As expected Texas Tech will host a regional for the NCAA Tournament this weekend at Rip Griffin Park in Lubbock after being named the No. 5 national seed. The regional will also include Arizona, Sam Houston State and Delaware. The Red Raiders take on Delaware 2 p.m. (CST) Friday.
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43-15 Overall, 16-8 in the Big 12
The Red Raiders have been ranked as one of the top five teams in the country for the majority of the season, hence the No. 5 national seed for the tournament. They won a share of the regular season Big 12 title with TCU--Tech's second regular season Big 12 title in a row--going 16-8 in conference play and putting up a 43-15 overall record.
Texas Tech ranks No. 4 in RPI and collected wins over six ranked teams during the regular season, including a series win against No. 6 national seed TCU and a win over No. 4 national seed with LSU at a neutral site. Texas Tech’s strength lies in the their lineup, which is extremely impressive considering it consists partly of a handful of freshman.The Red Raiders led the Big 12 in batting average with .305 and average around 7 runs per game.
Offense Players To Watch
Senior first baseman Hunter Hargrove hit .342 this season with a team leading 24 doubles, three triples and five home runs en route to earning Big 12 Player of the Year honors.
Others to watch are freshman slugger John McMillon who has hit eight home runs in the 17 games he has played this season. Another big hitter this season has been junior Orlando Garcia who has a .298 average but has hit a team leading 12 home runs. The hottest bat besides these guys would have to be Ryan Long who had a great Big 12 tournament going 5-for-11 with a home run.
Pitchers To Watch
There is no question when it comes to the number one starter for Texas Tech, that would be left-hander Steven Gingery. With Davis Martin going down early in the season, Gingery had to step up and was responsible for many series tying wins. He boasts a Big 12 leading 9-1 record and has 1.69 ERA, which ranks tenth in the country.
Gingery received pitcher of the year honors from the Big 12. His last outing was against Baylor, who also made the tournament, and he threw six shutout innings despite allowing seven hits and three walks. Gingery strength lies in his strikeout to walk ratio which is 99 to 27 this season.
37-19 Overall, 16-14 in the Pac 12
Arizona has been selected for their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance after going 37-19 overall this season and 16-14 in the Pac 12. The Wildcats finished fourth in the conference and with a No. 20 RPI ranking. They had a big series win over UCLA and was swept by Pac 12 conference champions Oregon State and the runner up Stanford.
The Wildcats will face Sam Houston State first for the second year in a row. Last year Arizona defeated Sam Houston State in their first game in the Lafayette Regional. They went on to the College World Series and ended up being the national title runner up.
Texas Tech played Arizona in March and defeated them 13-1 despite the Wildcats also being a top 25 offensive team. Jacob Patterson was credited the win after pitching the middle inning and then Erikson Lanning came in the later innings to continue to shut Arizona down.
Offensive Players To Watch
That game against Texas Tech is not a fair picture of what Arizona’s offense was able to do throughout the season. They have the No. 19 team batting average in the nation of .308, which is higher than Texas Tech who is ranked No. 25. Similar to Texas Tech they averaged 7 runs per game this season.
The Wildcat’s offense has been led by JJ Matijevic who boasts a .398 average, which also is the highest in the Pac 12. He accounted for 10 home runs, 29 doubles and 64 RBI this season. Sophomore Alfonso Rivas is also one to watch after having a big season. He is batting .374 and had 12 doubles, six home runs and 61 RBI this season. He also led the Pac 12 with a .490 on base percentage.
Pitchers To Watch
Arizona went into the season without having a set starting rotation but have managed to find their guys. One of the top starters is junior lefty JC Cloney who started 14 games for the Wildcats this season and has a 7-1 record and 2.94 ERA. He threw a team leading 66 strikeouts and only allowed 17 walks. Cloney will more than likely start against Sam Houston on Friday, which leaves Texas Tech to face Cameron Ming if both teams advance to the winners bracket.
Ming leads the pitching staff with a 7-2 record and 2.70 ERA after starting seven games but playing in up to 20 this season for Arizona. In his third start, Ming pitched a complete game against Washington in early May where Arizona won 3-1 to clinch that series.
40-20 Overall, 19-11 in the Southland Conference
Sam Houston State makes the the NCAA Tournament after defeating Central Arkansas to win the Southland Conference tournament this past weekend, receiving the automatic bid. This marks Sam Houston’s fifth tournament appearance in the last six years. The Bearkats went 40-20 overall and finished third in their conference behind McNeese State and Southeastern Louisiana.
The Bearkats returned seven of their starters from last season when they played Arizona in the Lafayette Regional. This season Sam Houston accounted for series win over McNeese State, midweek wins over Houston, Texas A&M and Dallas Baptist and rank 54 in RPI. They also went on a 8-game win streak back in March.
Texas Tech is familiar with Sam Houston State having played them three times last season, once in Huntsville and twice in Lubbock. Texas Tech won all three games 11-6, 8-6 and a whopping 20-3 respectively.
Offensive Players To Watch
This is yet another powerful offense in addition to the two previous teams. Sam Houston ranks No. 23 nationally with a team batting average .307 and score six more runs than they allow per game. They rank No. 18 nationally in hits totalling 620 through 60 games.
Center fielder Bryce Johnson is one to watch at the plate. The junior has started every game for the Bearkats and has a .350 average and team leading 83 hits, 11 doubles, five triples. Another guy to watch is a junior college transfer Blake Chisolm who leads the team with a .355 average and .572 slugging percentage through 53 games.
Although, the Bearkats lineup is stacked with seven starters that are hitting over .300 it is hard to narrow it down to just a few guys.
Pitchers To Watch
Sam Houston returns two starters from last season senior righty Heath Donica and junior righty Dakota Mills. Both are ones that people should have their eye on. Donica went 9-1 this season and has a 1.69 ERA after 101.1 innings in 14 starts. Similar to Gingery he has an impressive strikeout to walk ratio which is 100 to 27.
Mills started 12 games for Sam Houston and went 7-3 with a 4.14 ERA. Donica is expected to face Sam Houston on Friday so Mills would most likely face Texas Tech in game two if both teams advance to the winners bracket.
Bullpen pieces to watch out for are junior Riley Cooper and freshman Nick Mikolajchak who have a 2.50 and 2.84 ERA respectively.
34-21 Overall, 15-9 in the Colonial Athletic Association
Delaware defeated UNC-Wilmington 10-3 to win the Colonial Athletic Association conference title this past weekend. This marks their first NCAA Tournament berth in 17 years. The Blue Hens actually swept the tournament after getting a 9-0 win over College of Charleston and then a 5-3 win over Northeastern before the final game.
That is a total of 24 runs in the last three games played. Delaware fits in the the offensive powerhouse of this regional. They have the highest batting average of .313 which ranks No. 13 nationally. Although, they rank 124 in RPI and have gone 2-4 against top 100 RPI teams this season.
The Blue Hens went 34-21 overall and 15-9 in conference play which was enough to finish fourth in the CAA.
Offensive Players To Watch
Texas Tech fans should keep their eye on senior Jeremy Ake, who leads the team and is second in the conference with a .359 batting average. After starting all but two games for the Blue Hens he has totaled 12 doubles, three home runs and 42 RBI.
Senior Doug Trimble is right behind him with a .341 batting average, which ranks fourth in the conference. He has a team leading 73 hits and a .505 slugging percentage. Another big slugger for the Blue Hens is senior Jordan Glover who has hit 10 home runs, has a .582 slugging percentage and leads the conference in stolen bases with 21.
Pitcher To Watch
Delaware’s number one guy is junior right-hander Ron Marinaccio who has only started seven games but has played in 21 this season and has a 4-2 record. His team leading 1.85 ERA also ranks No. 14 nationally. Marinaccio moved from the closer role to starter in the middle of the season and since then has gone 4-1. This is more than likely who Texas Tech will face in the first game of the regional on Friday.
The rest of Delaware’s pitching staff is in the 3 to 4 ERA range and facing these strong offensive teams will definitely be challenging.