Baseball: Fort Worth Regional Preview

Wolfpack Baseball (34-21, 18-15 ACC) missed out on the NCAA Tournament last season for only the 2nd time in the last decade, but their last post-season (’13) took them all the way to the College World Series.

After overcoming a lackluster first half of 2015 the Pack seemed to put things together the last month of the season and come on strong, winning 13 of their final 16 games and earning their way to the ACC Championship Game last weekend, as well as moving up to a solid #2 seed in the baseball version of the big dance.  This year the Pack9 returns to the NCAA Baseball Tournament, and will head west as the #2 seed in the Fort Worth Regional (AKA Forth Worth Regional) to begin their quest to return to the Omaha.

Lupton Baseball Stadium and Williams-Reilly Field (link)

3700 Berry St.
Ft. Worth, TX 76129

Opened: 2003
Official Capacity: 4,500

Dimensions:

  • LF – 330ft
  • LCF – 370ft
  • CF – 390ft
  • RCF – 370ft
  • RF – 330ft

The Horned Frogs regularly draw top-20 yearly attendance figures nationally, and once jammed as many as 6,099 fans inside. With its smaller dimensions (as compared to Doak Field) to straightaway center and the power alleys, Wolfpack hitters may be drooling.

Fort Worth Regional Team Capsules (Note: Because I’ve had some time constraints this week, all team previews are courtesy of Aaron Fitt at D1Baseball.com.  Formerly with Baseball America, the always reliable Mr. Fitt knows his stuff, and his D1Baseball.com site also happens to have the Pack ranked #24 this week.  Not to mention a lot of nice things to say about the Pack in general of late.  Hopefully, if you follow one of those links to his site, he’ll forgive my nearly wholesale ripping off of his preview…hint hint.)

2015 Fort Worth Regional Preview (D1Baseball.com)

TCUlogo#1 TCU Horned Frogs – 43-11 (18-5 Big12), RPI #8, #7 national seed

With a loaded pitching staff coming off an Omaha run, TCU entered the season ranked No. 8 and spent the entire spring in the top 10, a testament to its impressive consistency. The Frogs ran away with the Big 12 regular-season title by 3.5 games, and they lost back-to-back games just once – in the Big 12 tournament, where they went 0-2. If there is a concern for the Frogs heading into the NCAA tournament, it is that ace Preston Morrison was shellacked in the conference tourney, allowing seven runs (five earned) over 3.1 innings, and he did not show the same quality of stuff he did early in the season, when his lively fastball reached 88 mph.

The Frogs are also an elite defensive team, ranking 11th in the nation in fielding percentage (.978). Senior Keaton Jones (.988) might be the most sure-handed shortstop in college baseball, anchoring the veteran infield defense. TCU has another standout defender in center field, where the speedy Cody Jones roams. Jones had a breakout season at the plate, hitting .376/.476/.507 with 25 steals to earn Big 12 player of the year honors. TCU’s second leading hitter, Big 12 freshman of the year Connor Wanhannen (.339), is an athletic former high school quarterback with a short lefthanded stroke and an advanced middle-away approach.

BlockSDecal#2 NC State Wolfpack – 34-11 (18-15 ACC), RPI #26

The Wolfpack flew under the radar for much of the season, largely because while it was competitive in just about every series, it had a hard time getting over the hump and winning series in the first half. As late as April 24, NC State looked like a long shot for regionals, with a 21-18 overall record and a 9-12 mark in the ACC. Then everything clicked with a series win against Virginia, and the ‘Pack surged to a 15-14 mark in the ACC, followed by a 3-0 showing in ACC tournament pool play to reach the championship game. Coach Elliott Avent gives a lot of credit to NC State’s clubhouse chemistry and veteran leaders, particularly hard-nosed seniors Logan Ratledge and Jake Fincher. Ratledge (.330/.433/.549, 8 HR, 11 SB) made a huge leap as a senior, becoming one of the best all-around players in the ACC, with some power, some speed, more walks than strikeouts, and quality defense in the middle infield (first at second base, then at shortstop).

Freshman Brian Brown (7-3, 1.72), a low-slot lefty with a superb changeup, emerged as NC State’s most reliable starting pitcher, but the rotation is otherwise not a strength. When sophomore righty Cory Wilder (2-5, 3.39) is on, he has the stuff to dominate, with a 90-95 mph fastball and three quality offspeed pitches, but his strike-throwing ability is erratic. Six-foot-8 righty Johnny Piedmonte, the third starter, seldom works deep into a game, but has some feel to pitch with his 88-90 fastball and 77-78 slurve.

Stony_Brook_Logo#3 Stony Brook Seawolves – 34-14-1 (18-4 America East), RPI #53

The Seawolves are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since their magical 2012 run to Omaha. Last year’s team went 18-5 in the America East to win the regular-season title but was upset by Binghamton in the conference tournament. Most of the remaining stalwarts from the CWS team departed after last season, but not Cole Peragine (.302/.451/.374), a four-year starter who made a successful conversion from shortstop to catcher this year. Peragine is also a very tough out thanks to his plate discipline, drawing 47 walks and striking out just 19 times. As usual, rock-solid defense is one of SBU’s calling cards – the Seawolves rank 10th in the nation with a .978 fielding percentage, led by exceptionally consistent second baseman Rob Chavarria (.990 fielding percentage).

Stony Brook isn’t particularly deep on the mound, but it has a nice veteran one-two punch atop the rotation in lefties Daniel Zamora (7-2, 3.03) and Tyler Honahan (7-3, 3.98). Zamora, a high school teammate of UCLA closer David Berg, bounced back very strong from Tommy John surgery and returned to his standout 2013 form, striking out more than a batter per inning.

sacred-heart-university-logo#4 Sacred Heart Pioneers – 23-30-1 (13-11 NEC), RPI #221

The Pioneers might be the most unlikely regional participants in the field of 64 this year. SHU is a good program – it made back-to-back regionals in 2011 and 2012. But nobody would have been on Sacred Heart to find its way into the postseason on March 25, when the Pioneers fell to 1-14 after losing a midweek game to Stony Brook. The Pioneers played better once conference play began, but they still had ups and downs, losing six straight games and eight of nine between April 25 and May 8. But all that matters in the NEC is winning the conference tournament. Sacred Heart went 13-11 in the regular season to earn the No. 3 seed, then won its first two tourney games against Wagner and Fairleigh Dickinson behind great pitching from James Cooksey (9 IP, 2 H, 1 ER) and Jason Foley (9 IP, 2 H, 0 R). That set up a showdown against top-seeded Bryant in the finals, and the Bulldogs won the first game to force a decisive winner-takes all rematch. The Pioneers trailed 4-3 heading into the ninth inning, when they surged ahead with a pair of runs to win 5-4. Dan Wertz threw 5.1 innings of no-hit relief to earn the win.

On paper, Sacred Heart stacks up very poorly against the rest of this field. The Pioneers are not offensive, ranking 255th in the nation in scoring (4.3 runs per game) and 279th in batting (.246). They’re not great on the mound, ranking 196th in ERA (5.10). Their defense is mediocre, ranking 131st in fielding percentage (.968). To have a chance to pull off an upset or two, SHU needs Cooksey (7-2, 3.50), Foley (3-6, 4.93) and Wertz (4-1, 2.31) to repeat their conference tournament magic.

Regional Superlatives

Most Exciting Player: Logan Ratledge, ss, NC State. The heart and soul of the Wolfpack, Ratledge plays at full speed all the time and also owns a diverse skill set, with some pop, some speed, a disciplined offensive approach and good defensive skills.

Best Hitter: Cody Jones, of, TCU. Thanks to his plus-plus speed, Jones also has a strong argument for the “Most Exciting Player” category. His bat took a big jump this year, when he led the Big 12 in hitting.

Best Defensive Player: Keaton Jones, ss, TCU. The pride of Laguna Beach, Calif., doesn’t have elite range or arm strength, but he might be college baseball’s steadiest shortstop, and his instincts make his tools play up.

Best Pitcher: Preston Morrison, rhp, TCU. Morrison struggled in his last two starts, but he still deserves the nod here based on his incredible four-year track record. The wily low-slot righty has impeccable command (when he’s on) and feel for pitching.

X-Factor: Corey Wilder, rhp, NC State. I saw Wilder when he was at his best against Florida State in early April – he struck out 10 and allowed just a run on three hits over seven innings, mixing a 90-95 fastball with three good offspeed pitches. I also saw him at his worst in the ACC tournament, when he walked four and couldn’t get out of the third inning against Miami. If Good Wilder shows up, NC State has Omaha potential.

Best Starting Rotation: TCU. There isn’t a better four-man rotation in college baseball than Morrison, Alex Young, Tyler Alexander and Mitchell Traver.

Best Bullpen: TCU. And there are few (if any) better bullpen trios than Riley Ferrell, Trey Teakell and Brian Howard.

Best Offensive Team: NC State. There aren’t any juggernaut offenses in this regional, but the top half of NC State’s lineup (Ratledge, Andrew Knizner, Preston Palmeiro, Joe Dunand, Ryne Willard) is capable of doing real damage, so the Wolfpack gets the nod.

Best Defensive Team: TCU. Stony Brook is an elite defensive outfit too, but we’re going with the Frogs because they’ve got the best shortstop (Keaton Jones), two other very solid veterans at second (Garrett Crain) and third (Derek Odell), and a burner with serious range in center field (Cody Jones).

No. 1 Seed Win Probability (1-10): 8. NC State is a solid challenger playing its best baseball of the season late, but Stony Brook is the softest 3-seed in the tournament with a 2-8 record against the top 100, and Sacred Heart is a very soft 4-seed with a 23-30 overall mark. TCU has too much pitching and too much postseason experience to stumble here.

Other Reading Material

2015 Regional Previews: Fort Worth (BaseballAmerica.com)

Fort Worth Regional preview (TCU360.com)

A look at the four baseball teams competing in Fort Worth Regional (Star-Telegram.com)

Wolfpack Baseball Centric

2015 #Pack9 Tournament Central (GoPack.com)

#Pack9 Earns At-Large Bid, Fort Worth Regional (GoPack.com)

 

The Important Stuff – TV and The Bracket

There’s been a lot of talk this week about where one can view the Pack’s games this weekend.  The bad news is that Friday’s game, as far as I can determine, will NOT be available over any broadcast/cable/satellite TV channel.

The Pack’s Friday game WILL be available via streaming on ESPN3, and ESPNU will be broadcasting all day whiparound coverage, allegedly of all NCAAT games on Friday, but we already know how that can sometimes go.

Saturday’s game (regardless of whether the Pack moves to the winner’s or loser’s bracket) appears that it WILL be available on regular TV, either on ESPN2 or ESPNU, depending upon which side of the bracket the Pack moves into.  Winner’s Bracket: 8pm ET, ESPNU…Loser’s Bracket: 3:30pm ET, ESPN2.

Then after Saturday, it looks to be back to ESPN3 for the remainder of the weekend.

Below is the bracket, game times (CDT), and TV coverage for the weekend:

Fort_Worth_Region_Bracket.0

Interactive 64 Team Bracket (NCAA.com)

So it all gets going Friday at 3:30pm ET.  And while it’s sometimes (often) an overused cliché, the Pack9 is playing with house money and has nothing to lose.  If they play loose and with confidence as they have for the past month, anything can happen.

Sooooo…..

Go FORTH (hee hee….get it?) and CONQUER!!!!!

 

Go Pack!!!

About Wufpacker

A 2nd generation alumnus and raised since birth to be irrationally dedicated to all things NC State. Class of '88 and '92.

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Home Forums Baseball: Fort Worth Regional Preview

This topic contains 356 replies, has 35 voices, and was last updated by  Fastback68 4 years, 3 months ago.

Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 357 total)
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    Posts
  • #86653

    Wufpacker
    Participant

    Wolfpack Baseball (34-21, 18-15 ACC) missed out on the NCAA Tournament last season for only the 2nd time in the last decade, but their last post-seaso
    [See the full post at: Baseball: Fort Worth Regional Preview]

    #86654

    BrickyardMayhem
    Participant

    Finally a little Wolfpack action in Texas. Tickets are secured and looking forward to the game tomorrow. Only hope it does not rain. Too much of that lately here….

    #86657

    Wufpacker
    Participant

    ^ Good deal!!! I hope Pack fans in Tejas represent well.

    I myself was unable to make it work for this weekend :'(

    And it wouldn’t be 2015 NC State Baseball without the threat of weather. Slightly less than 50/50 T-storms currently according to TWC. But of course it drops right about the time the TCU/Sacred Heart nightcap is scheduled. No respect.

    #86660

    Texpack
    Participant

    Fort Worth is a bit far for me. Maybe next weekend in Aggieland. The TCU campus is one of the least attractive college campuses you will ever visit. I was really surprised when we looked around there a few years back. Fort Worth is, however, the down to earth portion of the Metroplex. Nicely removed from the general snobbery of Dallas.

    #86661

    Pack78
    Participant

    ^’Dallas for culture, Forth Worth for fun!’

    Hey Wuf-No tarhole crap here, when you ‘borrowed’ something (from Fitt), ya credited him…

    #86662

    PackerInRussia
    Participant

    Gopack.com (yeah, I know) has the game listed at 3:30. Is 2:30 gametime or coverage time (I’d think an hour for something like this would be a little too long of a build-up)? Oh, who to believe, who to believe?
    Go Pack!

    P.S. How many times did you reread the headline for spelling? 😉

    #86663

    Pack78
    Participant

    ^2:30 Central-3:30 EST.

    #86664

    PackerInRussia
    Participant

    Gothca, thanks. So, everyone’s right. 3:30 works better for me anyway. Relativity at its finest.

    #86665

    ruffles31
    Keymaster

    Read that Curt Britt is starting today.

    He had a great start at Wake a few weeks ago.

    Also, he pitched at South Carolina who until this year was a regular attender in the NCAA tournament, so he won’t be phased at all.

    #86667

    Wufpacker
    Participant

    Yes, my mistake on the time. 3:30 eastern is correct. And works better for me as well.

    And PIR, I went thru at least twice more than usual, headline and body, to make sure I didn’t misspell that little four letter word anywhere I didn’t intend to. Dick. 😀

    #86675

    BJD95
    Keymaster

    Scary top of the 1st, but escape unharmed.

    #86676

    Wufpacker
    Participant

    Hey, at least they’re outplunking us so far.
    I guess that’s a good sign.

    #86677

    Wufpacker
    Participant

    Doh!!!

    Scoreless after 3.

    #86678

    BJD95
    Keymaster

    Stupid cavern ballpark.

    I’m also mad at TCU for not re-naming it after Super Cardinal hero Matt Carpenter.

    #86679

    BJD95
    Keymaster

    Rat wins the battle. Huzzah!!

    #86680

    Wufpacker
    Participant

    Ratledge 2 run shot gives Pack first blood. 2-0 in the 5th.

    #86681

    BJD95
    Keymaster

    Seawolves fighting back. One tough-assed bunch of Yankee sumbitches.

    Isn’t this like 3 times in 5 years we’ve been paired with them?

    #86682

    Adventuroo
    Participant

    What is with the idiotic producers of ESPNU (as in UNDER BRAINED). The games they are showing and focusing on are almost in the bag. Why not show ours….they show us when we get into trouble….so maybe I ought to shut up….and NOT want the PR.

    #86683

    Pack78
    Participant

    2-0 good guys going to the bottom of the 8th-lets get some insurance…

    #86684

    Adventuroo
    Participant

    GO….would not know it by ESPNU (as in UNCooperative)….

    3 – 0…..on to the WINNERS Game tomorrow….

    #86685

    44rules
    Participant

    “Watched” on GameTracker at work. Came home in time to “see” us plate the insurance run and close it out. Great game, I think. Actually, doesn’t matter – we won.

    So all we have to do is win the next game and we’re through, right?

    Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy. Mao Zedong

    #86686

    TheCOWDOG
    Moderator

    Gilbert threw strikes…He’s my thattaboy.

    #86687

    TheCOWDOG
    Moderator

    ^^

    Fat lady don’t wave bye-bye til ya lose 2.

    Pick up the pace.

    #86688

    TheCOWDOG
    Moderator

    Oh…Forth Worth was kind, today.

    #86690

    Wufpacker
    Participant

    FWIW, I no longer trust the TCU source claims re: TV coverage for tomorrow, though GoPack.com does seem to be showing coverage on ESPNU.

    Time will tell I guess.

    Good win today, pitching held nicely, even if a bit shaky at times, especially early. TCU just finished mashing Sacred Heart (broke their heart, one might say) 10-0.

    I would presume Brian Brown vs Preston Morrison tomorrow, with both pens as fresh as can be for a game 2.

    Should be fun.

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