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.
South Carolina (42-18) at No. 1 North Carolina (55-9)
Friday: 1 p.m. (ESPN2)
Saturday: Noon (ESPN)
Sunday: 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Coach: Chad Holbrook.
Postseason History: 11th super regional appearance (fourth straight). Seeking 13th trip to Omaha (fourth straight).
Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Columbia Regional. Won in three games, beating Liberty in the final.
Scouting Report From A Coach
“They’re just solid across the board. They have a bunch of lefthanded pitching and their whole staff can throw breaking balls for a strike. They probably have fewer power arms than anybody left in the tournament, but they all throw strikes and throw breaking balls for strikes. They don’t really scare you offensively, but they’re athletic. Certainly they’re not Vandy positionally—not as old, not as strong, not as good—but you look up and it’s 5-3, they got you. They’re going to try to beat you 4-2, 5-3.
“They run Belcher out there on a Friday night in the SEC—not Bobby Wahl, not Aaron Nola. They’re running out a 5-(foot)-8 lefty—if he’s 5-8—that’s 84-85, and all the dude does is get them out. Bunch of strikes and he doesn’t walk anybody. He throws three pitches for strikes, equally effective against lefties and righties, and he pitches seven innings every game. It’s a little short arm, maybe it’s a little sneaky, because he throws so much offspeed that 84-85 plays a little better. You watch him in a bullpen and you go, ‘They’re going to go 0-10 on Friday night.’ But nope.
“Montgomery is just a bigger, stronger version of Belcher, kind of. He’s more upper 80s. They all kind of pitch backwards—they just really mix well. About the time they start dropping curveballs in for strikes and you start sitting on it, they go to the fastballs. Neither Belcher nor Montgomery has a wipeout pitch, but they pitch off their soft stuff, stay down, initiate a lot of soft contact. Montgomery’s changeup is better than Belcher’s, but it’s not as good as (Michael) Roth’s, and he doesn’t have as much fastball movement as Roth. Wynkoop pitches kind of like Montgomery: upper 80s, three-pitch mix, but for whatever reason our guys just did not see him well. He had the bigger breaking ball early, and I’m sure in his mind he’s calling them two different pitches, but the breaking ball had different shape early versus late, one more a curveball and one more slurvy/cutter deal.
“I love Webb, he’s one of my favorite guys. He’s just so dependable. I was so mad when he didn’t sign pro last year. I just think he’s really good; he’s 87-90, curveball, great changeup, come at you. Curveball is big and slower, not great, but he commands it well. The changeup is really good. To be at this point, you’d better have somebody dependable at the back of the game, and they do. (Lefty Adam) Westmoreland’s their guy that cleans up their messes. He’s a huge guy, kind of short-arms it, hides it a little bit. He pitches off his fastball more than anybody else on their staff, he comes right at you with the fastball to get ahead. The secondary stuff is solid, fine. But it’s a lot of fastballs to righthanded hitters, and a little bit of life to it. The sixth, seventh inning, he comes in and cleans it up twice on a weekend, and he’s good at it. So they have two seniors there at the end of the game, Westmoreland and Webb.
“From the right side, (Colby) Holmes and (Evan) Beal and (Forrest) Koumas, they have good breaking balls, they’re better than generic righthanders but they’re 88-90 with good breaking balls. They’ll come in and pitch shorter stints when they’re facing a run of righthanders.
“Defensively, Greiner has an absolute bazooka, he can really throw it. Pankake is an outstanding shortstop. Those two guys really stand out. And whoever they play out there in the outfield, they all can run, they’re all really fast. Dantzler’s good at first, played third base last year, he’s made that transition well. Schrock does not play like a freshman; he’s very polished. Vergason is just steady at third. I just remember thinking, ‘That’s why it’s tough to score on them, because they throw breaking balls for strikes and really defend.’
“Offensively, they don’t really fit a stereotype. Dantzler’s a real threat in the middle, Pankake is a good player. Otherwise they’re just another team besides those two guys, but they’re good athletes, have some guys who can get a hit. They’re pretty athletic, but there’s not anybody who has 20 stolen bases. Schrock’s good, man. He just plays like an older kid. He has a good approach, can hit velocity and a good breaking ball. A good player—I like him a lot. Pankake was the typical freshman who had some holes last year but has played, so he’s gotten better. He’s just a good player. He still wants to pull, a pull approach, going to hook some balls out over the plate, but it’s better. I feel like he guesses some too, in a good way. He’s been around the block, looks like there are times he’s sitting on a breaking ball in an RBI situation, those types of things. Greiner’s got some juice and some bat speed. He’s a guy that you feel like you can pitch to him, because he’s got long arms, the bat speed’s good, got a pull approach, hooks it, comes around it. He’s gotten better since last year, he can hit a mistake. You feel like you can pitch to him and Pankake, but they get the barrel there.
“Dantzler’s good, man. He’s really, really strong. This is probably too strong to say, but it ain’t pretty; he’s spread out, kind of got an uphill swing and wants to pull, but we pitched him tough and he really competed well, and he can drive the ball out of the park. He’s strong, he’s older and he competes really well. It’s not as pretty a swing as you’d think with his numbers, but he’s good.
“English has made progress, I think but I think early on, he doesn’t have the approach that a guy with his skill set should have. He’s made progress, but he needs to have a really simple swing, hit the ball on the ground and run like crazy, be patient, work counts. It’s almost like he’s going to swing early, hit the ball in the air too much. Saiko and Vergason and Martin, those are good complementary pieces.”
Coach: Mike Fox.
Postseason History: Seventh super regional appearance (last in 2011). Seeking 10th trip to Omaha (last in 2011).
Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Chapel Hill Regional. Won in four games, beating Florida Atlantic in the final.
Scouting Report From A Coach
“They’re really good. I think they’re one of the best teams I’ve coached against in the last five or six years. They’re just solid from top to bottom, really good starting pitching, and they just run arm after arm after arm at you out of the bullpen. There’s no drop-off in velocity or breaking balls or anything. That was amazing to me that they brought their starters back Monday—I could not believe that. They had guys in there that had not thrown all weekend that are freakin’ 94-95 mph. That was weird.
“Emanuel has good stuff—he doesn’t have great stuff, but the guy can absolutely just pitch. He’s got plus command of his pitches, he’s got a great pickoff move so he controls the running game. In my opinion, he’s as good if not better against righthanded hitters as lefties because he can stuff that fastball in on a righty as good as I’ve seen for a guy throwing 89-90—he’s not 95. He can really pitch, and he’s got some deception to his delivery that he uses to his advantage, and he has a really good changeup, really good feel for it. First time through the order he’ll pitch off his fastball, second time through the order, you’re gearing up for the fastball and he’ll pitch off his changeup. He can get you off balance, any pitch any time he wants. You think the changeup’s coming and he’ll stuff that fastball in on you, and you’ll go walking back to the dugout.
“Earlier in the year, Benton Moss was 89-92 with a plus breaking ball that had serious bite to it. I watched him in the ACC tournament, and by that time he was more 87-90. The breaking ball at times was sharp like it was at the beginning of the season, at times it hung up there. Hobbs Johnson is very, very solid; a tough, hard-nosed competitor. I thought his stuff was OK, but he competes. They play really good defense so (when) he puts the ball in play, he’s really good for them. I think his stuff got better as the year went on because I watched the Carolina-N.C. State ACC tournament game, and his stuff was a lot better than it was early in the season.
“Thornton is really good. He’s got a really good fastball, really good feel for that changeup, throws the breaking ball when he needs to. He’s got the high leg kick, some deception in that delivery as well. He just gets after it from the mound. He’s aggressive, attacks, good feel for what he’s doing. He’s as good the second day as he is the first day. (Righty Chris) McCue is good—firm fastball, kind of flat. He’ll get it up in the zone, which is hittable. But like the other guys he’s got a plus changeup. With that type of fastball, he pitches off his changeup, kind of similar to Michael Morin last year. He’s kind of the same guy, got a really good feel for it. The one thing that concerned me about him was he didn’t have a really good feel for the breaking ball against us. So righties took some pretty good hacks off him.
Two other guys stand out in their pen. (Righthander Trevor) Kelley’s an arm angle guy, low three-quarters or sidearm, he’s every bit of 88-90 with really good stuff. If he’s on, he’s a really good setup guy, stopgap guy to get it to Thornton. And I think a guy that doesn’t get any pub and does an unbelievable job is Tate Parrish, the lefty. He comes in throwing breaking ball, breaking ball, breaking ball, he gets those lefties when he needs to. Those guys are very valuable, and he does a great job with it.
“It’s a really good offense, a very dangerous offense, especially against a righthanded pitcher. Lefties give them trouble because they stack all those lefties. But the thing that makes them so good is there’s no holes in the entire lineup until you get down to the bottom where (catcher Matt) Roberts is, and I think he might be out because he’s hurt. [Editor’s Note: Roberts is out with a broken right hand.] You’ve got to mess with those guys in the middle of the order with Moran and Stubbs, they can hit a jack or a double, they both have like 80 RBIs. Moran is the best hitter in the league, no doubt. The other guys in the lineup know their role, they’re going to set the table for those guys. Chaz Frank, tools wise, is probably just an average guy. But that guy is what it takes to win in college baseball. He’s got the confidence. If you watch him play, he plays like he thinks he’s a big league all-star, which makes him the player that he is. He’s very aggressive on the bases, he’ll steal and go first to third. Their whole team is (aggressive). He’s more a stolen base threat than most of them, but that’s the one thing they teach, they’ll take the extra base on a ball in the dirt or take the extra base if you bobble a ball in the outfield. They will put some serious pressure on you, and if you’re inexperienced or nervous, they’ll take advantage of it.
“I think Lassiter is a really good hitter . . . and if you don’t have a pitch plan to him, he’s going to hurt you. Skye Bolt is a tremendous talent, they’ve got him sandwiched in between Stubbs and Moran, and he’s a switch-hitter. He’s a tough matchup for you, and you’ve really got to pitch to him because you don’t want to pitch to Stubbs with guys on. If you’ve got got to pitch to Stubbs with two guys on, that does not equal success. He’s finally put it together from what he was in high school. He’s strong, he takes very aggressive hacks early in the count, but he’s really improved because with two strikes he really change his approach. Last year you can probably go after him 0-2 and he’ll chase; now he’s changed his approach. Bolt is very, very dynamic. He can hit a ball out of the yard, he can get on and steal second and steal third, he’s a game changer in the outfield, with the plays he can make, with a good arm. He’s a tremendous talent that three years from now, the pro guys will be scratching their head how this guy got to college—one of those guys. Not like a lot of switch-hitters, he’s good from both sides, and he can hurt you from both sides.
“Russell’s very solid, he can really field, he doesn’t look pretty doing it, but he makes every play that he’s got to make. Zolk, in my opinion, is a plus defender at second base, kind of a streaky up-and-down hitter. And Holberton’s got like 10 jacks or something, he’s got some serious juice in his bat too. If you try to lay a fastball in there, he’s going to make you pay and pound it. They’re the unsung heroes nobody talks about, they’re hitting 6, 7, 8 in your lineup, and they can really hurt you. They’d be way up in the lineup on somebody else’s team, and they’re hidden down in the bottom.
“Their defense is very solid. The only thing, I thought Matt Roberts was really good behind the plate. Holberton is good; he’s not great. If he’s going to catch all the time, that might be the only weakness I can see. The rest of them make the plays, they’re really athletic, their pitchers do an unbelievable job controlling the running game, slide-stepping, really good moves, and they make the plays. Holberton has caught a decent amount, but hasn’t caught every single game for a three-game series. Moran’s range is OK, but he’s got really good hands and he can really throw. And people talk about his offense, he’s going to be a first-rounder and all that stuff, and that’s true. But the guy can really defend too. He’s smart in bunt situations, he’s experienced and knowledgeable, and he mans the corner really well.”