NCAAs: UConn, BU in; BC, Harvard out

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NCAAs: UConn, BU in; BC, Harvard out

Connecticut and Boston University are in, and Boston College and Harvard are out -- of the NCAAs, at least -- as the NCAA Tournament begins this week with a bare minimum of New England represenatives.

Fresh off its Big East Tournament championship, UConn will look to continue its winning ways as the third seed in the West Region of the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies will take on No. 14 Bucknell in Washington D.C., and play for the right to take on the winner of No. 6 Cincinnati and No. 11 Missouri in the round of 32.

Boston University is New England's other local representative in the Big Dance. As the champions of the America East Tournament, the Terriers were guaranteed a spot in the field of 68. Their reward for winning their conference tournament? A No. 16 seed in the Southwest Region and a matchup with No. 1 Kansas in Tulsa, Okla. If the Terriers are able to upset the Jayhawks, they would be the first-ever 16 seed to knock off a No. 1 seed.

Boston College and Harvard were on the bubble to make the NCAA Tournament, but they were left out of the field. Instead, both teams will be playing in the NIT.

BC will be a No. 1 seed in the 32-team tourney and will take on No. 8 McNeese State in the first round on Tuesday at McNeese State. No. 6 Harvard will play at No. 3 Oklahoma State in their first-round matchup Tuesday.

In the 16-team College Basketball Invitational (CBI), Rhode Island will host a first-round game on Wednesday against Miami (Ohio).

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

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Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

New York’s mistake helped the Red Sox, and they weren’t playing the Yankees.

The Red Sox struck out 20 in a game for the third time in franchise history on Thursday night, and they were able to do so only after MLB’s replay team — based in Manhattan — gave Craig Kimbrel an extra batter to strike out in the ninth inning.

A 6-2 win over the Rangers featured 16 strikeouts for Red Sox pitching heading into the top of the ninth at Fenway Park. Kimbrel came on for a non-save situation because he had five days off previously.

There’s always that outside chance for a four-strikeout inning, and it happened. Even for a four-strikeout inning, however, this was bizarre.

The first batter, lefthanded hitting Nomar Mazara, swung and missed at a back-foot breaking ball for strike 3 — a literal back-foot breaking ball, because it hit him in that foot after he whiffed on the pitch.

On a swing and a miss with a pitch that hits the batter, the ball should be dead. He should not have been able to reach first base. But the umpires didn’t catch the ball hitting Mazara, and instead saw it as a wild pitch. 

Sox manager John Farrell asked for a review and the umpires went for one, but came back empty-handed. The crew was told, erroneously, that the play could not be looked at and the batter was awarded first base.

“It was just a swinging strike three, ball that go away and he obviously reached first base,” crew chief Alfonso Marquez told pool reporter Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “The only thing that I can tell you, and the only thing I will say is, this was a replay issue. New York will come out with a statement.”

You could say it worked out just fine. Kimbrel went on to strike out the next three, and got the Sox to 20 Ks.

Kimbrel and Tim Wakefield are the only Red Sox pitchers to fan four batters in a single inning. Wakefield did it in the ninth inning on Aug. 10, 1999. 

Kimbrel did it once before as well, when he was with the Braves on Sept. 26, 2012.

No one has struck out five in a major league inning, although Kimbrel has as good a chance as anyone.

“The guy strikes out the world,” Matt Barnes said. “It’s ridiculous. … His fastball is seemingly unhittable. Complement that with the breaking ball he’s got, which comes right off that same plane, when he’s commanding it like he is, the numbers kind of speak for themselves. It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s fun to watch.”

The Sox have struck out 20 in a nine-inning game three times since 1913. Roger Clemens' two 20-strikeout games are the other two.