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Previewing the Stillwater Regional

Can OSU stave off Arkansas, ORU and St. John’s to advance to another Super Regional?

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After a somewhat disappointing loss to the Texas Longhorns in the Big 12 tournament championship, the Oklahoma State Cowboys were selected as a regional host for the 2015 NCAA baseball tournament.

Like I said in my recap of the game, losing to Texas would not have any effect on OSU hosting a regional.

Even TCU, which lost its first two games was not affected and was still rewarded with a national seed. The only team that gained or lost anything last weekend was obviously Texas which won the tournament and, despite having the resume of a No. 4 seed (30-25, 86 RPI), were given a No. 3 seed in Dallas because it’s Texas.


Here’s an overview of each team that will be playing in Stillwater:

St. John’s

The Cowboys will play St. John’s in its first game, a matchup that could be very difficult. Kyle Peterson of ESPNU said “St. John’s is the toughest four seed in the field.”

Maybe they should have been a three seed, I’m looking at Columbia, Stony Brook and those almighty Longhorns as teams seeded as three that should not have been, while the Red Storm are an over-talented four.

I could grumble about seeding all day, but once you take the field, none of that really matters.

St. John’s is a team that people are getting excited about and saying it has potential to upset the top-seeded Cowboys.

However, upon looking at the schedule for the Red Storm, it has an 0-5 record against teams that are in the field. The team’s only win against a top-50 RPI team was a victory over North Florida in February. So if St. John’s truly has “upset potential” they would be going into uncharted waters because it has yet to pull even a minor upset at this point in the season.

The Red Strom have a strong offense (.291 team average), but the only real hope for St. John’s rests on the shoulder over its ace, Ryan McCormick. The junior right-hander had an incredible season (10-1, 2.81 ERA), albeit against lower-level Big East competition.

McCormick also has two complete games on the year so he has the ability to put the team on his back. It’s important to remember that Michael Freeman should be pitching this game and I don’t think McCormick is the quality of pitcher to shut down a potent OSU offense.

Oral Roberts

This was a pretty predictable team for the Stillwater Regional. The Golden Eagles dominated the Summit League for the entirety of the season and cruised through its conference tournament to earn the right to stay close to home.

The Golden Eagles have a 2-4 record against teams that are currently in the tournament and those two wins came in midweek contests against the Cowboys.

The first victory was a game where Conor Costello started on the mound and pitched respectably, but Trey Cobb was still in his early-season funk and gave up two runs out of the bullpen in a 4-2 loss.

The other loss was 15-5 game in Stillwater on April 15th. This was a game that woke me up to how good of a team Oral Roberts is. I know Garrett Williams, Tyler Buffett and Kyle Bagnell gave up 14 of those 15 runs, but regardless of who is pitching, the Golden Eagles can hit.

Geoff Haxton, the play-by-play voice for Oral Roberts gave me some keys to regional for the Golden Eagles:

1. Keep the bats hot

The Golden Eagles .321 team average is one of the best numbers in the country. ORU outscored its opponents 19-5 in the Summit League tournament last weekend. The 1-9 spots in the lineup are all occupied by hitters with .300+ batting averages, which is an impressive distinction no matter what conference a team is in.

2. Patching together a wounded pitching staff

The Golden Eagles will be without four of its top eight arms going into the regional. ORU has been battling injuries on the mound all season long.

The Golden Eagles have a 3.10 ERA as a team, which is nothing special and they will have an “all hands on deck” approach in this regional.

3. Playing up to the competition

ORU has dominated in the Summit League all season long, but having to play top competition could be a challenge for the team.

We know all too well that the Golden Eagles can handle OSU in a midweek game, but how will they play on the biggest stage in front of a capacity crowd at Allie P. or pitching to a lineup full of future-major leaguers.

I think ORU is the most intriguing team in this regional because of its offensive potential. For the sake of OSU, I’m glad that the Golden Eagles have to go through Arkansas first before a potential matchup against the Cowboys.

Arkansas

The Razorbacks are another scary team that has been selected for this regional. Not only has Arkansas won 17 games in the SEC, which is undoubtedly the best conference in the country, the Hogs have gone 12-6 on the road this season.

The most impressive series win for the Razorbacks has to be the two games it won in College Station against another No. 1 seed in Texas A&M.

Arkansas also has a Golden Spikes award semifinalist and future first round pick playing in the outfield, Andrew Benintendi, who could be very well be the best player in the country.

In 56 games played this season, Benintendi has 18 HR’s, 52 RBI’s and has hit .391, not to mention the fact that he gets get on base in nearly half of his plate appearances.

Besides the fact that he is one of the toughest outs in the country, Benintendi has a reputation as thief as well, stealing 22 bases this season in 26 attempts. This speed will be a huge challenge for Gage Green or Bryan Case in a potential matchup with the Razorbacks. Arkansas will need Benintendi to bring his “A game” if the Razorbacks want any chance to get out of this regional.

Like Oral Roberts, offense is the strength for Arkansas. The pitching staff for Dave Van Horn’s teams was disappointing last weekend, allowing 29 runs in four games in the SEC tournament.

The Razorbacks do not have a starting pitcher with a sub-3.00 ERA and that could be a problem if they want to get by the hot bats of ORU in the first game. Anything other than a shootout would be inadequate in the opening game of this regional.

Although, if the Hogs have a lead late in the game they can hand it over to one of the better stoppers in the country, Zach Jackson who has been the best pitcher on the staff this season. Jackson boasts a 5-0 record with a 2.25 ERA and six saves in 17 relief appearances.

Of the 16 regionals in the tournament I can honestly say this is toughest of them all. Of the 16 regionals in the tournament I can honestly say this is toughest of them all. Like Kyle said in his Daily Bullets, this regional is going to be a bloodbath.

OSU gets through this they will match up with the winner of the Springfield Regional (Missouri State). Due to a scheduling conflict in Springfield, the Cowboys would potentially host a super regional for the second consecutive year if it was to advance. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though; the Cowboys have a good amount of work to do before it can worry about the supers.

Photo via OSU baseball on Twitter

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