Previewing the Tempe Regional

The Arizona State Sun Devils begin their march toward a 21st appearance in the College World Series this weekend, right in the friendly confines of Packard Stadium. Familiar faces will stand in Pat Murphy and ASU's way of accomplishing their goal, as Murphy's good friend Tim Corbin and Vanderbilt, as well as Oklahoma and Stony Brook come to Tempe for the regional.

Looking ahead, if ASU can survive the regional, a Tempe Super Regional would bring Long Beach St., San Diego, Fresno State or Cal to Packard for a trip to Omaha on the line. But first, ASU must worry about this weekend's games. Here is a look at the teams competing in the Tempe regional.

#1 Arizona State Sun Devils (3rd National Seed)

Record: 45-11, 16-8 Pacific-10 (Champions)

Top Hitters: Brett Wallace 3B .412 20 HR 78 RBI
Ike Davis 1B .378 16 HR 68 RBI
Jason Kipnis CF .367 13 HR 67 RBI

Starting Pitchers: Mike Leake 9-2 3.18 ERA
Josh Satow 8-3 4.99 ERA
Seth Blair 4-2 7.00 ERA

Top Reliever: Tommy Rafferty 11-0 3.66 ERA

About the Sun Devils: The Sun Devils will have the home fans behind them once again and that has certainly helped them in the past. ASU has appeared in 20 College World Series and 16 times they have paved their path to Omaha in Arizona. This year the Devils are once again tough to beat at home, as they boast a stellar 37-3 record at Packard Stadium. Offensively, ASU is led by back-to-back Pac-10 triple crown winner Brett Wallace. Wallace, who is expected to go in the first round of the upcoming MLB June Draft, finished with a .412 batting average and belted 20 home runs and drove in 78.

ASU will hope to have Ike Davis closer to the healthy Ike Davis for the regional as they will need him on the hill and at the dish to advance. The Devils certainly can hit the ball; averaging 9.3 runs per game, but their question mark like always will be on the mound. Mike Leake is no doubt one of the best pitchers in the nation, but after that it is a toss-up. ASU needs the Josh Satow of old to show up and they need Seth Blair to continue to pitch the way he has in the last month. It will be interesting to see how Pat Murphy shapes his rotation for the regional, if he starts Leake right away or holds him off for a tougher game over the weekend.

#2 Vanderbilt Commodores

Record: 40-20, 15-14 SEC (4th Place, SEC East)

Top Hitters: Pedro Alvarez .312 9HR 28 RBI (37 Games)
David Macias .355 8HR 36 RBI
Ryan Flaherty .325 14 HR 61 RBI

Starting Pitchers: Mike Minor 6-3 4.26 ERA
Caleb Cotham 7-5 4.26 ERA
Nick Christiani 6-3 4.69 ERA
Top Reliever: Russell Brewer 4-2 3.22 ERA 8 saves

About the Commodores: Friendship runs deep between Pat Murphy and Vanderbilt Head Coach Tim Corbin. Corbin, who's step-daughter Molly Blatt works for the ASU Baseball program, is the reason that Jason Kipnis wound up at ASU, thanks to a suggestion from Corbin to Murphy. But friendship will be tossed out the window for this weekend, at least if the two teams meet. The Devils took down the Commodores during the first weekend of the season 18-6 at Packard Stadium, but Vandy was missing Pedro Alvarez, possibly the best player in the country. Vanderbilt will take the field with two All-Americans on the left side, in Alvarez and Ryan Flaherty at shortstop.

Vanderbilt finished in just 4th place in the SEC East after a preseason top 10 ranking. Last year's regional was a disappointment for Vanderbilt, as they fell to Michigan despite being ranked #1 in the nation all season long. Gone is dominant starting pitcher and #1 overall pick David Price from that team, but the Commodores still have solid starting pitching in Mike Minor, Caleb Cotham and Nick Christiani.

#3 Oklahoma Sooners

Record: 34-24, 9-17 Big 12 (8th Place)

Top Hitters: Mike Gosse .359 7 HR 48 RBI
Aljay Davis .352 2 HR 39 RBI
Jaime Johnson .350 5 HR 25 RBI

Top Pitchers: Andrew Doyle 8-4 4.35 ERA
Ryan Duke 7-4 3.60 ERA
Jeremy Erben 1-3 6.16 ERA
Top Reliever: Jake McCarter 2-0 7.09 ERA 9 Saves

About the Sooners: The Sooners backed their way into the NCAA Tournament, leaving most Sooner fans surprised that they actually got in. Oklahoma finished just 9-17 in the Big 12, which left them in 8th Place in the conference. The Sooners likely got in for their run in the Big 12 Tournament that left them a strike away from playing for the championship. Oklahoma did go 3-1 against Oklahoma St., Texas A&M, Missouri and Texas, all NCAA Tournament teams. Andrew Doyle leads the way for Oklahoma on the mound and was named to the All-Big 12 Tournament team for his complete game victory over Texas A&M.

#4 Stony Brook Seawolves

Record: 34-24, 14-10 (2nd Regular Season American East, Tournament Champions)

Top Hitters: Steven Mazzurco .368 2 HR 33 RBI
Brian Witkowski .348 9 HR 30 RBI
Michael Stephan .311 11 HR 36 RBI

Top Pitchers: Tom Koehler 6-4 3.70 ERA
Gary Novakowski 7-4 4.37 ERA
Mike Errigo 4-5 4.91 ERA
Top Reliever: Jordan Purrington 3-3, 3.63 ERA 7 Saves

About the Seawolves: Balance has helped the Seawolves rebound from a rough 2007 season which saw them not win a game in the American East Tournament for the first time ever. Three pitchers have six wins for Stony Brook and six players are hitting over .300. The Seawolves joined Division I in 2000 and have had a winning record in seven of those nine seasons since making the jump. This will be the second trip to the NCAA tournament for Head Coach Matt Senk, as the Seawolves also took the American East Tournament title in 2004, but lost their only two regional games.

Tempe Regional Schedule

Friday

Game 1: #2 Vanderbilt vs. #3 Oklahoma 2 P.M.
Game 2: #1 Arizona St. vs. #4 Stony Brook 7 P.M.

Saturday

Game 3: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser 2 P.M.
Game 4: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner 7 P.M.

Sunday

Game 5: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser 1 P.M.
Game 6: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner 6 P.M.

Monday:

Game 7: Game 6 Winner vs. Game 6 Loser 6 P.M (If Necessary)

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