After a 1-2 showing in the Big 12 baseball tournament, Texas Tech was given a three-seed in the Statesboro, GA regional, matched up with two-seed Notre Dame, four seed UNC-Greensboro, and the hosts, one-seed Georgia Southern.
Tech will face Notre Dame on June 3rd at 1:00 p.m. central time.
This selection Monday was a bit different than those in the past, meaning there were a few more glaring snubs (see NC State), and a few more head scratchers (see Texas as a number nine overall seed) than normal. I think that Tech was seeded a little lower than they deserve, but in all reality this is probably the best fit for the Red Raiders. Georgia Southern is a one-seed that plays in the Sun Belt, and Notre Dame is the top two-seed in the country from a weaker than normal ACC.
Now, you could argue that the Big 12 was down a bit this year compared to years past as well, TCU won the conference with a 16-8 record, one game ahead of Tech who finished at 15-9. This is where things get weird as I mentioned earlier because in fifth place this year with a 14-10 record was Texas. Now yes, Texas had an impressive showing in the Big 12 Tournament in Arlington, but enough to go from being in the bottom half of the conference, to grabbing the number nine national seed? Absolutely not. In all reality I think that TCU should’ve been a host over Texas, but instead the Frogs get to head to College Station to face a red-hot Texas A&M, and the storylines from a coaching standpoint write themselves.
Oklahoma State also got a really tough draw as they host Arkansas, Grand Canyon, and a decent Missouri State squad, and Oklahoma, who actually won the Big 12 Tournament, got the two-seed in the Gainesville Regional against Liberty, Central Michigan, and host Florida.
Now, let’s get on to the Statesboro Regional.
The Georgia Southern Eagles finished the regular season with a 38-17 record overall, and a 23-7 record in the Sun Belt, good enough for second place in the conference. They are led at the plate by junior infielder Jesse Sherrill, who hit .368 during the season, as well as, Noah Ledford who hit .333 with 16 HRs and 68 RBIs. On the mound, Ty Fisher has an ERA of 2.87 in 13 starts, while Jay Thompson has a 3.66 ERA over 35 relief appearances.
Notre Dame finished the regular season with a record of 35-14 overall, and 16-11 in ACC play. They finished second in the Atlantic Division, behind Louisville. At the plate, the Irish are led by catcher David LaManna, who is hitting .367, and infielder Carter Putz who is hitting .350 with six homers and 42 RBIs. Brooks Coetzee leads the Irish with 11 HRs this season. Pitching wise, John Michael Bertrand is their go-to starter. The lefty threw over 90 innings in 14 starts, compiling an 8-2 record with an ERA of 2.39.
The Texas Tech Red Raiders finished their regular season with a 37-20 record overall and 15-9 record in Big 12 play, placing them second in the conference. They are led at the plate by Jace Jung, Kurt Wilson, Cole Stilwell, and Ty Coleman, as each of them are hitting over .300. Wilson and Jung are tied for team lead in HRs at 14, and Wilson leads the team with 63 RBIs. Brandon Birdsell and Andrew Morris highlight a front-heavy rotation for the Red Raiders and Birdsell has an ERA of 3.00, the only Red Raider pitcher with an ERA below 4.00.
The UNC-Greensboro Spartans finished their regular season at 34-28 overall and 12-9 in conference play, good for third in the SoCon. The Spartans won their conference tournament to gain an automatic qualifier. Hogan Windish and Kennedy Jones are the names to know, as they are hitting .380 and .374 respectively. Windish leads the team with 16 HRs and Jones leads with 73 RBIs. Austin Parsley has started 17 games for the Spartans and his ERA is 3.67 over 110.1 innings pitched and three complete games. Alex Hoppe leads the team with a 2.91 ERA over 25 relief appearances.
This regional is up for grabs to whoever wants it. Notre Dame will be a good team and I like the mini rivalry that this plays off of after the two teams met in the basketball tournament. The Red Raiders will go as far as their pitching takes them. The hitting takes care of itself about 80% of the time and when it doesn’t you will see those LOB (left on base) numbers be inflated. It is imperative that the Red Raiders have good pitching, which is pretty true for almost every team in the tournament, other than maybe Tennessee.
Speaking of the Volunteers, Tennessee was the consensus number one overall seed in the tournament, and whoever wins the Statesboro regional will more than likely end up in Knoxville playing the best team in the country. The Vols finished the year with an SEC title and a 53-7 record overall. They’re scary good in every facet of the game and really don’t have a weakness.
I will say this: Texas Tech can make it to Knoxville. Texas Tech could win in Knoxville. You would have to get the best games of the year from Morris and Birdsell, paired with great hitting, but it can be done.
But first the Red Raiders need to take care of business in Statesboro, which starts with game one against Notre Dame.
It will no doubt be an interesting post-season for Texas Tech and the better thing is we will know fairly quickly with how the Red Raiders are playing just how far they will go. Last year they run into a buzz-saw in Stanford in the Lubbock Super Regional. Will they run into another buzz-saw in Tennessee?
All I know is that it is one of the best times of the year, wrapping up the collegiate year.