With the NCAA Baseball Tournament getting underway over the past two weekends, many of the rosters of the 64 teams competing for a chance to play in Omaha, had some familiar faces. A handful of college players had ties to the Temecula Valley area, which has been a hotbed for baseball talent for many years. Names like Andrew Mosiello, Zach Arnold, Jake Moberg, Chance Hroch, Zach Rodriguez and Ryan “Woody” Hadeen were just some of the local talents that had once showcased their skills on the high school fields in Temecula and Murrieta.
NCAA Regional games were scheduled for June 4-7 and consisted of 16 four-team pools with one advancing to the Super Regionals from each pool. One of the more fun matchups for local fans was when University of Oregon pitcher, Andrew Mosiello (Chaparral High School) faced off against Zach Arnold (Great Oak High School) of LSU on ESPN 2. Mosiello got Arnold to ground out twice and had retired 7 batters straight during his first career start for the Ducks.
When the dust settled, No. 14 seed Oregon lost to LSU 9-8 in a winner-take-all regional final. Arnold played a huge role for the Tigers this past season hitting .277 with 43 hits in 155 at-bats, including 7 home runs with 26 RBIs.
The Ducks (39-16) led 7-6 after 7.5 but gave up three runs in the bottom of the eighth to the Tigers (38-23) who staved off elimination four times and beat the Ducks twice to advance to a Super Regional at No. 3 Tennessee this past weekend. Tennessee ousted LSU, 15-6, to clinch its first College World Series berth since 2005.
Chance Hroch, a former Vista Murrieta pitching standout, who looked more like Rollie Fingers during the NCAA tournament with his mustache game on point for the Arkansas Razorbacks, gave it all he could with his teammates, but fell to Nebraska in their final game of regional play. Hroch, who went 8-6 on the season with a 4.15 ERA, was named pitcher of the week in late May by the Big Ten Conference and threw in some big moments during the NCAA tournament.
The UCLA Bruins baseball team, which featured Jake Moberg (Vista Murrieta), headed to the Lubbock (Texas) Regional and UC Irvine, which included freshman Ryan “Woody” Hadeen (Temecula Valley) went to the Stanford Regional while UC Santa Barbara, with another former Vista Murrieta standout in sophomore Zach Rodriguez, went on to play in Tucson, Ariz.
Hadeen and the UCI Anteaters (40-16) made their first postseason appearance in seven years, but none of the three aforementioned teams could make it to the Super Regionals best-of-three bracket, which took place June 11-14. The switch-hitting freshman infielder hit .294 with 15 hits in 51 at bats for UCI and should see a valuable increase in his role during his sophomore season. Moberg did the best he could with his role this season, hitting .297 with 11 hits in 37 at bats, including 1 homerun, 2 doubles and 10 RBIs. Rodriguez, a freshman for the Gauchos, saw his role deepen greatly as the 2021 season progressed, along with his bat. Zach hit .348 with 77 hits in 221 at bats, had 7 home runs and led UCSB with 55 RBIs.
As of this story going to print, the 2021 College World Series field was nearly set, with six teams already having earned their berths to Omaha and the last two games in super regionals to be contested Monday, June 14.
North Carolina State, Texas, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Arizona, and Stanford each won their super regionals to clinch spots in the CWS. All are among the national seeds except North Carolina State, which knocked off top-seeded Arkansas in Game 3 of their super regional on Sunday.
On Monday, Virginia will face Dallas Baptist in a winner-take-all Game 3 in Columbia, South Carolina, and Mississippi State will meet Notre Dame for a decisive third game in Starkville, Mississippi.
For the College World Series, which starts Saturday, June 19, Vanderbilt, Arizona, Stanford, and North Carolina State will be in Bracket 1. Texas, Tennessee, and Monday’s two winners will be in Bracket 2. Game updates can be found at http://www.ncaa.com. Article contributions made by Craig Johns.
JP Raineri can be reached by email at email@example.com.