2019 NCAA Baseball Tournament: Lubbock Regional Preview
No. 1 Texas Tech vs. No. 4 Army (4 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
No. 2 Dallas Baptist vs. No. 3 Florida (8 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
No. 1 Texas Tech (39-17)
Season In A Sentence: The Red Raiders went 39-17 with a 16-8 record in Big 12 play, earning their third conference title in four years and fifth regional appearance under head coach Tim Tadlock.
Best Pitcher: RHP Caleb Kilian, Jr. — Kilian has been solid for Texas Tech this year, notching a 3.89 ERA through 14 starts. Through 78.2 innings pitched, Kilian has posted 67 strikeouts and walked 17.
Best Hitter: 1B Cameron Warren, Sr. — This season, Warren has shown that Josh Jung and Gabe Holt aren’t the only big name players at Texas Tech. Warren leads the team in batting average at .361 to go along with a team-high 14 home runs.
Outlook: The Red Raiders closed hard down the stretch and nipped Baylor for the Big 12 title on the final day of the regular season. They’re coming into the NCAA Tournament playing well and are very difficult to beat at Rip Griffin Park, where they are 25-6 this season. It’ll likely be an offensive environment this weekend, which is good news for the likes of Gabe Holt, Josh Jung and Cameron Warren. Texas Tech will be facing some good pitching, however, so it’ll need starters Micah Dallas and Caleb Killian to step up and for a solid performance out of its deep bullpen.
No. 2 Dallas Baptist (41-18)
BA 500 Prospects: None
Season In A Sentence: The beat goes on for Dallas Baptist, as the Patriots earned their sixth consecutive regional appearance and eighth in nine years after going 41-18 overall and 14-7 in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Best Pitcher: RHP MD Johnson, Sr. — Johnson gets the slight edge over Jordan Martinson here because his ERA, record, hits and opponents’ batting average are all slightly better, but the duo makes for a strong one-two punch in the rotation. Through 91.1 innings pitched, Johnson is 9-2, 2.46.
Best Hitter: INF Bryce Ball, Jr. — Ball has 17 home runs this season, 10 more than any of his teammates. He is hitting .308 with an OPS of 1.031 to go along with 66 hits this season.
Outlook: DBU has been a consistent regional participant under Dan Heefner, but this year’s team is a little different than the last few. Whereas recent DBU teams featured big-time power hitters, this one has a little more speed with players like Luke Bandy (22 SB) and Augie Isaacson (27 SB) leading the way. The Patriots have a veteran pitching staff with MD Johnson and Jordan Martison atop the rotation and Burl Carraway shutting it down out of the bullpen. They’re built well for the postseason, and they’re going to be a tough out this weekend.
No. 3 Florida (33-24)
Season In A Sentence: The Gators’ regional streak under head coach Kevin O’Sullivan was in serious jeopardy going into the final weekend of the regular season, but a road sweep of Missouri helped propel the Gators into their 12th straight regional appearance.
Best Pitcher: RHP Tommy Mace, So. — The Florida pitching hasn’t been at the level it was the last few years, but Mace has risen to the top of the rotation. Through 88.1 innings pitched, Mace has a 4.99 ERA with 73 strikeouts and has held opponents to a .259 batting average and has come on strong down the stretch.
Best Hitter: SS Brady McConnell, So. — McConnell has spent this season demonstrating why he was so highly rated coming out of high school. Despite being in the midst of a slump, McConnell is still hitting .341 with a team-high 15 home runs.
Outlook: The Gators have gone through some significant growing pains this season, but you can never truly count them out. If sophomore righthanders Tommy Mace and Jack Leftwich are at their best this weekend, as they were at Missouri, they can shut down any of the offenses in this regional. There’s talent in the Gators’ lineup, it’s just a matter of getting it to click together. Florida has to feel good about the way it has played of late and that confidence could be crucial.
No. 4 Army (35-24)
BA 500 Prospects: None
Season In A Sentence: After going 35-24 in the regular season and defeating rival Navy to win the Patriot League Tournament for the second year in a row, the Black Knights are back in regionals, one year after upsetting North Carolina State in the Raleigh Regional opener.
Best Pitcher: RHP Daniel Burggraaf, Sr. — After getting off to a bumpy start this year, Burggraaf has proven to be the most consistent pitcher for the Black Knights, striking out 25 in his last 23 innings. Burggraaf has an ERA of 2.85 and 82 strikeouts through 82 innings this season.
Best Hitter: OF Jacob Hurtubise, Jr. — Hurtubise has a commanding lead on batting average among the starters for Army West Point at .383. With 70 runs, four triples and 45 stolen bases this season, he knows how to make his plus speed hurt opposing teams.
Outlook: Despite last year’s opening game upset against the Wolfpack, this year’s matchup doesn’t look as good for the Black Knights. Army has a veteran team that knows how to win in the postseason, but it’s really going to need its pitching staff, led by seniors Daniel Burggraaf, Tyler Giovinco and Cam Opp, to step up to pull off another surprise.