See also: Super Regional scoreboard
Houston (48-16) at Texas (41-19)
Friday: 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
Saturday: 2 p.m. (ESPN)
Sunday: 2 p.m. (ESPN)
Coach: Todd Whitting
Postseason History: 4th super regional appearance. Seeking 3rd trip to Omaha.
Postseason Route: No. 2 seed in Baton Rouge Regional. Won in five games, beating No. 8 LSU in the final.
(Anonymous coach breaks down the Cougars)
“Houston is an extremely balanced club. Their pitching and defense is outstanding, but you look at their offense and they’re balanced from top to bottom. Great balance of left and right, and a couple of switch-hitters. Their lefthanded hitters in the middle of that lineup do an outstanding job. They’ve won a lot of close games, they know how to win, they’re a veteran team in many ways, and they’ve got a lot of experience and depth in their bullpen. A lot of guys with a lot of poise.
“Look at those lefthanded hitters, Survance and Grayson and Montemayor. Grayson, an older guy who hits in the middle of their lineup, then a senior catcher back there with Barker, a righthanded hitter who does a great job behind the plate for them. To me, they understand the game of playing it one pitch at a time. They exude a lot of poise, and that’s why they’ve won a lot of games. It’s easy to look at their stats and say they do a great job with pitching and defense, but I think their lineup is very good and I think it’s driven by their lefthanded hitters. Grayson brings a physical presence to the box when he stands up there. He’s got a great approach at the plate, a veteran approach. He doesn’t chase a lot, understands how to use the entire field. without question a guy in the middle of the lineup you have to honor. Survance has had a lot of big hits, a good runner, one of those lefties. Montemayor is a doubles hitter, gap-to-gap guy—and Survance and Montemayor are young guys, only sophomores.
“The key for a lot of those guys is getting them on base. When you look at their offense, the one thing that strikes you as a positive is they all understand their roles. The lefthanded hitters in the middle of the lineup have done a good job driving guys in. Vidales is a switch-hitter, Frankie Ratcliff is an older guy who does a good job at shortstop. Those guys all understand their roles from an offensive standpoint. They have a handful of guys with double-digit stolen bases. Survance and Ratcliff and Fulmer, Vidales, those guys get on base and the older guys drive them in. Even Barker behind the plate, an older guy, a veteran catcher who understands the game, he is somebody you have to honor in the lineup too. They do a very good job defending up the middle with Barker, Vidales and Ratcliff, then Fulmer in center.
“Their starters are good, and you look at how they’ve used them, they’re all somewhat interchangeable. Garza and Lemoine have been a great one-two for them the entire year. Garza’s the older junior, has a tremendous feel for pitching, great presence around the mound, around the zone consistently. Lemoine is a Team USA invite, great arm, been up to 95. Both of those guys are very good, and I think their bullpen is outstanding. Garza is more the three-pitch mix, pitchability guy. Lemoine is a live arm, plus velocity guy, good slider.
“Jared Robinson is a fastball-slurve guy. He comes right at you. He’s a three-pitch guy, I think his change was like a split if i remember right. The one thing they all do is they do a tremendous job establishing their fastball. (Pitching coach) Frank Anderson does a tremendous job; they’re all around the strike zone, all quick to the plate, all do a good job of commanding the fastball. A lot of those guys come right at you with fastballs. Collectively as a pitching staff, they do a very good job of establishing the fastball. They have some guys who are higher-end velo guys that allow them to do that.
“Their lefties are very good too. Jared West is a lefty with a very good arm, started for them for a while, very good fastball. They’ve got (Andrew) Lantrip and Longville that they can start, but Garza and Lemoine are clearly their one-two. (Tyler) Ford has got a great arm, man. He’s like 87-91, 92, got a lot of appearances. A three-pitch guy, but he comes right at you with the fastball. Kind of a higher arm slot guy, a senior who comes right at you. Wellbrock is the fastball-slider guy, two-pitch guy, maybe a changeup to lefties. But comes right at you. When you look at their pitching staff, they do a really good job of establishing the fastball, and everybody does a good job with one good secondary pitch. As a team, they understand how to win, and a large part of that comes from all these guys understanding their roles.”
Coach: Augie Garrido
Postseason History: 9th super regional appearance. Seeking 35th trip to Omaha.
Postseason Route: No. 2 seed in Houston (Rice) Regional. Won in four games, beating Texas A&M in the final.
(Anonymous coach breaks down the Longhorns)
“From an offensive standpoint, they’re certainly opportunistic. They score so many runs with two outs, some of that is their offense. You get the leadoff guy on and bunt him over every time, you’re never going to score with nobody out, either one or two. But they’re athletic. That’s the one thing about their lineup, very athletic. Against us, innings would get extended because they can beat out a ground ball in the hole, or beat out a slow chopper up the middle, and live to see that next guy. There wasn’t as much thump in the middle of the order. Payton is a very, very good player, obviously, but calling pitches against him, you don’t have the same feeling that he’s going to jump the yard. Barrera is a freshman hitting cleanup for them, going to be a really good player, but still got some holes and you can pitch to him. The thing that makes them tough is their athleticism and ability not to strike out. With two strikes they made adjustments, fouled some balls off. It led to some walks and some soft contact that they beat out.
“Clemens is an athletic guy over at first base. The kid Gurwitz at third plays hard; a hard-nosed kid, athletic, gets down the line well, has range in the infield. Same with Hinojosa and Marlow, and their outfielders are athletic, cover some ground up there. This is a pitching and defense team, they’re going to pound the strike zone. Every one of their pitchers is able to fill up the zone. And they play really good defense behind them, so you’ve got to go out there and earn what you get against them. Shut down the running game, all that type of stuff.
“Payton is a tough out. It’s recognition of pitches, when you have those type of walk/strikeout numbers. And I think overall as a team, they’re pretty good, same type of thing: high walk total, low strikeout total. If you can do that and you’re athletic, you’ll steal some extra base hits here and there. Payton sees pitches well, takes pitches. He’s never off balance or out in front. With two strikes, it’s really good. He’ll have a 10-pitch at-bat where you’re trying to go away, trying to go in, using offspeed. He can foul balls off until you walk him or leave one over the plate and he’ll put a good swing on it. He’s the best example on that team, but that’s their approach. it’s forcing you to work as a pitcher, work your pitch count, all that type of stuff.
“The other thing about the bunt, they’re good at it. You can talk about sacrifice bunting all you want, but when they put it on, they get it down. Maybe because they do it a lot and have a lot of practice. It’s to the side of the field they want to lay it out to. It’s actually fun to watch in a sense, they play their game and they’re really good at it.
“Ben Johnson runs pretty well, Shaw runs pretty well. Those are probably their best two runners on the team. They’re going to beat out some base hits, and that athleticism will take over. The lineup has a good balance of right and left. I think Hinojosa’s value to the team is leadership and attitude as much as it is anything else. He gets some big hits for them because I think he’s a confident guy. He can be pitched to, opens up early and looks to pull the ball a little too much sometimes. When he’s best is when he stays back and uses the whole field. We were able to work him away and he’d get himself out some. He’s playing with confidence; he’s playing shortstop at Texas, he knows he’s supposed to be good, and he plays like it. Defensively, range was his best thing. whether it’s positioning himself in the right spot or that first step, he could get to a lot of balls to his right and left.
“All their pitchers seem to do a good job being able to pitch with their fastball, more than some other guys around the league did, who use their slider when they get in trouble. They all have some run on their fastball, some two-seam/sink type action, they can pitch with that and get some ground balls to get out of jams.
“Thornhill was awesome when we saw him. Thornhill is an 88-89 type guy, with good movement and location, down in the zone, just attacking hitters. That’s the stuff that wins. He throws a breaking ball and commands it. French competes too and keeps them in games with his two-seamer and slider.
“Curtiss at the back end has really good stuff, up to 93-94 on the gun. A little herky-jerky, awkward delivery, but the ball explodes out of his hand, and we had trouble getting to his fastball. He had a slider too, didn’t command that as well against us, but a swing-and-miss pitch.”