Gainesville Super Regional Primer
Good greif what a weekend. First, Auburn does everything and anything they wanted to do and was really never challenged outside of Northeastern cutting the lead to just 3-2 in the first game of the regional. Auburn never trailed and outscored their opponents 40-12 while pounding out 50 hits in just 3 games. It was a demolition that should be savored, and I know I will. The reward? The Tigers hit the road again to take on the defending National Champion and #1 overall seed Florida Gators for the second time this season. Auburn dropped the series to the Gators 2-1 in late April but things have shifted a little bit since that weekend. Much like the previous meeting, Auburn was coming off of an offensive barrage against Alabama the weekend before, but this time, the level of competition was much higher this time around. Oh, also throw in that Casey Mize was selected #1 overall by the Detroit Tigers and it has been a banner couple of days for the Auburn Baseball program. However, it is time to put that behind us, and look ahead; after all, Auburn is just two (2) wins from Omaha.
FLORIDA GATORS 45-18 (20-10 SEC)
So we meet again. For those of you that have followed the SEC with us this year, you know what to expect. Solid starting pitching with a better than average pen, not enough errors in the field to get excited and an offense that at the top of the lineup makes All-Star teams blush but still has power at the bottom to keep you on your toes. This is Florida Baseball. However, in the past couple of outings, the defense has started to look a little bit beatable.
First, let’s start on the mound with one of the top pitchers in the SEC, Brady Singer. The SEC Pitcher of the year didn’t throw in Starkville or in Hoover and it seems the rest did him well as he threw 7 innings of 5 hit, 2 run ball against Jacksonville. Singer struck out 6 while only walking one. In the first meeting, Singer was close to flawless outside of small hiccup in the 4th when Auburn got its lone run. Singer went 7 innings of 1 run, 4 hit ball, striking out 8 while walking 2. Another name to look out for is closer Michael Byrne. Byrne leads the Gators in both ERA (1.79 in 50+ innings) and in Saves (15). If you see him toe the rubber, its normally all over. Other names to know for this weekend in the pitching staff are Jackson Kowar, Tyler Dyson and Jack Leftwich. Kowar, who was selected in the MLB draft by the Kansas City Royals just as his current teammate Brady Singer, has a fastball that can hit 91-95 and has a nasty changeup to match it. As for Leftwich and Dyson, both are the heir apparent to the starting rotation next season for the Gators and have raw stuff that can be dominate if they can locate. Meanwhile in the field, Florida is pretty well elite, posting a .979 fielding percentage which was good enough to be 15th in the nation. Beware of the left side of the infield, Deacon Liput and Jonathan India are as good as it comes at Short and 3rd.
At the dish it doesn’t get any easier. Jonathan India is the name to watch for, with his 19 home runs and team leading .360 BA. A top-10 pick to the Reds earlier this week, India has the power to take almost any pitch yard with the flick of the wrist. Right behind him in the lineup and person that keeps pitchers up at night is Wil Dalton. Dalton is tied with India for Home Runs at 19 and hit one half way to the O-Dome during Game 7 of the Regional Final against Florida Atlantic. Dalton is a classic version of a power guy in the lineup as he offsets those 19 bombs with a team leading 61 strikeouts on the year and brings a .269 BA into the regional. Another name to keep an out for is JJ Schwarz. Schwarz sat out both Hoover and the Regional with a hamstring pull and Florida is hopeful to get him back this weekend. Either way it works out for Florida though. His backup, Jonah Girand, has hit 3 home runs this weekend in his place so JJ’s power is not missed while he is out.
I said last week that Auburn could excel if it brought it’s A game to Raleigh and they did. Auburn may not have the kind of success if it brings it’s same game to Gainesville but it would win if it did. If you put the team that played in Raleigh this past weekend against the team that played in Gainesville last weekend, Auburn is going to Omaha. However, it isn’t that easy. Auburn will have to play its absolute best on each pitch thrown. Don’t get caught up in the heat and the crowd. If they play the way Auburn has at times this year, good things will happen. I expect Auburn to go again with the Burns – Mize – EVERYONE plan to get through this one and that’s the way it should be. On offense, look for Auburn to take calculated risks to get runs and jump out to leads like they did in Raleigh. When that happens, this Florida team doesn’t really know what to make of it because they haven’t been put in that situation much. If Auburn is able to get leads early and take them into the 6th or 7th I like the Tigers chances. So let’s strap in and enjoy the heck out of it! At worst, we get to see this team play two more games. At best….not going to lie, I just teared up thinking about the best thing….
OH! I forgot, tools you will need to navigate through Super Regional Weekend. First off, here is the updated bracket with game times and pretty logos and colors.
Second, I like things on one page that I can look and and figure out my plan of action. So, here is a complete schedule of the games this weekend with networks and game times for all the Super Regionals plus a small chart of the CWS pairings these Super Regionals feed into. Enjoy the weekend and we will have updates on twitter and our recaps as always!