From The Dugout
By Keith LeClair
Adjusting the crystal ball
Well folks, Las Vegas made
a laughing stock of me and
my predictions last week, so I
am begging for another chance at the Regionals. What the heck, I will
give it my best shot and see what happens. I am supposed to know a
little something about college baseball, aren't I? If I blow up my picks
this week, everyone will think my wife, Lynn, did all the coaching.
Here are my
region-by-region, all-or-nothing predictions:
4. Youngstown State
2. Oral Roberts
3. Texas Christian
Texas has too much
pitching and experience to lose this regional, even though its offense
is capable of being shut down. The Longhorns rely on speed and
manufacturing runs to score just enough for their great pitching staff
to win, so if you’re looking for a major upset, it will likely come from
Oral Roberts. They have solid numbers across the board, especially their
pitching statistics, even though they play in a sub-par conference.
3. George Mason
involving three former Pirates going at each other, with Coach Mac and
James Molinari in UVa's dugout and Erik Bakich in Vandy's. With that
said, I look for Vandy to come out on top, due to its quality
left-handed starting pitching and its ability to execute on offense to
score. A very similiar club to Texas, without the team speed. UVa has a
tough first round match up with Princeton, which has a quality number
one starter and perhaps the best position player in the country that
most likely will be a first rounder. UVa has a huge park, so situational
hitting is a must and that is where Coach Mac excels. Don't count UVa
out, but the Cavaliers have a big challenge ahead of them.
1. Florida State
4. Bethune Cookman
2. Oklahoma State
3. Central Florida
This is a tough one to
pick right now, but I am going with an upset in UCF. The Knights have
two outstanding starting pitchers and I predict that will get them into
Sunday with somebody having to beat them twice. I know Florida State is
hot and peaking at the right time, but I am just not sold on the
Seminoles' pitching staff from what I have seen on TV. They are at home,
so if UCF wins it will be a major upset.
2. Wichita State
I don't know a lot about
these teams, except Missouri won the Big XII tournament and Wichita
State won the MVC. So, in stating that little information, I am going
with Wichita State based on its history and the fact that Arkansas
should not have been a number one seed. My sleeper pick is Missouri,
which is on a roll right now.
2. Long Beach State
3. St. John's
I like Stanford and its
ability to score runs, versus Long Beach and its star pitcher, Jered
Weaver. It is a dangerous scenario when you hold your number one back
against a quality team like St. John's. Often times you can find
yourself in losers' bracket. A great regional to watch and see if
Stanford will be ready for the challenge.
1. Notre Dame
4. Kent State
2. UC Irvine
Another tough regional for
me to predict, but I am going with Notre Dame, due to the fact it is
playing at home. UC Irvine, though relatively unknown, has some
outstanding players and has beaten a lot of quality teams throughout the
year. So, don't be shocked if it pulls off the upset versus the Fighting
4. Middle Tenn State
3. Birmingham Southern
I have seen Georgia and
Clemson both play this year and I am going with my mentor, Coach
Leggett. But the Tigers and Bulldogs had better beware of their first
round match-ups or they could be meeting in a losers' bracket game. Both
Birmingham Southern and Middle Tenn State are capable of pulling off
1. Georgia Tech
4. Jacksonville State
2. Texas Tech
3. Mississippi State
Georgia tech is too
talented and deep to lose this regional if it plays up to its ability.
With a deep staff and a solid offense, I don't see any upsets being
pulled off here.
1. South Carolina
4. The Citadel
2. North Carolina
3. Coastal Carolina
This, in my opinion, is
one of the toughest regionals in the country. All first round match-ups
are tough ones, where you can't hold back your number one for round two.
So, in a tough bracket that features a boat load of pitching talent and
depth, I am going with the best offensive club, South Carolina, to win
this regional in a barnburner. The Gamecocks are now healthy and playing
their best baseball since early spring.
1. East Carolina
4. Stony Brook
3. UNC Wilmington
The second round game is
always the biggest match up in any regional and this one should be a
dandy, whether it's Tennessee or UNCW. Both clubs are due for a Pirate
payback and nothing would be sweeter than to see it happen in this
regional. The Pirates are primed and ready, but must first get by a very
hot Stony Brook team which has won 19 out of its last 23 games. I look
for the Pirates to be focused and ready to win this regional. My
prediction, Pirates swing the bats and score a lot of runs and win this
one in a sweep.
1. Ole Miss
4. Western Kentucky
This regional will be
determined by which Ole Miss and Tulane teams show up. Both clubs have
been up and down as of late and must find themselves if they are going
to have a shot at winning. The Washington team is very talented and is
playing some very good baseball down the stretch, pushing Stanford for
the PAC-10 championship. I have to go with Ole Miss in this regional,
due to the fact it is playing at home in Oxford, but watch out for
Washington in an upset.
1. Arizona State
2. Cal State Fullerton
I am still baffled why
Arizona State didn't put in for a bid to host and think this very well
may cost ASU this regional, with Cal State Fullerton advancing.
Fullerton is playing its best baseball and is accustomed to winning
these big games, and I believe Fullerton's experience and home field
will be the difference.
4. Texas Southern
2. Texas A&M
They basically gave Rice a
first round bye in this bracket and it will be interesting to see who
the Owls will pitch. Texas A&M and Lamar should provide a lot of
excitement in their first round game and whoever wins will not be a
pushover for Rice. This will be a real test for Rice, but in the end,
their big three stud pitchers will prevail.
2. Southern Miss
3. College of Charleston
This won't take long — LSU
wins. Alex Box is the toughest place to play in college baseball and LSU
has a potent offense that should put some big numbers up this weekend.
Sorry Southern Miss fans, I have gone and played in tOo many regionals
at LSU to think any different. Plus, the umpires get caught up in the
environment created by the crowd.
4. Central Connecticut State
I don't know too much
about these teams, except for Florida, although I do know Oklahoma has a
first-rounder in David Purcey, who is a 6'5" lefty. I think from what I
have seen from Florida on TV, the Gators will win this regional in a dog
fight with Oklahoma.
4. St. Bonaventure
2. N.C. State
3. Florida Atlantic
Tough first round match-up
for N.C. State, which, if it survives, could give Miami a run for its
money with Sterry on the hill. But Miami was battled tested by Long
Beach State last weekend against Jered Weaver — potentially the first
pick in the draft — and the Hurricanes beat him, giving Weaver his first
loss of the season. I expect Miami to be ready and Jim Morris gets his
team to do the little things as well as anybody in the country in close
games. Miami wins, but it won't be easy.
SUPER REGIONAL TEAMS
Lets recap the sixteen
Cal State Fullerton
Well, sports fans, there
you have my Sweet Sixteen! It certainly is not an easy job picking from
a host of great teams. I went with an unprecedented five road teams to
win, which is usually not the norm in regional play. But this year there
seems to be more balance across the board in college baseball than ever
before, so it should be a wild and wacky shootout in a lot of these
regionals. It truly doesn't matter as long as the Pirates win.
One more note of interest:
Since the NCAA went to a four-team regional bracket, I have seen more
and more teams selecting to play the 3:00 game, which in my view makes a
lot of sense, from the point of view it gives your team extra time to
recover, especially if you lose that first game and have to come back
and play at 11:00 AM. Also, if you hit any rain delays in the evening
game, it can keep your team on the field until the early hours of the
morning, giving your team a distinct disadvantage for the second game.
I know this is an
inconvenience for the fan, playing the 3:00 game on Friday, but in the
best interest of winning, I think ECU should look into this option. Just
my opinion, but I truly think the 3:00 game winner has an advantage over
the team that plays the night game.
Editor's note: Coach
LeClair's column was filed prior to the Friday, June 4, first day of
have a question or comment about the Pirates in particular or baseball
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Sound off to Coach LeClair...
02.23.07 10:27 AM