Create Account
Sign in Create Account
College  | Story  | 6/2/2011

Preview: Nashville Regional

Kendall Rogers     

You can follow college baseball managing editor Kendall Rogers on Twitter @KendallRogersPG and can join the Perfect Game College Baseball Facebook page. Fans also can subscribe here to receive the college baseball ultimate ticket.

Like the college baseball content we provide at Perfect Game? If so, get the ultimate college baseball experience by subscribing to the College Baseball Ticket for just $7 monthly or $60 annually ($24 yearly savings). If you're interested in subscribing to the CBT, Click Here.


The Road to Omaha has begun and 64 teams around the country are vying for the eight lucrative spots in the first College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.

As part of our extensive NCAA postseason coverage, we take an in-depth look at each of the 16 NCAA Regionals.

Team Conference Record Berth Last NCAA appearance
1. Vanderbilt SEC 47-10 At-large 2010
2. Oklahoma State Big 12 35-23 At-large 2009
3. Troy
Sun Belt 42-17 At-large 2007
4. Belmont Atlantic Sun 36-24 Auto bid Never
The favorite: Vanderbilt
1. Vanderbilt

2. Oklahoma St.

3. Troy

4. Belmont
Balance has been the name of the game for the Commodores this season. They enter the weekend with a fantastic .318 batting average and have several key offensive cogs, including Aaron Westlake, Jason Esposito and Tony Kemp. Westlake is hitting .356 with 13 home runs and 44 RBIs, Esposito is hitting .352 with seven home runs and 51 RBIs and Kemp is hitting .335 with 27 RBIs and a fabulous .435 OBP. While the offense has been solid, the 'Dores also have an excellent starting rotation with top prospect Sonny Gray, Grayson Garvin and Taylor Hill leading the way. Gray has a 2.12 ERA, Garvin has a 2.35 ERA in 95 2/3 innings and Hill has a 3.00 ERA in 84 innings. It's also worth noting the 'Dores have a very solid closer in Navery Moore, who has a 1.21 ERA in 29 2/3 innings.
The dark-horse contender: Oklahoma State
The Cowboys certainly have the potential to make some noise this weekend, but we'll see if they can put all the pieces together. The Cowboys are the best on the mound, where starting pitchers Mike Strong, Brad Propst and Andrew Heaney lead the way. Strong has a 3.61 ERA in 72 1/3 innings, Propst has a 3.66 ERA in 96 innings and Heaney has a 3.88 ERA in 65 innings. It's also worth noting key relievers Gabe Weidenaar and Randy McCurry have been consistent. At the plate, the Cowboys have a wealth of potential, but they've been inconsistent. The Pokes are hitting .295 as a team and have just two everyday hitters -- Zach Johnson and Dane Phillips -- hitting over .300 with averages of .358 and .342, respectively. OSU can make noise this weekend if it meets expectations.
Best hitter: 1B Aaron Westlake, Vanderbilt
Westlake might not be a good the MLB folks are enamored with, but he's a guy we're enamored with because of his impressive raw power. Westlake is having an incredible year at the plate for the Commodores. He's hitting .356 with 16 doubles, a triple, 13 home runs and 44 RBIs. He's also slugging .620 and has a .470 OBP. Additionally, Westlake has struck out 47 times and walked on just 41 occasions. Look for him to have a big postseason for the 'Dores.
Best pitcher: RHP Sonny Gray, Vanderbilt
Gray has had a fruitful career with the Commodores and is continuing his consistent ways this season. The hard-throwing right-hander has started 15 games and has a 10-3 record and a 2.12 ERA in 101 2/3 innings. He also has struck out 112 and walked 39 and teams are hitting him at a .195 clip. It's also worth noting that Gray has tossed three complete games this season. The 'Dores seldom lose when Gray is on the mound.
Best prospect: Sonny Gray, Vanderbilt
Gray has had an impressive campaign and is a slam-dunk pick to be a first-rounder in next week's MLB draft. We saw Gray last weekend at the SEC tournament, where he was consistently 92-94 with his fastball and 84 with his changeup. Though some scouts are concerned about Gray's smallish size at the next level, he's an incredibly tough and durable guy, and that'll translate to success no matter which level of baseball he's playing.
The buzz
Sonny Gray has received many of Vandy's headlines on the mound this season, but he's also received plenty of help from fellow starting pitchers Grayson Garvin and Taylor Hill. Garvin, a talented left-handed, has climbed up the draft charts with a strong spring. He's 12-1 with a 2.35 ERA in 95 2/3 innings. He also has struck out 82 and walked 20 and teams are hitting .195 against him. Hill, meanwhile, is 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 84 innings and teams are hitting him at a .250 clip ... Oklahoma State had one of the Big 12's most productive offenses earlier this season, but it has tailed off a bit in that department down the stretch. That must change this weekend for the Cowboys to experience success. Mark Ginther (.297), David Duren (.293), Jared Womack (.286) and Devin Shines (.276) must elevate their play. Shines, particularly, was having an impressive offensive campaign until recently ... Troy has some shaky starting pitching outside of Tyler Ray, but Ray is a good one for the Trojans. The talented veteran has started 15 games, is a perfect 11-0 and has a 2.39 ERA in 109 innings. He also has struck out 64 and walked 15 and teams are hitting him at a .237 clip. It's also worth noting he has tossed three complete games. Additionally, the Trojans have a pair of outstanding hitters to watch in Tyler Hannah and Adam Bryant. Hannah is hitting .369 with seven home runs and 49 RBIs and Bryant is hitting .339 with 11 home runs and 66 RBIs ... Belmont doesn't exactly have an impressive pitching staff outside of starter Chase Brookshire and Matt Hamann, but the offense is in solid shape with Nate Woods, Dylan Craig and Derek Hamblen leading the way. Woods is one of the nation's most underrated players, hitting .347 with 12 home runs and 61 RBIs, Craig is hitting .324 with a home run and 35 RBIs and Hamblen is hitting .322 with 11 home runs and 36 RBIs. The Bruins could upset someone in this NCAA Regional.

Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Perfect Game USA and has covered the sport for over 10 seasons. He can be reached at kendall@perfectgame.org