Texas Tech Super Regional
(All Times CDT)
College of Charleston: RHP Taylor Clarke (10-3, 2.62 ERA)
Texas Tech: LHP Chris Sadberry (4-3, 3.49 ERA)
2 p.m. Sunday
College of Charleston: RHP Bailey Ober (10-2, 1.55 ERA)
Texas Tech: TBA
College of Charleston: RHP Tyler Thornton (7-5, 3.03 ERA)
Texas Tech: TBA
Both teams survived regionals in Florida featuring hosts who have appeared in multiple national championships. Each of these two regionals experienced major weather delays, but these two teams lasted through the weather and are now heading to a place which once won a contest for "America's Toughest Weather City".
This series will be about more than just weather though. Both teams are searching for their first appearance in the College World Series.
Texas Tech is making its first appearance in the super regionals. The Red Raiders came within one victory of advancing to Omaha in 1995, but lost consecutive games to Stanford in the old post-season format, when super regionals did not exist. Not only are the Red Raiders in the super regionals, but they are hosting. This proves to be huge for Tim Tadlock's squad as the Red Raiders are 31-4 in the friendly confines of Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park. Two of the four losses came at the hands of another super regionals host, the Texas Longhorns. The Longhorns needed extra innings to escape Lubbock with the series victory. One of the other two losses came against a national seed, the Indiana Hoosiers, who gained a 1-0 victory with their ace on the mound.
The College of Charleston doesn't have the nicest road record this season either. While the Cougars are 12-10 in away games, but are 1-4 against teams who made a regional. The 1-4 record includes being swept by the Houston Cougars. Although the weather is extremely different from Houston in March to Lubbock in June, it was the only trip out of the eastern time zone for the Cougars. Houston outscored College of Charleston 18-6 in the series. The Cougars have made the super regionals once before. College of Charleston went 3-0 in the 2006 Lexington Regional, but were no match for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech pounded the Cougars 17-3 in two games, lighting the bullpen up for 12 runs.
This year, the Cougars have a much better bullpen. College of Charleston is 33-0 when leading after seven innings. In addition, when the Cougars trail after eight innings, they are 0-16. In nine conference appearances, closer Michael Hanzlik sported a 1.46 ERA racking up five saves in 12.1 innings of work. Hanzlik (2-1, 3.35 ERA) does not have the prettiest ERA for a closer, but five of his 14 earned runs came in one game. This closer is a consistent one with 16 saves and a WHIP of 0.968.
The starting pitching is a key factor for College of Charleston this season as well. The highest ERA from a probable starter for the Cougars this weekend is 3.03. Monday probable Tyler Thornton (7-5) holds that particular title, but he's coming off his best outing of the season. Thornton tossed a complete game against Long Beach State to win the Gainesville Regional. The other two probables are a combined 20-5. Sunday's starter for College of Charleston holds over a 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Bailey Ober (10-2, 1.55 ERA) is the best pitcher on the Cougars staff.
Texas Tech has yet to name probable starters for Sunday and Monday. There are many names who Tim Tadlock could go with for those days. Dylan Dusek and Ryan Moseley are two freshman who tossed quality starts against host Miami (FL) in the Coral Gables Regional. Neither freshman gave up a run. Moseley was dealing until three rain delays and an eventual suspension of his start prompted Tadlock to make a change. In addition, Dominic Moreno, Corey Taylor and Johnathon Tripp are all quality pitchers who Tadlock could tab as the starter. If that is not enough choices, there is Cameron Smith. Smith is coming off a complete game shutout of the Miami Hurricanes. The New Mexico Junior College product tossed a three-hitter leading Texas Tech to their first ever regional championship.
Saturday's matchup is set. Texas Tech will send LHP Chris Sadberry (4-3, 3.49 ERA) to the rubber. RHP Taylor Clarke (10-3, 2.62 ERA) will make the start for College of Charleston.
This series will primarily rely on pitching and defense. If the College of Charleson is to advance to Omaha, the starters must shut down the Texas Tech offense.
The Red Raiders finished atop the Big 12 Conference with a .294 team batting average. The offense is led by sophomore Eric Gutierrez, who was named Big 12 Player of the Year by the Waco Tribune-Herald. Tyler Neslony also holds a big bat and can hit for average. Neslony smacked two grand slams in the first two weeks of the season and will take a 19-game hitting streak into the super regionals. If the Cougars can get past the projected three and four-spot hitters, they'll have to deal with Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Adam Kirsch. Kirsch, a transfer from Florida International, is on a 14-game hitting streak. His stats during the hit streak include a .420 average, 14 runs batted in, and two home runs.
Texas Tech currently holds the longest active home winning streak in the NCAA with 14 consecutive victories at Rip Griffin Park. The winner of the series advances to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska for the first time in program history. First pitch is set for noon Saturday.