College : : Story
Thursday, May 30, 2013

Nashville Regional preview

Kendall Rogers        


Team Conference Record Berth Last NCAA appearance
1. Vanderbilt Southeastern 51-9 At-large 2012
2. Georgia Tech Atlantic Coast 34-25 At-large 2012
3. Illinois Big Ten 34-18 At-large 2011
4. East Tennessee St. Atlantic Sun 36-22 Automatic 1981
1. Vanderbilt
2. Georgia Tech  

3. Illinois

Vanderbilt is part of that group of five or six teams who have been incredibly consistent this spring. The Commodores enter postseason with an impressive weekend rotation, led by left-handed pitcher Kevin Ziomek and right-handed pitcher Tyler Beede. Ziomek sits in the low-90s with his fastball, and has very good overall stuff along with a 2.05 ERA in 105 1/3 innings, while Beede was fantastic last week in the SEC tournament, sitting 93-96 much of the night against Texas A&M. Beede has put together an All-American type of campaign with a 2.10 ERA in 94 1/3 innings of work. The Commodores also have some good options in the No. 3 role in the weekend rotation with Walker Buehler (2.68, 57 IP), Phillip Pfeifer (3.99, 58 2/3 IP) and TJ Pecoraro (5.97, 34 2/3). Bullpen-wise, keep an eye on Brian Miller and Carson Fulmer. Completely different pitchers, Miller has a plus slider that drives hitters crazy, while Fulmer consistently sits in the upper-90s with his fastball. Offensively, the Commodores are hitting an impressive .317 with electric second baseman Tony Kemp leading the charge, hitting .402 with 13 doubles, six triples, 33 RBIs, and of course, 30 stolen bases in 42 attempts. Meanwhile, Connor Harrell, Conrad Gregor and Mike Yastrzemski each have the ability to have big weekends, while freshman third baseman Xavier Turner is an impressive specimen, and is hitting .318 with 30 RBIs. I'd also keep tabs on catcher Spencer Navin, who's only hitting .309, but also has four homers.
Georgia Tech
Go ahead and throw Georgia Tech in there as one of the nation's most frustrating teams. The Yellow Jackets can be very good, and particularly on the mound, they can also be very bad. Tech will need to be much more consistent on the mound this weekend if it plans to advance to an NCAA Super Regional. Tech will send junior right-handed pitcher Dusty Isaacs to the mound in the opener against Illinois. Isaacs has a 4.77 ERA in 77 1/3 innings. Earlier this season, Isaacs was up to 91 with his fastball, while he also flashed a steady diet of secondary offerings, including a 75-76 curveball and upper-70s changeup. Right-handed pitcher Buck Farmer is a big-time arm to watch this weekend, as he can get up to 94 with his fastball, while Cole Pitt has a 4.94 ERA in 62 innings. Bullpen-wise, freshman Jonathan King is typically an upper-80s guy, but complements that will with a good low-80s changeup, while Alex Cruz and Jonathan Roberts are worth watching, and catcher Zane Evans is a huge arm with a fastball up to 94-95 on the gun. Though the pitching staff certainly is a concern this weekend, the Yellow Jackets have an outstanding offensive lineup, entering the weekend with a .305 batting average. Corner outfielder Daniel Palka has massive raw power with a .332 average, 17 homers and 65 RBIs, while Zane Evans and Kyle Wren lead the way in the average department at .369 and .364, respectively, Evans having 14 homers and 64 RBIs to go with it. I'd also take an inside look at shortstop Mott Hyde. Though he's only hitting .251, Hyde has a flare for the dramatic with six homers and 30 RBIs this spring.
Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb deserves a lot of credit for keeping the Illini together throughout the season after dealing with some tough injuries. Not just any team could lose a pitcher the caliber of veteran Kevin Johnson and not skip a beat, but the Illini have achieved that goal. Freshman left-handed pitcher Kevin Duchene has been phenomenal this season with a 2.69 ERA in 73 2/3 innings, along with 63 strikeouts, while sophomore right-hander John Kravetz has a 3.96 ERA in 86 1/3 innings, along with 46 strikeouts. With Johnson out of the rotation, Ryan Castellanos has been forced in, and has just been OK this season. He has a 5.22 ERA in 50 innings, along with 30 strikeouts and nine walks. Bullpen-wise, the Illini love to go to Bryan Roberts late in games, and it's easy to see why by his numbers. Roberts has a 1.57 ERA with seven saves in 23 innings, while teams are hitting him at just a .210 clip. Also keep an eye on Ronnie Muck, who has a 1.42 ERA in 25 1/3 innings. Perhaps most intriguing about the upcoming weekend is how the Parr brothers will do against the NCAA Regional field. Justin has had a monstrous campaign with a .399 average, six homers and 51 RBIs, while he's an athletic, strong and fast guy. Meanwhile, Jordan is equally talented with a strong arm and .303 average to go with six homers and 41 RBIs. Also keep an eye on Thomas Lindauer, who's hitting .313 with nine homers and 37 RBIs. The last time a Big Ten team went to Nashville as a No. 3 seed, Michigan knocked off top-seeded Vanderbilt. Can a Big Ten team do it again?
East Tennessee State
Look up workhorse in the dictionary and chances are good you'll find Kerry Doane's picture. The 5-foot-11, 177-pound, right-handed pitcher is having a campaign to remember for the Buccaneers. He's made history this season with 12 complete games and has a 1.99 ERA in 140 innings of work. He also has struck out 74 and walked 20, while teams are hitting him at a .232 clip, while also topping out at 92. Doane gets the starting nod in the Nashville Regional opener against Vanderbilt, while relievers Will Chesney and Clinton Freeman are worth watching. Chesney has a 2.70 ERA in 36 2/3 innings of work, while Freeman has a 3.04 ERA and eight saves in 56 1/3 innings. From an offensive standpoint, Freeman is a monster at the plate, hitting a team-high .336 with 18 doubles, 10 homers and 56 RBIs, while Andrew Green is hitting .335 with 24 stolen bases. Also keep an eye on speedsters Dylan Tritsch and Jeremy Taylor, who each have 20 or more stolen bases this spring.
The Bucs hope to pull off the ultimate shocker in the first game against Vanderbilt, but look for the Commodores to come out to make a statement. Georgia Tech is a dangerous team to watch this weekend, especially if it can beat Illinois with Dusty Isaacs on the mound, saving right-handed pitcher Buck Farmer for the Commodores. Meanwhile, Illinois also has the potential to make some noise this weekend with the Parr brothers leading the charge. I think Georgia Tech has the best chance to knock off the 'Dores this weekend, but it's still not a great chance. Vandy should host an NCAA Super Regional next weekend.


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