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Wednesday June 23rd, 2021 5:30PM

4 more SEC teams win NCAA regionals; USF's run keeps going

By The Associated Press
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Four more Southeastern Conference teams earned spots in the NCAA baseball tournament super regionals Monday night, while Stanford, Dallas Baptist and the upstart South Florida Bulls also continued their seasons.

No. 1 overall seed Arkansas broke open its game against Nebraska late, got another superb pitching performance from Kevin Kopps and won 6-2 in Fayetteville for its third straight regional title.

The SEC champion Razorbacks, who haven't lost a three-game series since May 2019, won two of three against the Big Ten champion Cornhuskers in the regional.

“It’s unbelievable, honestly,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said of his team's run, “and I told the team they were amazing. They just keep finding a way and they keep fighting and we get to hang out at least another week.”

No. 7 Mississippi State finished a 3-0 run through its regional in Starkville with a 6-5 win over Campbell, and No. 12 Ole Miss bounced back from a Sunday loss to Southern Mississippi to beat the Golden Eagles 12-9 in Oxford.

LSU, a No. 3 regional seed, pushed back coach Paul Mainieri's retirement by at least another week, staving off elimination a fourth time with a 9-8 victory over No. 14 Oregon in Eugene.

Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and LSU joined Vanderbilt and Tennessee in the super regionals.

Stanford also advanced with an 11-8 win over UC Irvine. Virginia's game against No. 11 Old Dominion was postponed until Tuesday because of rain.

Dallas Baptist and South Florida were the feel-good stories of the day.

The Patriots, the No. 3 regional seed in Fort Worth, Texas, lost two starters to injuries over the weekend and were beaten by Oregon State on a walk-off homer Sunday.

They were down five runs midway through Monday's rematch before Andrew Benefield hit a go-ahead grand slam and the Patriots went on to win 8-5 and advance to its second super regional, and first since 2011. The Patriots (40-16) play Virginia or Old Dominion in the next round.

South Florida beat South Alabama 6-4 in Gainesville, Florida, to become the first No. 4 regional seed to make the super regionals since Davidson in 2017.

The Bulls have won nine of their last 11 games and now have a regional title for the first time in 14 NCAA appearances.

After first baseman Riley Hogan fielded a groundball and stepped on the bag for the last out, he pumped his fist and darted to the mound to jump on the dogpile. A gaggle of fans behind the dugout chanted “U-S-F, U-S-F” and coach Billy Mohl doffed his cap to them.

Orion Kerkering, who allowed two hits and one run in 4 1/3 innings of relief, picked up the water cooler, sneaked up behind Mohl as he was doing an on-field TV interview and gave his coach a ceremonial soaking.

“This is a special group of guys that will forever be known as the first team to get to a super regional,” Mohl said. “But as they’ll tell you, they’re not done yet. They want to be the first program to get to Omaha. And we got the leadership in the clubhouse who truly believes that.”

The Bulls (31-28) will play at No. 2 national seed Texas (45-15) in the best-of-three super regionals.

Stanford (36-15) jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first inning against UC Irvine. Tim Tawa hit a two-run homer to start the scoring, and the Cardinal went on to secure a trip to No. 8 Texas Tech.

Arkansas, which lost 5-3 to Nebraska on Sunday, loaded the bases on three walks with two outs in the eighth and scored the go-ahead run on Jake Bunz's wild pitch. Then pinch-hitter Charlie Welch hit a three-run homer to make it a four-run game.

The Razorbacks (49-11) will host North Carolina State (33-17) this weekend.

Mississippi State (43-15) is in its fifth straight super regional, the longest active streak, and will host No. 10 Notre Dame (33-11).

“The message all week to our guys was: ‘This is where you belong. This is where Mississippi State is supposed to be,'" coach Chris Lemonis said.

Ole Miss (44-20) got another big game from Tim Elko, who hit a grand slam and hit another of the Rebels' five homers. The Rebels meet No. 5 national seed Arizona (43-15) in super regionals.

LSU (38-23) scored the go-ahead run against Oregon when Ducks closer Kolby Somers balked with a runner on third. Gavin Dugas homered twice and Landon Marceaux worked out of trouble in the ninth to send the Tigers to an all-SEC super regional at No. 3 Tennessee.

“We don't want coach to retire yet,” Dugas said. “He made a joke yesterday in the huddle. He said, 'You guys won't let me quit.'”

___

More AP NCAA baseball tournament coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/college-world-series

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