College baseball's NCAA Super Regionals officially kick off Friday, June 10, with four games featuring eight of the top teams that NCAA has to offer, all of which are vying for a trip to Omaha, Nebraska, for the College World Series.
While the Super Regionals are a best of three series, meaning no losing team from Friday's slate will be instantly ousted, winning Game 1 is of great significance in terms of putting pressure on the other team.
Prior to the start of Friday's highly anticipated NCAA Super Regionals, here is a full rundown of the schedule along with predictions for how each contest will play out.
|NCAA Super Regionals Schedule and Predictions: June 10|
|Time (ET)||Watch||Team 1||Team 2||Predicted Winner|
|5 p.m.||ESPNU||(3) Boston College||(1) Miami (Fla.)||Boston College, 2-1|
|6 p.m.||ESPN2||(2) Arizona||(1) Mississippi State||Mississippi State, 3-0|
|8 p.m.||ESPNU||(3) East Carolina||(1) Texas Tech||Texas Tech, 6-2|
|9 p.m.||ESPN2||(1) TCU||(1) Texas A&M||Texas A&M, 3-2|
|Schedule courtesy of NCAA.com|
Boston College vs. Miami (Fla.)
The Miami Hurricanes may be the best all-around team in action Friday, but baseball often comes down to pitching matchups, and the Boston College Eagles could have the advantage in that regard.
Freshman Justin Dunn is expected to take the mound for the Eagles, fresh off getting selected No. 19 overall by the New York Mets in the MLB draft.
Dunn has split the season between the starting rotation and the bullpen, and his numbers are spectacular with a 4-1 record, 1.49 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 60 innings.
He has a big challenge ahead of him, going up against a potent Hurricanes lineup spearheaded by catcher Zack Collins, who was selected No. 10 overall by the Chicago White Sox.
Few expected BC to reach this point, but head coach Mike Gambino believes camaraderie has pushed them to the Super Regionals and could keep their Cinderella run going beyond that, according to Steven Pivovar of the Omaha World-Herald:
This is not a knock on anyone we've played or we're going to play. But this is a team that cares about one another, and our boys care about one another. It's a brotherhood. If you asked anybody in our clubhouse before we started playing, they'd have told you we're going to Omaha. It's really fun to be around that kind of atmosphere.
Winning the first game likely represents Boston College's best chance at pulling off the upset, since the pitching matchup seemingly works in its favor.
If Dunn has his A-plus stuff and pitches like a player worthy of being picked in the first round, then the Eagles will push the Hurricanes to the brink of elimination.
Arizona vs. Mississippi State
A pair of No. 1 seeds in the Arizona Wildcats and Mississippi State Bulldogs will meet Friday, and there is seemingly very little separating the two teams.
The clash will likely come down to Bulldogs junior pitcher Dakota Hudson and how he performs in one of the biggest starts of his career.
Hudson went 34th overall to the St. Louis Cardinals in the MLB draft on the heels of a couple of shaky starts as of late.
He was named the NCBWA's National Pitcher of the Month for May though, and he owns a 9-4 record with a 2.62 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 106.2 innings overall.
Despite his struggles, Mississippi State head coach John Cohen remains confident in his ace, per Michael Bonner of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger: "There's no question that if we can extend our season, Dakota Hudson will be back out there. And I have every bit of faith that he'll go out and pitch well for us again."
Hudson will face a pesky Wildcats lineup that doesn't possess much power but does excel at getting on base.
Luckily for Hudson, he has a lineup behind him that boasts seven of nine starters hitting .300 or better, and provided the electric righty doesn't run into too much trouble, he should have enough offensive support behind him to pick up the victory.
East Carolina vs. Texas Tech
In perhaps the biggest mismatch on paper among Friday's contests, the underdog East Carolina Pirates will look to keep its unexpected run going against the No. 5 nationally ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Texas Tech's lineup is stacked with studs who are putting up big numbers, including first baseman Eric Gutierrez and his .330 average along with 12 home runs and 53 RBI. Hunter Hargrove, Tyler Neslony, Tanner Gardner, Stephen Smith and Cory Raley are all hitting .300 or better as well, meaning there are few easy outs to be had.
Also, freshman sensation Davis Martin is expected to take the hill for the Red Raiders. He owns a perfect 9-0 record with a 2.31 ERA to boot.
According to Krista Pirtle of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Texas Tech pitching coach Ray Hayward believes Martin has what it takes to perform in big moments:
He's one of those guys that's always had the confidence and understood that, believes in himself and what he can do. He has confidence in his ability and in his stuff. That's what you have to have here. [He] came in thinking this is where I belong.
Texas Tech seems to have the advantage at every spot, and while anything can happen in a single baseball game, that talent disparity should push the Red Raiders to within one game of making it to Omaha.
TCU vs. Texas A&M
The TCU Horned Frogs and Texas A&M Aggies are both among the nation's elite teams, and the Aggies are likely out for revenge after losing to the Horned Frogs in the Super Regionals last year.
Texas A&M enters as the favorite due largely to a dominant lineup in which no hitter is batting worse than .280.
First baseman Hunter Melton is perhaps the Aggies' most dangerous hitter at .305 with 11 home runs and 66 RBI, while third baseman Boomer White is hitting .398 to go along with five homers and 46 RBI.
According to Andre Perrard of the Battalion, TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle understands the challenge ahead of his pitching staff:
You have to execute pitches. You have to throw strikes. You can't set the table for any team. I think the biggest thing in this park and this environment is you are going to have to get off the field. You have to make a play or execute a pitch to that the innings don't steamroll on you.
Along with Texas A&M's relentless lineup, it will have the benefit of sophomore righty Brigham Hill on the mound.
Hill is 9-1 with a 1.95 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 92 innings, which should make for an intriguing matchup against a TCU offense that is adept at making contact.
This has all the makings of another classic, three-game series, but Texas A&M looks to be the superior team. With Hill pitching so dominantly as of late, the Aggies are in the driver's seat when it comes to Game 1.
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