Monday, May 27, 2013

Handicapping UCSB vs. Texas A & M

On paper, the two opponents in the opening game of the Corvallis, Oregon Regionals of the NCAA baseball tournament appear evenly matched.  Both No. 2 seed Texas A & M and No. 3 seed UCSB snuck in as at-large selections.

The Aggies hit .270 as a team, and their pitching staff allowed opponents to bat .254.  The Aggies had a .370 slugging % (opponents had a .343 slugging %), and a .341 on-base % (opponents had a .330 on-base %).

The Gauchos batted .280, while opponents batted .266.  The Gauchos had a slugging % of .370 (opponents had a .380 slugging %), and a .361 on-base % (opponents had a .351 on-base %).

On defense, the Aggies had a .973 fielding %, and opponents had a .967 fielding %.

The Gauchos had a .974 fielding %, while opponents had a .966 fielding %.

The Aggies' pitching staff had an ERA of 3.42, with opponents posting a 3.84 ERA.  The pitching staff struck out 381 batters and walked 166.  Aggie hitters struck out 389 times and walked 168.

The Gauchos' pitching had a 3.99 ERA, and opponents allowed an ERA of 4.78.  Gaucho pitchers struck out 352 and walked 189.  Gaucho batters struck out 315 times and walked 163.

Top Aggie hitters include Mikey Reynolds (.343 BA), Cole Lankford (.332), and Troy Stein (.299).  Stein leads with five home runs, while Lankford has knocked in 34 runs, but the Aggies boast seven other batters with at least 19 RBI's.

Likely starters for the Aggies are Parker Ray (1-1, 1.83 ERA), Daniel Mengden (8-3, 1.84 ERA), and Rafael Pineda (5-5, 3.14 ERA).  Their closer is Jason Jester (3-3, 13 saves, 2.32 ERA).

Top Gaucho hitters include Rob Nesovic (.343), Woody Woodward (.335), Joey Epperson (.317), Cameron Newell (.313), and Tyler Kuresa (.304).  Kuresa leads with five home runs, followed by Brandon Trinkwon and Nesovic with four each.  Kuresa also leads the Gauchos in RBI's (45), followed by Brandon Trinkwon (35), Nesovic (33) and Woodward (33).

Likely starters for the Gauchos are Austin Pettibone (9-3, 3.11 ERA), Justin Jacome (5-4, 3.86 ERA), and Rob Nesovic (4-3, 4.76 ERA).  Set up pitcher Greg Mahle has a 7 - 4 record and ERA of 4.03.  Closer Dylan Hecht has a record of 0-2, eight saves, and a 1.93 ERA.

Overall, both teams manufacture runs by being aggressive on the base paths, while limiting opponents' stolen bases.  Gaucho catcher Jackson Morrow has thrown out many would-be base-stealers, as Gaucho opponents have stolen 34 bases but have been caught 32 times.

This match up will come down to pitching.  Gaucho pitchers struggle when they have control problems, but are dominant when they get ahead on the count.  The Gaucho offense is adept at scoring runs even without the long ball, and while they tend to be over-aggressive with base-running, that aggression more often than not pays off in extending rallies.

Prediction:  Gauchos sneak out a 6 - 4 win, with Pettibone getting to the 6th inning with a 4-3 lead, Mahle limiting additional damage to one run, and Hecht slamming the door in the 9th to earn another save.

Game time at Goss Stadium is noon on Friday.

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