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NCAA Baseball Tournament: College Station Regional Preview

A slight analysis of each of the teams headed to College Station.

Photo courtesy of @TCU_Baseball on Twitter

All game lines and futures odds are per DraftKings as of June 1 and are for entertainment purposes only

1) Texas A&M (#5 National Seed)

  • Regional Winner Odds: +110
  • CWS Champion Odds: +2500
  • Game 1 vs. Oral Roberts Odds: -235 Favorite
  • Record: 37-18 (19-11 SEC)
  • Home Record: 22-9

At Bat: In the competitive SEC, Texas A&M did not have any players earn first-team All-Conference honors and have no projected top 2022 MLB prospects, but the Aggie roster runs deep with power and speed at every spot. The Aggies get on base, steal bases, and mash for power: 9 regular starters with on-base % over .350, with 3 players with double-digit steals, and 7 players with 6+ homers. Opponents must earn every out against the Aggies and no lead will ever feel safe as there will be a constant threat of an explosive inning. Having only been shut out once all season - Saturday in its elimination loss to Florida in the SEC Tournament

On the Mound: Given that the Aggies can amass runs in a hurry, opponents will need to jump on the A&M pitchers to keep pace. While still a strong unit, if there Is somewhat of a weakness to exploit, it could be the A&M starting pitching. Micah Dallas is the strikeout king, with a 4.33 K/BB ratio, but he gives up a .286 batting average including 31 extra-base hits, resulting in a 5.64 ERA. Nathan Dettmer is the top-line starter, likely to get the Game 2 nod from Schlossnagle. Dettmer has been slumping a bit to close the season, in his last four starts surrendering at least 3 runs without going further than 4.2 innings. However, he certainly has demonstrated ace stuff, as the three games prior were pure gems against Tournament 2-seeds Georgia, Arkansas, and Vanderbilt for an incredible combined stat line of 3 wins, 22 K, 4 BB, 10 H, 2 ER.

Summary: A complete and well-rounded squad capable of winning games in a variety of ways. The minimal weaknesses would require an accumulation of baserunners and timely hitting to exploit. Defensively, Texas A&M has committed 64 errors, most of the teams in this Regional, and could produce those baserunners. The Aggies absolutely could reach Omaha, but also could flame out in their home regional.

2) TCU

  • Regional Winner Odds: +180
  • CWS Champion Odds: +7500
  • Game 1 vs. Louisiana Odds: -175 Favorite
  • Record: 36-20 (16-8 Big 12)
  • Away Record: 11-10; Neutral Record: 6-3

At Bat: Although the Frogs (unlike the Aggies) do in fact have a few players slotted to MLB’s top 150 prospect list in Riley Cornelio, Austin Krob, and Marcelo Perez, there are some similarities to A&M in the sense that the bats run deep. The Frogs have 7 regular starters with an OBP higher than .350 and are led by Tommy Sacco (.350) and Brayden Taylor (.314). Leadoff hitter Elijah Nunez isn’t too far behind with a .297 BA but an impressive .456 OBP. In other words, he gets on base, a lot. When he does get on base, he makes opponents pay with his relentless baserunning talent. Nunez leads the Frogs with 30 stolen bases while Sacco isn’t too far behind with 17. When the Frogs’ bats are rolling, they’re nearly unstoppable. The only question mark surrounding this offense is whether or not they’ll score 4 in the 1st inning, or take a few innings to warm up before even getting hit no. 1. Regardless of how things open up, the Frogs’ bats usually find their way.

On the Mound: Pitching is going to be crucial in this year’s regional. I know that sounds like a “no duh” statement, but these teams - A&M, Louisiana, Oral Roberts - can rack up runs in a hurry if you aren’t careful. Riley Cornelio earned the day 1 nod and will be on the mound tonight against Louisiana, and has been fantastic in that Friday role. Cornelio finished the regular season with 74 strikeouts in 69.1 innings pitched; not too shabby. He also held opposing batters to a .229 BA en route to a 4-4 record. Marcelo Perez is expected to earn the day 2 nod and is right in line with Cornelio in terms of production. After serving the first portion of the season as a reliever, Perez came in as a starter with some HEAT. He finished with a 6-3 record while holding opponents to a .219 BA and maintained a sub-4 ERA. For a team that doesn’t necessarily have a “clear-cut ace,” the Frogs will need one of their regular starters to pitch absolute heat for the tournament.

Summary: We know what this team is capable of, and we know they can accomplish truly anything they set their mind to. The postseason is familiar territory for the Horned Frogs, so whether they’re playing in College Station or a field on Mars, it doesn’t matter. The Frogs are going to go out and play ball and do what they do best, and that’s win regionals. Similar to A&M, the Frogs have an incredibly high ceiling, but also a relatively low floor. It wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world to not make it past regionals, but then again, it also wouldn’t be that crazy to see the Frogs in Omaha.

3) Louisiana

  • Regional Winner Odds: +550
  • CWS Champion Odds: +25000
  • Game 1 vs. TCU Odds: -+145 Underdog
  • Record: 36-21 (19-11 Sun Belt)
  • Away Record: 14-10; Neutral Record: 3-3

At Bat: As our friends over at The Ragin’ Review described it, the Cajuns have a lot of “thorn in your side, grinder type players” that can get sneakily hot at any time. One name the Frogs will likely be hearing a lot tonight is Carson Roccaforte. The left is an all-around beast at the plate. He hits a smooth .379 average with 16 home runs on the year. Oh, and not to forget the slugger also has amassed 23 steals this year. So basically, you don’t want him up to bat, and you certainly don’t want him on base. Overall, a solid 6 of 9 regular starters for Louisiana maintain above a .300 BA, so the Frogs will have to be careful to limit any hitting streaks tonight. Once the Ragin’ Cajun get hot, they’re reeeaaallly hot.

On the Mound: Brandon Talley is expected to get the day 1 start, and has some eerily similar numbers to Riley Cornelio. He finished the year 3-3, had 66 strikeouts in 71.2 innings, and holds opponents to .269 BA as well. His fastball sits around 90-91 mph but he’s got a tendency to favor the breaking ball. Whereas Talley offers consistency for Louisiana, their bullpen isn’t the strongest aspect of their team. They have some solid rotation guys - Jake Hammond, Dylan Theut - but consistency has been an issue.

Summary: Don’t let the Sun Belt Conference name tag fool you, this Louisiana team is legit and serves as a threat for anyone thinking they have a free pass in the regional. They’re a ferocious hitting team with relentless baserunning and a hint of swagger. Despite playing in a smaller conference, the Ragin’ Cajun isn’t shy when it comes to big-time matchups. They’re already played LSU, Arkansas, Stanford, and Georgia Southern in the regular season, picking up a trio of wins over the current regional hosting Eagles along the way. This team’s potential is hard to pin. Obviously, the odds are against them, but if they made it out of this regional it certainly wouldn’t be the craziest thing that’s happened in postseason collegiate athletics.

4) Oral Roberts

  • Regional Winner Odds: +750
  • CWS Champion Odds: +35000
  • Game 1 vs. Texas A&M Odds: +180 Underdog
  • Record: 38-18 (17-7 Summit)
  • Away Record: 17-7; Neutral Record: 0-2

At Bat: With a simple eye test on d1baseball.com’s stat sheets, it’s evident that Oral Roberts is really, really good at hitting the baseball. They’ve got 10 players with above a .300 BA and six of their regular nine starters have maintained an OBP of greater than .400. AJ Archambo, Jackson Loftin, and Caleb Denny present the biggest threat in terms of getting on base. Once on base, the Golden Eagles know how to make the most of it. They have 72 steals on the year, lead by Loftin with 25 and Connor Beichler with 13, and Joshua Cox with 10. Oh, and how could I forget about the two-way sensation Isaac Coffey, who leads the team in both batting average (.387) and ERA on the mound (2.41). They might be the 4-seed, but baseball’s a weird game. If you let this squad get hot, that might be the end of your season.

On the Mound: Depth is a bit in question for the Golden Eagles, but at the top of their order they’ve got a pair of studs. Ledgend Smith and two-way player Isaac Coffey have been killing it on the mound this season. Smith leads the team with an impressive 2.41 ERA through 13 starts, striking out opponents 74 times in 82.1 innings pitched while holding opposing batters to a .210 average. How exactly this kid is able to be the best player in the locker room both on the mound and at the plate is beyond me, but Isaac Coffey is certainly a name to look out for in this College Station regional.

Summary: Just like Louisiana out of the Sun Belt, don’t let the Summit League name fool you. The conference champs are as good of a threat as any to make a run out of this regional, and will hopefully keep the Aggies on their toes in game 1.