See also: Super Regional scoreboard
College of Charleston (44-17) at Texas Tech (43-19)
Saturday: 1 p.m. (ESPNU)
Sunday: 3 p.m. (ESPNU)
Monday: 1 p.m. (ESPN2)
College of Charleston
Coach: Monte Lee.
Postseason History: 2nd super regional appearance. Seeking 1st trip to Omaha.
Postseason Route: No. 4 seed in Gainsville Regional. Won in three games, beating Long Beach State in the final.
(Anonymous coach breaks down the Cougars)
"I think they can pitch. That certainly is their strong suit, on the mound. They're very fastball-oriented, and they're consistent strike-throwers. Not only consistent strike-throwers but obviously have some quality to their strikes. Throwing strikes is one thing, but having some angles and pitching effectively is another. I think their bullpen is in good shape. They had a setup guy come in and throw three pitches, and their closer is another strike-thrower from an unorthodox slot. For sure, their strength is their pitching. They do not do much offensively. To their credit, they take advantage of the opportunities you present to them.
"Bailey Ober throws a lot of strikes, kind of big, a little non-athletic, but has a few pitches he can throw for strikes. The running game will be a little bit of an issue, because they are long and they pick a ton at first base. They pick and pick and pick and pick, they're just trying to shorten your lead up or tire you out so you're not constantly going to run on them. Clarke is their most athletic guy. Thornton and Ober have long levers, they're a little stiff, but at the same time, they repeat what they're doing. You're not walking out of there going, 'Wow, holy smokes.' I'm not minimizing what they did, but you know when you walk out of there and see a special arm. These guys just can really pitch, and you're going to have to have a good plan and hopefully you square some balls up, see if they can handle that. They've done a good job of taking guys the SEC and ACC probably passed on, and they do a good job with their system. They can really pitch with their fastball, and have the ability to pitch to both sides of the plate. the pitching coach does a good job being unpredictable and changing patterns.
"Thornton is kind of a big, physical first baseman lookalike, offensive lineman guy, a little methodical, but got a deep arm, got a fastball and a little cutter/slider. Pounds the zone with fastballs but he's up, kind of under the ball. We hit a lot of fly balls against him. Thornton has the least pitchability and athleticism of the three starters. Clarke is really aggressive with his fastball, a little cut action to it. he pitches in, he pitches to both sides of the plate. It was 87-91, a little bit of a change at times and a little bit of a breaking ball, but I would say it's 70, 75 percent fastballs. They were fastball-driven, the whole staff.
"Their closer, Hanzlik, is not quite low three-quarters, but kind of a low-slot guy, a strike-thrower, a little unorthodox, a little deceptive because it's not real clean, there's some moving parts, but I think that adds to his deception in that type of role. A strike-throwing guy, not afraid of contact. And I think he's older, he looks old. So he's got some experience out there. He's got some presence and poise, throws strikes. Better to get him with lefthanders when possible, righties see a heavy slider mix. The fastball's kind of true, not a sinker. A lot of fastballs early and behind, finishes with the slider, good against righthanded hitters.
"Their first three guys in the lineup are their best guys. Their second baseman, Butler, has got to get on base for them. Blake Butler knows the strike zone, there's not a lot of speed, the swing's on line. He's gonna put the ball in play. You're going to have to make pitches if you're going to miss the bat against him. He sets the tone. It's not like he's a burner, just a good baseball player. Murray can hit, he's the left fielder. And Wise is just ultra-aggressive at the plate. And even Pappas, their 4-hole hitter as a freshman, has got some size and can hurt you, but can be pitchable. Pappas is physical, Wise is strong, and Murray is bigger than you think he is. They've got bodies, they're big and strong, even the pitchers. Even Butler, he's not physical, but he's probably 6-2. Murray's a non-defender, but really good approach at the plate, knows what he's doing, can hit a fastball, needs to get extended. You're going to have mix and cross-count and tie these guys up, get in on them, can't let them get out over the plate. Wise was extremely aggressive on first pitches. Fastball, breaking ball, it doesn't matter. It looks like a little bit of length, but at the same time, he finds a way to get the barrel to the ball depending on the velocity you throw.
"Boykin can jump you a little bit, it's not a free pass with him. A little excitable guy, a little over-aggressive, but if you try to cookie him up, he'll get you, he can do a little damage. Phillips is a stay out of the middle of the plate, kind of the same with Glazer. These guys punch out a lot, they have a lot more strikeouts than walks. Only have 50-something stolen bases, they don't sac bunt a lot. They're going to swing the bat, in my opinion. And I think their pitching allows them to play with house money a little bit too.
"I don't think defense is a strong suit for them, but if you don't test them and don't force the issue, then certainly they'll be better. I don't think it's awesome, I don't think it's poor, I think it's just average. I think their ability to control the running game, depending if Texas Tech can run or not, if they can get on they can create some havoc. But Charleston's not going to beat themselves on the mound. You'll have to beat them by swinging the bat and executing offense."
Coach: Tim Tadlock
Postseason History: 1st super regional appearance. Seeking 1st trip to Omaha.
Postseason Route: No. 2 seed in Coral Gables Regional. Won in four games, beating Miami in the final.
(Anonymous coaches break down the Red Raiders)
Coach One: "They've had a great year. I think Tadlock does a good job with those guys, very well coached, they play hard. I think they're a different team at home. They have some really, really good offensive players in their lineup. That place plays small, and if you look at their record, they went 31-4 at home, something crazy like that. Then they went out on the road and won a regional.
"I think they're built to take advantage of that ballpark. The kid Neslony, a lefthanded hitter, we just couldn't figure him out. Tried to go after him with some offspeed stuff, tried to pitch him in, but he was putting the barrel on everything. One of the toughest outs in our conference this year. The Gutierrez kid had an outstanding year, up there in the conference player of the year discussion. Big home run totals for him, some of that is probably with the ballpark. When we played those guys, they just seemed to, from an offensive standpoint, be a really confident team. It didn't faze them to be down in the count. They hit with two strikes as well as with no strikes. They have some guys that can hit the ball out of the yard with Gutierrez and Neslony and Kirsch. I think Gutierrez and Kirsch are a little more pitchable than Neslony. Now and then Gutierrez will chase a breaking ball out of the zone or will look foolish on a first-pitch changeup. But if you make a mistake, he'll make you pay for it. You can get in on him a little, but if you leave one out over the plate, he'll run it out of the park. Kirsch, you can attack him with breaking ball, we got him with both righthanded and lefthanded spin, but leave one up in the zone and he'll drive it in the gap.
"Then they have some guys who can create some things with their legs. The kid Conley played center field for them, really athletic kid. His swing doesn't look too good, you think you can get him in with the fastball, and you can a little bit, but he can beat some balls out, make some things happen with his legs. They grinded us down by getting hits, they're aggressive early in counts. You leave a ball in the middle of the plate, whether the first pitch or fourth pitch of an at-bat, they'll be ready to hammer the thing. It seemed like every time they needed a hit, a couple guys on base with two outs, they were able to get it. I think there's something to be said for that. When you're playing confident as a team, you believe in yourself a little more, sometimes that stuff works itself out. You've got to be able to stretch your lineup out, and guys like Burleson and (Jake) Barrios, they're really aggressive hitters. A lot of first-pitch swinging. Sometimes they'll get themselves out early in counts, but they make you pitch to them.
"The other thing those guys did well, I thought they did a good job with the bunt for a hit in sacrifice situations. A couple times, with a man at first base and nobody out or second base and nobody out, a kid like Conley wouldn't just straight sac. They'll try to push one through the four-hole or down the third-base line, able to take advantage of some athleticism and force a mistake, rather than just sac a guy over.
"They play on turf, their defense is fine, but nothing flashy. They looked like the type of team, get them on grass, maybe not the same. Burleson at second, just a little scrappy guy, doesn't look good at times, but he'll fly around the field and square up ground balls, made a bunch of good plays. Being able to make the plays winds up being more important than the flashy actions. Proudfoot does a nice job at short. I think Proudfoot only had one error going into the conference tournament. He's not super flashy, obviously gets it done, makes plays. He fielded .990 at short, that's pretty good, don't care what surface you're playing on."
Coach Two: "The one thing that kind of stuck out to me about all their pitchers, they did a good job of keeping the ball down. We're constantly as coaches trying to get hitters to stay on top of the ball and hit line drives, keep the ball out of the air. We didn't hit a lot of fly balls against them, we hit a lot of weak, rolled-over ground balls that didn't get through.
"Dusek had a pretty good arm. He was 88-91. But another guy that just kept the ball down. He's got a sinker, keeps it down, a lefty, he was OK. Fastballs down and away, that's all he threw. He wrinkled it a little bit with the breaking ball, but mostly fastball. He's their best guy. Throughout the year, their starters other than Sadberry wouldn't go very long. Dusek has 13 starts and has thrown 69 innings, do the math. Even Sadberry's gone 15 starts, 80 innings. You're talking about a little over five innings per start. Those are the only two guys with double-digit starts. Sadberry has a very easy arm action, 88-92, topped out at 93. Short-armed the ball, fastball was straight, basically a two-pitch guy. Kept the ball down like a lot of their pitchers did. A lot of fastballs to the arm side of the plate, in to lefties, away to righties. He pounded away to righties. His slider was 80-81, everything was kind of hard, nothing soft about him. He tried to back-foot the slider to righthanded hitters with two strikes. The fastball had a little bit of downhill tilt to it. He could not throw the fastball in to righties or away to lefties, and he doesn't throw the changeup much.
"I know Ryan Moseley started in the regional, he's a righthanded freshman that I thought was very good. He's a 90-93 guy with really, really good sink, arm-side run and sink, that three-quarters arm slot like a lot of their guys did. That's a name you're going to know, he was really good. Then Cameron Smith threw that shutout Monday. He throws in the mid-80s, he just works down and away to your righties, sinks it in the mid-80s, pops one in with two strikes to keep you honest.
"The big 6-6, 6-7 lefthander Drozd is their main guy in the bullpen. He's a fastball-curve-change guy, big long lanky, low three-quarter arm slot, short-arms the ball. He was 86-88, fastball was pretty straight, kind of threw across his body. Had a slurvy breaking ball that I didn't think was that good, but from that low arm slot, he's throwing it from behind the lefties, and it's a tough pitch for lefties to pick up. He's their first guy they bring out of the pen. Then they go to Smith and Corey Taylor; he is a hard slider-fastball guy, I'd say upper 80s/low 90s, and a hard slider. Everything hard.
"Give them credit: They did a good job keeping the ball down, their infielders made all the plays, the shortstop made a lot of plays, they turned a bunch of double plays. They did just enough."