Dick Cooke is in his 27th season as head coach of the Cinderella Davidson Wildcats. In late May, the Wildcats won their first league championship in the program’s 115-year history by winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament after arriving in St. Louis as the sixth seed. Making their first appearance ever in the NCAA Tournament this past weekend, the Wildcats traveled to the Chapel Hill Regional as the fourth seed and defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels, the nation’s second-ranked team, twice in their own ballpark and Florida Gulf Coast once. As a result, the Wildcats became only the second No. 4 seed to sweep a Regional and only the sixth No. 4 seed to advance to the Super Regional round. The Wildcats will meet the Texas A&M Aggies of the Southeastern Conference this weekend, beginning on Friday, for a best-of-three series.
In the first game in Chapel Hill, the Wildcats defeated North Carolina, 8-4, by scoring three runs in the second inning. Starting pitcher Durin O’Linger worked the first six innings before Allen Berry tossed the final three to earn his first save at the collegiate level. On Saturday, Evan Roberts threw eight-plus frames against Florida Gulf Coast before Westin Whitmire notched the save. Eric Jones had three hits, including the game-winning safety in the eighth. On Sunday, Josh Hudson threw seven innings before O’Linger returned to the bump for the final two innings to seal the Wildcats’ 2-1 triumph over the Tar Heels.
The final two outs of the final game against the Tar Heels featured a pair of close calls. Right fielder Will Robertson, who extended his streak of reaching base to 54 consecutive games, threw out Brandon Riley at the plate for the second out in the ninth. The game ended on a close play at first base, with O’Linger covering the bag, to seal the victory. Although the Chapel Hill fans questioned the umpires’ calls, video and photographic evidence proves that the umpires made the correct decision on both plays.