Kennesaw State upsets Alabama in NCAA regional

Kennesaw State starter Travis Bergen gave his team a huge lift Friday, coming within an out of a complete-game shutout as the Owls upset Alabama 1-0 in the first game of the Tallahassee baseball regional Friday afternoon.

Bergen (8-4) pitched 8 2/3 innings and gave up five hits while striking out three with one walk.

Asked what went right for him, Bergen said, “I think they were swinging early in the count and I was able to locate the fastball pretty well and get some quick outs and that’s why the pitch count was low.”

Kal Simmons drove home Brennan Morgan with a sacrifice fly to left field in the fifth inning for the game’s only run. Morgan led off the inning with a single to left. He went to second on Matt Bahnick’s sacrifice bunt and to third on a wild pitch. Justin Motley and Cornell Nixon were walked before Simmons delivered the sac fly.

““Obviously it’s a huge win for our program,” KSU coach Mike Sansing said. “Just from the Division I level, making an appearance here, which is the first for us and getting the win is also a first. It’s all big. It’s part of our history. It is pretty special.”

Justin McCalvin recorded a one-out save to register his team-leading 15th save of the season.

Sansing said he had a difficult decision to make when he pulled Bergen with two outs in the ninth.

“I think he was around 105 (pitches) going into the last inning. Still, commanding

the zone and we talked a little bit afterwards, and I thought he was very strong there (today). It was a tough decision (to pull him before the last out). It was at that point and J-Mac (McCalvin) did a great job all year, so we were just riding a lot of emotion with Travis.”

Crimson Tide starter Spencer Turnbull kept his team in the game with a strong showing of his own. He pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing three hits and one run. He walked four and struck out two.

Of the Crimson Tide’s five hits, two were doubles by Austen Smith, but otherwise, the Tide struggled at the plate.

“For starters, hats off to Kennesaw State,” Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said. “I thought the pitcher did a terrific job today. They found a way, the way they have in the last 24 or 25 games, how to get a win. I thought on our end we certainly pitched well enough to win the game. We just couldn’t find any type of rhythm on the offensive end.”

The third-seeded Owls (38-21) next play at 5 p.m. Saturday against the winner of the Florida State-Georgia Southern game, scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday. The second-seeded Crimson Tide (34-23) will face the loser of the Florida State-Georgia Southen game at 1 p.m. Saturday.