Sam Houston State had made it to the NCAA baseball regional finals three times and lost each time.
On Monday, the Bearkats broke through.
Seeded third in the Lubbock Regional, Sam Houston State beat No. 5 national seed Texas Tech 4-3 for its second win in two days over the Red Raiders. The Bearkats will play Auburn or Florida State in super regionals starting Friday or Saturday.
“We played this whole week like we were not afraid to lose,” catcher Robie Rojas said. “We knew no matter what we loved each other and we’ve had a great run. So when you play (without) the fear of … crashing and burning, you’re going to do things like this.”
Texas A&M and No. 3 national seed Florida also won regional titles Monday. No. 1 national seed Oregon State, No. 4 LSU and No. 7 Louisville wrapped up regionals Sunday along with Wake Forest. Cal State Fullerton clinched a regional title Saturday.
Sam Houston State is the second surprise team to move on in the NCAA Tournament, joining No. 4 regional seed Davidson, which knocked out No. 2 national seed North Carolina on Sunday.
Texas A&M, seeded third in the Houston Regional, defeated the host Cougars 4-3 to reach a super regional for the third straight year. The Aggies will host Davidson.
Florida bounced back from a loss to Bethune-Cookman on Sunday to beat the Wildcats 6-1 and will host Wake Forest this weekend.
Seven other regional finals were to be decided Monday night or Tuesday.
Sam Houston State (43-21) is in the national tournament for the 11th time, getting an automatic bid as Southland Conference Tournament champion.
The Bearkats from Huntsville, Texas, had to beat 2016 national runner-up Arizona twice and Texas Tech twice to advance to super regionals.
“I’ve been talking about us being a David in a land full of Goliaths,” third-year coach Matt Deggs said.
The Bearkats’ winning run was unearned, coming after Tech second baseman Brian Klein threw wildly to first on Lance Miles’ grounder. That allowed Hunter Hearn to score from first.
Sam Houston State used 11 pitchers in the regional, five on Monday. Riley Cooper pitched 4 2/3 innings of relief for the win and Nick Mikolajchak worked the ninth for his 13th save.
The Bearkats also went to regional finals in 2007, 2012 and 2014. Their current run came after they beat nine teams in the regular season that made the NCAA Tournament, including Houston three times and Texas A&M.
“We talked all week leading up to this that it’s only impossible until somebody does it. Once somebody does it, it’s not impossible,” Deggs said. “This is the first team in Sam Houston State history that’s ever advanced to the Super Regional, and first team out of the Southland Conference to advance to the super regional, and we’re very proud to represent that conference.”
A look around the country:
HIS TIME TO SHINE
Freshman two-way player Austin Langworthy starred with his arm and bat against Bethune-Cookman. He allowed one run and two singles in four innings of relief in his first pitching appearance since April 11. He started the game in left field, went 2 for 4 and hit a three-run homer to open the scoring in the sixth inning. It was his third homer of the season and first since March 3.
Texas A&M’s Baine Schoenvogel hit his second pinch-hit home run of the season in the top of the ninth inning, and it turned out to be the game-winner against Houston. Schoenvogel’s blast over the left-field fence gave the Aggies a 4-0 lead. Dallas Baptist scored three times in the bottom half, with Cason Sherrod coming on to strike out Connor Wong to end the game.
Dallas Baptist leads the tournament with 11 home runs. The Patriots hit three more in an 11-8 elimination-game win over Virginia, with Austin Listi connecting twice and Camden Duzenack once. Seven players have gone deep for Dallas Baptist. Listi’s four homers in three games gave him 24 for the season to tie Josh Causey (2002) for the school record.