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Anthony Chiusano | | June 5, 2019

2019 NCAA baseball tournament: Predictions, preview and players to watch from each Super Regional

Top plays and best moments of baseball regionals

We're one step closer to knowing which eight teams are heading to Omaha for the 2019 College World Series. The 64-team NCAA baseball tournament field is down to 16, and Super Regionals will begin this weekend.

Here are the matchups and players to watch from each of the eight best-of-three series.

CWS 2019: Schedule, scores and news | Full tournament bracket | Printable bracket | CWS info & tickets

Los Angeles Super Regional: UCLA vs. Michigan

UCLA Athletics UCLA

No. 1 national seed UCLA fell behind in three of its four regional wins. On each occasion, the Bruins responded the next inning to either tie or take the lead for good.

While it wasn't always easy for UCLA (51-9) last round, the Bruins reinforced why they're the top team in the field. Ryan Garcia anchors the tournament's best pitching staff (2.59 team ERA), coming off an 8.1-inning, six-strikeout outing last Friday. Behind the starters, the bullpen surrendered just four runs in 23 innings of regionals work.

Many believed we'd get a Pac-12 showdown between UCLA and defending champ Oregon State in this Super Regional. But it'll be a dangerous Michigan team looking to play spoiler in L.A. instead. The Wolverines won their first regional since 2007 after crushing Creighton 17-6 in Monday's finals in Corvallis.

Michigan's offense starts with leadoff hitter Jordan Nwogu, who's slashing .335/.456/.594 with 12 homers, 42 RBIs and 15 stolen bases. The sophomore hit two homers in regionals. Senior Jimmy Kerr added four homers last round, including two in Monday night's clincher.

Recent history favors UCLA. The No. 1 national seed has made it to the College World Series in seven of the past nine years, including each of the last three.

Prediction: UCLA, 2 games

Lubbock Super Regional: Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State

Josh Jung talks talking to his bat

The Lubbock Super Regional is one of two inter-conference series this weekend, pitting the Big 12 regular season champ (Texas Tech) against the Big 12 tournament champ (Oklahoma State). The Red Raiders swept the head-to-head season series in late April.

It was Josh Jung (who else?) that paved the way to that series win in Lubbock with a pair of homers and six RBIs in three games. After leading TTU to the 2018 CWS, Jung has continued to rake this year with a .340/.478/.608 slash line. The Texas Rangers made him the No. 8 overall pick in Monday night's MLB Draft.

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE: Super Regional hosts, game times released

Don't discount the Cowboys, though. OSU headed into the NCAA tournament as one of the hottest teams. Oklahoma State pitchers allowed just 11 runs in four regional games, bookended by a strong outing from Joe Lienhard to close out UConn in the regional finals. 

Texas Tech is playing in its fourth Super Regional in six years and could book its fourth trip to the College World Series. Oklahoma State last made it to Omaha in 2016, its 20th CWS appearance.

Prediction: Texas Tech, 2 games

Fayetteville Super Regional: Arkansas vs. Ole Miss

Ole Miss Athletics Ole Miss baseball

It's been four years since a national runner-up made it back to the College World Series the following season. That was 2015 Virginia, who rebounded from a 2014 loss to Vanderbilt to take down the Commodores in a championship series rematch.

Arkansas' first step toward a similar redemption story was an awfully impressive one. The Hogs swept through CCSU and TCU (twice) in regionals behind stellar pitching. Connor Noland, Isaiah Campbell and Patrick Wicklander combined for 18.1 innings of three-run work. Campbell went eight, and struck out eight, against a TCU team that battered 13 runs against Cal the night before.

But Ole Miss was equally impressive at home in Oxford with a +34 run differential in three games. The Rebels have four hitters in their lineup with at least 10 homers, including Thomas Dillard (13) who had three in regionals. 

Neither team was really challenged in regionals, which should make this SEC showdown an intriguing battle. Ole Miss last reached the CWS in 2014.

Prediction: Ole Miss, 3 games

Baton Rouge Super Regional: LSU vs. Florida State

Florida State Athletics Florida State baseball

LSU has experience abound in its lineup, but sitting atop their starting rotation are two true freshmen. Landon Marceaux (5-2, 4.64 ERA) and Cole Henry (4-2, 3.51) each picked up victories in the Tigers' first two regional games, combining for 10 innings of two-run ball against Stony Brook and Southern Mississippi.

This pair, along with sophomore righty Eric Walker (5-4, 5.47), will contend with a Florida State offense that dropped 35 runs in three games in the Athens Regional ‚ÄĒ including a 22-4 barrage in two wins against No. 4 national seed Georgia.

The Seminoles batted .375 and slugged nine home runs in their run to a regional title. Tim Becker had three of those homers after not hitting any in the regular season. Mike Salvatore went 9-of-14 with eight runs scored at the top of the Seminoles' lineup.

Florida State has made 17 Super Regionals in 21 years under the tournament's current format... but is 0-5 in series away from Tallahassee. To buck that trend this year, FSU must win at Alex Box Stadium, one of the toughest road venues in the nation.

Prediction: Florida State, 3 games

Nashville Super Regional: Vanderbilt vs. Duke

Vanderbilt Athletics Vanderbilt baseball

Vanderbilt has one of the scariest lineups in the country, spearheaded by Austin Martin and J.J. Bleday. But it was first baseman Julian Infante who took home regional MVP honors with three home runs and five RBIs in Nashville.

All together, Vandy smacked four homers in a 12-1 win over Indiana State on Sunday to bring its season total to a program-record 87 and counting. The Commodores will stay home  for Super Regionals where it's gone 30-5 so far this season. 

Duke, the 3-seed out of the Morgantown Regional, will visit Hawkins Field with a shot at its first CWS berth since 1961. The Blue Devils shut down West Virginia and Texas A&M 4-0 and 4-1, respectively, to close out its regionals sweep. 

Bryce Jarvis leads Duke's staff with a 4.06 ERA and 85 strikeouts. He punched out 11 in eight shutout innings against West Virginia. Ben Gross provides some secondary depth with a 4.09 ERA, 69 strikeouts and a regional win against the Aggies.

Prediction: Vanderbilt, 2 games

Louisville Super Regional: Louisville vs. East Carolina

ECU Athletics ECU Pirates baseball

National seeds Louisville and East Carolina both took hazardous paths to Super Regionals. Now they'll face off in Louisville.

The Cardinals advanced despite a Day 2 loss to 3-seed Illinois State, a four-game suspension to their closer and a blown ninth inning lead Monday in Game 7. A walk-off single sent Louisville through to the program's eighth Super Regional.

Luke Smith was one of the heroes for the Cardinals, tossing 8.1 three-hit innings in Sunday's must-win 11-2 victory over Illinois State. In the final two regional games against ISU on Sunday and Monday, Louisville pitchers allowed just three earned runs.

CARDS ARE SUPER: How grit and great pitching got Louisville through adversity in regionals

Out in Greenville, ECU lost its regional opener 5-4 to 4-seed Quinnipiac. The Pirates then mowed down NC State, Quinnipiac and Campbell (twice) by a combined score of 44-11. That's how you bounce back from a dud.

It helped that ECU's four best hitters are all on a tear. The quartet of Spencer Brickhouse, Alec Burleson, Bryant Packard and Jake Washer accounted for 25 RBIs in five regional games. Washer finished with four homers.

Prediction: East Carolina, 3 games

Starkville Super Regional: Mississippi State vs. Stanford

Mississippi State Athletics Ethan Small

Mississippi State's roster is headlined by all-time SEC hits king Jake Mangum and southpaw first-round draft pick Ethan Small. That's not a bad foundation for trying to reach a second straight College World Series.

Small continued his spectacular season with a six-inning, 10-strikeout performance in a regionals win against Central Michigan. He's one of 22 Bulldogs to reach 100 strikeouts in a season ‚ÄĒ which he's now accomplished in back-to-back seasons.

Stanford will travel east to Starkville after outlasting a pesky Fresno State squad in Game 7 of its regional. The Cardinal are back in Super Regionals for the first time since 2014 after consecutive regional exits on their home turf.

Stanford ace Brendan Beck might line up with Small in what would be a must-watch pitching duel. Beck held Sacramento State to three hits in seven scoreless innings on Friday and then tossed another 3.1 perfect innings in relief against Fresno State on Sunday.

Prediction: Mississippi State, 3 games

Chapel Hill Super Regional: North Carolina vs. Auburn

UNC Athletics UNC baseball

You'd be hard-pressed to find a better combo at the top of a lineup than UNC's Michael Busch, Aaron Sabato and Danny Serretti. The latter two are true freshmen while Busch, a junior, was selected in Monday's MLB Draft first round.

Sabato was named ACC Freshman of the Year and a national First-Team All-American with his team-leading .341 average, 16 homers (tied with Busch) and 58 RBIs. His game-tying ninth inning homer in UNC's regional opener against UNCW paved the way for a walk-off win later that inning on a botched suicide squeeze attempt.

Auburn ousted host Georgia Tech in Atlanta to win a regional for the second straight year. After out-slugging a potent Coastal Carolina offense in Game 1, the Tigers stunned Georgia Tech on Saturday on Steven Williams' walk-off 3-run homer. Bailey Horn then shut down the Yellow Jackets in the regional finals with six two-hit innings in a 4-1 clincher.

Auburn's top pitcher, Tanner Burns (4-3, 2.81), could take the hill in Game 1 of Super Regionals after an abbreviated three-inning day against Georgia Tech on Saturday. 

Prediction: North Carolina, 3 games

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