Davidson College has played baseball for 115 years, generally with little success. The Wildcats made it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time this year, and they made a memorable debut Friday.
The No. 4 seed in the Chapel Hill Regional, Davidson pulled a huge upset by beating No. 2 national seed North Carolina 8-4.
Two other No. 4 regional seeds also won. Tennessee Tech beat Florida State 3-1 in Tallahassee and Iowa knocked off host Houston 6-3.
North Carolina became the highest national seed to lose its regional opener since a No. 2 Florida lost to College of Charleston in 2014. The Gators were eliminated the next day.
College of Charleston, however, was in the tournament for the sixth time back in 2014. Davidson had never won a baseball title of any kind before beating VCU in the Atlantic 10 final on Sunday, and the Wildcats’ all-time record is more than 600 games under .500.
“We’re playing with house money. That’s our feeling right now,” said Durin O’Linger, who allowed three runs in six innings. “We’re just going out there and having fun, staying loose. If we win, we win, and we’re just hoping to extend the ride as long as we can.”
Davidson rocked ACC pitcher of the year J.B. Bukauskas, led 8-0 after five innings and moved to a winners’ bracket game Saturday against Florida Gulf Coast, the other team that is in the national tournament for the first time. FGSU beat Michigan 10-6, putting the Wolverines into an elimination game against North Carolina.
Davidson and North Carolina have met every year since Mike Fox began coaching the Tar Heels. They had won 18 of 19 against Davidson under Fox before Friday. Carolina won this year’s regular-season meeting 7-6 in 10 innings.
A look around the country:
In addition to North Carolina losing, No. 8 Stanford dropped its second-round game to Cal State Fullerton 4-1. No. 1 Oregon State, No. 3 Florida, No. 4 LSU, No. 5 Texas Tech and No. 7 Louisville won their openers. No. 6 TCU was rained out.
Southeastern Conference teams went 7-1 and the Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12 each opened 4-2. The Big Ten got off to 1-4 start, with Iowa posting the only win. The Pac-12 was 1-3 Friday, its only win being Oregon State’s 8-2 victory over Holy Cross.
GAME OF THE DAY
Missouri State 6, Oklahoma State 5, in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Jeremy Eierman’s second homer of the game was a two-run shot in the ninth for a walk-off win. Oklahoma State had taken a 5-4 lead in the top half on a wild pitch. With one man on and two outs in the bottom half, Eierman launched a 2-1 pitch from Trey Cobb far over the right-field fence.
WATCH YOUR STEP
Houston thought it tied its game against Iowa 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth when Lael Lockhart Jr. drove a ball into the left-center gap for what looked to be a double scoring Joe Davis from second.
Iowa appealed that Lockhart’s left foot missed the bag as he rounded first base. Pitcher Kyle Shimp tossed the ball to Jake Adams, Lockhart was called out and the run was taken down.
GRAND SLAM, BUT …
Three players hit grand slams, but their teams lost.
Rob Calabrese of Illinois-Chicago went deep to give his team a 6-1 lead over Southern Mississippi in the fifth, but the Golden Eagles came back to win 8-7. Radford’s Adam Whitacre had a slam and a triple and drove in all of his team’s runs in an 11-6 loss to Louisville. Aaron Dodson connected to put Baylor up 4-2 in the third, but the Bears lost 8-5 to Texas A&M.
MARVELOUS ON MOUND
– South Alabama workhorse Randy Bell pitched his second complete game of the season, holding Mississippi State to six hits in a 6-3 win.
– Keegan Thompson of Auburn went eight innings to match his season high and allowed four hits and struck out nine in a 7-4 win over UCF.
– Yale’s Scott Politz threw his seventh complete game of the season in a 5-1 win over Nebraska but only his second in a game that went nine innings. The Ivy League plays seven-inning doubleheaders.
– Oklahoma State’s Garrett Benge hit for the cycle in the loss to Missouri State. He doubled in the first, homered in the fourth, singled in the seventh and tripled in the ninth.
– West Virginia, in the tournament for the first time since 1996, got two homers apiece from Jimmy Galusky and Kyle Davis against Maryland.
– Vanderbilt’s Will Toffey has been torrid since missing five games in May because of a shoulder injury. He went 4 for 5 with a double, home run and three RBIs against St. John’s. He’s 19 for 34 (.559) with four homers, 13 runs and 15 RBIs over his last seven games.
– Freshman Will Holland, who came in batting .210 out of the 9-hole for Auburn, doubled and hit a three-run homer against UCF. It was his first homer since March 17.