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June 2, 2006

SCS.comThe regionals are well under way today, and with that thought in mind, here are a few games (some that have already been concluded) and some upcoming (either for certain or potential day two matchups) that are most eye-catching. We also take a glance at some of the top players in each bracket, selecting an all-regional squad for each four-team pool this weekend. Be sure to keep an eye on these guys, as well as these key games over the next few days.


All-Regional Team: C: Ed Easley, Mississippi State; 1B: Andy D'Alessio, Clemson; 2B: Jeffrey Rea, Mississippi State; SS: Thomas Berkery, Mississippi State; 3B: Marquez Smith, Clmeson; OF: Tyler Colvin, Clmeson; OF: Chris Price, Elon; OF: Elliott Arrington, UNC-Asheville; DH: Robert Rodebaugh, Elon

P: It's hard to pick two good starters out of the list. Clemson has Stephen Faris, Josh Cribb, and Jason Berken, Elon has Matt Chastain, Stephen Hensley, and Lance Cole, Mississippi State has Brooks Dunn and Justin Pigott. Who does what depends on who goes in what game. As far as relievers go, Clemson's Daniel Moskos is great, but Elon stopper Chad Tilley has put up better numbers. [In-game update: Dunn and Chastain weren't at the top of their game today, but Dunn did manage to go 7.1 before ending up getting saddled with a rather hard-luck loss. Chastain couldn't get out of the sixth.]

Game to Watch – Elon vs. Mississippi State on Friday. And a potential winner’s bracket match-up between Missisippi State and Clemson would've been appetizing, as Justin Pigott’s effective, ground-ball inducing style could have presented problems for Clemson’s rocket hitters, and Clemson’s Doug’s Kingsmore Stadium is similar to MSU’s Dudy Noble Field. Oh well, maybe Sunday? [Elon and MSU lived up to my prediction, though the end was a little anticlimactic, with the Bulldogs almost too quietly going away in the ninth after getting a leadoff hit.] Elon vs. Clemson should be a great one tomorrow. Can the Phoenix score one for the litttle guys and pull off a win? Well, Clemson has to beat UNC-Asheville first, and with #4 seeds playing well today, that might be more than just a mere formality.


All-Regional Team - C: Andy Bouchie, Oral Roberts; 1B: Danny Hamblin, Arkansas, 2B: Shelby Ford, Oklahoma State; SS: Tim Torres, Oral Roberts; 3B: Tyler Mach, Oklahoma State, OF: Jake Dugger, Arkansas; OF: Brendan Duffy, Oral Roberts; Corey Brown, Oklahoma State; DH: Zach Wendkos, Princeton

P: Brae Wright, Oklahoma State, and whichever Nick outduels the other in the Schmidt-Jones matc-up for Oral Roberts and Arkansas.

Game to Watch – Oral Roberts vs. Arkansas. The matchup between the two Nick’s, Schmidt and Jones, will be a good one, but don’t be surprised if the bats come to life.


All-Regional Team - C: Matt Wieters, Georgia Tech; 1B: Chris Johnson, Stetson; 2B: Matt Trapani, Georgia Tech, SS: Ryan Flaherty, Vanderbilt; 3B: Whit Robbins, Georgia Tech, OF: Steven Blackwood, Georgia Tech, OF: Eric Rose, Michigan, Jeff Kindel, Georgia Tech; DH: Pedro Alvarez, Vanderbilt

P: In-game update: Matt Buschmann went out and had a great outing against Michigan. It turns out I had the right idea about saving David Price for a possible meeting against Tech. .

Game to Watch - Stetson vs. Georgia Tech. The Hatters hope for a repeat of 2003, and with the way things have gone today, don't put it past them, because with Missouri, these guys are a #4 seed WITH a chance. Not saying Manhattan and Prairie View didn't, their chances just didn't register as high on the chance-o-meter as Stetson and Missouri.


All-Regional Team - C: Sean Coughlin, Kentucky; 1B: Ryan Strieby, Kentucky; 2B: John Shelby, Kentucky; SS: Greg Lopez, Notre Dame; OF: Larry Cobb, College of Charleston; OF: Collin Cowgill, Phil Coker, College of Charleston; DH: Brad Miller, Ball State

P: Notre Dame's trio of Jeff Manship, Tom Thornton, and the two-sport star with the funky name are the givens, but Charleston has their arms too, which they'll be needing against whoever they play tomorrow, after going 16 innings today.

Game to Watch – Kentucky vs. Ball State. Ball State’s Brad Miller hit three homers in a 31-19 win over Valparaiso earlier this year (and no, that score isn’t a typo), and he is among the nation’s leaders in homers (21) and RBI (74). The Cardinals have scored runs in bunches with regularity this season, so they may well feel right at home in the hitter’s den known as Cliff Hagan Stadium. [Well, as it happens, it was a low-scoring game, but don't color me surprised about Ball State's win. Do take into consideration that they have more postseason experience than Kentucky has.]


All-Regional Team: C: Kody Valverde, Alabama; 1B: Josh Dew, Troy; 2B: Edgar Ramirez, Troy; SS: Tom King, Troy; 3B: Marc Maddox, Southern Miss, OF: Emeel Salem, Alabama, Toddric Johnson, Southern Miss, OF: Mike Felix, Troy; DH: Matt Downs, Alabama

P: We all know about what LeBlanc can do, and we've gotten to know the wonders of not-so-little Tommy Hunter. But, don't forget about Mike Felix. He is an outfielder, yes, but that's when he isn't winning games and blowing the ball by hitters from the mound. The move from Auburn has definitely turned out to be a great one for him, as he's gotten to showcase his talents to the fullest.

Game to Watch – Troy vs. Alabama. Wouldn’t the Trojans love to take down their bigger, more prominent in-state rivals? They already did it in Tuscaloosa earlier this season (8-5 on March 22), and it’d be even sweeter if they could do it in the postseason.

Chapel Hill

All-Regional Team - C: Chris Hatcher, UNC-Wilmington; 1B: Chad Flack, North Carolina, SS: Josh Horton, North Carolina; 3B: Matt Poulk, UNC-Wilmington, OF: Jacob Dempsey, Winthrop; OF: John Raynor, UNC-Wilmington; OF: Tommy Lentz, Winthrop, DH: Curt Smith, Maine

P: Miller, Woodard, Bard, Hovis, Carignan. That's just from UNC. Winthrop has Rollins and Wilson. Those are the arms of relevance right now. [In a day full of complete games, Rollins came up an inning short, but eight effective innings is more than simply satisfactory.]

Game to Watch – Winthrop vs. North Carolina. The Eagles beat the Tar Heels two weeks ago in Chapel Hill (12-8 in 11 innings), so it could be a chance for UNC to exact a measure of revenge, and on the flip side, a chance for Winthrop to show that midweek win wasn’t a fluke. But, Winthrop has to dispose of UNCW first, which won't be easy at all. [Looks like I was wrong about that. 14-2 isn't the closest of scores, now is it?]


All-Regional Team - C: Jordan Abruzzo, San Diego; 1B: Brett Pill, CS Fullerton, 2B: Justin Turner, CS Fullerton, SS: Blake Davis, CS Fullerton; 3B: Evan McArthur, CS Fullerton, OF: Brian Lupin, Fresno State; OF: Justin Snyder, San Diego; OF: Shane Buschini, San Diego; DH: Greg Rodgers, St. Louis

P: Pick one or two from Roemer, Gagnier, and Miller for Fullerton. Fresno State has two double-digit winning starters in Eddie Romero (13, as of today) and Andy Underwood (11), and Underwood and Doug Fister both have over 100 strikeouts. If St. Louis ace Ryan Moore has eight wins. If he could pitch the game of his life against Fullerton tonight, he'll deserve some attention here.

Game to Watch – Fullerton vs. St. Louis. Moore, SLU's probable starter, is a workhorse. He started and won two games in the A-10 tourney, including eight shutout innings against St. Bonaventure in the title game. The Billikens are much for hitting, but if they can get a good effort from Moore, ‘just enough’ from their hitters could make things very, very interesting.


All-Regional Team: C: Chad Tracy, Pepperdine; 1B: Jaime Martinez, UC Irvine, 2B: Cody Cipriano, UC Irvine, SS: Danny Worth, Pepperdine; 3B: Jermaine Curtis, UCLA; OF: Zane Taylor, Missouri; OF: Adrian Ortiz, Pepperdine; DH: Brandon Crawford, UCLA

This regional is all about the pitchers. Barry Enright, Paul Coleman, and Jason Johnson for Pepperdine. Dave Huff, Hector Ambriz, and Tyson Bennett for UCLA. Justin Cassel, Scott Gorgen, Glenn Swanson, and Blair Erickson for UC Irvine. Max Scherzer and Nathan Culp for Missouri. If you love pitching, this regional is perfect for you.

Game to Watch – Pepperdine vs. Missouri. Two of the nation's best arms take the hill on Friday in Missouri ace Scherzer and Pepperdine ace Enright. [The price was apparently En-right for the Waves, as Barry picked up lucky number 13 today. Excuse the bad pun, but I just had to.]


All-Regional Team: C: Zach Dillon, Baylor, 1B: Ike Davis, Arizona State, 2B: Greg Buchanan, Rice; SS: Brian Friday, Rice; OF: Seth Fortenberry, Baylor, OF: Tyler Henley, Rice; OF: Calvin Lester, Prairie View; OF: Colin Curtis, Arizona State, DH: Josh Rodriguez, Rice

P: Anyone who pitches for Rice. Almost everyone on their staff is really, really good. But, all that good pitching wouldn't have meant anything had they not woken up in the last two innings and won a game they were supposed to take care of handily..

Game to Watch – Rice vs. Prairie View. Don’t laugh. In 2004, Rice, the defending champion and #1 seed, was upset 4-3 in the opener by Texas Southern in perhaps one of the biggest upsets in NCAA postseason history. The odds of it happening this year are pretty slim, but they were in 2004, as well. [Post-game update: So, do we say that this comeback was an example of Rice's resiliency, even if it was against a Prairie View team that, well, is several notches below the Owls in terms of talent.]


All-Regional Team: C: Andrew Walker, TCU; 1B: Chad Huffman, TCU; 2B: Isa Garcia, Houston; SS: Bryan Kervin, TCU; 3B: Ryan Rohlinger, Oklahoma; OF: Kody Kaiser, Oklahoma; OF: Matt Brown, Wichita State; OF: Chuckie Caulfield, Oklahoma; DH: Josh Workman, Wichita State

P: Brad Lincoln, Houston; Steven Guerra, Oklahoma; Travis Banwart & Aaron Shafer, Wichita State; Brad Furnish, TCU. [In-game update: Aaron Shafer and Wichita State took out Lincoln and Houston, so early props to Aaron.]

Game to Watch – Oklahoma-TCU and Houston-Wichita State are two good matchups on Friday, but so many intriguing possibilities await. [So, it'll be the two lower seeds, Wichita State and TCU, facing off tomorrow, with one of the high seeds going home early. You could just as well toss the seedings out of the window though, because this regional is as balanced as any that I've seen.]


All-Regional Team - C: Jason Jacobs, Georgia; 1B: Josh Morris, Georgia; 2B: Tony Thomas, Jr., Florida State; SS: Gordon Beckham, Georgia; 3B: Daniel Murphy, Jacksonville; OF: Joey Side, Georgia; OF: Shane Robinson, Florida State; OF: Jack Rye, Florida State; DH: Gordie Gronkowski, Jacksonville

P: FSU's tandem of Henry and Chambliss combine for about 20 wins and 200 strikeouts. Georgia's Brooks Brown is a projected top round draft pick.

Game to Watch – FSU vs. Georgia. The ‘Noles last faced Georgia in the postseason in the 2001 super regionals, when Georgia took down FSU in three games to advance to Omaha. It looks right now that the 'Noles have a little something to prove, as shown by the walloping they're laying on Jacksonville. We'll see if they've used up all of their runs come tomorrow. [By the way, smart move in using the #3 starter, Michael Hyde, against JU, in order to save Henry and Chambliss. Throwing your #3 in a regional opener might seem like a bad, bad idea for a lot of teams, but Hyde pitched against JU earlier this season, so that worked to his advantage, along with the run production, which certainly doesn't harm anything.]


All-Regional Team - C: Matt McBride, Lehigh, 1B: Justin Smoak, South Carolina; 2B: David Adams, Virginia; SS: Reese Havens, South Carolina; 3B: Neil Giesler, South Carolina; OF: Brandon Guyer, Virginia; OF: Robbie Grinestaff, South Carolina; OF: Brandon Marsh, Virginia; DH: Pat Tumilty, Evansville

P: Virginia's three-headed monster (Doolittle, Thompson, Ballard) and closer Casey Lambert. Ben Norton (9-3) is the ace of the Purple Aces. .

Game to Watch - Virginia vs. Evansville. Yep, that means I'm picking the Aces to 'upset' the Gamecocks. There's not much reason to pick the 'Cocks, seeing as how they've had so many struggles, but on the flip side, if I'm wrong, I'm just wrong. Ray Tanner knows enough to get his team up for the postseason, regardless of what came before, and the 'Cocks are due for some good luck anyway.


All-Regional Team - C: Adam Moore, Texas-Arlington; 1B: Aaron Bates, North Carolina State, 2B: Ramon Corona, North Carolina State; SS: Chris Minaker, Stanford; 3B: Matt Mangini, North Carolina State; OF: Carson Kainer, Texas; OF: Matt Camp, North Carolina State; OF: Drew Stubbs, Texas; DH: Jon Still, North Carolina State

P: Greg Reynolds is projected to be a top-five pick in next week's draft, but he hasn't exactly pitched that way the entire season. But, he tossed a complete-game seven-hitter today to knock off NC State. Kudos to Kevin Kasparek for tossing 7.1 solid innings today. Can Kyle McCulloch follow with a good outing against the Cardinal tomorrow?

Game to Watch – Texas vs. Stanford. The 'Horns were struggling when these two teams played early in the season, and the Cardinal were still flying high. Since then, things have gone mostly up for UT and mostly down for Stanford.


All-Regional Team: C: Mitch Canham, Oregon State; 1B: Luis Avila, Hawaii, 2B: Ross Oeder, Wright State, SS: Darwin Barney, Oregon State, 3B: Erik Morrison, Kansas; OF: Cole Gillespie, Oregon State;OF: Gus Milner, Kansas, OF: John Allman, Kansas; DH: Jared Schweitzer, Kansas

P: There are three 11-game winners in this regional, in OSU's Dallas Buck (11-2, 2.92 ERA), Kansas' Kodiak Quick (11-4, 3.36), and Hawaii's Steven Wright (11-2, 2.30, 123 Ks).

Game to Watch – Kansas vs. Hawaii. Two 40-win teams going head to head in a salivating 2/3 matchup. The Rainbows and Jayhawks have been away from the posteason for a while, and neither wants to punch an early ticket back home. [Looks like Kansas wanted it a little more, eh?]


All-Regional Team - C: Eddy Rodriguez, Miami; 1B: Brandon Buckman, Nebraska; 2B: Jemile Weeks, Miami, SS: Ryan Wehrle, Nebraska, 3B: Danny Valencia, Miami, OF: Luke Gorsett, Nebraska; OF: Jon Jay, Miami; OF: Stefan Gartrell, San Francisco, DH: Scott Cousins, San Francisco

P: Chris Cody of Manhattan just pitched a gem against Nebraska, and he was 11-2 with an ERA under 1.50 coming into today, which earned him an All-American honor today. Now, Nebraska (unfortunately for them) knows a little too much about just how good he is. Nine complete games is more than some people can muster up in three or four seasons. He's had that many this season.

Game to Watch – Nebraska vs. Miami. If it was football, it’d be a top-tier matchup. But it’s not a half-bad diamond battle either. But, if things go to form, it'll be in the loser's bracket. [Well, it looks like the earliest this matchup can happen is Sunday morning, after the Huskers loss and Miami's rout of the Dons. I don't always get things right, I know.]


All-Eegional Team - C: Joel Collins, South Alabama; 1B: Mark Hamilton, Tulane; 2B: Justin Henry, Ole Miss; SS: Zack Cozart, Mississippi; 3B: David Freese, South Alabama; OF: Tyler Jones, South Alabama, OF: Alex Presley, Mississippi; Warren McFadden, Tulane; DH: Chris Coghlan, Mississippi

P: Will Kline of Mississippi has had a number of great outings this season, and Brett Bukvich is a solid #2. Tulane has two eight-game winners in Sean Morgan and Billy Mohl. South Alabama has a strike-throwing Energizer bunny in P.J. Walters. He went 11 innings to record a victory over Florida State on May 16.

Game to Watch – Tulane vs. South Alabama. As mentioned, Walters is a hoss, and the Jaguars are one of the top hitting teams in the country. [How about a four-hit complete game for Walters and 12 hits for the offense? Not bad, I'll say. Not bad at all.]

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