Super Regionals Preview Part I

Games of June 11-13
All times Eastern

UC Irvine (42-16) at No. 1 Virginia (52-6)
1 p.m. (ESPNU), 1 p.m. (ESPNU), 1/4/7 p.m. (ESPN2/ ESPN2HD/ESPN2 or ESPNU)

Virginia's Steven Proscia
AP Images

No. 1 national seed Virginia earned a berth in the Super Regionals for the third consecutive season after cruising through the competition in the Charlottesville Regional, outscoring three opponents 29-3. It is the second consecutive time the Cavaliers will host a Super Regional after hosting their first in school history a year ago. Virginia advanced to its only College World Series in 2009, winning two of three games against Mississippi in the Cavaliers first Super Regional appearance. UC Irvine moved on to Super Regional play for the first time since 2008 after rallying in the ninth inning to score two runs and defeat top-seeded UCLA 4-3. Like Virginia, the Anteaters also advanced to their first CWS after winning their first Super Regional appearance in 2007.

Series History: The Cavaliers and Anteaters met twice in the Irvine Regional in 2009 with Virginia winning both games 5-0 and 4-1. More Info

On the Mound:  Virginia has been superb on the hill this season, leading the nation with a 2.27 ERA and 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings. The Cavs are paced by ACC Pitcher of the Year Danny Hultzen (11-3, 1.57 ERA). Joining Hultzen in the starting rotation are Will Roberts (11-1, 1.61 ERA) and Tyler Wilson (8-0, 2.34 ERA), while sophomore RHP Brandon Kline closes for the Cavaliers and is one of five finalists for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award after notching 17 saves and posting a 1.78 ERA. The Anteaters are also solid on the mound, and boast a 2.90 ERA heading into the weekend despite losing their entire starting rotation from last year’s club.  Junior Matt Summers stepped into the role of UCI’s ace, earning Big West Pitcher of the Year with an 11-2 record and 1.72 ERA on the season. The Anteaters’ top-notch defense (.979 fielding percentage) provides a strong backdrop for the team’s pitching staff.

Batter Up: The Cavaliers are also a threat at the plate, batting .307 and scoring 7.2 runs per game this season. Third baseman Steven Proscia leads UVa with eight homers and 58 RBI with a solid .341 batting average, while catcher John Hicks has contributed 21 doubles, seven home runs and 54 RBI. The Anteaters are batting .299 as a team, led by third baseman Brian Hernandez’ .351 batting average. Leftfielder Drew Hill paces the squad with 50 RBI and five home runs.

It’s a Fact: Junior LHP/first baseman Danny Hultzen became the highest draft selection in Virginia baseball history when Seattle selected him with the second overall pick in the MLB Draft on June 6. He is the fourth player in UVa history to be taken in the first round of the draft.

Dallas Baptist (42-18) vs. California (35-21) (Played at Santa Clara)
8 p.m. (ESPNU), 10 p.m. (ESPNU), 4/7 p.m. (ESPN2/ESPN2 or ESPNU)

Cal's Kyle Porter
AP Images

Fans will have a hard time deciding which team to root for with such great stories leading them in their journey to Super Regionals. Both teams were No. 3 seeds in their respective regionals, and will play in a Super Regional on the campus of Santa Clara, about an hour away from Cal’s campus in Berkeley. California’s program was saved by donors after being eliminated because of university budget cuts, and then rallied to score four runs against Baylor in the Houston Regional final to stave off elimination once again, and advance to the school’s first Super Regional. Cal has made five CWS appearances with the last coming in 1992 before the new tournament format was installed in 1999. Meanwhile, independent Dallas Baptist advanced to Super Regionals for the first time since becoming an NCAA Division I program in 2006. The Patriots were also regional participants in 2008. 

Series History: First meeting. More Info

On the Mound: California fields one of the top pitching staffs in the nation, and heads into Super Regional play with a 2.88 ERA. Erik Johnson (6-4, 2.91 ERA) and Justin Jones (8-6, 3.09 ERA) provide a solid one-two punch in the starting rotation, while Kyle Porter (5-0, 1.62 ERA) and Matt Flemer (4-2, 2.14 ERA) are strong out of the bullpen for the Bears. While the Patriots’ team ERA of 4.68 is not as flashy as the Bears, senior right-handers Jared Stafford (8-4, 3.03 ERA) and Brandon Williamson (10-3, 3.98 ERA) provide a good foundation for the DBU pitching staff. Senior right-hander Chris Haney (2.34 ERA) is the Patriots’ stopper, and has collected 15 saves this year.

Batter Up: Cal posted double-digit hits in four of five regional contests, raising the team’s season average to .286. Sophomore second baseman Tony Renda, the Pac-10 Player of the Year, sparks the Bears offensively with a .335 batting average, 14 doubles, and 41 RBI. Junior catcher Chadd Krist leads the Pac-10 with 25 doubles, while batting .306 with 40 RBI. Dallas Baptist will test Cal’s pitching staff as the Patriots field one of the most explosive offenses in the nation. The Patriots are one of the top scoring teams in the country, averaging 8.45 runs per game, and are batting .311 with 60 home runs. DBU junior Jason Krizan owns the NCAA single-season doubles record with a current total of 39, and is also batting a stellar .419 with 10 homers and 81 RBI. Tyler Robbins has contributed 80 RBI, 17 doubles and 10 homers on the season.

It’s a Fact: Dallas Baptist is the only independent program in the nation to advance to a Super Regional other than Miami (Fla.) (1999-2004). The Hurricanes joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2005.

Texas A&M (46-19) at No. 5 Florida St. (45-17)
4:30 p.m. (ESPNU), 4 p.m. (ESPNU), 1/4/7 p.m. (ESPN2/ ESPN2/ESPN2 or ESPNU)

FSU's James Ramsey & Stuart Tapley
AP Images

Florida State advanced to the Super Regional round for the 11th time and fourth consecutive season as the Seminoles seek their 21st trip to the CWS, and second consecutive appearance in Omaha. The Seminoles are hosting a Super Regional for the fourth season in a row as they look to secure their third trip to Omaha in the last four years. Despite many hours of weather delays, Texas A&M finally posted a 3-0 win against Arizona Tuesday to move on to the Super Regional round for the first time since 2008 and fifth time overall. The Aggies won their first Super Regional appearance in 1999 as they made their fourth trip to the CWS.

Series History: FSU leads the all-time series 2-1, including two NCAA postseason victories against the Aggies. The Seminoles defeated Texas A&M in a 1986 NCAA Regional, and in the 1999 College World Series. More Info

On the Mound: Texas A&M enters the weekend with the fifth-best ERA in the nation at 2.64, and is allowing just 2.35 walks per game, which ranks sixth in Division I. The Aggies’ pitching staff is a man down after losing ace John Stilson (5-2, 1.68 ERA) to a torn labrum, but Michael Wacha (8-3, 2.24 ERA, 106 K) and Ross Stripling (13-2, 2.30 ERA) are solid competitors. FSU junior left-hander Sean Gilmartin (12-1, 1.83 ERA) anchors a Seminole pitching staff that has compiled a 3.68 ERA this season. Senior right-hander Daniel Bennett is the Seminoles’ top reliever with 15 saves and a 2.10 ERA in 38 appearances.

Batter Up: Sophomore outfielder Tyler Naquin, the Big 12 Player of the Year and College Station Regional MOP, paces the Aggies with a league-leading .389 batting average and 63 runs scored, and contributed 21 doubles and 43 RBI on the season.  Matt Juengel tops the squad with six homers and 47 RBI.  The Aggies and Seminoles both are batting .294 as a team.  The Seminoles batted .398 in the Tallahassee Regional, and scored 26 runs in three contests.  FSU ranks 11th in scoring with 7.2 runs per game, and has collected a Division I-leading 362 walks on the season.  Junior outfielder James Ramsey leads the team in all triple crown categories with a .364 batting average, 10 homers and 66 RBI.

It’s a Fact: FSU has played the most Super Regional games in NCAA history with 25, and now is the all-time leader in Super Regional appearances with 11. Cal State Fullerton and Miami, which did not advance out of regional play this season, each have 10.

Connecticut (45-18-1) at No. 3 South Carolina (48-14)
6 p.m. (ESPN2), 7 p.m. (ESPNU), 1/4/7 p.m. (ESPN2/ ESPN2/ESPN2 or ESPNU)

Connecticut's George Springer
AP Images

After advancing to the NCAA postseason last year for the first time since 1994, the Huskies upped the ante this season and notched their first Super Regional berth in school history by upsetting top-seeded Clemson twice at home.  Connecticut will now challenge another Palmetto State school as they travel to defending NCAA champion South Carolina.  The Huskies have advanced to the College World Series five times, with the last appearance coming in 1979.  South Carolina swept through the Columbia Regional to advance to the Super Regional round for the ninth time in school history, and second consecutive year.  The Gamecocks will look to become the first back-to-back national champions since Oregon State accomplished the feat in 2006 and 2007. 

Series History: The two programs met once in the 1985 regular season with the Gamecocks winning 10-4. More Info

On the Mound: The Huskies are proven on the mound with a 3.05 ERA, and are allowing just 7.46 hits per game, which ranks sixth in the nation.  Junior right-hander Matt Barnes (11-4, 1.62 ERA, 111 K), a first-round draft pick by Boston, is UConn’s ace, while junior RHP Kevin Vance is a top-notch closer with 13 saves and a 1.57 ERA.  South Carolina boasts a 2.65 ERA, sixth in the nation, entering the weekend, and is giving up just 7.53 hits per game, which ranks eighth in Division I.  Junior left-hander Michael Roth (12-3) ranks second in the nation with a 1.10 ERA, while reliever Matt Price has collected 17 saves. 

Batter Up: Connecticut is a tough out at the plate with one of the top batting averages in the nation at .311, and a Division I-leading 706 hits.  Centerfielder George Springer, another first-rounder, paces the squad with 77 RBI and 12 homers while batting .350 on the year.  Senior first baseman Mike Nemeth is hitting a team-leading .363 along with 50 RBI.  The Huskies are also speedy on the bases, stealing 1.98 bases per game, which ranks 11th in the nation.  South Carolina is batting .296 as a team with first baseman Christian Walker leading the Gamecocks in almost every offensive category, including a .361 batting average, nine home runs and 58 RBI.

It’s a Fact: With UConn’s George Springer and Matt Barnes being taken in the first round of the MLB Draft, the two juniors become the first Big East players from the same team to be selected in the first round since 1989 when Seton Hall’s Mo Vaughn and Kevin Morton were picked. Springer is the highest draft pick in UConn history as the 11th overall pick by the Houston Astros.