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Early Contest in Baton Rouge: ASU Baseball and Southern Miss Eye First Regional Win
By Peter Bouloukos, DieHardDevil.com
May 30, 2019 7:23 PM

TO WATCH: Southern Mississippi takes on Arizona State on ESPN3 at 10:00 am PST. Live Stream on the PAC-12 or the Watch ESPN app.

Arizona State’s NCAA College Baseball Tournament Regional commences Friday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana against Southern Mississippi.  ASU Baseball (37-17) was placed into the regional with the 12th ranked LSU Tiger’s (37-24), the Golden Eagles of Southern Miss (38-19) and the Seawolves of Stony Brook (31-21).

LSU cemented the Number 1 seed over ASU by reaching the Final Four of the SEC Tournament where they were defeated by 2nd ranked Vanderbilt (49-10) 13-4.  Arizona State’s inability to win a few critical late-season series prevented the young Sun Devils from hosting a regional at home dropping out of the Top-25 in the process.  

After a loss to UNLV (29-29) on the road earlier this season, DieHard Media warned Sun Devil Nation about the road series against Nebraska (35 RPI / 31-22) where ASU subsequently lost two of three to the Huskers.  Then the Devils dropped two of three to Stanford sealing this regional fate. ASU Baseball is 10-10 on the road. LSU was 7-13 away from Alex Box Stadium (27-8 at home).

Against USC, UCLA, OSU, Stanford, Washington, California and Nebraska, Tracy Smith’s squad was 7-13.  Arizona State only lost four other games. Of those schools, USC (25-29-1) has sent their Skipper Dan Hubbs packing, and Washington struggled in Pac-12 play but finished with a 28-24 record.  Ten of ASU Baseball’s 17 losses were to teams who have also made the College World Series Regionals on Friday. Only Nebraska is not a favorite. The Huskers are +1.5 against UCONN.

 


One huge bright spot for the Sun Devil’s was tallying 43 runs in four games completely sweeping the University of Arizona (49 RPI / 33-24).  Arizona is as good as LSU, Southern Miss and of course Stony Brook in Baton Rouge. Obviously, a few Pac-12 teams who didn’t make the cut could play with anyone in the Top 64.  

Southern Mississippi (45 RPI) was 3-4 in their last seven regular-season games to Arizona State’s (33 RPI)  2-5. However, rolling into Friday’s game the Golden Eagles won four straight in the Conference USA Baseball Tournament. Still, Conference USA baseball is not exactly the Pac-12.  

The Devils finished fifth in Conference with a 16-13 record, and it is my opinion Coach Smith allowed some of his players to gain experience and confidence in tight games rather than playing “chess” from the bench.  Tighter control of the game is a must in the tournament and Tracy Smith has all of the experience in the world on this front.

While not being exactly thrifty on the base paths this season, ASU Baseball should be able to run on Southern Miss who surrendered 63 bags this year.  Without needing to steal bases or play any form of small-ball, from every angle Arizona State should score a cluster of runs on the Golden Eagles.

 

 

Spencer Torkelson (.348/21), Hunter Bishop (.347/22), Trevor Hauver (.333/13), Alika Williams (.332/4), Gage Workman (.322/8) and Lyle Lin (.303/9) represent 77 home runs and 305 RBI’s.  The top six at ASU have 426 hits and as a team, the Sun Devils are batting .307. Southern Mississippi is batting .287 playing in a much weaker Conference, and their core has only been able to get 254 runners across home plate.  The Golden Eagles and Sun Devils both strand base runners.

With that being said, both teams are going to bring their best and can stifle opposing bats.  The Golden Eagles and Sun Devils strike out opposing batters at the same clip, and equally, go down swinging at the plate.  I would give the Golden Eagles the edge on patience, but just see Arizona State having a few big innings early to bury Southern Miss.  Furthermore, the Golden Eagles are susceptible to fundamental errors and mistakes defending the diamond.

In the Regional, Stony Brook earned an automatic bid to the tournament by winning the American East Title 7-5 over Binghamton (26-24).  That win gave the Seawolves their first Conference Title since 2015. The LSU Tigers are going to overwhelm the up-start Wolves. The winner of the Friday nightcap will play the winner of the ASU/Southern Miss game Saturday, June 1 at 7 pm.  The elimination bracket for Friday’s losers is Saturday 1 pm.

 

 

Friday’s Match-up

TO WATCH: Southern Mississippi takes on Arizona State on ESPN3 at 10:00 am PST. Live Stream on the PAC-12 or the Watch ESPN app.

 

No. 2 Arizona State

MANAGER: Tracy Smith (5th season)

NCAA APPEARANCES: 40 (22 CWS, five national titles)

AT A GLANCE: After a 21-0 start to the season, ASU Baseball (37-17) lost five of its last seven games, dropping to fifth in the Pac-12 standings. ASU Baseball leads the country in home runs (92) and have two players (Hunter Bishop and Spencer Torkelson) nominated for the Golden Spikes Award.  The Sun Devils amassed 603 hits of which 218 were for extra bases. Opposing batters were held to a .266 batting average and 501 total hits. In 32 games, Arizona State scored in double figures.

BEST PITCHER: Jr. RHP Alec Marsh (9-3, 3.17 ERA, 96.2 IP, 33 BB, 92 K)

BEST HITTER: Jr. OF Hunter Bishop (.347, 22 HR, 61 RBIs, 11 SB)

 

VS

No. 3 Southern Miss

MANAGER: Scott Berry (10th season)

NCAA APPEARANCES: 16 (1 CWS, zero national titles)

AT A GLANCE: The Golden Eagles were a preseason top-25 team, Southern Miss entered the Conference USA tournament as a fringe NCAA selection. It had lost three straight league series. But the Golden Eagles (38-19) won the tournament, clinching an automatic bid. They have committed 81 errors; just 287 of the 512 runs they allowed were earned.  Southern Mississippi pitchers held opponents to a .257 batting average and 139 extra base hits.

BEST PITCHER: Jr. RHP Walker Powell (6-2, 2.78 ERA, 94 IP, 12 BB, 71 K)

BEST HITTER: Jr. OF Matt Wallner (.324, 55 RBIs, 21 HR)

 

GAME ONE: Friday, May 31, 2019, 1 pm EST

Alex Box Stadium, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

ASU Baseball -2.5 & +115

Southern Mississippi +2.5 -155

ASU Baseball -270

Southern Mississippi +190

 

GAME TWO: Friday, May 31, 2019, 7 pm EST 

LSU  -5.5 +100

Stony Brook +5.5 -140

LSU -750

Stony Brook +450

Saturday, June 1

Game 3, 1 p.m.  Elimination Game

Game 4, 7 p.m.  Winners Bracket

 

Sunday, June 2

Game 5, 3 p.m.  Elimination Game

Game 6, 9 p.m.  

 

Monday, June 3

Game 7, if necessary (Both Teams enter with 1 loss)

 

The Winner of the Baton Rouge Regional moves forward to play the winner of the Athens Regional in a “Best of 3” Super-Regional: Georgia (44-15). Florida Atlantic (40-19). Florida State (36-21). Mercer (35-27)

Sixteen Teams in the Hunt for the Top 8 Spots heading into Omaha on June 15th:

UCLA
Florida
Vanderbilt
Indiana
Illinois
Florida State
Stanford
North Carolina
Oregon State
Connecticut
West Virginia
East Carolina
Miami
Georgia Tech
California
Arizona State

 

ASU Baseball Head Coach Tracy Smith:
In 22 total years as a head coach, Smith has 80 of his players selected in the MLB Draft, including 73 since 2000 with 33 in the first 10 rounds. He has mentored 48 Major League Baseball draft picks over the previous eight seasons, including the fourth overall pick in the 2014 Draft (Kyle Schwarber) and three first-round selections in the 2009 MLB June Draft (Eric Arnett, Josh Phegley, Matt Bashore).  Tracy Smith enters the 2019 NCAA Baseball Tournament with 735 career wins.

ASU Pac-12 All-Conference Team:
Hunter Bishop.  Lyle Lin. Spencer Torkelson.  

ASU Pac-12 All-Conference Team Honorable Mention:
Brady Corrigan.  Trevor Hauver. Alika Williams.  Gage Workman.

ASU Pac-12 All-Conference Defensive Team:
Alike Williams (IF)

 

 

Tournament Notes

Every Pac-12 School in the Tournament is a favorite for game one of the regionals.

Stanford -5 Sacramento State

California -1.5 TCU

Oregon State -3.5 Cinncinati

UCLA -7.5 Omaha

ASU Baseball -2.5 Southern Miss

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