McDonnell has been using an unusual coaching ploy to motivate his Louisville team. Instead of talking baseball with his players, he talks hockey.

The tournament coincides with the NHL postseason, and McDonnell preaches to his players about competing with the same intensity as a hockey team in a Game 7 situation.

It must have worked. The Cardinals fought off elimination three times on their home field. After they wrapped up an 11-9 win over Michigan on Monday, McDonnell came out of the dugout carrying a hockey jersey.

“It’s a Lamar Jackson hockey jersey,” he said, referring to the Baltimore Ravens quarterback who played at Louisville. “I am not sure where we got it, but it’s pretty cool.”

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