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College : : Story
Preview: Los Angeles Regional
Kendall Rogers        
Published: Friday, June 03, 2011

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REGIONAL COVERAGE: SCHEDULE/RESULTS | REGIONAL BREAKDOWN | PAIRINGS MESSAGE BOARDS


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.

THE TEAMS
Team Conference Record Berth Last NCAA appearance
1. UCLA Pac-10 33-22 Auto bid 2010
2. Fresno State WAC 40-14 Auto bid 2009
3. UC Irvine Big West 39-16 At-large 2010
4. San Francisco WCC 31-23 Auto bid 2006
THE BREAKDOWN
The favorite: UCLA
1. UCLA

2. Fresno State

3. UC Irvine

4. San Francisco
The NCAA was criticized for rewarding the Bruins with an NCAA Regional host, but make no mistake about it, this is a very solid team and a darkhorse to win the national title despite being one of the lower No. 1 seeds. The Bruins leave something to be desired at the plate with a .264 batting average, but hit well against Arizona State last weekend. Dean Espy, Beau Amaral and Cody Keefer must have strong weekends, while Cody Regis also is expected to be productive with six home runs and 43 RBIs. On the mound, the Bruins have an amazing one-two punch in Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer, while Adam Plutko is a solid starter with 2.16 ERA in 100 innings, but simply hasn't received the fanfare because of Cole and Bauer. UCLA is excellent if it plays to its expectation level.
The dark-horse contender: UC Irvine
The Anteaters have been consistently solid the entire season, but they haven't earned the fanfare because of a weaker than normal schedule. Still, this is a solid club that should be a force this weekend. The 'Eaters are hitting .299 with Brian Hernandez (.354), Jordan Fox (.356) and Drew Hillman (.347) leading the charge. The 'Eaters also have a solid pitching staff that enters the weekend with a 2.95 ERA. Ace pitcher Matt Summers has a 1.74 ERA in 103 2/3 innings, while fellow starter Crosby Slaught has a 3.97 ERA in 65 2/3 innings. Also keep an eye on reliever Brian Hernandez, who has recorded 12 saves in 26 appearances and has a 3.33 ERA in 27 innings. UCI could surprise this weekend.
Best hitter: OF Dusty Robinson, Fresno State
If you're looking for a plethora of offense this weekend, you're probably coming to wrong place if the Los Angeles Regional is your destination. UC Irvine has some solid hitters, as does UCLA and San Francisco, but Robinson is the most dangerous hitter in this tournament. The veteran outfielder is hitting .318 with 20 doubles, three triples, 16 home runs and 54 RBIs. He's also slugging .687.
Best pitcher: RHP Trevor Bauer, UCLA
Though UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole is an elite pitcher, his teammate, Trevor Bauer, is on a slightly different level this season. Bauer has been unbelievable so far this spring and is 12-2 with a 1.27 ERA in 127 2/3 innings. Bauer has struck out 189 and walked 34 and teams only are hitting him at a .152 clip. It's also worth noting Bauer has thrown nine complete games and is extremely durable despite not having the same biggish size as Cole.
Best prospect: RHP Gerrit Cole, UCLA
Though Bauer has risen up the draft charts this spring with such a strong campaign, Cole still is the top prospect in this NCAA Regional. With his size and ability to throw 94-98 with his fastball plus a solid changeup, Cole very well cold be the top pick in next week's draft. Overall, Cole has started 15 games and has a 3.28 ERA in 107 innings. He also has struck out 108 and walked 23 and teams are hitting him at a .234 clip. Cole has been hittable at times this season, so it'll be interesting to see if he's clicking this weekend. You can view scouting video of Cole, here.
The buzz
UCLA certainly has a solid trio of starting pitchers in Trevor Bauer, Gerrit Cole and Adam Plutko, but the rest of the pitching staff also is impressive. Relievers Mitchell Beacom, Nick Vander Tuig and Zack Weiss have been solid this season. Beacom has stepped up and has a 2.20 ERA in 32 2/3 innings, Vander Tuig has appeared in 25 games and has a 2.57 ERA and Weiss has appeared in 21 games and has a 2.79 ERA ... Fresno State might have been known for its offense the past few seasons, but it has a solid pitching staff this season with starters Greg Gonzalez and Josh Poytress leading the way. Gonzalez has a 1.43 ERA in 100 2/3 innings and Poytress has a 2.80 ERA in 74 innings. Also keep an eye on relievers Taylor Garrison, Cody Kendall and Charlie Robertson, all having sold campaigns ... UC irvine has gotten solid campaigns from Jordan Fox, Brian Hernandez and Drew HIllman, but also keep an eye on Sean Madigan, Jordan Leyland and D.J. Crumlich. Madigan is hitting .296 with a home run and 35 RBIs, Leyland is hitting .289 with three home runs and 36 RBIs and Crumlich is hitting .283 with a home run and 25 RBIs ... With starting pitcher Matt Lujan out with an injury, the Dons desperately need starting pitcher Kyle Zimmer to start the weekend off in solid fashion. Zimmer has a 4.14 ERA in 82 2/3 innings and teams are hitting him at a .281 clip. Offensively, Pete Lavin is hitting .350 with two home runs and 27 RBIs while Stephen Yarrow (.250) is a guy capable of having a big weekend.


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



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