PREVIEW: Baseball Opens Regional Play vs. Bryant
May 28, 2014
THE FIELD: (8) (1) #4 LSU (44-14-1) | (2) #9 HOUSTON (44-15)
HOUSTON – Set to make its first NCAA Regional appearance since 2008, No. 9 (2) Houston Baseball preps to open play this weekend in the Baton Rouge Regional, facing (3) Bryant at 7 p.m. Friday at Alex Box Stadium.
The double-elimination format will feature No. 4 (8) (1) LSU vs. (4) Southeastern LA on Friday at 2 p.m. to open the Baton Rouge Regional. The two losers of each game will meet on Saturday at 2 p.m. with the winners meeting at 7 p.m. that night. For a full weekend schedule, CLICK HERE.
The tournament will run from Friday, May 29 to Monday, June 1 at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.
2014 marks the first time the Cougars have advanced to NCAA Championship Baseball since 2008. Houston put the icing on the regular season Sunday when it captured the 2014 inaugural American Athletic Conference Baseball Championship tournament title, a first for the program since 2008.
The championship earned Houston an automatic bid to an NCAA Regional as it continues postseason play with a 44-15 overall record and winners of 12 of its last 15 games, including a 10-4 triumph of No. 5 Louisville in Clearwater, Fla. for the conference title.
Houston will make its 19th NCAA Regional appearance in the history of the program and first since 2008. In the 18 previous appearances, the Cougars have advanced to the Super Regionals three times, last coming in 2003.
Any available all-session booklets will go on sale to the general public Thursday, May 29, at 8 a.m. Any available individual-session tickets will go on sale to the general public Friday morning at 8 a.m. Game 7 tickets will not go on-sale unless necessary after the conclusion of Game 6. On-sale information will be announced after Game 6 if necessary. Individual session tickets are $10.
Gates will open two (2) hours prior to the first game each day, and the stadium will be cleared between games.
Watch Live: All games during the Baton Rouge Regional will be streamed on ESPN3 … For a link, CLICK HERE.
QUICK HITS ON No. 9 (2) HOUSTON
The Cougars are led by one of the top pitching staffs in the nation, which ranks second in WHIP and walks allowed per nine innings and fourth in ERA (2.20).
Starters Aaron Garza (2.65 ERA, 8-4), Jake Lemoine (2.35 ERA, 6-6) and David Longville (2.98 ERA, 1-0) have a combined 15 wins to their name and all are pitching with a sub 3.00 ERA with at least 13 starts on the season.
Garza paces all pitches with a staff-leading 98.1 innings, while Lemoine is the team leader with 82 strikeouts in 95.2 innings.
The bullpen has been rock solid all season and has been the key to a 37-0 record when leading after the eighth inning this season. The backbone behind the bullpen comes from the work of seniors Tyler Ford and Chase Wellbrock.
Ford is 8-0 with a 1.26 ERA in a team-best 26 appearances. In 64.1 innings, the lefty has allowed just five walks and 43 strikeouts. Ford leads the nation in WHIP at 0.72 and ranks among the Top 10 in ERA, walks allowed per nine innings, hits allowed per nine innings, strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Wellbrock, the Cougars’ closer, is 4-0 with 12 saves and a 1.15 ERA in 20 appearances. He is equally impressive in keeping runners off base as he has allowed just five walks in 39.0 innings to accompany 33 strikeouts.
As a pitching staff, the Cougars have walked just 103 hitters all season, while striking out 390, while holding opponents to a .225 average.
Houston, offensively, is hitting .281 as a team and is coming off a strong showing at the conference tournament, which featured a team average of .373 with 56 hits and 28 runs scored in four games played. In those four games, the Cougars made just two defensive miscues, while forcing its opponents into 11.
Leading the charge offensively is senior Casey Grayson with a .335 average, team-best 73 hits, 48 RBI, 16 doubles and 46 walks. He is followed by sophomore Kyle Survance, who is hitting .315 with a team-high 46 runs scored and 30 stolen bases in just 37 attempts.
Sophomore Josh Vidales is coming off a hot-hitting week, that saw the second baseman hit .733 in four conference tournament games, to up his average to .278. For his impressive play, he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
Bryant will play as the No. 3 seed for the second straight year and are champions out of the Northeast Conference, holding a record of 42-14. Bryant enters NCAA postseason play winners of 11 of the last 15.
The Bulldogs opened the season 3-6, but has since come on and easily glided through their conference wit, posting a 19-5 record to win the regular season and tournament titles.
Bryant showcases a mix of power, speed and solid pitching out of Smithfield, R.I.
The team enters the weekend with an offense that is hitting .304, led by six with a .300+ mark. Buck McCarthy leads the way with a .353 average, while Matt Albansese is hitting .329 with a team-leading 69 hits, 52 runs scored and 16 doubles. The team has 110 doubles to its name with 39 home runs and 335 RBI. Bryant has also stolen 96 bags with Cal Anderson leading the team with 29-of-32.
Bryant’s pitching staff owns a 2.93 ERA with RHP Craig Schlitter leading the way with a 1.95 ERA and a 10-1 mark in 14 starts and five complete games. In his 87.2 innings pitched, he has fanned 69 and walked just 17, holding opposing hitters to a .216 average.
RHP Kevin McAvoy follows with a 9-1 mark and a 2.81 ERA in 14 starts and four complete games. The righty has tossed a team-high 93.0 innings this season, striking out 88 in those frames.
Out of the pen, LHP Trevor Lacosse has been the Bulldogs’ go-to guy with 21 appearances and eight saves to his name. He has logged 33.2 innings, striking out 39.
For more information on Bryant, visit www.bryantbulldogs.com.
HOUSTON vs. BRYANT
LSU enters the weekend, ranked as high as No. 4 in the national poll after winning the SEC Tournament title last weekend. The Tigers received the No. 8 National Seed in this weekend’s Regional and will play as the No. 1 seed in Baton Rouge.
LSU holds a record of 44-14-1 and finished with a 17-11-1 mark in SEC regular-season play. The Tigers have won eight straight games, including nine of their last 10. They enter Regional play, having swept Auburn on the road before taking a win over Vanderbilt, two over Arkansas, before beating Florida in the SEC Championship game, 2-0.
LSU’s pitching staff leads the nation in shutouts this season with 17, while holding a 2.42 ERA with 44 wins and 16 saves. The Tigers have fanned 420 and walked just 164 in 524.2 innings this season, holding opposing hitters to a .216 average.
Junior RHP and 2014 SEC Pitcher of the Year Aaron Nola enters the weekend ranked among the nation’s best, holding a 10-1 record and a 1.49 ERA with two complete games and six combined shutouts in 15 starts this season. He paces the team in every category, having tossed a team-high 109.0 innings, while striking out 127 and holding opponents to a .173 average.
Joining him with nine wins this season and a 9-3 record is LHP Jared Poche’ with a 2.21 ERA and one complete game in 15 starts and 85.2 innings.
Out of the pen, RHP Joe Broussard is 3-1 with eight saves and a 0.89 ERA, totaling 31 strikeouts in 30.1 innings in 30 appearances in relief.
Offensively, LSU is hitting .286 as a team, led by Andrew Stevenson’s .328 average, team-leading 41 runs scored. Alex Bregman is hitting .301 with a team-best 69 hits and 11 stolen bases, while every starter has scored at least 25 runs this season. Four players have tallied more walks than strikeouts, led by Sean McMullen’s 35 walks with the team totaling 213.
LSU is solid defensively, committing just 55 errors for a .975 fielding percentage.
For more information on LSU, visit www.LSUsports.net.
HOUSTON vs. LSU
Southeastern Louisiana is making its first Regional appearance since 1994 after winning the Southland Conference tournament title under first-year head coach Matt Riser. The Lions enter the weekend as the No. 4 seed in Baton Rouge and will meet LSU on Friday at 2 p.m.
Southeastern LA is 37-23 on the year and is coming off six straight wins, including a 1-0 shutout over then-No. 22 and SLC regular-season champ and NCAA participant Sam Houston State. The Lions finished conference play with an 18-12 mark.
The team is hitting .291, led by Jameson Fisher’s .394 average, team-leading 89 hits and 52 runs scored, while Andrew Godbold is hitting .348 with 77 hits and a team-high 57 RBI.
As a team, the Lions have drawn 233 walks and 100 hit-by-pitches to its 320 strikeouts. Defensively, SLU has committed 88 errors for a .962 fielding percentage.
The Lions’ pitching staff owns a 2.95 ERA with five complete games, six shutouts and 397 strikeouts to its 162 walks, while holding opposing hitters to a .253 average.
RHP Andro Cutura leads the pitching staff with a 10-2 record and a 1.72 ERA in 15 starts. In 99.2 innings, he has fanned 95 and walked just 19, while holding hitters to a .212 clip.
Joining him and logging a team-high 104.1 innings is RHP Tate Scioneaux. The righty is 7-6 with a 3.11 ERA with 72 strikeouts to just 20 walks.
For more information on Southeastern LA, visit www.lionsports.net.
HOUSTON vs. SOUTHEASTERN LA
ABOUT ALEX BOX STADIUM, SKIP BERTMAN FIELD
Field Name: Skip Bertman Field (dedicated May 17, 2013)
A LOOK AT THE FIELD OF 64
NCAA Baseball National Seeds
Baton Rouge, La.
Coral Gables, Fla.
San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Fort Worth, Texas
UHAA WATCH PARTY & BASEBALL REGIONAL CENTRAL
Check UHCougars.com and the Houston Baseball Facebook page for an updated watch party schedule as the Cougars advance on during the weekend’s Regional tournament.
UHAA will also hold a Cougar Fan Party in Baton Rouge on Friday and Saturday at The Little Village – Downtown in Baton Rouge.
UHAA BATON ROUGE REGIONAL CENTRAL
UHAA Houston Baseball Watch Parties
Official UHAA Hotel
Friday and Saturday UHAA Cougar Fan Party – Baton Rouge