2010 NCAA Regional Previews: Los Angeles

#1 UCLA (43-13, 18-9 Pac-10)

UCLA is hosting a regional for the first time since 1986.  After being swept by Arizona State at the start of May, the Bruins won 11 of their last 12 conference games.  The Bruins are led by their starting rotation of Sophomore RHPs Gerrit Cole (9-2, 3.27 ERA) and Trevor Bauer(9-3, 2.84 ERA) , as well as Junior LHP Rob Rasmussen (9-2, 2.89 ERA), who each have over 100 K’s this season.  Senior RHP Garrett Claypool (8-3, 2.05 ERA)has been a rock in midweek starts.  LHP Matt Grace and RHP Erik Goeddel have been great eating up innings in middle relief, while closer Sophomore RHP Dan Klein (5-0, 2.13 ERA, 9 Saves) was as consistent as they come in the stopper role.  Overall, the UCLA bullpen held opponents to a .229 BAA.

At the plate, Sophomore 1B Tyler Rahmatulla (.337, 6 HR, 41 RBI) way as the Bruins most consistent hitter, starting in 55 games.  Sophomore 3B Dean Espy (.359, 7 HR, 45 RBI) made 33 starts for the Bruins while splitting time with Cody Regis.  Niko Gallego led the way in the stolen base department with 21 on 22 attempts.

#2 LSU (40-20, 14-16 SEC)

The story of the season for LSU has been their late season struggles, as the defending national champion started the season 32-5 only to finish the year on a 4-14 swoon to finish 36-19.  There was debate on whether LSU would even make the SEC Tournament, but they did so and swept their way through.  Junior RHP Anthony Ranaudo (5-2, 7.49 ERA) was considered to be a top 5 MLB Draft pick coming into this season, but arm trouble majorly side tracked him.  The Tigers were unable to establish a quality Saturday starter throughout SEC play, and it wasn’t until the SEC Tournament that they got quality performances late out of guys like Ranaudo, Austin Ross, and Ben Alsup.  Junior LHP Austin Ross (5-4, 5.07 ERA) has been named the starter for Game 1 against UC-Irvine.  Ross couldnt’ establish his presence on the mound until late in the season, but was able to pick up victories in the final week against Mississippi State as well as against Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament.  The Tigers were still scrambling for another starter to emerge, and Junior LHP Ben Alsup, (4-0, 3.61 ERA) stepped up with a 7-inning complete game 1-hit shutout of the Ole Miss Rebels to advance to the SEC Title game.  Sophomore RHP closer Matty Ott (2-4, 6.69 ERA) has been very inconsistent this season, as the entire bullpen poses a gigantic question mark while they are going against established bullpens.

Senior DH Matt Gaudet (.289 , 19 HR, 66 RBI) and Senior 1B Blake Dean (.344 , 11 HR, 69 RBI) led the way in the power department while Junior C Micah Gibbs(.392, 9 HR, 55 RBI) did everything well.  Junior OF Leon Landry and leadoff hitter Sophomore OF Mikie Mahtook combined for 38 steals in a Tiger order which generated 48o runs this season.  Sophomore Shortstop Austin Nola (.324, 5 HR , 50 RBI) was the SEC Tournament MVP after batting .457 with a triple, 3 doubles and 4 RBI.

#3 UC-Irvine (37-19, 17-7 Big West)

Irvine comes back to the NCAA Tournament after failing to advance out of the regional round in 2009, when they hosted future College World Series participant Virginia. Back with a 2nd place finish in the Pac-10 and led by Senior 1B Jeff Cusick (.379, 8 HR, 56 RBI, 19 doubles) at the plate, Irvine hopes to be able to advance out of the “Group of Death” Also at the plate are Junior 3B Brian Hernandez (.333, 4 HR, 42 RBI, 18 doubles) and
Senior 2B Casey Stevenson (.318, 4 HR, 38 RBI, 15 doubles).

LHP Bibona (9-2, 2.10 ERA) faces LSU in the first contest, and faced them in the 2008 Super Regionals in Baton Rouge where he struck out 8 K’s over 7.1 IP. Bibona left Game 2 of the Super Regional with a 7-3 lead with Irvine up a game in the series, and looked to be just a few outs away from Omaha. LSU came back to win 9-7, and then won the following contest 21-7 to advance to the College World Series. Since then, Bibona has racked up a record of 21-3 and has revenge on his mind. Also in the Anteater rotation is RHP Christian Bergman (8-3, 3.82 ERA), who currently has a 24.1 shutout-inning streak, and RHP Eric Pettis (9-3, 3.37 ERA).

#4 Kent State (39-23, 18-9 MAC)

The Kent State Golden flashes lost in the first round of the MAC tournament, only to fight their way back by winning 5 straight games over 3 days to advance to the postseason. The Golden Flashes are led at the plate by Senior OF Anthony Gallas (.367, 17 HR, 81 RBI) and Sophomore 3B Travis Shaw (.341, 15 HR, 60 RBI). Gallas is the first player in the history of the MAC Conference to accumulate 250 hits, 200 RBI, and 200 runs, and hit .446 in MAC play. The CCBL bound Shaw is the son of former Cincinnati Reds Pitcher Jeff Shaw.

On the mound, Junior RHP Robert Sabo (6-4, 4.08 ERA) hadn’t started at all coming into this season but was the Golden Flashes most effective weekend starter. Sabo went from having only 3 IP in collegiate baseball to starting the regional opener against UCLA on Friday. In his last 4 starts, Sabo is 4-0 with 2 CG over 31.1 IP, 25 K’s, and gave up only 7 earned runs. In his best performance of the season, Sabo shut down Bowling Green, holding them to 5 hits and 1 run, pitching a complete game. Sophomore LHP David Starn (7-2, 5.06 ERA) is likely to start game 2, and is somewhat unhittable when he hits his spots. LHP Kyle Hallock (8-5, 5.64 ERA) picked up 2 wins on the final day of the MAC Tournament after being shelled in the opener, and could be available to pitch in relief or start a third game if Kent State gets a win in one of the first two games.

Prediction:

1. LSU
2. UCLA
3. UC-Irvine
4. Kent State

  • juan maestro

    if only it was on ESPN the whole weekend! what a missed opportunity.