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NCAA roundup: Sparks puts UC Irvine on cusp of CWS

Reds' Draft pick pounds out four hits; first-rounders Beede, Pentecost struggle
MLB.com

It's been quite the whirlwind 24 hours for UC Irvine third baseman Taylor Sparks.

After being drafted by the Reds in the second round at No. 58 overall, Sparks went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and two runs scored Friday as Irvine pulled off yet another upset to advance within one game of the College World Series.

It's been quite the whirlwind 24 hours for UC Irvine third baseman Taylor Sparks.

After being drafted by the Reds in the second round at No. 58 overall, Sparks went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and two runs scored Friday as Irvine pulled off yet another upset to advance within one game of the College World Series.

The Anteaters knocked off Oklahoma State, 8-4, in Stillwater in the first game of the best-of-three Super Regionals. They got past Oregon State, the No. 1 overall seed, in last week's regionals.

Thanks to Sparks' big night and a fine pitching performance from freshman left-hander Elliot Surrey, who went seven innings and didn't allow an earned run, UC Irvine can reach its first College World Series since 2007 with a victory on Saturday.

Meanwhile, in Louisville, closer Nick Burdi shut the door on Kennesaw State, as the Cardinals took Game 1 of their Super Regional. Burdi, who was selected by Minnesota in the second round at No. 46 overall, pitched a scoreless ninth with a pair of strikeouts.

Trailing 3-2 entering the eighth, the Cardinals erupted for three runs in the frame. They took the lead on a two-run double by freshman Nick Solak, who finished the night 3-for-5 to improve his average to .364.

Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost, the highest Draft pick still playing in the NCAA tournament, went 0-for-3 with a walk. Pentecost was selected No. 11 overall by the Blue Jays.

In other action on Friday, Giants first-round pick Tyler Beede struggled, but his Vanderbilt squad held on to top Stanford, 11-6. Staked to a 10-0 lead by the end of the third inning, Beede surrendered six runs and couldn't make it out of the fifth. He was done in by four walks to go along with five hits.

Stanford shortstop Alex Blandino, who will be joining Sparks in the Reds' system after being taken No. 29 overall, went 1-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored in defeat.

And in Austin, Texas center fielder Mark Payton celebrated being drafted in the seventh round by the Yankees on Friday afternoon. He went 3-for-5 with a two-run home run as the Longhorns topped Houston, 4-2, moving them within one victory of their first College World Series appearance since 2011.

Friday's results
Vanderbilt 11, Stanford 6
Texas 4, Houston 2
Louisville 5, Kennesaw State 3
UC Irvine 8, Oklahoma State 4

Saturday's games (all times ET)
Maryland at Virginia, noon
Charleston at Texas Tech, 1 p.m.
Houston at Texas, 2 p.m.
Vanderbilt vs. Stanford, at Nashville, 3 p.m.
Pepperdine at TCU, 4 p.m.
Louisville vs. Kennesaw State, at Louisville 7 p.m.
Ole Miss at Louisiana-Lafayette, 8 p.m.
Oklahoma State vs. UC Irvine, at Stillwater, 10 p.m.

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.