After two thrilling rallies highlighted day 1 of the College World Series, day 2 was a little more ordinary, as both higher seeded teams – #7 Louisville and #3 Florida – held off their opponents – unseeded Texas A&M and #6 TCU respectively – to advance to a winner’s bracket matchup. The Aggies and Horned Frogs will meet in an effort to stay alive on Tuesday.
Louisville 8 Texas A&M 4
After a crazy day one of the College World Series, Louisville restored some semblance of order to the tournament by recording a relatively ordinary and expected 8-4 victory over the Aggies, the lowest seeded team in the field. Ranked seventh in the country but listed as the betting favorites to take home the title, the Cardinals scored five times in the second inning, and held off Texas A&M, who would cut the deficit to 5-4 before succumbing in the later innings. Colby Fitch, Devin Hairston, and Colin Lyman all tallied a pair of hits for the Cardinals, while Nick Choruby picked up two for the Aggies and Blake Kopetsky added a trio of base knocks. Both starters had tough days on the mound, as Corbin Martin was tagged for five runs and didn’t make it through two innings. Louisville ace Brendan McKay had an unexpectedly tough outing as well, giving up four runs over five innings, although he still picked up the win. Lincoln Henzman and Sam Bordner provided hitless and shutout relief for the Cardinals, while the Aggies used a committee of five relievers to hold the potent Louisville offense to three runs (two earned) the rest of the way.
Louisville got all the offense they needed in the second inning. McKay led off the inning by singling, setting off a string of four straight one-base hits, with RBI coming from Hairston and Lyman. Drew Ellis also singled in the streak of base hits. After a pair of outs were recorded, a walk brought up Fitch, who punished Martin by drilling a two-run single, and Devin Mann brought home one more with yet another single to push Louisville’s edge to 5-0. Ultimately, it was all Louisville would need, but the Aggies made them sweat it out a little bit first.
Texas A&M got a walk, followed by Kopetsky’s double, to put a pair of runners in scoring position to start the fourth inning. After Walker Pennington brought in one run with a deep sacrifice fly, George Janca drove in another with a run-scoring single. In the sixth inning, with McKay still on the hill, Cole Bedford singled and raced home on another Kopetsky double. Kopetsky scored on Pennington’s subsequent RBI single to make it 5-4 and ending McKay’s day on the hill. An ever-dangerous double threat, Louisville’s ace remained in the game as the designated hitter.
The Cardinals picked up their ace by extending their lead back up to three runs in the bottom half of the frame, notching a pair of runs. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases before a fielder’s choice (and error) followed by a walk with the bases jammed brought home a pair of runs. Louisville got one more on Fitch’s RBI double in the eighth inning. Bordner exited the game after three perfect innings, and Henzman retired the last three batters, not allowing the Aggies a breath of hope, as Louisville advanced into the winner’s bracket.
Florida 3 TCU 0
After some exciting back and forth offensive games to start the tournament, Florida had not interest in taking part in such a contest. Behind ace and first-round draft pick Alex Faedo, the Gators scored once in the first, fourth, and fifth innings to secure a 3-0 victory in the opening game. Faedo tossed seven dominant innings of two-hit ball to keep the Horned Frogs at bay. In the most anticipated game of the first round, the #3 ranked Gators got a pair of hits from Dalton Guthrie and Nelson Maldonado. JJ Schwarz, Maldonado, and Christian Hicks picked up RBI for the home squad. TCU had just five hits all day, but Cam Warner had two of the base knocks, but it was hardly enough to keep the #6 ranked Horned Frogs from falling into the loser’s bracket. After ace Jared Janczak gave up three runs over 4+ innings, the TCU bullpen limited Florida to three hits and no runs over four innings, using strong performances from Cal Coughlin, Haylen Green, and Nick Lodolo. On the Florida side, Michael Byrne gave up three hits over two innings but did not allow a run to cross the plate, recording the save for the Gators.
After Faedo cruised through the first inning on eleven pitches, the Gators scored, capitalizing on Janczak’s wildness. The TCU ace walked Ryan Larson to begin the inning, who took second on a throwing error on a pickoff attempt. Consecutive ground outs brought Larson the rest of the way for a 1-0 Florida lead.
Faedo gave up a hit in the second, but a strikeout and double play allowed him to escape on just twelve pitches. His low pitch count early saved him in a long and drawn out third inning in which the Florida ace needed over 30 pitches to escape unscathed. Two walks, one of which was a nine-pitch battle, sandwiched around a throwing error loaded the bases with one out. Improbably, Faedo wiggled out of the jam, needing just nine pitches to whiff the next two batters. TCU undid their work at driving up Faedo’s pitch count in the third inning by having two runners thrown out on the basepaths in the fourth, allowing Faedo to walk off the mound after 14 pitches. Faedo picked one runner off, while Schwarz caught another stealing second.
Florida finally tacked on another run in the fourth inning, as Hicks came up with runners on the corners and one out. He came through with a hard single to left field, giving Florida a 2-0 lead before Larson grounded into a double play. After another economical inning for Faedo, the Gators recorded three straight singles from Guthrie, Schwarz, and Maldonado to bring home their final tally of the day, increasing the advantage to 3-0. Faedo fired two perfect innings on just 24 pitches to end his outing after a brilliant seven innings. Byrne allowed the tying run to the plate in the eighth, as well as a double in the ninth, but he ultimately completed the shutout and locked up Florida’s victory.