North Carolina and Vanderbilt were cruising along in the NCAA baseball tournament, looking every bit like the top two national seeds.
Now, they’re suddenly facing elimination.
North Carolina, No. 1 overall, was stunned by Florida Atlantic 3-2 on Sunday night when Ricky Santiago hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning. The teams meet Monday night to determine the regional title.
"This club has pretty much led themselves all year," UNC coach Mike Fox said. "I trust my team. We’ve got some good leaders in there. I’m sure they’re not very happy. We do have another game to play, so it’ll be up to them and us and everybody to shake this one off and come into the ballpark tomorrow and be ready to play."
Santiago’s homer was the first hit for the second-seeded Owls (42-21) and one of three all night. But the Tar Heels (54-9), while managing 12 hits, left 15 runners on base and repeatedly came up empty in key moments.
The Tar Heels, who started 39-2 and won the Atlantic Coast Conference title, must pick themselves up from a regional loss that looked similar to last year’s loss to St. John’s on a walkoff homer.
UNC hasn’t lost consecutive games all season.
Florida Atlantic beat Towson 6-5 in an elimination game earlier Sunday.
In the Nashville regional, Josh Heddinger pitched a two-hitter and Georgia Tech beat No. 2 overall seed Vanderbilt 5-0 to force a rematch Monday for the Nashville regional title.
The Yellow Jackets pulled away with three runs in the sixth, including a two-run home run by Mitch Earnest. Georgia Tech (37-26) has won three straight — including beating Illinois 6-3 earlier in an elimination game — after losing its NCAA tournament opener.
The Commodores (53-10) were shut out for just the second time this season.
Oregon, the No. 8 national seed, staved off elimination by winning twice Sunday, beating San Francisco 6-1 and Rice 11-0. Oregon and Rice will meet again Monday, with the winner advancing to the super regionals.
Four national seeds — No. 3 Oregon State, No. 4 LSU, No. 6 Virginia and No. 7 Florida State — all advanced with regional-clinching victories.
Cal State Fullerton, the No. 5 national seed, advanced to a super regional matchup against UCLA after beating Arizona State 6-1 late Sunday.
Ryon Healy had two doubles and a home run to lead Oregon’s 15-hit attack and the Ducks staved off elimination for the second time with an 11-0 victory against Rice.
Healy went 4 for 4 with four RBIs and two runs for the Ducks (48-15), who got eight extra-base hits off a combined five Rice pitchers.
Oregon kept its season alive earlier by beating San Francisco as Tyler Baumgartner hit a home run and scored three runs to back freshman pitcher Cole Irvin’s sensational postseason debut. Irvin (12-3) gave up a leadoff homer to Justin Maffei in the top of the first inning, then settled down to pitch a six-hitter with nine strikeouts and no walks against the Dons (35-24).
Oregon State’s Ben Wetzler threw a four-hitter with 10 strikeouts and the Beavers defeated Texas A&M 6-1 to win the Corvallis regional.
Wetzler (8-1) gave up a run-scoring triple to Cole Lankford in the first inning against Texas A&M (34-29), then settled down and kept the Aggies off balance the rest of the day, retiring 26 of the next 31 batters.
Danny Hayes drove in three runs on two hits for Oregon State (48-10).
In the earlier elimination game, Mikey Reynolds had three hits and scored two runs as Texas A&M downed UC Santa Barbara 5-4 to knock out the Gauchos (35-25).
BATON ROUGE REGIONAL
Alex Bregman drove in two runs on three hits, including a solo home run, and LSU won the Baton Rouge regional with a 5-1 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette.
LSU senior Brent Bonvillain (3-0) yielded one run on three hits through 5 1-3 innings for the Tigers (55-9). Raph Rhymes had three hits, including a two-run single in the sixth that gave the Tigers a 4-1 lead against ULL (43-20).
Louisiana-Lafayette starter Chad Boutte (8-4) went 5 2-3 innings, making his second start of the day after pitching the first 1 2-3 innings of ULL’s victory that eliminated Sam Houston State (38-22) on Sunday afternoon.
Derek Fisher emerged from an NCAA tournament slump with two hits and three RBIs and Virginia advanced to the super regionals for the fourth time in five years with an 11-3 victory against Elon.
Fisher, a sophomore, was 0 for 23 in his career in the tournament before he hit a game-tying, two-run single in the third inning. He added an RBI single in the fourth as the Cavaliers (50-10) scored eight times over two innings against Elon (34-30).
Elon stayed alive earlier in the day when Alex Swim capped a three-run rally with a tiebreaking, two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning of a 6-4 victory against UNC-Wilmington (38-33).
Brett Knief’s grand slam capped a seven-run fourth inning that led Florida State to an 11-4 win over Troy on Sunday, putting the Seminoles in the super regionals of the NCAA tournament for the sixth consecutive year — the longest active streak in the nation.
The Seminoles (47-15) have won 19 straight regional games since 2008.
Troy (42-20) eliminated Alabama 9-8 earlier Sunday in the double-elimination tourney with a four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth that was capped when Brandon Brown walked with the bases loaded.
Hector Lorenzana had two hits and three RBIs to help Oklahoma win the NCAA Blacksburg regional title with a 10-4 victory over Virginia Tech.
The Sooners (43-19) advanced to next week’s super regional against LSU. The season ended for regional host Virginia Tech (40-22).
The Hokies forced the late game by edging Connecticut 3-1 in an elimination game. Virginia Tech got a game-ending double play to seal it after Connecticut (35-28) had two runners on and just one out.
Tarran Senay homered and drove in five runs and North Carolina State earned a spot in the NCAA super regionals by routing William & Mary 9-2.
Senay hit a three-run homer in the first and a two-run single in the eighth to lead the top-seeded Wolfpack (47-14). They beat the third-seeded Tribe (39-24) for the second straight night while finishing the Raleigh regional 3-0.
Earlier Sunday, Jackson Shaver drove in two runs and William & Mary beat Mississippi 4-1, eliminating the Rebels (38-24). Ryan Lindemuth and Ryan Hissey each had RBIs for the Tribe.
The South Carolina-Liberty game at the NCAA tournament’s Columbia regional was suspended by rain and was scheduled to resume Monday afternoon.
The Gamecocks (41-18) held a 4-2 lead on the Flames (36-28) midway through the fifth inning. Should Liberty come back and win, the teams would play Monday night for the regional crown. South Carolina holds a 26-game home win streak in tournament games dating to 2002.
Liberty eliminated Clemson (40-22) earlier as Trey Lambert gave up one run in 7 2-3 innings and Bryan Aanderud had a two-run single among his four hits in a 3-1 victory.
Coco Johnson drove in three runs and Louisville scored five times in the first four innings to cruise past Oklahoma State 12-3 and advance to the super regionals.
With the win, the Cardinals (49-12) reached the super regionals for the third time in school history, and first since 2009. All three super regional appearances have come under seventh-year coach Dan McDonnell.
The Cardinals added six runs in the top of the eighth to seal the win against the Cowboys (41-19).
Oklahoma State took advantage of two Miami errors in the elimination game earlier Sunday and beat the Hurricanes (37-25) 7-1.
Kyle Schwarber homered, Justin Cureton made a critical leaping catch and Indiana earned its first regional title by beating Austin Peay for the second consecutive night, winning 6-1.
The Hoosiers (46-14) will play Florida State in next week’s super regional. Indiana got three runs in the first inning against Austin Peay (47-14) on Schwarber’s solo shot to right field and RBI singles by Michael Basil and Casey Smith.
Michael Davis hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning to help Austin Peay beat Valparaiso 5-4 to reach the game against Indiana.
Ethan McKinzie threw a four-hitter in just his third start of the season to lead Central Arkansas over Mississippi State for a 5-2 victory.
Central Arkansas (42-21) forced a winner-take-all rematch Monday for the Starkville regional title.
Mississippi State (45-18) tied the game 2-2 in the sixth on Sam Frost’s run-scoring single, but Central Arkansas responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning.
In the earlier game, Conner Gilmore threw a four-hit shutout to lead Central Arkansas to a 3-0 victory over South Alabama (43-20).
Kansas State won its first NCAA regional title in school history, scoring two runs on a pair of wild pitches in the same at-bat to edge Arkansas 4-3.
Arkansas pitcher Jalen Beeks threw a wild pitch on the second pitch of an attempted intentional walk to Kansas State’s Jared King in the seventh inning, allowing Ross Kivett to score from third. Two pitches later, on ball four, Beeks’ second wild pitch brought in Tanner Witt from third and gave the Wildcats (44-17) the lead against the Razorbacks (39-22).
Earlier, Brett McAfee had two doubles and drove in three runs as Arkansas defeated Bryant 12-3, eliminating the Bulldogs (45-18-1).
Thomas Eshelman pitched eight dominant innings and Cal State Fullerton advanced to the super regional with a 6-1 victory over Arizona State.
The Titans (51-8) will host UCLA in their first super regional appearance since 2010, when they also faced UCLA.
Eshelman (12-2) was the second Titans freshman right-hander to shut down the Sun Devils (37-22-1) in as many nights after Justin Garza threw 8 1-3 shutout innings in Fullerton’s 1-0 win over ASU on Saturday.
The Titans scored five times in the first two innings against ASU left-hander Adam McCreery (2-4), who walked six of the 12 batters he faced and hit another and was pulled after only 1 1-3 innings.
Earlier, Kasey Coffman homered on the first pitch of the game and scored three times as Arizona State beat Columbia 10-5 to eliminate the Lions.
Columbia (28-21) issued five walks and hit two batters to help the Sun Devils.
LOS ANGELES REGIONAL
Grant Watson allowed one hit over seven innings to lead No. 1 seeded UCLA to the regional title with a 6-0 victory over San Diego.
The Bruins (42-17) advanced to a super regional matchup against Cal State Fullerton beginning Friday.
Earlier, Connor Joe, Austin Green and Troy Conyers each drove in two runs to lift San Diego (37-25) to an 8-5 victory over Cal Poly in an elimination game.
The Associated Press