Lubbock Super Regional Preview
Coach: Tim Tadlock
Postseason history: Third super regional appearance (first since 2016). Seeking third trip to Omaha and first since 2016.
Postseason route: No. 1 seed in Lubbock Regional. Went 3-0, defeating Louisville 11-6 in regional final.
Scouting report (anonymous coach breaks down the Red Raiders)
“It’s one of those offenses that 1-9 you never know who’s going to be the guy that’s going to be the sparkplug for them. You’re calling pitches, you’re trying to set up your defense and there’s so many ways that they can beat you, whether it’s the running game, they hit for power, they make two-strike adjustments. In terms of what we saw this year, they’re one of the best lineups 1-9 because they can beat you in so many different ways, which is always frustrating to see when you’re looking over there.
“You hope (Josh Jung) blinks or a mosquito gets in his eye. You’re pitching to him and sometimes it looks like he’s trying to shoot the ball the other way and you’re like we’ve got a chance to get in on him and then he pulls an inside fastball down the left-field line. I saw him a lot in high school and, first of all, he’s a great kid, he’s an ultra-competitor. He is so in tuned to what he’s trying to do. He’s more going to have to get himself out than anything because there’s not a pitch that really can beat him. Maybe you can stay ahead of him a little bit. He’s so locked into his approach and what he’s trying to do. He’s a really smart hitter. He’s going to be one of the top hitters in the draft next year. I think it’s a combination of his talent and also his approach.
“They run power arm after power arm out there at you. It’s really impressive the arms that they roll out there. There’s never a guy that you can go, ‘Ok, we get a little bit of a break.’ (Jose) Quezada, I thought (Caleb) Killian threw really well against us. They’ve got premier arms. You’re almost fortunate if you play them in Lubbock with wind blowing. Maybe you’ll hit a ball in the jet stream and it’ll go. They just attack you. They come right at you.
“Could you look at (their defense) and say it’s a weakness for them? I guess, but it’s not really a weakness, they’re just so good offensively and on the mound. (Michael) Davis is really good at short, Jung is a premier defender and they’ve got a lot of team speed in the outfield. I think if there’s one thing, maybe there’s been some mental lapses at times, but you don’t have that offensive lineup that has that athleticism and not have a good defense. It was pretty impressive to see the athleticism when they play defense.
“(Playing in Lubbock is) a huge advantage. They’re getting four or five thousand rowdy Raider fans out there. The wind does play a factor. I think it’s more that that place is alive, it’s electric, the fans are right on top of you. It’s an obvious advantage for them and I think it shows in their stats in terms of wins and losses. They play really well at home. They are a tough team to beat anytime you play them, but especially at home.”
Coach: Chris Pollard
Postseason history: First super regional appearance. Seeking fourth trip to Omaha and first since 1961.
Postseason route: No. 2 seed in Athens Regional. Went 4-1, defeating Georgia 8-4 in regional final.
Scouting report (anonymous coach breaks down the Blue Devils)
“They’re an extremely veteran group. You’re talking about all juniors and seniors with the exception of one or two guys. This past weekend in Georgia when they got behind, you didn’t see any panic in those guys.
“They’ve arguably got the best bullpen in college baseball in my opinion. You’ve got (Graeme) Stinson and (Ethan) DeCaster and the freshman Bryce Jarvis—three really, really good pieces in the bullpen. So, they can certainly put you in a tough matchup. When Stinson is on, they’re as good as they get. He’s Carlos Rodon. DeCaster was one of the toughest guys we faced out of the bullpen this year. It’s a different slot. It’s strikes, but it’s really, really quality strikes, and it’s just a tough angle. If you’re righthanded, and you’re going against that guy, buckle up. It’s gonna come out of the same spot, and it’s gonna go in two different directions.
“(The starting pitchers) for the most part are really strike throwers. You’ve got a veteran positional group and they play a lot of defense behind you. They just try to throw a ton of strikes and they know they’ve got those pieces in the bullpen. Any sign of trouble, they can go to them. Or, like I was watching the other day, a guy like (Mitch Stallings), you can ride the hot hand and let that guy go deep. It’s a good combination on the mound for sure, and you couple that with the ability to play defense, it’s the prototypical old-school type club. You’ve gotta give them a lot of credit. They’ve come a long way.
“Offensively, one of the guys who’s made the biggest jump for me is Kennie Taylor. He’s had a ton of big hits, and you watch him play, and here’s their heartbeat so to say. But they all kinda scare you. (Chris) Proctor has been really, really good for a long stretch, and (Zack Kone) can certainly drive it out of the ballpark, and Jack Labosky, who was a player of the year candidate in our league, hits in the nine-hole. That tells you the depth of their lineup.
“Going into this year Griffin Conine was one of my favorite hitters in all of college baseball. When he’s making adjustments, it could at any point leave the yard. And it’s not one of those wall-scraper kinds of home runs, it’s impressive. Most at-bats, even when he was struggling, he’s going to get his three swings. You can never breathe easy when you’re sitting in the other dugout. He’s a good one, and if he’s hot, he’s a guy you can’t let beat you.
“I don’t know if the offense will be quite as easy in Lubbock, but if they score like they did this past weekend, it should be really, really fun baseball.”