Road to Omaha Begins in South Florida for Baseball
NEW YORK – The 2014 NCAA Division I Baseball Championships begins Friday, May 30 with Columbia opening competition against Texas Tech at 2 p.m. The Lions and Red Raiders will be joined in the Coral Gables Region by host Miami and Bethune-Cookman who will play Friday night at 7 p.m.
Coverage for all games from each of the 16 Regional sites will be available on ESPN3 or the WatchESPN App on mobile devices. In the booth for the Coral Gables Regional will be Doug Sherman handling play-by-play, with Leland Maddox providing the color commentary. Columbia fans can also tune into the Ivy League Digital Network for a free, live audio stream with Lance Medow on the call.
Miami is hosting its 25th Regional this weekend, and first since 2012 at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. Fellow ACC schools, Florida State and Virginia, are also hosting regionals this weekend.
Ticket information for the Coral Gables Regional can be found HERE.
CORAL GABLES REGIONAL SCHEDULE
Location – Alex Rodriguez Park – Mark Light Field (Capacity - 4,999)
Friday, May 30
Game 1: No. 2 Texas Tech vs. No. 3 Columbia – 2 p.m. – ESPN3
Game 2: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 4 Bethune-Cookman – 7 p.m. – ESPN3
Saturday, May 31
Game 3: Losers of Games 1 &2 – 2 p.m.
Game 4: Winners of Games 1 & 2 – 7 p.m.
Sunday, June 1
Game 5: Winner of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4 – 2 p.m.
Game 6: Winner of Game 4 vs. Winner of Game 5 – 7 p.m.
Monday, June 2 (if necessary)
Game 7: Rematch of Game 6 – 7 p.m.
Winners of 21 of its last 24 games, including a win streak that lasted a program-record 15 games along the way, Columbia caught the attention of the selection committee, earning the Ivy League’s first ever three seed in regional format. Columbia posted an impressive 29-18 record this season, with crucial wins when it counted. Columbia needed a Gehrig Division Playoff victory over Penn to advance to the Ivy League Championship Series and then kept its foot on the gas pedal with a sweep of Dartmouth in the ILCS to earn the Ancient Eight’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.
The heralded group on the field set a new program record with 11 All-Ivy League selections and matched the program record with four first team selections. Senior pitcher David Speer, first-year second baseman Will Savage, junior third baseman David Vandercook and outfielder Gus Craig all earned top billing to the All-Ivy League first team.
Columbia also captured three of the top awards handed down by the conference office. Speer become the League’s first unanimous Pitcher of the Year selection since 2004, while Savage capture Rookie of the Year honors and the Blair Bat Award after leading the conference with a .414 batting average during Ivy League games.
Pitching and athleticism have been the preaching stones of head coach Brett Boretti, who is leading the Lions to a third NCAA Championship appearance in the last six years. Speer has been the stalwart of the rotation, posting a 7-2 record and a microscopic 1.86 ERA in 12 starts. The senior co-captain has tossed 87 innings this season, striking out 75, while allowing just seven walks. Those numbers equate to a 10.7-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, the second-best figure in the nation.
Sophomore Kevin Roy, an All-Ivy League honorable mention selection, has also been dominant on the bump. The Houston, Texas native is allowing just 5.74 hits per nine frames, the 10th-lowest mark in the nation. In 62.2 innings of work, Roy has limited opposing hitters to a .183 batting average, while striking out 48. Classmate George Thanopoulos has had a breakout season, being named to the Gregg Olson Award watch list earlier this month for his efforts on the hill. The Highland, California native moved into the starting rotation mid-season, posting a 5-2 record and 2.81 ERA in six starts. In total, Thanopoulos has made 14 appearances this season, throwing 48 innings, with 40 strikeouts.
As a staff, the Lions have struck out 339 batters this season, which trails only last year’s 357 K’s for the most in a single season by a Lions’ squad.
The other half of the Lions’ winning equation, athleticism, has been proven both offensively and defensively. Columbia’s current fielding percentage of .975 is on pace to set a new program record, while ranking 24th in the nation. On the base paths, Columbia runners have combined for 64 steals, tying the sixth best total in program history. Second team All-Ivy League selection Jordan Serena leads the way in that category, swiping 25 bases this season. Savage has also had the green light this year, successfully stealing 14 bases in 16 attempts.
The speedy duo of Serena and Savage also comprises the top-two batting and on-base averages on the team. Savage comes in at .338 with 14 RBI and a .401 OBP, while Serena has a .302 average, .404 OBP and a team-leading 54 hits.
Craig leads the power bats of the Columbia lineup with six long balls and a .493 slugging mark. Vandercook and Robb Paller are tied for the team-lead with 34 RBI. Vandercook also has a knack for the home run, launching five this season, while also racking up a team-high 14 doubles. Paller comes into the regional with 11 doubles and three home runs.
SCOUTING TEXAS TECH
The Red Raiders are back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004 after playing to a 40-18 record, which earned them the No. 23 ranking in the latest USA Today Coaches’ and NCBWA polls. Texas Tech’s at-large selection to the Coral Gables Regional will mark their 10th postseason appearance in program history.
Texas Tech was stellar at home this season, posting a 31-4 record, but struggled away from Rip Griffin Park, going just 9-14 in road and neutral games. In the Big 12, the Red Raiders were 14-10.
Eric Gutierrez is the lone Red Raider to start all 58 games this season. The 2013 Collegiate Baseball Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America selection is hitting at a .313 clip with a team-leading 12 homers and 56 RBI. Outfielder Adam Kirsch has also become a staple in the Texas Tech lineup since transferring from FIU. Kirsch is tied with Byrant Burleson for the team-lead with 19 doubles, while also smacking nine home runs, driving in 48 runs and batting .300. Fellow outfielder Tyler Neslony holds the Red Raiders’ top batting average at .412, making 35 starts this season.
Chris Sadberry has been tapped as the probable starter for Texas Tech for Friday’s matchup. The lefthander, who played for Louisiana Tech and Grayson County College before joining Texas Tech as a redshirt junior this season, made a team-high 14 starts, posting a 4-2 record and 3.45 ERA. Over his team-high 73 innings of work, Sadberry has struck out 47, walked 19 and giving up 28 earned runs.
The Hurricanes have been a staple at the NCAA Championships for over four decades, as they have not missed the postseason since the 1972 campaign. Miami won its second regular season ACC Championship this season with a 24-6 conference mark, while going 41-17 overall.
Senior outfielder Dale Carey leads the Hurricane’s offense with a .313 batting average and 15 doubles, good for 28 RBI. First-year catcher Zack Collins has earned his spot in the Miami lineup, leading the team with 49 RBI and nine deep balls. Similar to Columbia, Miami likes to run when it gets on base, swiping 58 bags this year. Tyler Palmer leads the charge with 18 steals, while Carey comes in with 16.
Junior lefty Chris Diaz has been the ace for Miami, posting a 9-0 record in 15 starts with a 2.31 ERA. In 93.2 innings, Diaz has struck out 80 hitters, while limiting opposing teams to just 24 earned runs. Another lefthander, Bryan Radziewski, enters the weekend with a 3.14 ERA and a 7-2 record in 15 starts. Radziewski has a team-high 102 strikeouts in 91.2 innings. Another southpaw, Andrew Suarez has seen the most action this season, tossing 100.2 innings, earning a 3.22 ERA and a 5-3 record, also in 15 starts.
The Wildcats (26-31) are making their 16th NCAA Championship appearance, and fourth in Coral Gables, in program history. Bethune-Cookman won the Mid-Eastern Athletics Conference for the eighth time in the last 10 years to earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
With only eight homers on the year as a team, the Wildcats have need to generate runs other ways. Senior infielder Eric Sams paces B-C’s offense, with a .321 average and 69 hits that has included 15 doubles. Sams has also come around to score a team-high 42 times this season. Redshirt junior Jordan Robinson has driven in a team-best 30 RBI while batting .251. Senior outfielder Eros Modena is second on the team with 25 RBI on 51 hits, just 13 of those going for extra bases.
Senior right-hander Montana Durapau is the clear ace from Bethune Cookman. In 15 starts, Durapau has an 11-1 record and a 1.71 ERA over 110.1 innings. Felloww righty Keith Zuniga has a 7-4 mark with a 2.59 ERA in 13 starts.