Anonymous Coaches Preview No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Stanford Showdown

Image credit: Stanford's Erik Miller (left) and UCLA's Michael Toglia (right). (Photos by Bill Mitchell and Nick Wosika/Getty Images)

College baseball will this weekend turn its attention to Stanford for a matchup between the top two teams in the country. No. 1 UCLA travels to No. 2 Stanford for a showdown that promises to be one of the best of the season.

It is the 13th time in the 39-year history of the Baseball America Top 25 that the top two teams in the rankings have met during the regular season. It last happened in 2016, when No. 2 Florida swept No. 1 Texas A&M in Gainesville.

This weekend is sure to have a super regional feel to it and, accordingly, we’re breaking out our super regional preview format to prepare for it. That means we have anonymous coaches breaking down UCLA and Stanford. The series, which begins Friday at 9:05 p.m. ET, can be streamed online here.

No. 1 UCLA

Coach: John Savage
Record: 21-5, 7-2 in Pac-12
Scouting report (anonymous coach breaks down the Bruins)

On what stands out…

“Their defense is one of (the things that stands out). They’ve been able to win and hold teams down without really hitting, hitting when you look at their numbers. They’re finding ways to score some runs. They haven’t really gotten going offensively and that’s really probably the biggest thing right now is that they play very good infield defense and they play very good outfield defense – they have some guys who can run out there. They’ve done it without (Jeremy) Ydens in the lineup. I think that’s been the most impressive thing is what they’ve been able to do without Ydens in the lineup. But I think they’ve been able to hold people down because they’ve been able to play really good defense.

“I think the fact of the matter is they can throw strikes with multiple pitches. A lot of their pen guys might be two-pitch guys, their starters have three pitches they can throw interchangeably, which really makes a difference. They’re not walking a lot of guys for the most part – I know they have a game here or there. The young kids that have gone in have done a nice job of throwing strikes and trusting their defense.

On their arms…

“I think they have a lot of options (out of the bullpen). I think that (Jack) Filby’s a very good arm. He’s been pretty solid for them. (Nathan) Hadley has probably been their biggest surprise. Hadn’t pitched in two years and now I don’t know that a righthander has gotten a hit off him all year. He can attack with 90-91 mph but has two offspeed pitches and can throw a ton of strikes. Mora is kind of the staple down there. He throws every game. It’s three pitch-mix, it’s upper 80s, it’s big-time command. He can get you out both left and right and he just kind of suffocates you with strikes. Then (Holden) Powell is a huge arm at the back. It’s mainly fastball with a power breaking ball but it’s kind of here it comes and it’s totally different than what you’re going to see with Mora. If there’s a weakness back there, it’s probably more that there’s no lefthanded pitching right now. They’re throwing a lot of strikes for the most part and that’s allowing their defense to play up and that’s what they do a really nice job of.

UCLA’s offense…

“The most improved offensive player so far has been (Ryan) Kreidler. What he’s been able to do considering (Chase) Strumpf and (Michael) Toglia haven’t really hit leading up until this point, whether it’s about the draft, whether it’s about whatever. Strumpf is still the guy in the lineup you don’t want up in the big spots. But they’re getting contribution up and down (the lineup). What’s really changed is that when you talk about a lot of college at bats, (Jake) Pries is having a very good year for them. Whether he or Stronach hit in the middle of the lineup, Stronach is hitting over .400 and Pries is hitting over .300 and Pries has a little bit of thunder in there. They can match you left and right and they’ve done a nice job with that. Stronach has played quite a bit over the last three years and Pries is a senior who’s seen a lot of pitches. Then you factor in around them you have Toglia and Strumpf and then you put in (Matt) McLain who’s a special talent. He’s going to figure it out. He’s had some good moments and some not good moments but he’s a very good player. I think they can attack you a lot of different ways.

How they’ll beat you…

“They have a lot of different ways to beat you. They’re pitching to a 2.5 ERA. Their young guys have gotten some confidence, they’re playing very good defense and the biggest thing I can say is they can suffocate you with strikes at the plate. when you have a really good defense, it makes a huge difference for your guys to have confidence that hey I’ve just got to attack the strike zone and good things are going to happen for me.”

C Will McInerny R Junior .130 .353 .174 0 4 8 8 1
1B Michael Toglia B Junior .262 .330 .466 3 23 8 26 1
2B Chase Strumpf R Junior .295 .429 .505 4 13 18 26 2
3B Ryan Kreidler R Junior .316 .393 .526 4 16 11 22 4
SS Kevin Kendall L Sophomore .254 .329 .284 0 8 7 18 6
LF Jack Stronach L Junior .426 .522 .611 2 15 11 6 1
CF Matt McLain R Freshman .228 .319 .366 1 17 10 33 5
RF Garrett Mitchell L Sophomore .320 .391 .476 1 9 9 18 5
DH Jake Pries R Senior .313 .417 .488 3 17 13 15 1
Pos. Name Throws Year W L SV ERA IP BB SO AVG
SP Zach Pettway R Sophomore 2 2 0 3.59 47.2 13 51 .222
SP Jack Ralston R R-Junior 4 0 0 2.66 40.2 15 35 .211
SP Ryan Garcia R Junior 2 0 0 1.35 20 9 22 .121
RP Holden Powell R Sophomore 1 2 7 3.24 16.2 9 22 .158
RP Kyle Mora R Junior 2 1 0 2.30 27.1 9 37 .192

No. 2 Stanford

Coach: David Esquer
Record: 19-3, 6-0 in Pac-12
Scouting report (anonymous coach breaks down the Cardinal)

On what stands out…

“The biggest thing for me is they just smother you with strikes. I’ll be honest, it’s not overwhelming stuff by any means. It’s just you’re in 0-1, 0-2, 1-2 counts the entire day, no matter who’s pitching. If you do get into hitters’ counts, they execute a hitters’ count pitch really, really well. I just think at the end of the day, you have to go up there and hit pitchers’ pitches because you’re not going to get a ton of mistakes. Most college hitters just can’t do that. They’re going to handle mistakes and if a pitcher makes a quality pitch, they’re out. That’s what they do. They just smother you. Even (Erik) Miller last year was up to 96. I think he topped at 92, a lot of 88-90s. He pitched much better this year than he did last year. The breaking ball’s good, the changeup’s good, but it’s not the 94-96 that is in there and I think they’ve done a good job of going, ‘Hey dude, you’ve got to log innings and throw more strikes if you’re going to log innings.

On x-factor Maverick Handley…

“To me, the guy you take him off the team and at the end of the day they’re not nearly as good is (catcher Maverick) Handley. Teams have attempted nine stolen bases. Teams just stop running. To me, he’s the glue that holds that staff together and really their team from the defensive side. They just don’t give you anything. You have to earn absolutely everything you get. At the end of the day, they’re ok on offense. They do the little stuff right to score but they smother you with strikes and defense and if you go out there and earn five, six runs against them, you’ve probably had 20-24 quality at bats and got a big two-out hit somewhere because they’re not going to give you anything.

On Stanford’s offense…

“They all look the part (offensively), for sure. (Brandon) Wulff to me has got the most ability to drive the ballpark foul pole to foul pole. Again, they’re all physical, they all look right. To me it’s a confidence thing because I’m looking at the numbers right now and none of them are doing a whole lot. They’ve scored 135 runs on the year which has got to be honestly one of the worst in the country. But they’ve only given up 60, which is asinine. I think they know their team. The one thing they do is they go play defense and then I don’t think they’re carrying their offense into the defense. They’re solid at shortstop, they’re solid at second. They are athletic in the outfield and can run. I think offensively if you make mistakes there’s still some legit power in (Tim) Tawa and Wulff and (Andrew) Daschbach, for sure.

Stanford’s arms…

“It’s not that they’re just throwing strikes, it’s quality strikes. They can pitch backwards. They’re really good with changeups. They can pitch. They do a great job of going, ‘All right, (Brendan) Beck, here’s who you are. You’re going to pitch 88-90 and you’re going to be a four-pitch mix and command it.’ The changeup’s good, the breaking balls are solid but it’s just pure command with him.

How they’ll beat you…

“They just go execute pitches and they do it very well. To me the game doesn’t speed up on them. They play at their pace and don’t give you anything. You have to earn everything, and you have to beat them in low-scoring games because at night times the ball just doesn’t carry there.”

C Maverick Handley R Junior .282 .398 .400 0 10 14 16 4
1B Andrew Daschbach R Junior .286 .374 .403 2 11 9 20 0
2B Duke Kinamon R Senior .310 .370 .357 0 7 3 10 8
3B Tim Tawa R Sophomore .230 .247 .379 3 17 2 21 5
SS Brandon Dieter R Freshman .197 .286 .230 0 7 6 14 0
LF Kyle Stowers L Junior .238 .316 .397 1 11 8 7 5
CF Christian Robinson R Sophomore .224 .328 .327 0 5 8 11 4
RF Brandon Wulff R Senior .257 .389 .314 5 12 16 20 2
DH Will Matthiessen R Junior .355 .446 .539 2 19 13 15 0
Pos. Name Throws Year W L SV ERA IP BB SO AVG
SP Brendan Beck R Sophomore 1 2 0 2.45 37 3 36 .279
SP Jacob Palisch L Sophomore 2 0 0 4.94 27 10 23 .290
SP Erik Miller L Junior 3 0 0 2.56 32 16 37 .209
RP Jack Little R Junior 3 1 6 1.42 19 4 25 .182
RP Austin Weiermiller L Sophomore 4 0 0 0.57 16 5 22 .161

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