#1 Seed – Miami Hurricanes (36-21, at-large bid from ACC)
Offensive Overview: The Hurricanes are not a team that is going to win many high-scoring games. As a team, they have a .261 average and that’s with the .348 batting average of Peter O’Brien factored in. No other Miami starter is hitting above .299.
Other than O’Brien (.348, 10 HR, 39 RBI), the Hurricanes are led by Chantz Mack (.299, .406 OBP, 31 RBI), Brad Fieger (.296, 13 doubles, 35 RBI) and Dale Carey (.275, .377 OBP, eight steals). Also look out for Rony Rodriguez. He has struggled for much of this season to a .266 average with three homers and 18 RBI, but he led the team in home runs last season with 13 and he is heating up of late. For the most part, this team’s offense will go as O’Brien goes, but they swung the bats well at the ACC tournament with little contributions from O’Brien, so they might be heating up as a team at the right time.
Pitching Overview: Miami would not be where they are if it weren’t for their pitching staff. As a team, they boast a 2.92 ERA, led by the sparkling ERAs of bullpen stalwarts AJ Salcines (1.47), Eric Nedeljkovic (1.93) and Adam Sargent (2.38).
The bullpen is also bolstered by the talented but inconsistent E.J. Encinosa, the closer for much of the season. He lost that job thanks to a relatively high walk rate and a general lack of command, but when he is on, he can be dominant. The fact that opposing hitters have managed just a .129 batting average against Encinosa is a testament to that.
The starting rotation is just as solid. Miami doesn’t really have a shutdown “Friday night” ace, but they have four very good starters they trust. Eric Whaley (4-4, 2.47 ERA), Eric Erickson (8-5, 2.84 ERA) and Steven Ewing (6-2, 3.28 ERA) are their three top starters and Javi Salas, their usual midweek starter, will come in with a 6-2 record and 2.20 ERA. Having four good starters is a huge boon to Miami’s chances to get out of this regional, as they will be less susceptible to running short on pitching as the regional wears on.
Defensive Overview: This is a huge concern for Miami. They have struggled with this all season long. As a team, they have a .959 fielding percentage. The middle infield is of particular concern, as Michael Broad, Jarred Mederos and Stephen Perez, the three players that have split the most time up the middle, have .918, .928 and .941 fielding percentages, respectively.
Best case scenario: The fielding issues don’t rear their ugly head, the offense gets hot and the pitching just does what they have all season, allowing Miami to win this regional in short order.
Worst case scenario: Miami can’t field the ball with any consistency and the offense struggles to score runs against a solid pitching team like Missouri State, sending Miami home after another disappointing run in the regionals.
#2 Seed – UCF Knights (43-15, at-large bid from C-USA)
Offensive Overview: The Knights can flat-out swing the bats. As a team, they sport a .294 batting average. They also take more than their fair share of walks, as their .390 team on-base percentage hints at.
Much of the power production on this team comes from D.J. Hicks (.318, 11 HR, 68 RBI) and Ronnie Richardson (.307, 8 HR, 33 RBI), but they are far from the only outstanding hitters in the lineup. Travis Shreve (.353, 25 RBI, 15 steals), Alex Friedrich (.327, 38 RBI, 16 steals) and Chris Taladay (.309, 5 HR, 47 RBI) give the Knights plenty more firepower beyond the top two home runs hitters.
Pitching Overview: The Knights don’t have a staff full of starting pitchers with dominating stats, but they get the job done. The Knights are led by a group that have done a fair share of both starting and relieving. Eric Skoglund (5-2, 2.84 ERA, 7 starts, 9 relief apps.), Chris Matulis (6-0, 3.14 ERA, 10 starts, 7 relief apps.), and Ben Lively (9-2, 3.23 ERA, 12 starts, 6 relief apps.) give head coach Terry Rooney a formidable group of versatile arms.
Ray Hanson (4-1, 3.42 ERA) and Brian Adkins (3-5, 4.50 ERA) are two other pitchers who have started games with regularity for this UCF team.
The UCF bullpen is loaded with pitchers with eye-popping numbers. Roman Madrid (29 apps., 0.64 ERA), Joe Rogers (28 apps., 1.60 ERA, 12 saves) and Jimmy Reed (19 apps., 2.11 ERA) turn any UCF game into basically a six inning game because they can so easily shut a team down late.
Defensive Overview: The Knights aren’t going kick the ball around and beat themselves. They have a .972 fielding percentage and only shortstop Darnell Sweeney has a double digit error total.
Best Case Scenario: The Knights’ powerful offense gets to Missouri State ace Nick Petree and wins the opening game. The offense stays hot from then on and moves on to the super regionals.
Worst Case Scenario: Missouri State ace Nick Petree shuts down UCF in the opening game and the Knights don’t have the starting pitching depth to work their way back through the loser’s bracket.
#3 Seed – Missouri State Bears (39-20, at-large bid from Missouri Valley Conference)
Offensive Overview: The Bears aren’t anything special on offense, as their .278 team batting average would indicate. But they do have some capable bats that lead their attack. Even though he often occupies the second spot in the order, Kevin Medrano is the table-setter in the lineup. He leads the team with a .328 batting average and 11 steals.
Behind him, Keenan Maddox (.310, 7 HR, 29 RBI), Luke Voit (.305, 6 HR, 46 RBI), Brock Chaffin (.291, 2 HR, 41 RBI) and Brent Seifert (.273, 5 HR, 44 RBI) provide much of the run production.
Pitching Overview: This is where Missouri State’s bread is buttered. Their offense is only average, but that’s just fine because their pitching is outstanding.
The unquestioned ace of the staff is Nick Petree, who might be the most dominant pitcher in all of college baseball. He will come into this postseason with a 10-3 record and a 0.92 ERA. He has struck out 109 hitters in 107.1 innings.
The starters behind him aren’t too shabby either. Pierce Johnson has a tough-luck 3-6 record, but he has a 2.55 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 91.2 innings. Cody Schumacher has an 8-1 record with a 3.57 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 93.1 innings.
The bullpen is almost as good. Tyler Burgess (1.63 ERA, 11 saves), Grant Gordon (3.38 ERA) and Jake Powers (4.03 ERA, 7 starts, 4 relief apps.) are a big part of a staff that has a 2.51 cumulative ERA.
Amazingly, the Bears only have eight pitchers that have pitched regularly. That’s good news because it means they have a lot of top-end talent, but it’s bad news because if for some reason their starting pitching gets hit around, they don’t have a lot of depth behind them.
Defensive Overview: Missouri State is another team that isn’t going to beat itself with errors. They boast a team fielding percentage of .970. Shortstop Eric Cheray and third baseman Brent Seifert are susceptible to errors, however, as they have .911 and .930 fielding percentages, respectively.
Best Case Scenario: The Bears’ dominant starting pitching pushes them right through the Coral Gables regional and into the super regionals relatively easily.
Worst Case Scenario: Petree, Johnson and Schumacher get hit around more than usual and the Bears don’t have the bullpen depth to keep them from going two and out.
#4 Seed – Stony Brook Seawolves (46-11, America East Conference automatic bid)
Offensive Overview: Being that they play in the weakest conference of any team in this regional, it’s hard to compare the offenses side by side, but if we go by raw statistics, Stony Brook has by far the best offense of the bunch. As a team they are hitting a robust .337.
Travis Jankowski is the player that really makes this offense go. He leads the squad with a .411 batting average, a .476 on-base percentage and 34 stolen bases. He is also third on the team with 40 RBI. Not to be outdone, Maxx Tissenbaum has an even .400 batting average, a .466 on-base percentage and 41 RBI.
William Carmona is the biggest power bat in the lineup. He boasts a .380 batting average with 10 home runs and 60 RBI.
Steven Goldstein (.356), Kevin Krause (.343), Tanner Nivins (.331), Cole Peragine (.330) and Pat Cantwell (.303) all help prove that the gaudy batting averages go all the way up and down the Stony Brook lineup.
Pitching Overview: With an offense like they have, the Seawolves don’t really need their pitching staff to be all that good, but it is. As a team, they have a 2.87 ERA.
Tyler Johnson gives them a bona fide ace. He will come into this postseason with a 9-1 record and 1.78 ERA. Brandon McNitt (8-2, 2.26 ERA) and Evan Stecko-Haley (7-3, 3.08 ERA) give Stony Brook two other really talented starters behind Johnson.
Frankie Vanderka (5 starts, 12 relief apps., 2.22 ERA, .181 batting average against), Matt Gallup (2.35 ERA), James Campbell (7 starts, 7 relief apps., 5-0, 3.09 ERA), Joshua Mason (3.38 ERA) and Jasvir Rakkar (3.46 ERA) all help give the Seawolves a lot of versatility out of the bullpen.
Defensive Overview: Stony Brook is also the best defensive team in the regional. They have a team fielding percentage of .980 and William Carmona (.910) is the only regular contributor to have a fielding percentage lower than .944.
Best Case Scenario: The Stony Brook offense shows that they are formidable regardless of competition level and slugs their way to the regional final, where they have a chance to move on to the super regionals.
Worst Case Scenario: The Seawolves are simply overmatched both on the mound and on offense and go two and out.