2011 College World Series: Wacha Wacha Wacha

SBN Houston's coverage of the NCAA Baseball Regionals

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2011 College World Series: Aggies Eliminated As Wacha Gets Roughed Up

The loss of John Stilson finally caught up to the Aggies today as California strung together a pair of three-run innings in the fifth and sixth to chase Michael Wacha and end Texas A&M’s season. The Aggies got on the board first with an Adam Smith homer, but California jumped on top of them in the next half-inning as two separate Aggies errors prolonged the suffering. The top of the sixth saw four hits and three more runs, and the Golden Bears finally chased Wacha with another in the seventh.

The A&M bullpen shut down the Bears from there, but the damage had already been done. Matt Flemer threw three scoreless innings for the save, and Bo Porter allowed seven hits and three earned runs to outlast Wacha for the win.

The Aggies will be a strong contender for next year’s college World Series, as they’ll return Wacha and Tyler Naquin, and could very well wind up with Ross Stripling and Stilson back as well after their draft slots were lower than expected. Only seniors Nick Fleece, Kenny Jackson, Kevin Gonzalez, and Steve Martin were drafted. None of them before the 13th round. With Naquin and Wacha they’d have a good start; if they could convince Stripling and Stilson to come back, they could be pre-season favorites.


2011 College World Series: Aggies Drop CWS Opener After Late Run By Gamecocks

The Texas A&M Aggies got off to a blazing start in their first game of the 2011 College World Series Sunday night, scoring four runs in the opening frame. Unfortunately, the defending champion South Carolina Gamecocks wasted no time in countering with four of their own in the bottom of the first.

Jacob House got the Aggies going offensively with an RBI single in the first. Then with the bases loaded and two down, Brandon Wood laced a triple down the right field line, scoring three runs and putting the Aggies up 4-0.

After South Carolina's four-run first inning rally, neither team managed a run until USC's Scott Wingo belted a shot off the right field fence in the bottom of the ninth for a long game-winning single, scoring Robert Beary from third base.

To remain alive, the Aggies must now win an elimination game against California, who lost to Virginia on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 1PM Tuesday, with coverage on ESPN.


2011 College World Series Preview: Texas A&M Aggies Look To Keep Upsets Coming

Here’s the crazy thing about baseball: anything can happen in a short series. The Texas A&M Aggies had demonstrably worse offenses than the Arizona team that they squeaked out a regional triumph over, and the Florida State squad that they were supposed to lose to had an incredible offense. That doesn’t really matter when you have a pair of hot pitchers on a tear though.

The Aggies will go as far as Michael Wacha and Ross Stripling can take them. That’s about all there is to it. If they start the third man in their rotation, nominally Derrick Hadley, they will likely lose the game. Utlimately, how far you think the Aggies can go depends on how much you trust the two aces to keep grinding out wins for them.

I Am The 12th Man takes a look at likely South Carolina starter Michael Roth, and isn’t exactly encouraged:

The Aggies will most likely be facing off against South Carolina’s ace hurler Michael Roth when we take the field Sunday at 6 PM. The junior southpaw is 13-3 on the season with an anemic 1.02 ERA, and 95 strikeouts in 123 innings pitched. Roth was a reliever last year as a sophomore who came alive in the postseason, when pitching depth is most crucial, getting a win in relief in their Regional, beating Clemson in a complete game in his first career start in the College World Series, and then beating UCLA as a starter in a 2-1 victory in the national championship series. A full-time starter this season, Roth was named a first-team All-American by Baseball America for his season-long dominance, which included six wins in SEC play.

Roth is 2-0 in NCAA postseason play for Carolina, giving up 6 hits and 1 unearned run in 8.1 innings in their 5-1 win over Connecticut in the first game of the Columbia Super Regional. He went 7 innings and gave up an unearned run against Georgia Southern in Carolina’s 2-1 win in their Regional.

Winning Sunday’s first game is almost a pre-requisite to the Aggies advancing out of their bracket. Remember: they have to avoid Hadley pitching an elimination game. Aggies fans have to be confident with Stripling on the mound, and Texas A&M did knock around Sean Gilmartin in the Super Regionals, who had a similar ERA and record to what Roth brings to the table.

I would tentatively put the A&M over/under at 1-2 in the College World Series. It’s a hell of an achievement to get to where they did without ace John Stilson, but they’ve had a lot of luck along the way. That said, it’s hard to count out a team that has been this resilient already, and it certainly wouldn’t be a total shock to see them advance out of Bracket 2. Fresno State has proven that pedigree isn’t the only thing that matters once you reach the College World Series, and the Aggies could certainly make it a trend rather than an exception.


2011 NCAA Baseball Super Regionals: Aggies Trounce Seminoles To Punch Ticket To College World Series

A superb effort from starting pitcher Michael Wacha and a pounding of Florida State starter Hunter Scantling combined to make the deciding game of the Tallahassee Super Regional a laugher. The Aggies jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first, tacked on two more in the second, and were never threatened in a 11-2 thumping of the fifth overall seed Seminoles. Just like the regular regionals, A&M was the last team to advance, and they became the second non-national seed, along with California, to make it to the College World Series.

Wacha baffled Florida State for seven and a third innings, allowing just three hits despite walking five, and striking out eight. Kyle Martin induced an inning ending double play in the eight to end the last real threat the Seminoles would make. Adam Smith paced the offense by going 2-2 with a two-run homer, a walk, and a hit by pitch. Nick Fleece induced a ground ball by Sean Gilmartin in a rainy haze to end the game with runners on first and second base and send Texas A&M to it’s first College World Series since 1999.

The Aggies will start their journey in Omaha by taking on No. 4 seed and defending national champion South Carolina in the late Sunday game. That matchup will take place at 5 PM CST on ESPN.


2011 Super Regionals: Aggies Roll Over 23-9 To Seminoles In Game Two, Final Game Monday

23-9. I said 23-9.

With their first trip to the College World Series since 1999 on the line in game two Sunday, the Texas A&M Aggies caught a 23-9 curb-stomping from the Florida State Seminoles.

Derrick Hadley started for the Aggies and got pummeled for six runs in one inning of work. Brandon Parrent and Joaquin Hinojosa relieved him, for a combined 4.1 innings and eight earned runs. By the time Steve Martin (who wasn't funny at ALL) entered the game, the Aggies were down 14-6. 

It was just a complete disaster for the Aggies, who collected 12 hits and nine runs of their own, but managed four errors in the field that led to three unearned runs. Of course, three runs didn't make any sort of difference in this laugher. The Aggies will have to regroup quickly if they're going to advance to Omaha. 

The decisive game three between the Aggies and Seminoles is set for 6PM Monday.


2011 Super Regionals: Aggies Beat Seminoles 6-2, Are One Win Away From College World Series

The Texas A&M Aggies kicked off the Super Regionals with a 6-2 win over Florida State Saturday, on the strength of a four-run seventh inning.

Pitcher Ross Stripling gave up two earned runs in seven innings on his way to the win, pushing his record to 14-2 for the Aggies, who are now just one victory away from the College World Series. Stripling worked hard in his seven innings, throwing 126 pitches, striking out eight and issuing only one walk.

Seminole pitcher Sean Gilmartin seemed to also be up to the task, as he and Stripling put zeros on the board in all frames of the second through fifth innings. The Aggies then had a four-run outburst in the seventh, which featured a two run single by Brandon Wood, an RBI double by Kenny Jackson, and an RBI single from Tyler Naquin. Then up 5-2, the Aggies added an insurance run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly.

The Aggies and Seminoles take the field again on Sunday at 3PM in game two of their three-game series. With one more win, Texas A&M would advance to their first College World Series since 1999.


Tallahassee Super Regional Preview: Can Aggies Advance To College World Series?

The stage is set for a Saturday afternoon rumble between the unseeded College Station regional Texas A&M Aggies and the fifth overall seed Florida St. Seminoles in the Tallahassee Super Regional. The Aggies lost ace pitcher John Stilson before the tournament to a torn labrum, but managed to overcome Arizona in a thrilling 3-0 win on Tuesday to squeak out of the regional round. Florida St. thumped it’s opponents and left completely unscathed. What will this series really come down to? The Aggies pitching and defense versus the Seminoles bats.

The Seminoles have an incredibly deep lineup that led the NCAA in walks, finished fifth in on-base percentage, seventh in runs scored, and second in doubles. 22nd round pick James Ramsey led the team in batting average, homers, and slugging percentage. The only two players in their lineup that aren’t threats to park the ball into the seats are infielders Sherman Johnson and Stuart Tapley, and Johnson carries a .420 on-base percentage with him on the season. It’s a deep and powerful lineup.

On the mound, things aren’t quite as settled. Florida State has it’s ace Sean Gilmartin, who went 12-1 with a 1.83 ERA, but beyond that there are a lot of questions with the rotation. They tried Hunter Scanling against Bethune-Cookman in their regional opener, and he got gashed for seven hits and four runs. Mike McGee silenced the Alabama bats to complete the regional sweep, but he carries just a 4.02 ERA on the season. FSU has a fairly great bullpen to backup their starters, but they could be vulnerable there if the Aggies can jump on them.

The Aggies, even without Stilson, they have a very solid pitching staff. Michael Wacha and Ross Stripling were both superb in the College Station Regional, and Derek Hadley did just fine against Arizona in a losing cause, going five innings and allowing just two runs. Like FSU, they have a very deep bullpen led by Nick Fleece and Joaquin Hinojosa.

Unlikes FSU, they just don’t have the bats to do much better than scratch across a few runs. Tyler Naquin is their only true star-quality hitter, and they have a lot of piranhas that can hurt you if they get on-base, but not many boppers who can get them home with one swing.

PREDICTION: Florida State takes Game One behind Gilmartin. Stripling and A&M scratch out a tight win in Game Two, but Florida State just has too much power and pulls away from A&M in the deciding game to head to the College World Series.


NCAA Super Regionals 2011: Where Are Astros Draft Picks Playing?

One of the cool things about the baseball draft is that unlike the NFL or the NBA, where you have to wait for preseason activities to see the players that you drafted in action, college baseball’s march to the College World Series is still happening. That means you get a chance to start scouting your teams draftees right away. Notably, that means that you can check out first round pick George Springer!

Here’s a list of drafted Astros who are still playing and their TV schedule for this weekend.

-Connecticut CF George Springer will be in South Carolina’s Super Regional in Columbia. That series will start on Saturday at 5 PM CT, and Game One will be on ESPN2. Game Two, Sunday at 6 PM CT, will be broadcast on ESPNU.

-Vanderbilt pitcher Jack Armstrong, the Astros’ third round pick, will be with his Commodore teammates, hosting Oregon State in the Nashville Super Regional. That’ll start Friday at 8 PM CT, and Game One will be on ESPNU. Game Two will be on ESPN2 at 8 PM CT on Saturday.

-California pitcher Kevin Miller, part of the team that took down the Rice Owls and Astros 18th rounder, will host Dallas Baptist. Miller is Cal’s No. 2 starter, so he’ll likely start the Sunday night game at 9 PM CT. Not sure which network it will be on just yet, as ESPN’s schedule hasn’t updated, but it’ll be either ESPN2 or ESPNU.

-19th rounder and Arizona St. pitcher Mitchell Lampson will be in Austin to take on the Longhorns. He’s a reliever, so he could be in any of the games. Game One will be on ESPN at 6 PM CT on Friday, and Game Two will be in the same timeslot and channel on Saturday.

-24th round first baseman Jesse Wierzbicki will be in Chapel Hill trying to lead the Tar Heels over the Stanford Cardinal. That series starts Friday at 2 PM CT, on ESPN2. Same time slot on Saturday, but with it taking up prime ESPN real estate on the regular network.

-Finally, the Astros drafted a pair of Aggies back-to-back, selecting catcher Kevin Gonzalez and reliever Steve Martin in the 36th and 37th rounds, respectively. Both of them will be in Tallahassee to take on Florida State. That’ll start Saturday at 3:30 PM CT on ESPNU, and Game Two will be thirty minutes earlier on Sunday on the same network.


NCAA Baseball Regionals 2011: Aggies Down Wildcats 3-0 To Advance To Super Regionals

Behind seven shutout innings from new ace Michael Wacha, the Texas A&M Aggies defeated the Arizona Wildcats 3-0 to close out Kyle Field and advance to the Super Regionals. They’ll pack up for Tallahassee to begin a three game set with Florida State on Saturday, and the winner of that game will advance to the College World Series in Omaha.

Wacha held the Wildcats to just five scattered hits, and three of them came in one inning. Arizona catcher Jeff Bandy was thrown out at the plate to preserve the scoreless tie in the fifth. The Aggies started a two-out rally in the eighth, with Tyler Naquin’s double the sparking point. A clutch single by Krey Bratsen was enough to convince Arizona to pull ace Kurt Heyer, and the Aggies tacked on two more runs on the Wildcats bullpen behind Jacob House’s double that scored two.

Ross Stripling closed the Wildcats out in the ninth, and they become the last team to qualify for Super Regionals next week. Wacha will likely get the ball again on Saturday as they face Florida State, and he’ll likely be opposed by Seminole ace Sean Gilmartin, who was 12-1 with a 1.83 ERA this season.


Arizona Downs Texas A&M 7-4, Rematch Monday Will Determine Regional Winner

The Arizona Wildcats took care of the Texas A&M Aggies 7-4 on Sunday night in the NCAA Baseball Regional. Second-seeded Arizona will once again take on A&M, a top seed, Monday night to determine the region's winner.

Aggie pitcher Derrick Hadley allowed six hits and two earned runs over five innings of work, and left the game with a 2-1 lead. Unfortunately for the Aggies, relief pitcher Kyle Martin couldn't hold the lead, and then some. When Martin relieved Hadley in the bottom of the sixth after a double by Robert Refsnyder, he gave up three hits and three runs, giving the Wildcats a 4-2 lead. Arizona poured on three more runs in the seventh, pushing their lead to 7-2. The Aggies were able to muster two runs in the ninth, but their rally fell short for a 7-4 loss.

It's not the end of the world for the Aggies, who will once again take the field against Arizona on Monday night to decide the regional winner. First pitch from College Station is scheduled for 7:35.


Rice's Season Ends With 6-3 Loss To California

After a bizarre game featuring eight errors, a nearly three hour lightning delay, and only three hits from Rice batters, the Owls' season came to an end on Sunday after losing to the California Golden Bears 6-3 in the NCAA Regional.

Rice took a 2-0 lead when Cal pitcher Dixon Anderson threw away two balls after two attempted sacrifice bunts by the Owls. He followed those errors up with a botched pickoff attempt.

Cal outfielder Vince Bruno later tied the game with a two-run single in the fourth, but Rice's Keenan Cook smacked a solo home run in the fifth to give Rice a 3-2 lead. 

Cal outfileder Austin Booker came up with a run-scoring single in the seventh to tie the game at three, then after a scoreless top eight frame, the lightning came. For nearly three hours both teams waited, and when the game resumed a trio of errors effectively ended Rice's season. Second baseman Michael Ratterree booted two of the errors, and by the end of the eighth, the Owls found themselves in a 6-3 hole from which they would not recover.


Aggies Defeat Seton Hall 6-3, Advance To Regional Final

Aggie baseball is on quite a roll, and that roll continued Saturday as Texas A&M defeated Seton Hall 6-3 on day two of the NCAA Regioinal.

With the score tied at three in the top of the sixth, third baseman Adam Smith stepped to the plate against Joe Dirocco, who was 8-1 coming into the contest. Smith smacked an estimated 388-foot two-run home run to put the Aggies ahead. The Aggies added an insurance run in the seventh when a double by Matt Juengel scored Krey Bratsen, who had reached on a fielder's choice.

Ross Stripling pitched a complete game for the Aggies, giving up only one earned run and striking out five on the way to improving his record to 13-2 on the season. The Aggies are now 44-18 on the year, and 2-0 at the tournament. They will await the winner of Sunday's early game between Seton Hall and Arizona. The Regional Championship game is scheduled to start at 6:35 Sunday night.


Baylor Defeats Rice To Force Sunday Elimination Game For Owls

Rice came up short in their winner's bracket game against Baylor in the NCAA Regional Saturday, losing to the Bears 3-2.

Baylor got off to a quick start, scoring two runs on an RBI double by first baseman Max Muncy, followed by an RBI single by catcher Josh Ludy. The Bears added another run in the third, when right fielder Brooks Pinckard scored on a groundout by Ludy. 

The Owls rallied for two runs in the sixth when Keenan Cook scored on an error, and Anthony Rendon drove J.T. Chargois in with a single. From there, Baylor lefty Josh Turley buckled down, as the sophomore went the distance for the win. Baylor only managed five hits in the game, but timely work at the plate and an unearned run allowed by Rice's Austin Kubitza proved the difference in the game.

Rice will now face California in an elimination game Sunday, with first pitch scheduled for 2:00. The winner will face Baylor, the loser's season is over.


NCAA Baseball Regionals 2011: Texas A&M Demolishes Wright State 11-0

Stilson who? Michael Wacha stepped into the ace spot, throwing six shutout innings in an 11-0 Aggie rout of the 4th seeded Wright State Raiders in the late game of the College Station Regional. Texas A&M touched up Raiders starter Michael Woytek for a six-run second inning and cruised from there. Matt Juengel’s three run homer was the big capper of that threat, and the Aggie DH finished the game 2-4 with three RBI’s. Catcher Kevin Gonzalez delivered a three-run homer of his own in the fifth to effectively put the game out of reach.

Wright State, who was third in the nation in batting average coming into the game, could manage only seven hits against Wacha and the A&M bullpen. Jake Hibberd led the way by going 2-4 with a double.

The Aggies will face Seton Hall in the winner’s bracket game, which will take place at 6:35 PM CT tomorrow. The Pirates shut out the Arizona Wildcats 4-0 in the early game behind Joe Prosinski’s complete game shutout and a rally off of Wildcats starter Kurt Heyer. The Wildcats and Raiders will tangle in the losers bracket, starting at 12:35 PM CT tomorrow.


NCAA Baseball Regionals 2011: Rice Destroys Alcorn State 14-2

Abe Gonzalez threw a complete game for the Owls, allowing just 2 runs and walking none as the Owls thoroughly demolished fourth seeded Alcorn State 14-2 on Friday night in the nightcap of the Houston Regional. Rice didn’t hit for much power, but really didn’t need to: the Owls banged out 22 hits. Five of them were doubles, including two by Michael Ratterree, who went 3-6 with 2 RBI out of the cleanup spot.

After finishing the year third in the nation in stolen bases, Alcorn State was able to manage just one in this game. Every one of the pitchers they used were touched up for multiple runs.

Rice will advance to take on Baylor in the Winner’s Bracket tomorrow. That game will be at 6 PM CST at Reckling Park. Baylor advanced by knocking California junior Erik Johnson around for six runs in 2.1 innings, holding on to win by a 6-4 score. California and Alcorn State will meet in the loser’s bracket game, which will happen at 2 PM CT.


College Station Regional Preview: Can A&M Overcome Loss Of Stilson?

Though Texas A&M had a terrific season, they were shafted by the tournament selection committee with a non-National seed and a potential trip to Florida State for the Super Regionals, should they survive their initial group. They'll host the College Station Regional to open up the NCAA Baseball Tournament, and the Aggies (42-18) will play host to the Arizona Wildcats (36-19), Seton Hall Pirates (33-23), and Wright State Raiders (36-17). The games will begin on Friday, with A&M facing the Raiders at 6:35 PM CT and Arizona dueling with Seton Hall at 12:35 PM CT.

1) Texas A&M Aggies
Best draft-eligible player: This would have easily been right-hander John Stilson a few weeks ago, before he tore his labrum. Now it's up in the air. Their two best remaining players aren't draft eligible, Shortstop Kenny Jackson could be a decent 8-15th rounder.

So here's what it comes down to: without Stilson, the Aggies have lost the confidence of the selection committee. Texas A&M's pitching was always pretty good though, and while likely replacements for their ace starter may not be of his caliber, they still have plenty of great pitching. A&M was 10th nationally with a 2.68 ERA, and sophomore Michael Wacha could very well pitch the Aggies past whoever is in their path.

The Aggies are weakest on offense, where the Big 12 season put a lot of wear on their bats. Sophomore Tyler Naquin is their biggest bat: .379/.449/.528, with 17 doubles. Matt Juengel also has some pop, as he socked five homers and slugged .460. Outside of that, A&M looks remarkably like Rice does: they have hitters that can work the count and be gnats, but nobody who can really power one over the fence on a consistent basis. Losing Stilson hurts, but pitching was the deepest part of their team, and they have a lot of live arms to go to.

2) Arizona Wildcats
Best draft-eligible player:
Here's an interesting toss-up. Kyle Simon (10-3, 2.81) has the most college success, but because of his low strikeout rate, he doesn't really have the arm of someone that's going in the first couple of rounds. Meanwhile, lefty Bryce Bandilla can pump it up to 95 but doesn't have a clue where it's going, as he's allowed 32 walks in 44.1 innings. 

The Wildcats have a fairly good chance at knocking off A&M without Stilson in my estimation. While the park effects have to be adjusted for, what with playing in Tucson and all, their offense seems better on paper. Arizona was fourth nationally with a .322 average, and had five separate players slug .436 or higher. On the mound, Kurt Heyer and Simon give Arizona a terrific 1-2 punch, and though the bullpen is a little shaky, stars win more games in a shorter format. 

3) Seton Hall Pirates
Best draft-eligible player:
Senior Joe DiRocco leads the team with an 8-1 record and a 1.68 ERA. Unfortunately, he isn't regarded as much of a prospect due to advanced age, a low strikeout rate, a relatively high walk rate, and a mid-high 80's fastball. I'm pretty sure he'll be drafted, but it probably won't be in the first 10 rounds.

Seton Hall backs up DiRocco with a terrific overall pitching staff. A 2.61 team ERA ranked them eighth nationally, and their bullpen and rotation both have depth, if not many traditional flamethrower types. Ryan Harvey does have 72 K's in 43 innings out of the pen. 

The Pirates have won 13 of their last 15 to get here, upsetting several teams in the Big East Tournament. With Seton Hall, it really depends on which offense shows up. They've had quite a few explosions for 9+ runs, but more often than not, it winds up with the Pirates trying to eke out a low scoring win. There isn't a single player on their roster with a .400+ slugging percentage, and that could cost them.

4) Wright State Raiders
Best draft-eligible player:
Coming into the year, right hander Casey Henn was probably the most well-regarded coming into the year, but all junior Jake Hibberd has done is hit .412 with a .618 slugging percentage. Both of them could potentially go in the top 10 rounds.

Hibberd gets backup from junior outfielder Tristan Moore, who has hit .365/.442/.581, with five bombs. Unfortunately, the terrific cumulative offense that the Raiders have (.329 batting average, 3rd best in the NCAA's) has to carry the cumulative 4.24 ERA of the pitching staff. 

Prediction: Texas A&M beats Wright State, but can't overcome the balance that Arizona has. Wildcats go the Super Regionals.


Houston Regional Preview: Rice Faces Challenges From Baylor, California

Rice was able to overcome a dreadful start to the 2011 season, feasting on some weak Conference USA fodder to get themselves back to national seed status. As long as they continue to win out, Rice will have homefield all the way to the College World Series. The first step towards getting there will be taking care of the Houston regional, a double elimination tournament where the Owls (41-19) will host Baylor (29-26), California (31-20), and Alcorn State (27-28). Action kicks off on Friday, with the two sets of Bears meeting at 2 PM CST and Rice taking on the Braves at 6 PM CST. 

1) Rice Owls
Best draft-eligible player:
Anthony Rendon. You may have heard of him if you followed college baseball at all this year. He led the nation in walks drawn and turned that into a nifty .523 on-base percentage. In a down year for him.

The Owls will be looking for a big rebound from freshman Austin Kubitza. After being named CUSA's Freshman Of The Year, he was bombed in an opening round defeat against the UAB Blazers. Rice features a deep bullpen and a pitching staff that was in the top 10 nationally in strikeouts. On offense, it's basically just the Rendon show. Michael Ratterree has played well this year, but no other starter was able to compile a .400 slugging percentage for the Owls. Should they get matched up with a starter that is stingy with the base on balls, it could be a long afternoon for Rice.

2) Baylor Bears
Best draft-eligible player:
Probably Logan Verrett. Very athletic and has some decent stuff. He went 6-5 with a 2.81 ERA for the Bears this year, striking out 91 in 93 innings.

The Bears don't have a very impressive record, but were in a very competitive Big 12 Conference this year. The first key for their opponents will be shutting down the running game of Brooks Pinckard, who stole 32 of 34 bases, good enough to make the Top 10 nationally. They have a number of solid bats in Max Muncy, Chris Slater, and Cal Towey that could make life difficult for pitchers in this regional. Beyond Verrett, the pitching staff gets a little shaky though. None of the other starters were able to keep their ERA's under 3.5, and as a whole their staff tends to walk a bit too many people. If Baylor makes it out of this regional, it'll likely be on the strength of their bats rather than their arms.

3) California Bears
Best draft-eligible player: Erik Johnson. A starter that should be able to find a home in the first couple of rounds in the draft. Good offspeed stuff, a little thick, but has a power sinker that he uses to generate ground balls. 2.08 ERA in 14 starts, 91 strikeouts in 90 innings, but will nibble.

These Bears are one of the feel-good stories in the field, making the tournament after their baseball program was in danger of being eliminated due to budget cuts. Johnson leads a pretty intimidating pitching staff with a deep bullpen, and Justin Jones is a perfectly capable No. 2 starter. Marcus Semien is their best draft-eligible hitter, although he'll likely go for his tools and defense rather than his offense. Still, the Bears have a fairly deep lineup as well. Chad Bunting, Mitch Delfino, and Tony Renda form the nucleus of their offensive core. They may be the most balanced team in this field.

4) Alcorn State Braves
Best draft-eligible player:
Uhm, good question. The Braves don't have anyone who projects to be drafted highly. Senior outfielder Kenny Rowan is probably their most highly-regarded player, but he didn't have much of a year statistically. If you want to go on pure stats, senior Kilby Perdomo crushed the ball this year, smacking 10 homers and 12 doubles en route to a .626 slugging percentage.

The Braves have an offense very reminiscent of the Whitey Herzog-era Cardinals. Perdomo plays the role of Jack Clark, and the gnats around him pick up a ton of steals. Alcorn State was third in the nation with 133 total steals, and senior outfielder Brandon Hollins led the way with 37 of them in 45 attempts. The pitching...well, that's not likely to hold up here. The lowest qualified ERA on the Braves staff was 4.43. And that was in the SWAC. So...yeah. 

Prediction: Rice holds off California, advancing to the Super Regional with a 3-1 record. 


Rice Gets Eighth National Seed In NCAA Baseball Tourney

The NCAA baseball selection crew announced this year’s field earlier today, and while Rice was able to pocket a national seed, Texas A&M was left out in the cold. The No. 8 overall seeded Owls will play host in a very dangerous regional, with Baylor (29-26) as the second seed and California (31-20), who almost lost their baseball team entirely, taking the third seed in the region. Rice will lead things off against No. 4 Alcorn State (27-28), the SWAC’s auto-qualifier, on Friday.

The Aggies didn’t get a national seed, but still host their own regional. In case you were wondering, Tim Weiser, who was part of the selection committee, says they weren’t docked for losing ace John Stilson to a torn labrum. Suuure they weren’t. The Aggies play host to Arizona (36-19), Seton Hall (33-23), and Wright State (36-17). A&M will open up against the Raiders on Friday.

Should Rice and A&M advance out of their regionals, Rice will take on the winner of the Fort Worth regional, where TCU is the No. 1 seed, and Texas A&M will face the winner of the Tallahassee regional, where Florida State is the No. 1 seed.

Here’s SB Nation’s coverage of the whole field, and here is the entire bracket on NCAA.com.


College Baseball Regionals: Rice And Texas A&M Will Play Host, Matchups Still To Be Determined

A pair of late comebacks on Sunday firmly clinched spots for Rice and Texas A&M in the NCAA's baseball bracket, and they will both host regionals next week. The Texas Longhorns and TCU Horned Frogs also managed to clinch spots, and so Texas will have four different host sites for the NCAA Tournament's early rounds. The double elimination format will pit four teams in a short tournament to advance to a best-of-three super regional, and from there the teams will advance to the College World Series in Omaha.

The tournament field will come out at approximately 11:30 PM CT, and will be announced live on ESPN. Baseball America has projected Rice and Texas A&M to take the last two national seeds, at No. 7 and No. 8 respectively. It's essentially a toss up between them, Texas, Florida State, and Arizona State for three national seeds. Rice and Texas A&M should have an advantage because they won their conference tournaments and tied for their regular season conference crowns.

Rice won their crown by defeating Houston 4-3 in extra innings, with top MLB draft prospect Anthony Rendon scoring the winning run. Texas A&M won on Andrew Collazo's tenth inning walk-off homer against Missouri.

For more on the Aggies, please check out I Am The 12th Man.

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