See also: Super Regional scoreboard
Pepperdine (42-16) at No. 7 Texas Christian (45-15)
Saturday: 4 p.m. (ESPNU)
Sunday: 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
Monday: 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
Coach: Steve Rodriguez.
Postseason History: 1st super regional appearance. Seeking 3rd trip to Omaha.
Postseason Route: No. 3 seed in San Luis Obispo Regional. Won in three games, beating Cal Poly in the final.
(Anonymous coach breaks down the Waves)
“They’re real, man. They’re a real team. They’re real tough top to bottom. I think they’ve got some hidden guys in their lineup. Their lineup stretches out pretty far. They have some threats for power in the middle, nobody with astronomical numbers. But they take good at-bats at the bottom of the lineup, then they get to the top, and they’re scary in the middle. They play great defense, and their pitching is as good as anybody’s, look at their numbers. I know they play in a pitcher’s park, but they can pitch. I think they were underrated, I think it worked to their advantage in the regional. They play well as a team and they can defend and pitch.
“Corey Miller is a cross-body righthander that I think can get it up to 90. It’s a command fastball with deception, a good little short slider and a changeup. It’s competitive and strikes, he doesn’t walk anybody or pitch around anybody, and like most good pitchers he elevates his game with runners in scoring position, he makes his best pitches when he needs to. On paper, an 88-89 righthander is like a stock college righthander, but there’s some deception to his fastball. Looking from the side, you’re like, ‘There’s nothing really special.’ But in front, it’s hard to pick up the ball.
“They all pitch very aggressive and very confident. Brown has learned to harness his competitiveness. I think it would get in the way prior to this year, and because of that he would lose more batters to walks and fall behind in counts more, and he’s not doing that now. He’s lefhanded and running it up to 91-92, sharp breaking ball and average changeup. He is the most athletic pitcher I’ve ever seen off the mound. He made a play off us that was one of the better plays I’ve ever seen a pitcher make in my life. He’s super-athletic and competitive, and he’s pitching confident. And he’s got the body of work behind him to prove it. It’s competitive, it’s strikes, it’s coming after you. Their whole pitching staff is like that.—coming after you, three-pitch mix, can stretch the zone when they need to and pound strikes when they need to. They’re not running anybody out there that’s (San Diego State’s Michael) Cederoth, 98 or whatever, but they can pitch. And the little freshman catcher back there runs a good game for them, too.
“Then the back end of their bullpen is good. Karch, their closer, is good—he’s going to be 89-90, with adrenaline maybe 91, but a sharp breaking ball, an average change, and plus-plus command of his fastball. And it’s downhill. Their pitching staff has been around, been through it. I think that’s the cornerstone of their team, and it has allowed the rest of those guys to develop and win games while they’re developing. They’re not all old, they’ve got good young players.
“Jefferson, you look at him and it looks like he doesn’t have a heart rate when he’s playing shortstop, and it works to his advantage. Every ball he got to, he caught and made the play. It might not be the flashiest looking guy, but every ball he got to he caught and threw a strike to the first baseman, with no panic. They do a good job controlling the running game with Barnett because they have an athletic righty going on Fridays with a quick move to first and quick to the plate. I don’t think Barnett has great arm strength but it never gets exposed, because they don’t have a lot of baserunners either, and they do a good job controlling running games with times to the plate and their lefthanded arms. Barnett can receive and block, but arm strength isn’t his strong suit. Their righties are quick to the plate, and their lefties, it’s just a guessing game then. But he’s solid back there, does a good job, and their pitchers respect him. For a freshman, I thought he had pretty good command of the pitchers.
“And then offensively, Barnett is one of those dudes that sometimes come along that, he’s got a knack for the baseball finding the barrel of his bat. We threw him all kinds of different pitches, and he’s got a knack for the barrel. And he’s tough to strike out. Even in two-strike counts, the ball hits the sweet spot of his barrel. Not a lot of power, an occasional double, but it’s like a magic wand, that barrel finds the ball, down and in, and changeups. He’s one of those guys. The Jefferson kid will surprise you because he can look foolish at times, then he’ll barrel up a ball. He’s not scared, and I don’t think the moment’s going to be too big for him. He wasn’t heavily recruited, and he’s a good player.
“Moyer’s going to get his swings in. At one point he was leading the nation in doubles. He can hit, man. I think he’s a draftable kid, good speed, got a free swing, but he’s good. He sits on pitches, and it’s doubles power and speed, and when he gets on base he’s a threat to steal. He’s probably the one guy on that team they would steal with. Austin Davidson’s an underrated two-hole hitter. I don’t think his numbers are indicative of the value he has on that team, and the quality at-bats he takes. And he can drive a ball into an opposite-field gap and to the pull side. It’s not huge power, but it’s a good swing and he’s a good baseball player. You have to be pitched to in the two-hole. He’s not going to slap the ball. And he’s an instinctive baseball player and a really good defender.
“They’re physical in the middle. All three of those dudes are big and athletic. Aaron Brown, I talked about his athleticism pitching, but he can also go out and get a ball in center. If you’re watching TV this weekend and there’s 16 teams, I’m going to venture to say he’s probably the best defensive outfielder. He covers tons of ground in the outfield, like a big leaguer. He’s really good out there. Offensively, he’s scary, he puts a hack on the ball. He does have holes in that swing, that’s why the strikeouts and batting average aren’t what you’d think they would be. But you’ve still got to throw those balls where you want to, and if you make a mistake, he’s going to crush it. Pepeprdine is annually one of the toughest ballparks to hit in the country, look at the numbers. Stick him in an SEC yard, he’ll have 10-12 more home runs. There’s holes in his swing, but he’s scary. You’d better make your pitches. The other two dudes, Langlois and Anderson, are the same way. They get their swings off, they have a plan, they change their plan depending on how they’re pitched. They all adjust, and they’re smart, a well-coached team. To be honest with you, with the exception of Brown, the other two guys can two-strike adjust. And it’s left-right-left. And they’re big physical dudes, and all three of them can leave the yard at any time. They’re just trying to get those two guys on base in front of them. That lineup just starts to lengthen out. They are tough outs. Caruso and Yamaguchi, those guys back there can play. They might not be power threats, but they’re tough outs.
“I can tell you this: Pepperdine is a very confident team. And they’re not confident because they got hot late. They’re confident because they’re good, and they’ve been good the entire season. This team has been good from the very first day to the very last day. And their body of work should prove that. So it’s no surprise to me that they beat Cal Poly in that tournament, just because they played them in a midweek game and beat them like 11-4, then Cal Poly came back and beat them. But I think that probably helped Pepperdine going into that tournament, knowing who they are. Their pitchers do what good pitchers do, they get better when the situation calls for it. That doesn’t happen a lot in college baseball. (Pitching coach) Jon Strauss has done a really good job with that staff. He’s fortunate to get Corey Miler and Brown back for this year—you don’t always get guys to come back, but you get those two back, they’re on a mission, good leadership, good coaching, they’re a talented team.”
Coach: Jim Schlossnagle
Postseason History: 4th super regional appearance. Seeking 2nd trip to Omaha.
Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Fort Worth Regional. Won in three games, beating Sam Houston State in the final.
(Anonymous coach breaks down the Horned Frogs)
“Their pitching is electric. It’s definitely, from what I saw stuff-wise, the best we saw in the conference all year, better than Texas. The kid I love, Morrison, just outstanding pitchability. To be able to mix up some arm angles and things like that. It’s low three quarters, but he’ll mix it up on you. He’ll drop down a little bit more, not the same exact arm slot all the time, and can throw any pitch from there. He has a really good slider and a changeup. Location-wise and changing speeds, he’s tough, a really, really good college pitcher. As good as I saw all year. I think he was only throwing 86-87, not a stuff monster guy.
“With Finnegan, you can tell it’s there. It was slider, fastball, that’s pretty much all we saw against him. But he was sitting around 92 and touching the mid-90s with a good slider, just a little bit up in the zone at times. I thought our guys did a good job against him offensively, we hit the slider a bit, it was up in the zone, some guys were sitting on it. But you can tell he’s very good. Alexander, as a freshman, it wasn’t like Finnegan or Ferrell, but he was upper 80s and just threw a ton of strikes. He’s just always in the strike zone with three pitches, always in good counts, never giving us anything. They play really good defense there as well.
“Ferrell is just lights-out. I mean, he was 95-96, with an 87 mph slider. It was crazy, unbelievable. He’s around the zone enough, you can’t sit there and try to work counts against him because his slider is so good, you don’t want to get behind. You’ve got to be a little aggressive to be able to get the fastball when you can get it. I thought the (Trey) Teakell kid was really good too, he can shut you down for multiple innings to bridge the gap to the late innings.
“They can be pitched to, certainly, if you can locate and stay in good counts. But there’s definitely some dangerous guys in there. Boomer White has had a good year, and the kid Cron, you can definitely get in on him and pound him in, but when you make a mistake, he makes you pay for it. The ball jumps off his bat differently than other guys. the rest of the lineup is just scrappy enough, I think it drops off when you get to 7, 8, 9 in their lineup. The kid who really came on for them is that kid Crain. I thought he really stretched that middle of the lineup out, I think he was hitting in that 5-hole after those two guys. So Cody Jones is the leadoff guy, then Odell, White and Cron, and Crain. You watch him take BP, nothing special, he’s just got a knack for squaring the ball up and putting it in play. Cody Jones obviously runs well, and he’s able to handle the bat with the bunt game. I think they do a good job with how they advance some of their runners, it’s not just, we’re going to bunt every time. They’ll also hit-and-run, they trust those bat-handlers enough to do that. There’s times they’ll show bunt, then get you 1-0 and go to a hit-and-run, so you can’t sell out for the bunt. Odell’s the same way, handles the bat really well, doesn’t run like Jones but is athletic enough you can put him in motion.
“Suiter is that 6-hole type guy. I thought we could get him with velo, and we did early, but he started getting some fastballs later against us. Those guys in those 6, 7 holes sometimes can get you if the pitchers relax at all. The other kid that can get into some balls is Fitzgerald, a really good college player, a veteran piece, the stage isn’t too big for him; he will put a good swing on it. Definitely not sexy, not a ton of juice in there, but a knack for getting big hits. The last couple guys are more defense, Keaton Jones and Bacak, more defensive-oriented at important positions. I think their whole thing is pitching and defense, and not beat themselves.
“I think sometimes when you have that kind of pitching and you know those guys will keep you in games, you play more confident, but offensively and defensively. It allows you to play a little bit looser. They play very confident defensively, bounce around out there. They’re pretty solid. I think with their pitching, I think they’re probably the best situated of the teams in our conference, to be honest with you. When you get to this level where these guys are, you need guys to go put up seven innings with a run, I think TCU’s got the best chance to pitch it that way for a weekend.”