Friday, June 5, 2009

Saturday Super Regional Snapshots

Four Super Regionals are underway today. As I write this Ole Miss and Virginia are going to the 11th inning tied 3-3, while Arkansas and Florida State are still sitting during their third rain delay in Tallahassee.

East Carolina @ North Carolina Noon ESPNU

ECU is in its first Super Regional since 2004, and it took some dramtics to get the Pirates to Chapel Hill. ECU trailed South Carolina 6-0 going into the 5th inning in Monday's Greenville Regional title game. They chipped away, and then Devin Harris belted a 3-run homer to tie the game 10-10. Harris came through again with the game-winning single in the 10th. Harris calls his head coach, Billy Godwin, "intense". The Pirates have hit 105 home runs this season, and they carry a .341 average into the series.

The Tar Heels are looking for their fourth straight trip to Omaha, and they'll look to match the Pirates power with a pitching staff that has 613 Ks and just 241 BBs this season. Brian Moran and Colin Bates form a nasty bullpen duo that has combined for 64 appearances, 10 saves and 11 wins this season. And, of course, there's first round draft pick in waiting, Dustin Ackley( .417-21 HR- 66 RBIs), at the plate.

Clemson @ Arizona State 9 PM ESPNU

Clemson missed the NCAA Tournament last year, and Jack Leggett's Tigers are looking for their first trip to the CWS since going two and out in 2006. Prior to last year, 1987 was the last time Clemson missed the NCAAs, but it's now playing in its 8th Super Regional (of 11 years under the current format.) They will be the home team in the first game of the series.

Clemson and ASU are nearly identical offensively, but this could be the best starting rotation Pat Murphy has had as Sun Devil head coach. The staff leads the national with a 2.79 ERA, and Mike Leake is 15-1 with a 1.23 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 124.2 IP. Get ready for the "Rudy" references. Sun Devil Johhny Reuttiger is the nephew of the famed Daniel "Rudy" Reuttiger (.350-HR-15 RBIs)-(the one the movie is named after). Murphy was the head coach at Notre Dame prior to taking the helm in Tempe. ASU lost to eventual national champ, Fresno State, in last year's Super Regional.

Southern Mississippi @ Florida 3 pm ESPNU

Southern Miss. has the chance to be this year's Cinderella. Corky Palmer's Golden Eagles give Conference USA three teams in the Super Regionals - one more than the Big 12 and Pac 10 combined. They knocked-off Georgia Tech in the Atlanta Regional by scoring 42 runs in their four games, including 24 runs in their two wins over the Yellow Jackets.

Florida hasn't been this far in the NCAA Tournament since losing to Texas in the 2005 championship series in Omaha. The Gators missed the tournament the following year, and now under Kevin O'Sullivan they earned the # 8 national seed. Florida's pitching staff doesn't have a complete game this season, but a talented bullpen is the reason why. Billy Bullock is 3-2 with 11 SVs while Tony Davis is 5-0 in 30 app.

TCU @ Texas 6pm ESPNU

It's the first Super Regional ever for Jim Schlossnagle's TCU Horned Frogs. After watching Utah win the MWC tournament on their home field, TCU swept through a Ft. Worth Regional that included Texas A & M and Oregon State. The Frogs don't have a lot of players who jump off the stat sheet, but they have a lot of players who do the little things well.

After winning Saturday/Sunday's 25-inning game over Boston College, Texas may have been sleep walking through the first eight innings of Sunday night's game with Army. It looked like the Black Knights would force a Monday winner take all title game, but Texas scored eight runs in the 9th inning, capped by a walk-off grand slam by Preston Clark. It's been a week, but the biggest question is how UT closer Austin Wood's arm will respond to his 13 inning, 169 pitch relief outing vs. BC. FACT: Since sending three teams to the 2005 College World Series (Texas, Baylor & Nebraska) when Texas won it all, the Big 12 has not had a team qualify for the CWS for the last three seasons. Texas is the only Big 12 team in this year's Super Regionals.

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