Previewing the Lake Elsinore Regional

Previewing the Lake Elsinore Regional, including the projected lineups, rotations, key players and how the teams got there. USC will have to beat out No. 1 seed UC Santa Barbara along with defending national champion runner up Virginia and Mountain West Champion San Diego State.

UC Santa Barbara

Gauchos

Santa Barbara, CA

40-15-1

Roster

Statistics

USC

Trojans

Los Angeles, CA

37-19

Roster

Statistics

Virginia

Cavaliers

Charlottesville, VA

34-22

Roster

Statistics

San Diego State

Aztecs

San Diego, CA

40-21

Roster

Statistics

Schedule


Game 1: USC vs. Virginia - 3 p.m. Friday
Game 2: UC Santa Barbara vs. San Diego State - 7 p.m. Friday
Game 3: Loser Gm 1 vs. Loser Gm 2 - 3 p.m. Saturday
Game 4: Winner Gm 1 vs. Winner Gm 2 - 7 p.m. Saturday
Game 5: Loser Gm 4 vs. Winner Gm 3 - 3 p.m. Sunday
Game 6: Winner Gm 5 vs. Winner Gm 4 - 7 p.m. Sunday
Game 7: Winner Gm 5 vs. Winner Gm 4 - 6 p.m. Monday (**if necessary)

1. UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (40-15-1, Big West, At-Large Bid)


Projected Lineup

C - Campbell Wear
1B - Robby Nesovic
2B - Woody Woodward
SS - Clay Fisher
3B - Peter Maris
LF - Cameron Newell
CF - Andrew Calica
RF - Luke Swenson
DH - Paddy O'Brien

Projected Rotation

1. RHP Dillon Tate (8-4, 2.08)
2. LHP Justin Jacome (7-4, 2.53)
3. RHP Shane Bieber (8-4, 2.26)

SU - Kyle Nelson (3-1, 0.80, 2 SV)
CL - Robby Nesovic (1-0, 2.70, 6 SV)

Players to Watch


Dillon Tate - Potential No. 1 overall draft pick with absolutely electric stuff on the mound. Moved from closer to starter this season. Can throw up to 100 mph when in relief, but sits 94-97 mph as a starter. Also has a wicked slider that right-handed hitters have little chance against.

Cameron Newell - The Big West Co-Player of the Year batted .380 this season with three homers and 31 RBIs.

How They Got Here


Originally a potential national seed contended, the Gauchos started the season 30-10-1 before dropping two of their last three series, including an abysmal finish to the year, losing two of three games to an absolutely woeful UC Riverside club. But that was without Tate pitching to rest up for the postseason. How well does UC Santa Barbara bounce back and how sharp is Tate early on? This is only the second time the Gauchos have made the postseason since 2001 and their first-ever attempt at hosting. Hosting three hours away from campus is a big question mark, but the administration stepped up and got creative. It was also probably a ploy to show head coach Andrew Checketts, one of the hottest names for coaching vacancies in the country, the school is serious about the baseball program. With one of the top pitching staffs in the country, UCSB can compete and beat anyone in the country, but can they get out of one of the toughest regionals in the land?

2. USC Trojans (37-19, Pac-12, At-Large Bid)


Projected Lineup

C - Garrett Stubbs
1B - Jeremy Martinez
2B - Dante Flores
SS - Reggie Southall/Angelo La Bruna
3B - Blake Lacey
LF - Bobby Stahel
CF - Timmy Robinson
RF - AJ Ramirez
DH - David Oppenheim

Projected Rotation

1. RHP Kyle Davis (3-2, 4.23, 6 SV)
2. LHP Kyle Twomey (7-2, 2.81)
3. RHP Mitch Hart (7-3, 3.67)

SU - Tyler Gilbert (4-2, 2.97, 1 SV)
CL - Marc Huberman (6-4, 2.37, 4 SV)

Players to Watch


Tyler Gilbert - As a swingman in the bullpen, Gilbert could play a key role for the Trojans this weekend. He can be used as everything from starter to closer to long reliever to lefty specialist. How Dan Hubbs uses him and how successful Gilbert is could be a deciding factor for the Trojans' fate.

Garrett Stubbs - The Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year is a wall behind the plate for the Trojans and a solid receiver that steals some strikes for his pitchers. He also threw out 54 percent of would-be base stealers while swiping 19 bags himself. He batted .330 and sports a team-best .421 on-base-percentage.

Kyle Davis - The Trojans need a strong start from Davis, who will be making just his fifth start of the season and seventh in his career. USC's closer last year and through half of this season was moved into the rotation once he finally got healthy from a nagging ankle injury that also led to a groin injury. He has to bounce back from a rough outing in his final start, but he's got the best stuff on the staff.

How They Got Here


The Trojans are finally back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005. They have the most impressive weekend sweep of any team in the country with the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic wins over three top 10 teams (TCU, Vanderbilt and UCLA). But there were some struggles in the final month of the season before USC ended the year on a strong note taking the last two games to win a series over a top 25 Arizona State ball club. Dan Hubbs has done a great job turning around the culture of the program and getting USC back to where in belongs in the postseason. Without the slow end to the season, USC may have hosted this regional, but Hubbs is happy to still be in Southern California and is hoping fans will come out in droves to hopefully make Lake Elsinore seem like a home game for the Trojans.

3. Virginia Cavaliers (34-22, ACC, At-Large Bid)


Projected Lineup

C - Robbie Coman
1B - Matt Thaiss
2B - Ernie Clement
SS - Daniel Pinero
3B - Kenny Towns
LF - Pavin Smith
CF - Adam Haseley
RF - Joe McCarthy
DH - Jack Gerstenmaier

Projected Rotation

1. RHP Connor Jones (5-2, 3.05)
2. LHP Brandon Waddell (3-5, 4-52)
3. RHP Adam Haseley (2-1, 2.66)

SU - Kevin Doherty (3-1, 3.29, 3 SV)
CL - Josh Sborz (3-2, 2.17, 12 SV)

Players to Watch


Josh Sborz - A starter last season, Sborz began the year as the closer, but moved into the rotation when Virginia lost a pair of starters. He made three starts to end the season, but head coach Brian O'Connor has said Sborz is moving back to the bullpen in the postseason. How Sborz is used could dictate a lot of things. If he's not needed in the first two games, he'll likely start a third game (should Virginia advance to that point).

Matt Thaiss - Hard-hitting middle-of-the-lineup bat. He has legitimate power and a mature approach at the plate. Thaiss hit .324 with a team-best nine homers and 55 RBIs.

How They Got Here


There were a lot of expectations surrounding the Cavaliers after they lost in the national championship series in three games to Vanderbilt, falling 3-2 in the finale on a late homer. But Virginia has been besieged with injuries this year. McCarthy and Gerstenmaier have missed significant chunks of time this year and Coman had a banged-up knee for a while. And then it really got the injury bug when ace Nathan Kirby went down with a left lat strain in mid-April and Tuesday starter Derek Casey was lost to an arm injury mere days later. Kirby was expected to be back in some capacity this weekend, but Thursday O'Connor said that wouldn't be the case. However, there's still a ton of talent remaining on this team.

4. San Diego State Aztecs (40-21, Mountain West Champions)


Projected Lineup

C - Seby Zavala
1B - Steven Pallares
2B - Alan Trejo
SS - Danny Sheehan
3B - Ty France
LF - Justin Wylie
CF - Chase Calabuig
RF - Spencer Thornton
DH - Andrew Brown

Projected Rotation

1. RHP Bubba Derby (7-4, 3.35)
2. LHP Mark Seyler (9-2, 2.80)
3. RHP Cody Thompson (4-4, 4.13)

SU - Brian Heldman (3-1, 3.44, 1 SV)
CL - C.J. Saylor (3-3, 4.86, 11 SV)

Players to Watch


Bubba Derby - Derby is going to have a great opportunity to earn himself some money on Friday night when he matches up with Dillon Tate. Plenty of scouts will be there to see Tate. Can Derby steal the show? Though he's only 5-foot-10, he has some pretty dynamic stuff. When his changeup is on, he can be a strikeout wizard.

Seby Zavala - There's no one in the country that was as hot as Seby Zavala was last weekend during the Mountain West Tournament. He blasted five homers and drove in 11 runs. The Aztecs need him to carry that over into this weekend.

How They Got Here


The Aztecs started the season on fire with a 22-6 record, but then things cooled off dramatically in the second half of the season (13-14). But for the third year in a row, the Aztecs came through the loser's bracket of the Mountain West Tournament to take the championship. But head coach Mark Martinez wants his team to take the next step to becoming a national program and that begins with winning a game in the regionals, which they have yet to do the last two seasons. The program that Tony Gwynn oversaw still has his presence in it from the "19" on their caps to the Lil' Tony bobblehead that the team takes with them everywhere. It's only fitting that San Diego State plays in the Diamond at Lake Elsinore, home of the Lake Elsinore Storm, a minor league affiliate of the San Diego Padres.


USCFootball.com Top Stories