Texas A&M, Long Beach State, No. 1 national seed Oregon State and No. 7 Louisville won their openers in the NCAA baseball super regionals on Friday and moved within a victory of the College World Series.

The Aggies, who squandered a 6-0 lead against upstart Davidson, won 7-6 on George Janca’s two-out bases-loaded single in the 15th inning.

Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 3-0, with Darren McCaughan pitching two-hit shutout ball for seven innings and Chris Rivera working out of trouble after the Titans loaded the bases with one out in the ninth.

KJ Harrison homered and Pac-12 player of the year Nick Madrigal hit a tiebreaking double to lead Oregon State past Vanderbilt 8-4.

Louisville’s Drew Ellis hit a three-run homer and finished with four RBIs, and the host Cardinals got a solid start from Kade McClure in a 5-2 win over Kentucky.

Davidson (35-25), the surprise of the NCAA Tournament after advancing as a No. 4 regional seed, was down 6-0 after five innings in College Station, Texas. The Wildcats scored three times in the sixth and twice in the seventh before tying it in the top of the ninth on Cam Johnson’s one-out base hit up the middle.

Both teams missed scoring chances in extra innings. Davidson messed up a squeeze play with runners on the corners and one out in the 13th, and the Aggies (40-21) were just 2 for 18 with runners in scoring position before Janca singled through the right side to end the longest Game 1 in a super regional.

“Really, we just need to go out and do the same thing tomorrow. We just need to try to get the bats going a little earlier. That’s really it,” Davidson’s Cam Johnson said. “It was a good game, and it could have gone either way.”

Jake Thompson pitched 7 2/3 strong innings in Oregon State’s win in Corvallis. After Vanderbilt (36-24-1) tied it 3-all in the second inning, Madrigal’s double in the bottom half put the Beavers (53-4) up 5-3. Thompson and two relievers combined to allow four hits and one run the rest of the way.

In Long Beach, California, the Dirtbags (42-18-1) scored three runs in the first, and they went on to post their 12th shutout and beat Fullerton (37-22) for the sixth time in seven meetings this season.

In Louisville, Ellis broke out of a mini slump to lead the Cardinals (51-10) against Kentucky (43-22). Ellis, who was 1 for 11 in last week’s regional, drove in a run with a groundout in the first inning and hammered a three-run homer to left in the fifth.

Friday’s winners can clinch their best-of-three series on Saturday. Four other super regionals begin: Sam Houston State (44-21) at Florida State (43-21); Mississippi State (40-25) at No. 4 LSU (46-17); Missouri State (43-18) at No. 6 TCU (45-16); Wake Forest (42-18) at No. 3 Florida (45-17).

A look around the country:


GAME 1 MEANS A LOT

Since the current tournament format went into effect in 1999, 78.4 percent (113 of 144) of the teams that won Game 1s in super regionals have advanced to the College World Series.

YES, HE’S THE CLOSER

Texas A&M’s Mitchell Kilkenny threw 102 pitches and struck out a career-high nine in 5 2/3 shutout innings. Oh, and he’s the Aggies’ regular closer. He came on at the start of the 10th inning and left after Max Bazin’s bunt single in the 15th.

BEST CHANT

Texas A&M fans seemed to rattle Davidson reliever Allen Barry after he intentionally walked pinch hitter Jorge Gutierrez in the bottom of the 11th inning. As per Aggie tradition, fans started chanting “Ball five, ball five, ball five…” as Walker Pennington stepped into the batter’s box. The chants continued as Barry threw balls six, seven and eight to walk Pennington and loaded the bases. Closer Westin Whitmire came on, and the chants resumed with ball nine and 10 before Janca took a strike at the knees. Janca struck out to end the threat.

LYMAN LAYS OUT

Louisville right fielder Colin Lyman made one of the best defensive plays of the tournament when he robbed Kentucky’s Marcus Carson of extra bases to start the third inning. Lyman took off running back toward the warning track, jumped and reached high above his left shoulder to pull in Carson’s liner. He held onto the ball as he landed on his chest.

WHAT’S A DIRTBAG?

Long Beach State’s teams officially are known as the 49ers — except baseball. That team’s official nickname is “Dirtbags.” According to the school, Dirtbags captures the program’s style of play and success against higher profile programs. The nickname dates to 1989, when the team had no true home field and practiced on an all-dirt youth field. After the infielders went through drills, they were covered in dirt, and the nickname was born. The ’89 team was the first of four Long Beach teams to make the CWS.

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ERIC OLSON
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