NCAA Baseball: Tallahassee Super Regional Preview
The Texas A&M Aggies and Florida State Seminoles will give fans an interesting contrast in style this weekend.
The Aggies win their games with great starting pitching and a pesky offense. The Seminoles lean heavily on ace starter Sean Gilmartin and win many of their games by pummeling opposing pitching with their powerful offense.
The Seminoles swept through their home regional with relative ease. The Aggies were taken to a deciding fifth game by the Arizona Wildcats. They were then extended to Tuesday thanks to a rainout on Monday.
Because of the rain, the Aggies have had to shuffle their starting rotation a little bit. If they are to be successful in this regional, they will have to continue to pitch well. The Seminoles are rested and playing some of their best ball right now.
Let's take a look at where each team has an edge going into the series this weekend.
The Aggies have a pesky offense full of hitters that get on base, hit line drives and have great at-bats. Many of their regulars run well, too.
As a team, they are hitting .294. That's not outstanding, but it's not bad either. They get on base at a .366 clip and have stolen 103 bases.
Outfielder Tyler Naquin really makes the offense go. He leads the team in average at .389, on base percentage at .458, hits with 96, doubles with 21, and triples with seven. Krey Bratsen provides a spark on the bases with 28 steals. Much of the power comes from Matt Juengel. He leads the team in homers with seven and RBI with 47.
The Seminoles have the exact same team batting average as the Aggies at .294. After that point, though, there are few similarities between the two offenses.
Florida State boasts a much more prolific offense in terms of power. They have 55 home runs as a team, led by Mike McGee and James Ramsey, who both have 10. Ramsey also leads the team with 66 RBI. Jayce Boyd (.335 BA, 56 RBI) and Devon Travis (.327 BA, 23 doubles) give Ramsey and McGee protection in the lineup.
The series is being played in Florida State's bandbox that is perfect for their power bats.
Advantage: Florida State
The Aggies will be without their regular season ace, John Stilson. That's nothing new for them, though. He didn't pitch in the regionals either and the Aggies didn't need him. They got great starts out of Michael Wacha and Ross Stripling and even got a solid start out of the relatively untested Derrick Hadley.
Wacha leads the way with a 2.24 ERA and an 8-3 record. Stripling leads the team with 13 wins and has an ERA of 2.30.
The bullpen is led by late inning relievers Nick Fleece and Joaquin Hinojosa. They sport ERAs of 1.55 and 2.41, respectively. Dylan Mendoza and Brandon Parrent are two guys that can throw multiple innings and may even be asked to start in a pinch.
Overall, the Aggies have a 2.68 team ERA and a .241 opponents batting average.
The Seminoles don't have near the depth to match the Aggies, but they have an elite starter in Sean Gilmartin. Gilmartin is 12-1 with a 1.83 ERA. He has struck out 122 and walked only 20.
It's after Gilmartin that things get dicey in the starting rotation. The Seminoles have seven different pitchers that have started at least three games. That illustrates how much difficulty they have had in finding reliable starters behind Gilmartin. Big Hunter Scantling is probably the next most consistent starter. The 6'8" Scantling has a 3.84 ERA.
The bullpen is a little more settled. Closer Daniel Bennett is a workhorse. In 38 appearances, Bennett has a 2.10 ERA and 15 saves. Robert Benincasa and Brian Busch are two other solid bullpen options, assuming they aren't asked to make starts in the series.
Advantage: Texas A&M
Both teams field the ball reasonably well, but neither team is elite defensively.
The Aggies are led by catcher Kevin Gonzalez and his .993 fielding percentage. Outfielder Krey Bratsen equals him with a .993 percentage of his own.
Jacob House (.989), Kenny Jackson (.970), Andrew Collazo (.965) and Charlie Curl (.955) round out an above average infield defense.
The only black eye to the defense is backup infielder Adam Smith. Smith committed 10 errors in part time duty for a fielding percentage of .896. Smith is just a role player, so his defense may not end up coming into play.
The Seminoles defense is led by the steady hand of star outfielder James Ramsey. He fields the ball at a .992 clip. First baseman Jayce Boyd (.987) and catcher Rafael Lopez (.983) are solid defenders as well.
Infielders Sherman Johnson (.946) and Devon Travis (.942) aren't terribly defensively, but they leave a little to be desired.
Advantage: Texas A&M
The Texas Aggies will be looking to win their first Super Regional game under Rob Childress this weekend at Florida State. In A&M's first two Super Regional appearances under Childress, the Aggies went 0-2 against the Rice Owls.
Childress has his guys playing well in tournament-style ball as of late. They won the Big XII tournament championship in walk-off fashion and then won the College Station regional over a good Arizona team. The Aggies are looking for their first College World Series appearance since 1999.
Florida State's Mike Martin is an icon in college baseball coaching. The Seminoles are looking for their 15th College World Series appearance under Martin. On a personal level, Martin will be looking to get that last monkey off his back. He has yet to win a national championship at Florida State.
FSU comes cruising into this Super Regional. They breezed through the Tallahassee regional and are well-rested coming into this weekend.
Advantage: Florida State