College : : Story
Friday, June 08, 2012

Preview: Waco SR

Kendall Rogers        
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Arkansas (42-19) vs. Baylor (48-15)

National rank by PG: Arkansas (12), Baylor (6)
When: Saturday (6/9), 5 p.m. (ESPNUHD) -- Sunday (6/10), 4 p.m. (ESPNUHD) -- Monday (6/11), 4 p.m. (ESPN2HD)
Where: Baylor Ballpark (5,000) in Waco, Texas
College World Series appearances:Arkansas (6), Baylor (3)
The pick: Baylor

Waco Super Regional: Who has the edge?
Starting pitching

It's tough to go wrong with either starting rotation.

The Razorbacks have a very good one-two punch in DJ Baxendale and Ryne Stanek, especially lately, while the Bears have a tremendous one-two punch in their own right in right-hander Trent Blank and left-hander Josh Turley.

Though Baxendale and Stanek were phenomenal last weekend in the Houston Regional, Baylor's rotation gets a slight edge because of consistency.

Worth noting, both teams have yet to name a starting pitcher for Game Three, a rather strange occurrence considering the time of year.

Baxendale is 7-4 with a 2.83 ERA in 92 1/3 innings of work. He has struck out 85 and walked 22, while teams are hitting him at a .237 clip. Meanwhile, Stanek, who was 97-98 into the fourth inning last weekend against Rice, has a 2.83 ERA in 82 2/3 innings. Teams are hitting him at just a .239 clip.

BU has a nasty punch with Turley and Blank. Turley only tops out around 88-89, but spins the ball very well. He has a 1.83 ERA in 103 innings. He has struck out 75 and walked 21, while teams are hitting .229 against him. Meanwhile, Blank is a right-handed version of Turley, and has a 2.32 ERA in 97 innings of work.

Baylor certainly has some quality arms in the bullpen, but it's Arkansas that has the edge in this category this weekend.

The Razorbacks have a bullpen filled with premier arms such as Nolan Sanburn, Barrett Astin, Colby Suggs and Trent Daniel.

Sanburn has a mid 90s fastball and a 2.58 ERA in 38 1/3 innings of work, while Astin is the primary reliever out of the bullpen and has a 2.22 ERA with 10 saves in 52 2/3 innings. Suggs has appeared in 28 games and has a 1.29 ERA in 35 innings, while Daniel has made 16 appearances and a 5.60 ERA in 27 1/3 innings of work.

Cade Lynch has been a very consistent reliever for the Hogs, but he likely will miss the weekend once again dealing with some migraine headaches. That ailment also kept him out of commission last weekend.

For the Bears, right-handed pitcher Max Garner is a very solid arm out of the bullpen. He consistently sits 90-92 with his fastball and has a 4.84 ERA in 44 2/3 innings of work.

Also keep an eye on Crayton Bare, Dillon Newman and Brad Kuntz. Bare has appeared in 22 games and has an excellent 1.31 ERA in 20 2/3 innings, while Newman has a 2.25 ERA in 44 innings of work and Kuntz has a 4.20 ERA in 40 2/3 innings of work.

If there's one area where one of these teams has a distinct advantage, it's this one, where the Bears lead the charge. BU enters the weekend with a very solid .312 batting average, while the Razorbacks enter the weekend with a .277 average.

Even with winning the Houston Regional last weekend, the Hogs scored just 11 runs in the three victories.

Arkansas is led at the plate by hard-hitting third baseman Matt Reynolds, who's hitting .343 with 20 doubles, seven homers and 42 RBIs. Meanwhile, shortstop Tim Carver is hitting .307 with two homers and 30 RBIs.

Also keep an eye on Dominic Ficociello, who has the ability to have big-time performances, and is hitting .300 with 12 doubles, six homers and 37 RBIs.

For the Bears, veteran catcher Josh Ludy is having a big-time campaign, hitting .368 with 15 doubles, 15 homers and 69 RBIs. He also has a fantastic .453 on-base percentage. Meanwhile, outfielders Logan Vick and Dan Evatt are hitting .344 and .340, respectively, while second baseman Lawton Langford is hitting .316 with 20 RBIs.

Also keep an eye on first baseman Max Muncy and Cal Towey, who each have power potential. Muncy is hitting .313 with seven homers and 54 RBIs, while Towey is hitting .293 with 11 doubles, four triples, six homers and 49 RBIs.

Both the Hogs and Bears are solid defensive clubs entering the weekend with fielding percentages of .968 and .975, respectively.

The Razorbacks have a very solid shortstop in Tim Carver, while second baseman Bo Bigham has a flare for the dramatic at times.

For the Bears, shortstop Jake Miller covers a lot of ground, while Lawton Langford has been very consistent throughout the season. First baseman Max Muncy is very good defensively, while catcher Josh Ludy is one of the nation's best backstops.

Also keep an eye on the Baylor outfield, which covers a lot of ground and tends to make very good plays. BU's outfield is led by athletic players Dan Evatt and Logan Vick.

The Bears tend to take care of business when they're a team filled with veterans. For instance, when they reached the College World Series in 2005, it was a veteran-laden club.

BU hopes to emulate that scenario this weekend against Arkansas.

While the Bears have the experience and leadership to get the job done, they also get the luxury of playing at home at Baylor Ballpark, where they're 33-4 this season.

Arkansas has the hot hand, but must rise to the occasion from an offensive standpoint.

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