Just 16 teams are still standing as the 2019 Division I college baseball season winds down. Super Regional play begins Friday, June 7.
As teams prepare to battle it out this weekend for a chance to punch their ticket to Omaha, Nebraska and the College World Series, here's a key stat to keep an eye on in each match-up.
UCLA vs. Michigan — 1.36
Among all pitchers left in the Super Regionals, UCLA’s Ryan Garcia has the best ERA with that mark above. The junior from Sierra Madre, California is 10-0 over 15 appearances this season and was just selected in the second round of the MLB Amateur Draft by the Texas Rangers. Garcia pitched twice in regional play, allowing six hits and one run while sticking out eight over 10.1 innings of work. To score on Garcia, the Wolverines will have to bring their best at the plate.
Vanderbilt vs. Duke — .410
That’s the batting average for Vanderbilt third baseman Austin Martin, which is sixth best in all of Division I baseball, but the best among batters on teams still alive in the NCAA tournament. A sophomore from Jacksonville, Florida, Martin tallied four hits, three walks, a stolen base and four runs scored over three games in regional play. In 16 at-bats in regionals, he struck out just once. To beat Vanderbilt — which has the best team batting average among teams in the Super Regionals — the Blue Devils are going to have to keep Martin off the bases. The Blue Devils would be wise to not let JJ Bleday come to the plate with runners on-base too, as he has 26 home runs for Vanderbilt this season, the most in the country.
TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE: Super Regional hosts, game times released
Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State — 75
Among all hitters left in the Super Regionals, Red Raiders’ first baseman Cameron Warren is the king of scoring his teammates, driving in 75 runs so far this season. He’s a solid all-around hitter, with slashes of .367/458/.693, but he’s at his base when enters the batters box with his teammates on base. In regional play, the 6-foo-3 infielder from Midwest City, Oklahoma had five hits and eight RBI’s in 10 at-bats.
Louisville vs. East Carolina — 156 and 140
Those are the total strikeouts notched this season by Louisville’s Reid Detmers and East Carolina’s Jake Agnos, respectively. These are two of the best pitchers in baseball and a matchup between the two could make for one of the best pitchers’ duels in the Super Regionals. Agnos is 11-2 this season with 2.02 ERA in 16 outings, while Detmers is 11-4 with a 2.96 ERA in 16 appearances. Detmers didn’t have his best outing in regional play, allowing four runs over seven innings while striking out 11 in a loss, but Agnos — recently drafted by the Yankees — struck out nine batters and allowed just two runs in eight innings of work in a win over N.C. State.
Ole Miss vs. Arkansas — 6
The Razorbacks have a pretty talented roster and that’s the number of players they have drafted in the first two rounds of the MLB Draft this week. Among those that seem bound for the pros are outfielder Dominic Fletcher, pitcher Isaiah Campbell, pitcher Matt Cronin, shortstop Jack Kenley, pitcher Jacob Kotsyshock and pitcher Cody Scroggins. There’s a few pitchers listed in that group and perhaps Arkansas’ strikeouts per-nine innings mark of 9.6 — which is 23rd best in the nation — is a reason why. Ole Miss had four players drafted too, making this one of the more star-studded Super Regionals.
It's not easy to replace three #ProRebs in the pitching rotation. But with a leader like Cooper Johnson behind the plate, the Rebels made it happen in 2019. The @Tigers are going to love this guy.#HottyToddy #MLBRebs #MLBDraft pic.twitter.com/7YquJsi2VH— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) June 4, 2019
Stanford vs. Mississippi State — 703
That’s the number of hits the Mississippi State Bulldogs have this season, which is the most in the nation. Offense is Mississippi State’s thing. In regional play, the Bulldogs outscored opponents 23-10 over three games. They don’t generate runs by hitting the long ball — though they can do that too, going yard twice in regionals — but they cross home plate by putting balls in play and being smart on the base paths. The Bulldogs are also 11th in the nation in hitting with runners in scoring position. Bulldogs’ centerfielder Jake Mangum has 100 hits this year, the second most in the nation.
PREDICTIONS: Previewing every Super Regional matchup
LSU vs. Florida State — 10.5
Florida State’s pitchers know how to work the strike zone, and that number above is the average numbers of batters that the Seminoles fan per-game, a mark that is fifth best in the nation. In regional play, FSU struck out 25 batters across its three wins over FAU and Georgia. FSU’s entire pitching staff has an ERA of 4.61, which isn’t terribly bad or really great, but if the Seminoles can get ahead in the count, if they see a batter slipping, they’ll get the K more often than not.
North Carolina vs. Auburn — 75
It’s round two of Kenny Smith vs. Charles Barkley in college sports tournaments in 2019!
But let’s talk about Michael Busch, the run-scoring machine for the Tar Heels. Busch’s 75 runs scored are the seventh most in the country and third most among hitters in the Super Regionals. Busch, who was recently a first round MLB Draft pick by the Dodgers, scored three runs in regional play. Busch has a .290 batting average this season with 16 homers, 57 RBI’s, 58 walks and a .567 slugging percentage.
Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.