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Virginia survives first College World Series test

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Virginia survives first College World Series test

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Kenny Towns hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth inning after Daniel Pinero stole second and third base, and Virginia opened the College World Series with a 5-3 victory over Arkansas on Saturday.

The Cavaliers (40-22), the 2014 national runners-up, will play Monday against the winner of a late Bracket 1 game between Miami and Florida. The Razorbacks (40-24) will meet the loser of that game Monday.

Arkansas tied it at 3 in the fifth on Andrew Benintendi's nation-leading 20th home run. That was the second homer of the game at TD Ameritrade Park, which surrendered only three each of the past two years in the CWS. Virginia's Joe McCarthy had opened the scoring with a drive into the right-field seats in the second.

The Hogs got a solid start from Trey Killian (3-5), a ninth-round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies who left with one out in the eighth after Pinero singled for his third hit. Zack Jackson came on, and Pinero stole second and third on back-to-back pitches. Pinero came home when Towns drove a ball into the right-field corner.

Ernie Clement added an RBI single in the ninth, and Virginia scored all five of its runs with two outs.

Pinero, who arrived in Omaha with six steals for the season, had three of the Cavaliers' season high-tying five steals against the Hogs.

Virginia starter Connor Jones made it through six innings despite struggling with his command. He allowed six hits, walked two and hit two batters.

Josh Sborz (5-2), who started two CWS games last year and is now the Cavaliers' closer, struck out five of his 10 batters in three innings.

The main story line coming into the CWS was how the new flat-seam baseball would perform at the spacious stadium. McCarthy, the 12th batter of the game, took Killian deep into the right-field seats. Last year it took 671 batters before a ball left the park.

Benintendi's homer in the fifth was his second at the stadium. The No. 7 overall draft pick by the Boston Red Sox also knocked a ball out May 12 against Creighton.

Virginia, a No. 3 regional seed and the lowest seed to make it to Omaha, improved to 6-0 in the NCAA Tournament.

At TD Ameritrade Park Omaha

Omaha, Neb.

All Times EDT

Double Elimination

x-if necessary

Saturday, June 13

Virginia 5, Arkansas 3

Game 2 — Florida (46-19) vs. Miami (49-15), 8 p.m.

Sunday, June 14

Game 3 — TCU (51-13) vs. LSU (53-10), 3 p.m.

Game 4 — Cal State Fullerton (39-23) vs. Vanderbilt (47-19), 8 p.m.

Monday, June 15

Game 5 — Arkansas (40-24) vs. Game 2 loser, 3 p.m.

Game 6 — Virginia (40-22) vs. Game 2 winner, 8 p.m.

Tuesday, June 16

Game 7 — Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 3 p.m.

Game 8 — Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 8 p.m.

Wednesday, June 17

Game 9 — Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 loser, 8 p.m.

Thursday, June 18

Game 10 — Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 loser, 8 p.m.

Friday, June 19

Game 11 — Game 6 winner vs. Game 9 winner, 3 p.m.

Game 12 — Game 8 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 8 p.m.

Saturday, June 20

x-Game 13 — If Game 9 winner also wins game 11, TBD

x-Game 14 — If Game 10 winner also wins Game 12, TBD

Championship Series

(Best-of-3)

Monday, June 22: Teams TBD, 8 p.m.

Tuesday, June 23: Teams TBD, 8 p.m.

x-Wednesday, June 24: Teams TBD, 8 p.m. 

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Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

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Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.

RELATED: BEAL BOUNCED EARLY IN THREE-POINT CONTEST

Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:

RELATED: BEST WIZARDS/BULLETS MOMENTS ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.