A&M baseball

Texas A&M’s Jordan Thompson celebrates his two-run home run with teammates against Oral Roberts in the regional round. The Aggies and the Texas Longhorns are both now in the Super Regionals this weekend.

Super regionals are the next stop on the NCAA baseball tournament’s Road to Omaha.

Four of the best-of-three series are Friday through Sunday: Notre Dame (38-14) at No. 1 national seed Tennessee (56-7), No. 9 Texas (45-19) at No. 8 East Carolina (45-19), No. 12 Louisville (42-19-1) at No. 5 Texas A&M (40-18), Oklahoma (40-21) at No. 4 Virginia Tech (44-12).

The four series Saturday through Monday: UConn (49-14) at No. 2 Stanford (45-15), Arkansas (41-19) at No. 10 North Carolina (42-20), Mississippi (35-22) at No. 11 Southern Mississippi (47-17), No. 14 Auburn (40-19) at No. 3 Oregon State (47-16).

The eight winners advance to the College World Series in Omaha starting June 17.

The East Carolina-Texas series started on Friday and continues today at 11 a.m., and both of those games were to be broadcast on ESPN2. The third game, if necessary, would be played on Sunday, at a time and on a network to be determined.

The Louisville-A&M series was to begin Friday night on ESPNU. Game two will be today at 2 p.m. on ESPN2, and game three, if it’s needed, will be Sunday, again on one of the ESPN networks at a time to be determined.

You like offense?: The 16 super regional teams averaged 9.3 runs per game per team, and six of them scored at least 20 runs in a game. Auburn scored 17 runs per game and Virginia Tech 15.3.

Overall, the regional round was the highest-scoring since 1999 at 7.1 runs per game per team. Notre Dame was on the low end at 3.7 after outscoring three regional opponents 50-5 last year.

The long ball continues to be in fashion. North Carolina slugged 14 home runs in five games, Arkansas 12 in four games and Auburn 11 in three games.

The 349 home runs in 105 regional games were a record. The regional average of 1.66 per game per team was up 9% from last year’s 1.52 and up 28% from 1.30 in 2019. There was no tournament in 2020 because of the pandemic.

You like strikeouts?: Ole Miss pitchers averaged 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings in regionals and the tournament field’s overall rate was a record 8.86. The trend has been for strikeouts to go up in super regionals and the CWS.

Walks are up, too. There were 4.54 per nine innings, most since at least 2015. Arkansas allowed 6.57.

Vols do it all: Barring a flameout, any conversation about most dominant college baseball teams in history must include Tennessee, which is the first team to lead the nation in both home runs (150) and ERA (2.38).

The Volunteers’ 56-7 record gives them a winning percentage (.889) on track to be highest since Oregon State went 56-6 (.903) in 2017. Outstanding pitching carried the Beavers that season but their offensive numbers were modest.

Tennessee’s homer total is highest since LSU hit 157 in 1998 and ranks sixth all-time. Nine players have double-digit homers. The Vols are the only team this season with an ERA under 3.00, and they also lead the nation in several other pitching categories.

Been there, done that: Arkansas’ four straight super regional appearances lead the nation. East Carolina, Ole Miss and Stanford are in supers for a third time in a row.

Texas’ winning percentage of .729 in regionals and super regionals is best in the field and second all-time among teams that have played a minimum of 25 such games.

Game one means a lot: The team that wins game one of its super regional has advanced to the CWS 80 percent of the time (140 of 176) since the tournament went to its current format in 1999. Eleven of the last 12 national champions won their super regional openers.

East Carolina curse?: East Carolina holds the dubious distinction of having made the most NCAA Tournament appearances (31) without making a CWS. Coach Cliff Godwin didn’t bite Thursday when a reporter mentioned how much a breakthrough would mean to the program.

The Pirates are 1-12 all-time in super regionals with six straight losses since Godwin won his super regional opener in 2016.

East Carolina got out to a 14-13 start before running off to the American Athletic Conference regular-season title by six games and then sweeping through the league tournament.

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Sports editor

Mitch Lucas is the sports editor for the Kilgore News Herald, and has been since June 1, 2002.

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