Atlanta Regional Primer
To think, this time last week there were some that still questioned if Auburn should make the field with the top Strength of Schedule in the country and 15 SEC wins. Sure, the offense isn’t firing on all cylinders. Sure, the pitching staff is a bit shaky as of this writing with question on if Tanner Burns will be ready to go for the regional. However, Auburn can make some noise in this regional. Sure, the Tigers went 0-2 vs Tech but those were in the midweek, the Jackets never saw Jack Owen or Tanner Burns. However, before we do the overall outlook, lets meet our new friends in the Atlanta Regional.
COASTAL CAROLINA CHANTICLEERS – 35-24-1 (15-13 Sun Belt)
- Champions of the Sun Belt Tournament (went 5-1 in the tournament)
Offa, talk about a dangerous 3-seed. You are looking at a team that scored 80 runs…EIGHTY RUNS last week alone. Their only loss was a 10 inning walk off loss to the Mavericks of UT-Arlington on the first day of the tourney. Coastal had an up and down season, much like Auburn’s but hit a flurry and secured a spot in the tournament with that Tournament Championship trophy. It’s easy to see how the Chants were able to win that tournament after you take a look at their offensive numbers from this season. Eight of their nice top hitters are batting over .300, led by Jake Wright with an eyebrow raising .358 on the year, and five of those hitters are over .320. Oh, and five of their top nine in the lineup have hit double digit bombs, led by Zach Biermann with 17. The problem with the Chants this year is their pitching staff. Coastal’s top two pitchers, in terms of Innings Pitched are Anthony Veneziano (5-2 on the year with a 4.26 ERA) and Austin Kitchen (6-4 on the year with a 6.78 ERA). The scout on Coastal is pretty much what it is for Georgia Tech. Make sure your pitching is on point and you are locating your spots. If you can hold their offense down and you get 4+ runs, which is doable against their staff, you can down the former National Champs.
FLORIDA A&M RATTLERS – 27-32 (14-10 MEAC)
- Champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament (went 5-1 in the tournament)
The Florida A&M Rattlers better have a big ol surprise in their bag if they want to pull the kind of upset Army did last year against NC State because the numbers are definitely against them to open the tournament. The Rattlers schedule doesn’t hold much promise for them as they went just 6-19 against the RPI top 200 teams on the year, racking up 21 win on the bottom of the bottom feeders. To give that number some perspective, Auburn went 28-25 on the Top 200 this year. However, the FAMU was able to run through the MEAC Tournament, winning four games in just two days to punch their ticket to the dance. The Rattlers offense has been spotty this season to say the least, but they are paced by Octavien Moyer who is their all everything 2nd baseman. Moyer leads the team in both Batting Average (.312), Home Runs (6) and Slugging (.459). As long as you can get around him, along with Robert Robinson (.297 average) you should be ok. The arms for the Rattlers appear to be stouter than you would like for a team with that record. Kyle Coleman leads the team in innings pitched with 94 and carries a 3.26 ERA into the post season and will more than likely see Georgia Tech Friday night on the Flatts. Game Two for FAMU would then go to Josh Hancock who has a 4.47 ERA on the year. On the back end for A&M is Jeremiah McCullum who was named First Team All MEAC for his 25 innings of work this season with 11 saves on the year and a 6-2 record with a 3.13 ERA. In the field is where the Rattlers have some issues, as they will carry a .955 Fielding Percentage into the regional.
GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS – 41-17 (22-12 ACC)
Well there won’t be any surprises or names we aren’t familiar with here. The Tigers have seen this very team on this very field literally 6 weeks ago on April 16th. Hopefully for Auburn, those games go a bit differently in the Tigers favor. Tech has been an absolute monster this season, harkening back to the early days of the Danny Hall era on the Flatts in downtown. On the year the Rambling Wreck is 12-8 against the RPI Top 25 and a combined 24-13 against the Top 100, but its who they beat that are really scary. Tech does own a very rare victory over #1 overall seed UCLA, and season series wins over Georgia, Louisville, Clemson and Duke just to name a few. Offense is the calling card for the Jackets as Michael Guldberg will attest alone. The sophomore is only batting .366 on the year and easily won the batting title. That doesn’t mean we are done with the scary stuff though as five other hitters are batting over .300 for Tech. Also, the scariest man of all with the stick isn’t among those six players. Kyle McCann has a .298 average but holds 23 bombs on the year. Also, watch out for Tristin English who many believe should have won ACC Play of the Year honors. On the mound for the Jackets, I wouldn’t be surprised if Danny Hall holds Connor Thomas for Saturday night. Thomas was the Tech ace and for good reason. He brings a 9-1 record and holds a 3.28 ERA on the season in 104.1 Innings this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if Amos Willingham or Xzavion Curry start the regional for Tech. The Jackets are easily the hardest out in this regional for sure however, they can be beat.
Unlike last year, this is a tough get for Auburn. However, we have seen that when the offense arrives and delivers, the pitching staff is happy to help out. I believe Auburn will go with Jack Owen in Game One and who could argue, eight days since his last start where he looked like his old self against LSU, going 5.2 innings of 5 hit, 1 run ball? If Auburn gets that kind of performance from Jack and then a bridge from Elliott Anderson and then a close the door for the Bull, that should be enough for Auburn to take Game One. Then in Game Two, if Tanner Burns can go for the Tigers, all bets are off the table and you couldn’t ask for anything more. Should the Tigers get back Saturday, Jonny Fullstaff (Fitts, Fuller, Wade, Anderson again, ANYONE) to close out and see what happened up in Chapel Hill…who knows, maybe Tennessee will win that regional. I know a team that went 4-0 against the Vols this season…