The following posts (mostly covering 2009 NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals) were originally on the “Blog” on our old site. We moved them here when we launched our new web site design in late September.
Finally. College baseball’s version of the Sweet 16 is finally ready to start today after a record-setting opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament. A few quick thoughts before we look at today’s match-ups:
- Texas reliever Austin Wood has made ESPN highlights and now Sports Illustrated for his 12 1/3 hitless and 13 total scoreless inning outing during last Saturday’s epic 25-inning game. After throwing 169 pitches, it’s good for Wood that the Longhorns don’t open their Super Regional series with TCU until Saturday.
- All the talk about pitching going into last week’s Irvine Regional was about San Diego State’s Stephen Strasburg. Next week’s MLB #1 draft pick didn’t disappoint with 15 K in a 5-1 loss to Virginia. But how about Virginia? Brian O’Connor’s Cavalier pitching staff gave-up just two runs in three games en-route to knocking-off Strasburg as well as #6 national seed, UC Irvine. Virginia led the nation last week with a 0.67 staff ERA.
- Speaking of the Irvine Regional, did we really need to be reminded emphatically and ad nauseum during ESPN’s telecasts “There will be a new national champion this year“, after Fresno State was bounced from the tournament after two games? Fresno State became the first #4 seed to win a regional last year, let alone the national title. They were a #4 seed this year. The were a Cinderella last year, so by definition there should be a new national champion this year. Maybe the reminders were necessary if the people watching the game had as little college baseball experience as the guy who was calling the game. (Phil Nevin exlcuded.) (Seriously, we’re used to the metal bats, we don’t need more discussion.) The guy talked more about the food he was eating and failed Seinfeld references than the games.
On to today’s match-ups:
Arkansas @ Florida State Noon Eastern-ESPN
Arkansas started the season hot, got cold mid-way through SEC play, and then went 3-0 at the Norman Regional last weekend. They made their biggest statement with an 11-0 win over the hard-hitting Sooners in the title game. Freshman Drew Smyly lost a no-hit bid in the 9th inning.
Razorback Andy Wilkins and Seminole Mike Meschke tied for the national lead during regionals with .750 batting averages. Dave Van Horn took Arkansas to the College World Series in 2004 after guiding Nebraska to Omaha in 2001 & 2002
Florida State struggled at the start of the season, but has righted its ship. The Seminoles set an NCAA record with its 37-6 dismantling of Ohio State in its regional championship game. Meschke was 5-for-5 in that game. Mike Martin’s crew is looking for back-to-back trips to Omaha after going seven years without a CWS visit prior to last year.
Virginia @ Ole Miss 2pm Eastern-ESPN2
Ole Miss won 20 SEC regular season game, and had 46 wins going into the NCAA Tournament, but the Rebels didn’t get a national seed. Understandably, LSU got the #3 seed (the Tigers also had 20 SEC wins and had the season tie-breaker with Ole Miss), but Florida won the SEC East and took the #8 national seed with 19 conference wins and 39 wins entering the tourney. Mike Bianco’s Rebels have been one of the most consistent SEC teams over the last decade, and now they’re trying to clear the hurdle to Omaha.
Virginia was the #6 seed, but won its first ACC crown since 1996. After that, many thought the Cavs could host a regional as a #2 seed, but got sent to #6 national seed UC Irvine instead. Virginia went 3-0 en-route to the program’s first ever regional championship. Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor is a Council Bluffs, IA native who played in the 1991 CWS with Creighton, and coached as a Notre Dame assistant at the 2002 CWS.
Rice @ LSU 7pm Eastern-ESPN
These two teams played last June 17 at the College World Series, and the Tigers won a 6-5 thriller on Blake Dean’s 3-run double in the 9th inning. In fact, the last two times LSU skipper has been to Omaha, his teams have beaten Wayne Graham’s Owls in walk-off fashion. His ’02 Notre Dame team beat Rice 5-3 on a game-ending home run. After winning last week’s Baton Rouge Regional, Mainieiri now has three career regional crowns. His teams advance to Omaha the two previous times.
Graham’s Owls have been to Omaha in five of the last seven seasons, including a 2003 National Championship. Rice is used to being home for Super Regionals, but mid-season arm injuries to pitchers Ryan Berry and Mike Ojala gave the Owls just enough of a slip to cost them the C-USA regular season crown and possibly another national seed. With those two healthy, Rice has a slight pitching edge in the series, but LSU has the offensive advantage.
Louisville @ Cal State Fullerton 10:30pm Eastern-ESPN2
Louisville is in a Super Regional for the second time in three years under Dan McDonnell. The Cardinals rode steady pitching and the bat of Chris Dominguez to Omaha in McDonnell’s rookie year (2007) as Louisville’s head coach. Dominguez belted 8 home runs with 19 RBIs during the ’07 postseason run.
Fullerton has been to Omaha in five of the last nine years. They missed a trip to the CWS last year when they hosted a Super Regional, but lost to Stanford in Dave Serrano’s first season as head coach at his alma mater. Serrano took UC Irvine to the 2007 CWS, and beat Fullerton in a a 13-inning elimination game that’s tied for the longest in CWS history.
Collegebaseball360.com will provide live Twitter score updates throughout this weekend’s Super Regional Action. CLICK HERE to read more about this weekend’s match-ups, to see the exclusive up to date CB 360 NCAA national stats leaders, and to listent to exclusive Super Regional podcasts.