OMAHA, Neb. – Jeff Larish kept hitting the long ball, but it was small ball that helped Arizona State advance in the College World Series on Tuesday.
Larish matched a College World Series record with three homers, and J.J. Sferra drove in the game-winning run with a bloop single in the 11th inning as Arizona State rallied for an 8-7 victory and eliminated hometown favorite Nebraska.
“I’m still trying to let it set in,” Larish said. “We’ve been responding to adversity all year, and today was no different. I’m more excited about the team’s performance than my own.”
Larish’s third homer tied it in the bottom of the ninth, and Sferra’s single in the 11th punctuated the 4-hour, 7-minute game, sending the Sun Devils (41-24) against No. 7 Florida today. Arizona State needs to beat the Gators twice to reach the championship round.
“We don’t claim we’re great, we don’t know how far we can go,” ASU coach Pat Murphy said. “We’re really elated right now. But we have to get back down to that flat line.”
Larish’s two-out, ninth-inning drive over the center-field wall off Brett Jensen made him only the third player in CWS history to hit three homers, matching the record set by Florida State’s J.D. Drew in 1995 and tied by Stanford’s Edmund Muth in 2000.
The homer also negated Andy Gerch’s three-run blast for Nebraska (57-15) in the top of the ninth that gave the Huskers a 7-5 lead.
Larish, who bats left-handed, led off the game with an opposite-field shot and homered to right in the third. He now has 23 homers.
“That’s ridiculous. It’s like a trifecta – a home run to every field,” Murphy said.
But it was a blooper in the 11th that won the game for the Sun Devils.
Baylor 8, Tulane 7: The Bears, down 7-0 after six innings, rallied for three runs in the ninth, scoring the winning run on a throwing error by second baseman Joe Holland to stun and eliminate the top-seeded Green Wave 8-7.
One out after reliever Brandon Gomes issued an intentional walk to load the bases, Baylor’s Paul Witt hit a hopper to Holland near the bag at second.
Holland touched the base for the second out of the inning. But his relay throw to complete a double play that would have ended the game and given Tulane the win went past first baseman Michah Owings.
The tying run scored and then so did a jubilant Zach Dillon from third with the winner as the ball got away.
Baylor (46-23) earned another meeting with Texas and must beat the Longhorns twice, beginning today, to go to the best-of-3 championship series. Tulane (56-12) goes home after the crushing defeat.