College : : Story
Thursday, June 02, 2011

Preview: Austin Regional

Kendall Rogers        

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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. Texas Big 12 43-15 At-large 2010
2. Texas State Southland 40-21 Auto bid 2009
3. Kent State Mid-American 43-15 Auto bid 2010
4. Princeton Ivy League 23-22 Auto bid 2006
The favorite: Texas
1. Texas

2. Texas State

3. Kent State

4. Princeton
The Longhorns should get through the Austin Regional unscathed barring a huge surprise with other teams in the field having some uncertainty. The Longhorns only are hitting .270 this season, but have a very opportunistic offense that can make opposing teams pay if they don't play defense. Freshman Erich Weiss and shortstop Brandon Loy are having productive campaigns with averages of .368 and .347, respectively. But the 'Horns are most impressive on the mound with starting pitchers Taylor Jungmann and Cole Green and freshman closer Corey Knebel leading the charge. The only possible flaw with this club going into the postseason is their ability to pitch consistently after Jungmann and Green.
The dark-horse contender: Kent State
Though Texas State has an excellent offense, Kent State provides the most balance and stiffest competition for the Longhorns in this NCAA Regional. The Golden Flashes are hitting .296 and have a pair of excellent hitters in Ben Klafczynski and Travis Shaw. Klafczynski is hitting .368 with 10 home runs and 54 RBIs, while Shaw is hitting .316 with 14 home runs and 51 RBIs. The starting rotation is the most impressive aspect of this team. The Flashes have an excellent rotation that consists of ace pitcher Andrew Chafin, Kyle Hallock and David Starn. Chafin has a 1.90 ERA in 80 1/3 innings, Hallock has a 1.91 ERA in 99 innings and Starn has a 1.95 ERA in 101 1/3 innings. The Flashes could be a force should their offense be remotely productive.
Best hitter: OF Ben Klafczynski, Kent State
Texas State slugger Tyler Sibley has a strong case for top hitters in this NCAA Regional, but Klafczynski gets the nod in our book. The veteran outfielder is hitting a team-high .368 with 17 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs and 54 RBIs. He also is slugging .597 and has a .450 OBP. It's also worth noting he leads the Flashes with 138 total bases, while he has walked 35 times and struck out on just 31 occasions.
Best pitcher: RHP Taylor Jungmann, Texas
The Longhorns have had a solid campaign and have one of the nation's top three pitchers in the talented junior right-hander. Jungmann has been incredible this season. He has a 13-0 record with a 0.95 ERA in 122 2/3 innings. He also has struck out 116 and walked 27, while teams are hitting him at just a .159 clip. It's also worth noting Jungmann only has allowed three home runs and has tossed five complete games.
Best prospect: Taylor Jungmann, Texas
Kent State pitcher Andrew Chafin will be a high draft pick next week, but the nod here goes to Jungmann. The tall and lanky right-hander is expected to be a top 15 pick in the draft and has had an incredible campaign. We've seen him throw several times this season, where he most recently was 92-93 mph with his fastball, 81-82 mph with the changeup and 75-76 with his curveball. Some scouts have issues with Jungmann's whip-around throwing motion, but he's expected to have a great career at the next level. You can view our scouting video of Jungmann, here.
The buzz
Much of the talk surrounding the Texas pitching staff this season centers around Jungmann and Green, but closer Corey Knebel has been a pleasant surprise. Knebel has made 31 appearances and recorded 16 saves and has a 1.32 ERA in 47 2/3 innings. Teams only are hitting him at a .145 clip. Also keep close tabs on Hoby Milner, Nathan Thornhill and Kendal Carrilo. Milner has made 24 appearances and eight starts and has a 2.58 ERA, Thornhill has made 18 appearances and has a 1.12 ERA in 32 innings and Carrilo has made 28 appearances and has a 2.84 ERA in 31 2/3 innings ... The Bobcats hope their weekend rotation takes care of business this weekend, but they're not worried at all about one of the top prospects in this NCAA Regional, right-handed pitcher Carson Smith. Smith has started 14 games, has a 9-3 record and has a 1.98 ERA in 104 1/3 innings. He also has struck out 124 and walked 46 and teams are hitting him at a .213 clip. It's also worth noting Smith has tossed two complete games. Most amazing about Smith's incredible campaign is the fact he's doing all this with some labrum issues ... Kent State's starting rotation has earned many headlines this season, but its' also important to give a tip of the cap to its bullpen, which includes several talented arms, including Kyle McMillen and Justin Gill. McMillen has appeared in 25 games and has a 2.03 ERA in 26 2/3 innings. He also has recorded 17 saves. Additionally, McMillen has struck out 28 and walked 11 and teams are hitting him at a .176 clip. Gill, meanwhile, has appeared in 24 games and has a 2.23 ERA in 32 1/3 innings ... Princeton hopes to make some noise this weekend with a solid pair of starting pitchers leading the way. Zack Hermans has made 10 starts and has a 2.85 ERA in 66 1/3 innings. He has struck out 52 and walked 17 and teams are hitting him at a .245 clip. Ford, meanwhile, is 5-3 with a 3.98 ERA in 63 1/3 innings and teams are hitting him at a .262 clip. The Tigers will have issues starting-wise once teams get past Hermans and Ford.

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

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