For more than a decade, we have enlisted college coaches who have faced the super regional teams to break down the matchups. Sources are given anonymity in exchange for their candor. All times are Eastern. Rankings indicate national seeds.
Kansas State (44-17) at No. 3 Oregon State (48-10)
Saturday: 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
Sunday: 10 p.m. (ESPNU)
Monday: 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
Coach: Brad Hill.
Postseason History: First super regional appearance. Seeking first trip to Omaha.
Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Mahnattan Regional. Won in three games, beating Arkansas in the final.
Scouting Report From A Coach
“Kansas State can hit, man. They can hit with anybody. They’re the best offensive team in our conference. They’d probably be one of the better offensive teams in the SEC or the ACC. They’ve got a lot of lefthanded hitters. They’re athletic and patient and aggressive all at the same time. They’ll bunt, steal bases, take walks, drive it out of the yard. They’ve got speed, they’ve got personality. That Ross Kivett is a really good baseball player, a super aggressive, hard-nosed player. He gives them an identity. He comes to play, now—that kid’s not backing down from anybody. He’s a ballplayer. A kid like Kivett, when they go into Corvallis, he’ll take a ball on the elbow, or lay down a bunt or hit the fist pitch in the gap and fire them up. He gets them going.
“Shane Conlon’s a good player, too—he’s a hell of a first baseman. He’s got some juice and some skill. He can bunt, hits the ball in the gap, plays the heck out of first base. A smooth operator, good player. Jared King is dangerous, for sure. You throw a cookie, he’ll smash it. He’s a strong, physical guy, he runs hard, plays hard. He’s a good player, he is. And luckily for him he’s got good protection because he’s got other good players around him too. Austin Fisher’s a good player, King is dangerous, Santigate does the job, a nice role player, nice solid kid. It’s a good lineup. They all swing the bat, they all make good contact, they make good things happen.
“Fisher’s got an inside-out scoop swing, hits the ball to left field really well. He takes base hits, bat’s in the zone—a pretty skilled hitter. The one thing about him defensively is his arm is not really a pure shortstop’s arm, he has to kind of force the ball over there, probably a second baseman’s arm at short. But he’s a good player, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound kid that knows how to keep the bat in the zone, works up through the ball, takes first pitch fastball away and shoots the ball to left field like it’s no big deal. Santigate is a bigger-framed guy, looks like a power hitter but more of a base-hit guy. Witt plays left field, smart player, knows when to take a pitch, when to swing. All of them have bunt skills.
“They’re all good defenders. There’s none of them that are awesome, and yet they’re just good baseball players. The shrotstop and second baseman are good baseball players. The first baseman is really slick, the dude at third can play third. They just make all the routine plays, and pretty athletic too. They have good bodies, bigger frames on the corners and athletic in the middle. It’s a good mix. you play against them and go, ‘Dang, that’s a good team.’ Their catcher’s solid, Blair DeBord. That little guy in right field with the mustache from Alaska, Davis, he’s a tough out, a good player. They play with confidence and aggression, not the least bit arrogant, but they’ve got a good thing going with their team, good mojo.
“The biggest thing with them is they’re not overly gifted on the mound, not a pitching staff that will hold you down. They’re going to throw strikes, use different guys in different situations. But I thought it was really pedestrian on the mound.
“Flattery is a mid-80s lefthander, he was really inconsistent this year. Then they have a series of righties who were 85-87, all low three-quarter, across their bodies from the edge of the rubber, sinking the ball and sliding the ball. Very average. They’ve done a heck of a job doing what they have, and they’ve got a lot of young pitching. Jake Matthys was the freshman of the year in the conference, he’s OK. Stands on the first-base side of the rubber, throws across his body, a light 86-88, keeps the ball down. Just enough sink, not the kind of guy that you go, ‘Oh, we’re in trouble.’ Nate Williams was like 88-89, he can get in trouble when it’s up in the zone and his breaking ball command is off. He’s a big, physical kid, and he’s one of their guys, but he doesn’t scare you.
“But offensively, athletically, the way they play, they are a good team, a good team. They play with energy, they have fun. They have a different carry out of them. It’s kind of what you’d expect out of Texas or something, except it’s Kansas State, and it’s real too—they’re not faking. Them winning the conference was not an accident. I think they’ll give Oregon State a good series, I do. I don’t think they’ll walk in there and be intimidated.”
Coach: Pat Casey.
Postseason History: Fifth super regional appearance (last in 2011). Seeking fifth trip to Omaha (last in 2007).
Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Corvallis Regional. Won in three games, beating Texas A&M in the final.
Scouting Report From A Coach
“I think they’re excellent. On the mound, they can come at you all sorts of different ways. Obviously their starting three have been exceptional all year. With Boyd coming back after being a 12th-rounder and being a starter, he’s a strike machine, he competes, he’s deceptive so it’s a sneaky fastball, not a plus fastball but it’s sneaky. He works both sides of the plate, keeps you off balance, manages the running game. The secondary stuff is solid-good; wouldn’t say plus-plus, but solid-good.
“Then they go to Moore who’s another strike machine. He’s that undersized righthander but can throw the ball hard and low, so that makes it tougher to create leverage as a hitter. He doesn’t miss a lot of pitches up in the zone, he can come in, seems like he can dial it in when he needs an out. He doesn’t strike out a lot of guys, but you look up and it’s seven innings and three hits. He can throw any pitch in three spots, controls the running game, good athlete off the mound, lot of poise for a young kid, doesn’t get rattled a lot. And he makes you earn your hits. With these bats the way they are, that’s the name of the game. The common denominator of teams that advance is they play good defense and they throw strikes.
“Then you go to Wetzler, and he has some of the best stuff that they have, and he’s their Sunday guy. So when you’re matching up on Sunday, you’re seeing 88-91 with a really good slider, and he competes. His stuff is a tick better than Boyd’s, maybe the command’s not quite as good, but he makes it an uncomfortable at-bat. He’s a pretty good guy on Sunday. When you go through those three, that’s a tough weekend for the hitters. What they can really do at the end of the game is match up, a couple lefties, a couple righties, a submariner, a sinker guy, (Tony) Bryant with the change. They can attack you with your weakness. They’re 10 deep, and it’s from both sides. When they can attack you both right and left, it’s not like you can stack your lineup one way or the other, because they have an answer in their bullpen. Schultz is the guy who probably has the best stuff, unless a guy like (lefty Jace) Frye is really healthy enough to help them and do anything. He didn’t come on until late, obviously has a good arm and a good breaking ball. But Schultz, it’s a heavy sinking fastball. Probably stuff-wise he’s one of the better guys on the back end. (Righty Cole) Brocker may have better stuff but doesn’t get the outs like Schultz does. Bryant will come in, has the change, he’s 6-7, works downhill. Then they have the (Max) Engelbrekt kid and the (Brandon) Jackson kid from underneath. Engelbrekt is more of a three-quarters slot lefthander. When you look through their numbers, every one of those guys has had a pretty good year.
That ’06 team, you were worried a lot about the homer, it was old bats and all that. But this team can kind of do a bit of everything. And they really play old, both on the field and at the plate. Rodriguez behind the plate, he’s had a lot of at-bats the first couple years. Now he’s their everyday guy behind the plate, he throws out a lot of guys. Really good back there, he gets clutch hits. It’s not like he’s their best hitter necessarily but he can get big hits in big spots. Rodriguez is a leader, he’s athletic. He’ll give you a base every now and then, box a ball, maybe not block it perfect. But he does a really nice job with their guys, gets them to throw to him. And he’s good enough. He has a good arm, good release, tough to run on, they’re quick to the plate, so the running game is kind of neutralized. Which apparently they’re going to need this weekend, because it looks like Kansas State can really run.
“Danny Hayes is a senior at first base. Peterson coming in and playing second is a really good piece for them because he can run, he can bunt. I’d venture to guess he has 15-plus bunt base hits this year. With him between Smith and Conforto, that’s a nice mix. Smith plays really good defense and has a knack for the clutch hit. Keyes is a great option for that 6-7-8 as a switch-hitting third baseman, and his defense has improved. We all know Conforto is a scary hitter, he can go out of the park at any moment. Dylan Davis may have made the biggest offensive jump of any player in the league this year. Hitting fourth, he’s got a lot of RBIs. He does have real juice, he’s strong, can go line drive in the gap. He’s obviously good in that RBI spot. Then Max Gordon playing center, he’s like that human highlight film, he can run, he can skill, seems like every week you hear about some diving acrobatic catch he made.
“They just play really old, they make all the plays, they put a lot of pressure on you. You know they’re going to keep the score low because they’re not going to make a lot of mistakes. It seems like they can dial up a run when they need it. They can bunt for a run, steal a base, hit and run. There’s not a lot of panic because they know they’re only going to give up two runs. I think that makes it easier on the pitchers, too. Offensively you know if you’re struggling against a really good pitcher, all you have to do is eke out three or four runs. You don’t see them miss a lot of cutoffs or throw to the wrong base, you don’t see them make those mistakes very much. Hayes has a lot of at-bats and a lot of time playing, Conforto played for two years, Tyler Smith has been a three- or four-year starter, Keyes has been in and out of the lineup for a few years. And your two best offensive players are two special sophomores. And on the mound, you’re talking about juniors and seniors all over the place with the exception of Moore. So it’s no shock that they’re as good as they are because they are so old, and they have had success in the past. We haven’t even talked about Barnes, their DH—he’s a senior, he’s been in their lineup for a few years. I think that’s just what they do. They’re not going to out-tool you on the field, but they’re going to beat you. They’ve done a really good job. It’s as complete a team as we’ve seen.”