College coaches break down the super-regional teams. Sources
were given anonymity in exchange for their candor. All times are Eastern.
Rankings indicate national seeds.
(41-20) at No. 8 Georgia (39-22-1)
Saturday: Noon (ESPN2)
Sunday: 4 p.m.
Coach (Record at school):Elliot Avent
CWS History: One trip to Omaha, in 1968.
on, they weren’t a great offensive team, but as the season went on,
they became a very good offensive team. They really matured. Synan
really, really improved as the year went on. Early on, he was a
bottom-of-the-order guy, and he wound up hitting third or fourth for
them. He’s really a big part of their offense now. Ryan Pond was
struggling early but has really turned it on for the last couple
months. That’s why they’re so successful: Their offense is backing up
“Shunick is sick, he can compete with anybody in the
country. That split-finger is almost unhittable, and he can throw it
for strikes. Their guys have a lot of confidence when they can play
with him on the mound. Their bullpen is solid, and I saw they moved
Buchanan into the rotation—he’s a three-pitch guy who can throw
strikes. They have guys at the back of the bullpen. Not having
(lefthanded closer Jimmy) Gillheeney could hurt them a little on the
back side, but they have good arms back there. (Senior righthander
Eryk) McConnell and (righty) Sam Brown and Sogard and (righty Joey)
Cutler, those guys all have good arms, they just keep on coming at
you. When you have Shunick Friday night, he’s going to give you six
or seven innings every time out. I think he has a chance to pitch in
the big leagues. We had no chance against him. He’s got enough
velocity, 90-91 on the fastball, and his slider is pretty good, but
the splitter is an equalizer. Surkamp was average against us. A year
ago, he really threw that breaking ball for strikes and it had some
depth to it, but it didn’t have that depth against us and he left it
up. He wasn’t that dominating guy he was for Team USA last summer.
His stuff just wasn’t as crisp.
think it’s an average defense. I think Foschi is a solid Division I
shortstop. Dallas Poulk is a little bit shaky at second base, and it
hurt them in the ACC tournament when Foschi was thrown out at a
collision at home plate and they had to move Poulk to short.
lineup doesn’t have a lot of power, but they make things happen.
Payne’s a good hitter, Jones is a mistake hitter who can hit that
ball into the gap. Martin does what he needs to do from the No. 9
hole, and Schaeffer has really improved. He made some good
adjustments, took some balls right in the four hole in right field. I
think their lineup is just working really well together right now,
just in synch.”
|No. 8 Georgia
CWS History: Five
whole thing is they’ve got power bats and power arms. They can hurt
you with one swing of the bat, and they’ve got some strikeout stuff.
Their arms are very good, their bullpen arms are very good. They can
run guy after guy out there who’s upper 80s, low 90s, in some cases a
little better than that. That’s what got them through the
regional—obviously their bats came alive, but that’s what did it.
“Holder was my favorite one of them all. He’ll pull his cap down,
attack the zone, he’s a strike-thrower, so you’ll have to hit. He’s
got a very good changeup. He attacks the zone more than the other two
starters. The thing that makes them good is their pen. They can bring
in (lefty) Alex McRee or (righties) Justin Grimm or Dean Weaver to
set up Fields, those guys could be starting almost anywhere else in
the country. It’s that second tier for Fields that make that staff so
good. McRee really throws the ball well, especially being lefthanded.
The key to them is McRee and Weaver are two power, power arms to set
up, a lefty and a righty. Two options there, to attack lefthanded
hitters or righthanded hitters. If Fields is on, good luck. When he
struggles throwing his breaking ball for strikes, he has to go to his
fastball, he has a tendency to overthrow at times, and the ball
elevates in the strike zone. If he can throw that breaking ball for
strikes just to keep you honest, he’s tough to hit. You’ve got to
worry about both, tough.
scores at the end of the year have been really high everywhere, and
that’s because teams are worn out. Guys are run down a little bit,
bats are getting hot, so their Nos. 6-9 guys are better than they
were earlier in the year. You have to handle the guys in front of
Beckham so you don’t have to pitch to him. Don’t let the bottom half
of the order steal runs off you, work hard to get those guys, but
don’t let Beckham beat you, as simple as that. Olson probably got a
lot of good pitches to hit this weekend because they didn’t
want to give him free pass, so he got good pitches to hit with
Beckham behind him. Then you’ve got to pitch to Poythress. If those
two guys have a good weekend, they’ll have a good chance. Peisel, to
me, he’s a really, really good player. He’s a very solid, consistent
player. He gives them that senior leadership. Every team that goes
deep into the postseason has a guy like Peisel. He plays the game
hard, plays the game right, hard-nosed. And he’s a physical leadoff
guy, he can hurt you as well. They’re all fairly aggressive, they’re
not up there looking for walks, they want to hit.
Poythress is good defender for his size, and outfield-wise they’re
very solid. If there’s one crack in their armor, it’s probably behind
think the key to that matchup’s going to be, if N.C. State throws
Shunick in that first game, they can win that first game. If they win
that first game, they’ve got a chance. Georgia’s better offensively,
but the whole key to the series is Shunick.”
State (47-15) at No. 4 Florida State (52-11)
Friday: 2 p.m.
Saturday: Noon (ESPN2)
Sunday: 1 p.m.
CWS History: Seven
|R-Sr.||5-1 (4 sv)||1.69||32||37-9|
think they’re really good. I thought this was the best team that I’ve
seen them have in recent years. They don’t have a bunch in the ‘pen,
so (Stephenson will) extend those starters, because they’re very
good, obviously. If you’re righthanded on the mound, they’re going to
run three lefthanded hitters at you right out of the shoot—Dirks and
Jones and Gillaspie. Those are three very tough outs. They’re just
scrappy, they get after you, they don’t quit, they’ve got some
guys off the bench who can hit a little bit.
got some power, their catcher has some home runs. Their leadoff guy,
Dirks, he’s got some home runs too, and he’s a threat. You can’t just
lay one in there first pitch, he’ll hit it out of the yard. They’ve
got three lefthanded hitters at the top who can pop it out to right
field at Florida State. (Outfielder) Kenny Williams can really run.
They’re a potent club, no question.
have to get up on them and try to run the pitch counts up on the
starters. That was our plan. Here’s what they do well, and it’s
obviously a tribute to (pitching coach Brent) Kemnitz up there: they
will completely change patterns. They do a great job of, in the
middle of the game, all of a sudden the pattern’s completely
different. If you’re taking one approach, they’ll counter you with
some other stuff, which buys you some pitch counts. Capra looked
good, but we felt like Shafer the righthander, he threw a 12-to-6
breaking ball at the very top of the zone, that thing would hit at
the top of the zone, so we were taking that thing and he was getting
the strike call. Then he’d throw a little slider at the bottom of the
zone to get a strike, he kept us off balance with the breaking ball.
He has some deception in his delivery, the way he sets up and the way
he delivers, it was tough to pick up. His fastball wasn’t
overpowering, but he located it well, I bet it was 87 or 88, might
have hit an 89 or 90, but it looked a lot harder the way he kept us
off balance with breaking balls. I thought Musgrave was really good.
He’s fastball-change, and he was throwing changuep after changeup
after changeup. The wind was really howling, he just kept throwing
it. Then when you make some adjustments and sit on it, he throws more
fastballs and backdoor breaking balls. He mixed all three. Capra did
a good job keeping his slider down against lefthanded hitters.
bullpen guys were pretty good. We got to (righthanded reliever Tyler)
Fleming. (Righty) McKeever did a good job, nothing overpowering, just
a little breaking ball, and his fastball ran in on you. (Lefthander
Logan) Hoch has a good slider, and he’s not afraid to throw in on
righthanded hitters or lefthanded hitters.
know Florida State’s very offensive, and in postseason play to put up
all those runs, they’re on fire. They lost the first game of the
regional, so they know that feeling. But Wichita State is a tough
group, and their starters definitely give them a real chance.”
|No. 4 Florida
Coach (Record with school):Mike Martin (1,536-517-4).
CWS History: 18 trips to Omaha, last in 2000.
think they’re balanced. They’ve got some power in the middle of the
order, and they’ve got some veteran guys who can handle the bat. The
most impressive thing about them offensively is they don’t give away
at-bats, they don’t swing at balls off the strike zone. They’ve
got a tremendous idea of the zone and they’re solid from top to
bottom. Pitching-wise, they’re very solid; I don’t think they
have a dominant arm out there that some other teams may have, but
they’ll mix and match at the end. Coach Martin’s always done a great
job of getting guys out of their when they’re in trouble. They’re
awfully tough in their ballpark, they use that right-center-field
wall as well as anybody. And the fans are very supportive of their
team, so it’s tough to go in there and win two out of three, no
think what happened was (Bucknell) probably had a strike-thrower who
was mixing pitches that (FSU) probably didn’t have a scouting
report on. They were probably shell-shocked a little bit. You expect
to win a home regional. They started to get down and probably started
think anybody that’s got a dominant lineup that can really, really
hit might give them some trouble because they don’t have dominant
arms, and anybody that can put pressure on their defense, because
they’re just OK. Delmonico and Tapley, there’s no question you can
attack Tapley with the bunt. If there’s one weakness on that team,
it’s the left side of the infield defense, if you’re going to point
to one thing. And maybe having a dominant closer. If they use Strauss
out of the pen, he’s got a chance to close the game out. Fairel, he’s
got a quick tempo, works fast, and when he’s on he’s throwing
strikes, he’s got a good feel for the change. His breaking ball
command is a little bit inconsistent right now. Villanueva’s a nice
different look for them because he’s got a pretty good sinker, and
he’s a bigger, stronger righthander. They’ve got Fairel, a lefty guy
who can move the ball away, and Villanueva, a righty who can move the
ball in on righthanded hitters, so it’s a good mix. It’s a typical
Florida State staff. They don’t let anybody stay out there and get
exposed for too long if it’s not his day, they don’t let the game get
out of hand, the next guy goes out and does his job. The kids
compete, throw strikes, they usually command at least one secondary
pitch. Their team identity right now, they don’t need to win
1-0, they’re going to score some runs, so that probably takes
pressure off their pitching.
and Rye, those two guys are the key, because they hit before and
after Posey. Those are the two key guys, and they’re two seniors,
been around the block a little bit, they force you to throw to Posey.
You can’t pitch around Rye because you’ve got Posey coming up, and
you can’t pitch around Posey because Guinn’s coming up. Those three
guys are the key. You’ve got to take care of Holt and Stidham,
because if they get on you’re in trouble. It’s a very good one-two
punch. They don’t chase, that’s the biggest thing. They don’t swing
at balls out of the strike zone. So it works pitch counts up. Even
though the Bucknell kid did really good, he still threw 150-something
pitches over nine innings. It’s very hard to get 12-, 15-pitch
innings, because they just keep working the count, grinding it out,
then the next thing you know they get a big inning in the fourth or
fifth—that’s what they do.
think they’re tough to beat at home. You’ve got to do something
special to win two of three at home. Those seniors are itching to get
Florida State back to the World Series.”
(41-17) at No. 1 Miami (50-8)
Friday: 7 p.m.
Saturday: 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Sunday: 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
CWS History: 15 trips
thing that concerns me with Arizona is I just don’t know if they’re
going to hit. They have the guys that look the part. I think Steele
is a good player, Gaston’s a good player. Glenn had a decent weekend
against us. Ziegler’s had a good year, but it just doesn’t seem like
they’re scoring a ton of runs. We all know at the catcher spot
they’re a little light at the bat. At shortstop, Ortega had a good
year, .340 or .350, but it’s a single. Gaston and Ziegler have
the ability to hit the ball out of the yard, but Miami has the
ability to overpower them a little bit. If Steele and Gaston are
going, they’re going to be tough to beat. If not, they’ve got to
really pitch to get through there.
looks like Miami is similar to Arizona State, in that they can really
put up some runs. For me, the biggest thing with Arizona is if you
can avoid (lefthanded reliever Daniel) Schlereth and Stoffel, at all
costs. (Righthanded reliever Ryan) Perry doesn’t phase me as much:
it’s firm, up to 97, but he doesn’t strike the fear into hitters the
other guys do. Stuff-wise, it shouldn’t be that way. I don’t
know if hitters just get a better look at it early than they do
against those other guys. For me, Schlereth was the best reliever in
the Pac-10 this year. It’s 93-94 with that breaking ball, and it’s
almost game over when he’s in. I don’t know if they’re worn out
at all because they’ve had to be used a bunch. They could really use
a good start from Guilmet this weekend. He didn’t look the same
when we faced him from one year to the next. The velocity was down,
the offspeed wasn’t getting guys to swing and miss as much. If they
can get a big start from him and have the lead going into Saturday,
they’ll be in business. If they’re down 1-0 heading into Saturday,
they could be in trouble, because I just don’t know if they
obviously had a great start against Kentucky. Berger’s capable of
that. The big thing with Eric is if he’s in the zone, he’ll be tough
to hit. His fastball has good arm-side movement, his curveball has
good 12-to-6 break and he can throw it for strikes or put it in the
dirt. I’d say the changeup is not necessarily the pitch you worry
about, it’ll be more fastball-curveball, and his fastball is up to
93. He has the ability to shut you down and strike people out. That’s
one thing that team up and down has the chance to do is strike people
out. Coulon is going to be three pitches for strikes, just on and
just off the plate. If he walks four or five or six guys, Miami’s
going to be in business, because they just need to get a hit or two
and they’ll score some runs.
|No. 1 Miami
CWS History: 22 trips