Wichita State and UC Irvine weren’t garnering a lot of respect about this time last week as the Shockers were being frowned upon as the final of sixteen host site selections, while the Anteaters were assumed to be just a small bump in the road for Texas in the Round Rock Regional. And while WSU did stumble in their postseason opener, they bounced back to win at home and earn the right to host UCI this weekend, a team that beat the homestanding Longhorns twice last weekend to advance to this point. Though it may not be one of the more glamorous Super Regionals on this year’s slate, it certainly is one of the more evenly matched series of the weekend.
The ace and opening night guy for the Wichita State staff is Travis Banwart, who has put together a 10-5 record and 2.68 ERA this season. After leaving last weekend’s opener early, he came back to pitch (and win) the regional-clinching finale against Arizona. Rob Musgrave, the Shockers’ number two pitcher, is not too shabby himself with a 10-2 mark and 2.71 ERA. In the event of a third game, WSU would likely turn to Anthony Capra (7-0, 1.54). For UC Irvine, meanwhile, Wes Etheridge and Scott Gorgen have been tremendous all year long. The former is 12-4 with a 2.68 ERA, while the latter has put together an 11-2 record and 2.91 ERA. In game three last week, the Anteaters went with Eric Pettis (4-0, 3.91). Considering that both squads have tremendous number one and two starters, there’s no way to give either a huge advantage coming into the weekend.
As mentioned before, this Super matchup won’t receive the same national attention as several others, but it is indeed one of the most evenly matched pairings of the eight. The starting pitching from these two teams is stellar, and each has a guy who can come in and shut the door when they take a lead into the final inning.
So with that in mind, the winner in Wichita will likely be decided by who has the hot bats. If one team can solve the other’s star pitcher early on, they’ll likely find themselves in a good position late in the game, allowing them to bring in their stud closer to shut things down.