|North Carolina State (41-20)|
Coach (Record at school): Elliot Avent
CWS History: One trip to Omaha, in 1968.
CWS Route: Won Raleigh regional in three games, beating South Carolina in the final.
|RHP||Jake Buchanan(3 sv)||Fr.||2-2||3.11||55||39-13|
"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.
"Their 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 (39-22-1)|
(Record with school): David Perno (245-181-1).
CWS History: Five trips to Omaha, last in 2006.
CWS Route: Won Athens regional in five games, beating Georgia Tech in the final.
|RHP||Joshua Fields||Jr.||2-2 (16 sv)||2.27||31||56-18|
"The 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.
"Defensively, 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 the plate.
"I 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."
|Wichita State (47-15)|
(Record with school): Gene Stephenson (1,652-548-3).
CWS History: Seven trips to Omaha, last in 1996.
CWS Route: Won Stillwater regional in three games, beating Oklahoma State in the final.
|RHP||Khol Nanney||R-Sr.||5-1 (4 sv)||1.69||32||37-9|
"They've 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.
"You 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.
"The 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.
"I 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 State (52-11)|
Coach (Record with school): Mike Martin (1,536-517-4).
CWS History: 18 trips to Omaha, last in 2000.
CWS Route: Won Tallahasee regional in five games, beating Tulane in the final.
|RHP||Ryan Strauss||Sr.||2-2 (4 sv)||4.58||76||65-31|
|RHP||Buster Posey||Jr.||0-0 (6 sv)||0.00||7||10-1|
"I 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 pressing.
"I 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.
"Guinn 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.
"I 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."
(Record with school): Andy Lopez (251-157-1).
CWS History: 15 trips to Omaha, last in 2004.
CWS Route: Won Ann Arbor regional in three games, beating Kentucky in the final.
|CF||T. J. Steele||Jr.||.314/.393/.567||10||36||24|
|RHP||Jason Stoffel||So.||3-2 (13 sv)||3.25||44||72-15|
"It 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 bang enough.
"Berger 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 (Florida) (50-8)|
(Record with school): Jim Morris (692-253-3).
CWS History: 22 trips to Omaha, last in 2006.
CWS Route: Won Coral Gables regional in three games, beating Mississippi in the final.
|RHP||Carlos Gutierrez||Jr.||5-2 (12 sv)||2.70||43||64-17|
"Gutierrez, the way his arm works, he's not going to wear down. (Righthanded reliever Kyle) Bellamy's got an interesting delivery from a low slot, I think he's capable of pitching two days in a row. The only way those guys wear down is if (Miami) has to use them three days in a row. A lot of those guys that have a sinker as good as Gutierrez's have a tough time complementing it, but he's got a real late slider that keeps you from sitting on that sinker. It's a daunting task if you get to that guy.
"Hernandez is only a freshman, but he doesn't act like it. He does a lot of things well, and very few things poorly. Our approach was to wear him down. He needs to give them six strong innings. By the time you've got his cutter figured out, they can hand it over to that pen. The bottom line is he's a winner. That kid kind of has that special thing. Erickson's a little bit more of a guy who, if you wait him out or you see a mistake, you can handle him, but it just doesn't seem like that other guy gives you any breathing room. I guess the cutter is the difference-maker with Hernandez. They both mix in a lot of pitches with command. They've done a pretty good job of being able to throw all those pitches for strikes. Those guys can go to both sides of the plate with different looks pretty good. If there's any weakness at all to the No. 1 team in the nation, it would be the starting pitching, but Garcia's good enough. He's a big guy, on top of you, he throws it. Are you going to be able to get five, six runs on him in six innings? I don't think you'll bang him around that much, he's just not dynamic like Hernandez, where you've got an uphill battle to get a couple of runs. Garcia's a big dude. His best quality is he gets on that hitter pretty good. He keeps you honest with a good mix.
"Their lineup really is that good. It starts off with two guys that could be labeled two of the best players in the nation (Tekotte and Weeks), and you haven't even gotten to Yonder yet. Our players ask me what I thought of Raben and DiNatale—those are No. 3, 4, 5 hitters in most conferences, and they slide them in the 6 and 7 slots. Those are the only guys you can take a breath against, and they're two pretty good hitters. So you don't really have any wiggle room. You're looking at 3 or 4 hole hitters all the way down the lineup. Tekotte might be the best total package there is left in the tournament. We weren't real impressed with Weeks last year—his hands are a little shaky at second base but he gets it done. At the plate, he's got the perfect approach between Blake and Yonder. Real patient, goes to right-center and left-center. You're saying he's a table-setter, but the numbers are legitimate. He would be one of the best hitters on any other team in the country.
"Yonder's the real deal. You're nervous as hell pitching to him, so you're going to get walks, and you don't get any breaks behind him. And when he hits it, he hits it pretty damn hard. Yonder's a lot better against righties than he is against lefties. They're all going to hunt for fastballs, everybody who goes in against them knows that. But they all do it in a different manner. You don't know when Yonder's taking or going to let it fly. Some of their guys who are real aggressive early in the count will flip the switch on you and be more patient. They really do keep you on your toes with their approach, not just their talent. Jackson's got kind of a mid-oppo approach, but if you try to zip one in he can take it over the left-field fence. They're smart enough or good enough to mix it up on you. You think you're catching a break from all these big bodies—he's not as physical as those other guys but he's just as good. He's just gotten stronger. I'm curious to see how he'll do with wood bats. (Outfielder/DH Adan) Severino's a big, strong guy. He could drive the ball to all fields. He was an 8-hole guy and he's big. Ahead of him, DiNatale, to be honest he'll look bad, but it's almost like he's setting you up or he's good enough to make adjustments, because he's aggressive early and he's a really good hitter later in the count. You think you may be getting a break, and he's not as good as Yonder, but he's the guy to do it in the eighth or ninth inning for them. He's done it in the clutch for them.
"Defensively, if there was a weakness, Yonder would make a good play, then he'd be too slow to react. It's not focus, just skill level. He gets beat sometimes down the right-field line. You've got two really good defensive catchers, and no weak spot in the field. Where the hell do you hit the ball? They're great up the middle. Maybe you could argue Weeks' hands aren't as good or he doesn't look as pretty as Jackson when he does it. It only takes a second to watch Jackson and predict he can play it in the big leagues. That guy does it perfect.
biggest difference is Gutierrez. He is the death sentence if you're
losing in the eighth inning."
(Record with school): Mark Marquess (1,322-667-5).
CWS History: 15 trips to Omaha, last in 2003.
CWS Route: Won Stanford regional in five games, beating Pepperdine in the final.
|RHP||Drew Storen||Fr.||4-3 (6 sv)||2.90||49||44-13|
|No. 5 Cal State Fullerton (41-20)|
(Record with school): Dave Serrano (41-20).
CWS History: 15 trips to Omaha, last in 2007.
CWS Route: Won Fullerton regional in five games, beating UCLA in the final.
|RHP||Adam Jorgenson||Sr.||2-1 (11 sv)||5.18||48||57-14|
"The teams are fairly evenly matched. Fullerton will do more things to execute and win games, but Stanford is very physical. If Stanford gets a runner on in the ninth down by one run, they're not bunting—it's the exact opposite of 99 percent of the teams out West. They're swinging away. Those guys in the middle of Stanford's lineup—Castro, Molina, Ratliff, Milleville—you're going to see a team that pitches well against those kind of guys in Fullerton. I think you'll have to see Stanford adapt a little bit.
"Kaplan is just really good. He's not going to light up a lot of guns, not going to overwhelm you from a scouts' standpoint, but he's going to throw strikes, hit his spots and find ways to win. He'll give you chance to win every time he steps on the mound. Renken is young, he will definitely be a talent down the road and is a talent right now. I think the combination of his talent and Serrano calling the pitches makes him a little better than he normally would be. Arbiso's good, he's solid. I don't think there's any of the Fullerton guys of the past in that group, the Wes Roemers or Ricky Romeros, a guy who will flat-out dominate a game, but the way they approach it, they'll be in it with all those guys. With their starters, they're always going to have three quality pitches. Obviously they worked on that quite a bit. Coach Serrano's good at what he does. He's going to make sure he'll have the guys out there who can throw the pitches he wants to call. As long as he has guys who can execute that—even if they're not your overpowering guys, which none of those guys is right now—what he does with that is special. They have quality guys out of the pen. Jorgenson has been there before, and pitched a lot of good games for them."