Baseball 2014 Super Regional Breakdowns

Stanford College Baseball

Baseball 2014 Super Regional Breakdowns

It was upset mania last week in the regionals as a number of the top teams fell. Nine of the 16 host teams lost, including five of the top eight seeds. Top overall seed Oregon State was eliminated, as were all three host teams from the state of Florida. Indiana was stunned by a Stanford walk-off home run, leaving just one team from last year’s College World Series still standing. With 16 teams left, a best-of-three game Super Regional series stands between the remaining teams and Omaha.   


Oklahoma State vs. UC Irvine

Oklahoma State is in the Super Regionals after going 3-0 in a tough regional. The Cowboys took down a Cal State Fullerton team that was on a roll entering the tournament twice to advance. Key for Oklahoma State was their bullpen. The Cowboys starters struggled in the regional, as ace Jon Perrin allowed six runs over six innings and Tyler Nurdin lasted just 0.2 innings in his start. The duo of Vince Wheeland, 10-0 with a 1.53 ERA, and Brendan McCurry, 5-0 with a 0.39 ERA and 19 saves, combined to allow just one run in 6.2 innings of work, while freshman Trey Cobb gave up just one unearned run in 5.1 innings of work in the regional clinching game. The Cowboys also have one of the best offensive attacks in the country, led by the Big 12 Player of the Year, Zach Fish, who leads the team in home runs, 11, and RBI’s, 48. Facing the Cowboys will be UC Irvine, who knocked off the top national seed Oregon State. The Anteaters scored 28 runs over their four games en route to winning the regional. Leadoff man Taylor Sparks had six hits and scored six runs, while the middle of the order duo of Connor Spencer and Jerry McClanahan combined to drive in nine runs. What’s going to be the key to winning the regional is the starting rotations. UC Irvine has a very talented weekend rotation, led by Andrew Morales, who is 10-2 with a 1.64 ERA. With Oklahoma State struggling to get quality starts from their starters, the Anteaters seem to have a clear advantage in this Super Regional, so don’t be surprised if they pull off another upset.


Texas vs. Houston

Two of the best teams in the state of Texas match up in this Super Regional. Both teams were the two seed in their respective region and took down powerhouse programs to advance. Texas beat host Rice, as well as rival Texas A&M, while Houston took down national seed LSU. The pitching staff, which ranks in the top ten nationally in ERA and shutouts, is key for the Longhorns. Starters Nathan Thornhill and Dillon French both went deep into ball games, going seven and 6.2 innings, respectively, in their regional starts, while reliever Chad Hollingsworth threw a complete game two hitter in the final game. Houston counters with an equally impressive pitching staff. The Cougars rank in the top six in the country in ERA, WHIP and strikeout-to-walk ratio. Houston has four starters with sub 3.00 ERA’s and two dominant relievers who both sport identical ERA’s of 1.22, while combining to go 14-0 with 16 saves. But none of those pitchers made the impact that Jared Robinson did in the regional. Robinson made two appearances, spanning 6.2 and 6.1 innings respectively, that were instrumental to the Cougars winning the regional. Robinson allowed just one run in his two appearances, helping keep the Cougars in the game in their opening win against Bryant and got the win in the regional clinching victory over LSU. Runs should come at a premium in this Super Regional and it could come down to which team can manufacture a run or two. Texas leads the nation in sacrifice bunts, and their ability to move runners could be a difference maker.


Louisville vs. Kennesaw State

Louisville is the lone remaining team from last season College World Series and they are playing like a team that looks headed back. The Cardinals swept through their regional, beating all three opponents by at least three runs. Louisville’s rotation was dominant, as Kyle Funkhouser, Anthony Kidston and Joshua Rogers combined to allow just three runs over 21 innings of work. That sets the Cardinals up well for a three game series, especially when those pitchers are backed up by a bullpen that has a closer like Nick Burdi, 3-1 with a 0.56 ERA and 16 saves. The Cardinals face a tough task though, as they are going up against the hottest team in the country in Kennesaw State, who is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. The Owls have won 26 of their last 28 games and emerged from a regional that included power programs such as Florida State and Alabama. If the Owls are going to continue their magical run, they will need a big performance from Max Pentecost. The catcher is likely going to be a first round pick in this June’s MLB Draft and he leads the Owls in 11 different offensive categories, including batting average, .423, home runs, 9, RBI’s, 58, and stolen bases, 17. Pentecost might play in the Atlantic Sun, but he showed what he can do against top notch competition last summer as he was named the MVP of the Cape Cod Baseball League. If Pentecost can have a big series, the Owls have a shot to pull off the upset, despite Louisville’s big time arms.


Vanderbilt vs. Stanford

Stanford is the team with all the momentum in this Super Regional. The Cardinal took down one of the best teams in the nation in Indiana to win their regional and they did it in dramatic fashion. Stanford used two late inning comebacks, capped off by Tommy Edman’s walk off home run in Monday’s regional final, to eliminate a Hoosier team that was 39-0 when leading after seven innings going into the pair of games. Stanford’s bats have come alive, as the Cardinal scored 37 runs over five games in the regional, and the starting rotation duo of John Hochstatter and Cal Quantrill give Stanford two dominant arms that can win a three game series. They will go up against a host team in Vanderbilt who is looking for revenge on last year’s Super Regional exit. The Commodores ran through their regional, outscoring their opponents 21-4 over the course of their three games and feature a rotation that is built to win a super regional. Vanderbilt’s bullpen saw a total of two innings of work in the regional, as the trio of Tyler Beede, Carson Fullmer and Walker Buehler combined to allow four runs in 25 innings of work. Beede threw eight scoreless innings in the opener and Buehler threw a complete game in the regional final, allowing just two runs.  If the success of their starters is any indication, Vanderbilt is looking like a team bound for Omaha.


Texas Tech vs. Charleston

This Super Regional was supposed to be a matchup of instate rivals Florida and Miami, but that wasn’t meant to be. Texas Tech knocked off Miami, while the College of Charleston beat the number two national seed Florida Gators. The College of Charleston is the lone four seed remaining in the tournament, advancing despite missing their best player who is out with an injury. Leading the way has been a solid rotation of a sophomore and two freshmen. Despite being inexperienced, the trio has put up big numbers this season. Sophomore Taylor Clarke is 10-3 with a 2.62 ERA, while freshman Bailey Ober and Tyler Thornton are 10-2 with a 1.55 ERA and 7-5 with a 3.03 ERA, respectively. Charleston backs them up with the experienced closer, Michael Hanzlik, who has 16 saves. The Cougars miss their star infielder Gunnar Heidt, who is the lone batter hitting over .300, but a team effort has kept them rolling. Texas Tech will be a challenge, with the slugging duo of Eric Gutierrez and Adam Kirsch leading the way. The two are both hitting over .300 with 12 home runs and 58 RBI’s and 10 home runs and 50 RBI’s, respectively. Texas Tech also has a solid pitching staff as a whole. The Red Raiders have two solid starters, Chris Sadberry, 4-3 with a 3.49 ERA, and Dylan Dusek, 7-0 with a 2.08 ERA, and a pair of dominant relievers, Jonny Drozd, 7-0 with a 2.09 ERA, and Cameron Smith, 8-2 with a 2.86 ERA. Smith was huge for the Red Raiders in the regional, as he threw a complete game shutout in the winner take all game against Miami on Monday.  Texas Tech boasts an all-around complete team and they should be headed to Omaha.


#7 TCU vs. Pepperdine

Pepperdine won their first regional since 1992 and they will face the task of traveling to Fort Worth to take on a TCU team that is in a Super Regional for the fourth time in the last six years. Pepperdine is a very interesting team, as they feature one of the best players in the country in two-way player Aaron Brown. Brown has led the Waves offensively, hitting .310 with 12 home runs and 47 RBI’s, and on the mound, going 12-1 with a 2.07 ERA. He isn’t a one-man show though. Corey Miller has helped form a dominant 1-2 punch in the starting rotation, going 9-4 with a 1.75 ERA, and five players have added between 27 and 34 RBI’s apiece. They will face the task of beating the pitching staff with the best ERA in the country. It would be tough to find a better starting rotation for a Super Regional. Preston Morrison, 9-3 with a 1.24 ERA, Tyler Alexander, 10-3 with a 1.94 ERA, and Brandon Finnegan, 8-3 with a 2.07 ERA, give the Horned Frogs a shot to win any series they play. They back the trio up with a solid bullpen, led by closer Riley Ferrell, who has a 0.75 ERA and 14 saves. This looks to be a pitching battle. If Pepperdine is going to win, they will need Brown to be good both on the mound and offensively. He struggled in the regional at the plate and if he does so again, the Waves may be in trouble. The College World Series hopes of Pepperdine likely rest squarely on his shoulders.


#6 Louisiana vs. Mississippi

Louisiana-Lafayette had their backs against the wall after losing their regional opener, but stormed back and defeated Mississippi’s in state rival Mississippi State to reach the Super Regionals. The Ragin’ Cajuns scored a combined 39 runs over their final four games after being shutout in the opener, showing they’re a force to be reckoned with. Louisiana hands down is the best team offensively in the country. They rank in the top five nationally in batting average, doubles, hits, home runs, on base percentage, runs, sacrifice flies, scoring, slugging percentage, stolen bases and triples. That puts Ole Miss’s pitching duo of Chris Ellis and Christian Trent up to a tough task. Ellis, 10-1 with a 2.16 ERA, and Trent, 9-0 with a 2.37 ERA, are both coming off solid outings in the regional, and have the ability to carry the Rebels to a win in a three game series. Louisiana does play in a smaller conference, but they showed in the regional that 57 wins are no fluke and they look set to pick up two more and head to Omaha.


#3 Virginia vs. Maryland

It’s an ACC battle in this Super Regional. Virginia, who spent most of the season atop the polls, cruised through their regional, as did Maryland, who upset SEC powerhouse South Carolina. These two teams met just one time this season, with Maryland taking a hard fought game 7-6. If that game is any indication, this will be a very close series. Virginia will look to improve on their fortunes from last season when they were bounced in the Super Regionals and they certainly have talent to do so. The Cavaliers are a sound team defensively, posting a team fielding percentage of .982 behind a pitching staff that has been extraordinary this season. As a staff, Virginia leads the NCAA in WHIP and is third in ERA. Nathan Kirby, 9-1 with a 1.36 ERA, and Branden Waddell, 8-3 with a 2.73 ERA, give the Cavaliers the 1-2 punch needed in a Super Regional.  Maryland counters with their own 1-2 punch of Jake Stinnett, 7-6 with a 2.65 ERA, and Mike Shawaryn, 11-3 with a 2.81 ERA, that should matchup well. Stinnett struggled a bit during the season, but he has been money down the stretch, as the Terrapins have won every time he has started since May 1st. With four complete games to his name and the victory in the Virginia contest, Stinnett should be a tough matchup. Experience will likely win out in this Super Regional and Virginia has it. The Cavaliers feature seven starters in their lineup who are back from last year’s Super Regional lineup, including six juniors. While all of those players have posted down numbers from a year ago, they have a proven track record and can be counted on in big stages. Maryland, on the other hand, features five sophomores in their top seven hitters and those players are relatively untested on the big stage. This looks like a great chance for Virginia to advance to Omaha.


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