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Texas A&M Baseball

Regional Preview: Impact Players, paths to victory in Morgantown

May 31, 2019

The Texas Aggie baseball team begins the 2019 journey to Omaha looking for the school's third trip to college baseball's ultimate destination under Rob Childress. The road to the College World Series goes through Morgantown, West Virginia in week one of regional play. 

The Mountaeers out of the Big 12 Conference will serve as the host this weekend to ACC representative Duke, Fordham out of the Atlantic-10 and Texas A&M from the SEC. Play will begin Friday afternoon at 3:00 with the No. 3 seed Blue Devils taking on the second-seeded Aggies, while the top-seeded Mountaineers square-off against the No. 4 seed Rams in the 8:00 p.m. nightcap. If Texas A&M wins on Friday, they will play a winner's bracket game on Saturday night against the winner of West Virginia and Fordham. But, first things first. Texas A&M has a big fight on its hands against the Blue Devils to open up the regional play today.

Here's a summary breakdown of all four teams in this weekend's regional and the chances of each team to advance to the Super Regional round next weekend:

No. 1 Seed: West Virginia Mountaineers

RPI: 13
Record: 37-20 (13-11 Big 12)
Team average: .265
Team ERA: 3.63
Fielding %: .971
Offense: 5.61 runs/gm
Defense: 4.04 runs/gm

Season record vs. RPI teams:
vs. 1-50:  9-11
vs. 51-100: 15-8
vs. 101-200: 8-1
vs. 200+: 5-0

Top pitchers:
Alek Manoah (9-3, 1.85 ERA, 135 K’s)
Nick Snyder (8-1, 2.71 ERA, .174 opposing BA)
Sam Kessler (8 saves, 2.36 ERA)

Top hitters:
Tyler Doanes (.318 BA, .509 slug, 18 stolen bases)
Darius Hill (.304 BA, .511 slug)
Brandon White (.282 BA, 26 stolen bases)

Keys to winning the regional:

The Mountaineers are in the best spot to advance this weekend as the No. 1 seed playing at home. The Big 12 representative has two big arms at the top of its pitching rotation and plenty of athleticism and speed on the basepaths to challenge any opposing defense. Alek Manoah is a long right-handed hurler who has struck out a whopping 135 batters in 2019 on his way to a 9-3 recod and a 1.85 ERA. He will be a high first round draft pick in next week’s MLB Draft. He’s the real deal and a big reason why West Virginia is favored to win the regional. West Virginia has also decided to back-pitch and save him for the winner’s bracket game on Saturday. That leaves Nick Snyder to get the ball Friday night against Fordham. Snyder is equally dominant with an 8-1 mark and a 2.71 ERA. The storyline here is that Snyder started twice in last week’s BIg 12 Tournament and threw 163 pitches, and he’ll be coming back on just four days rest. It’s a risk to bring him back on short rest for a second consecutive start afer throwing 163 pitches, but a risk that coach Randy Mazey is willing to take against the fourth seeded Rams. If this move pays off, the Mountaineers are in the driver’s seat to win the regional with Manoah taking the ball in the all-important winner’s bracket game. If it doesn’t, it will be difficult for West VIrginia to come back out of the loser’s bracket with the lack of quality pitching depth that would be needed.  

Chance to win Morgantown Regional: 40 percent

No. 2 Seed: Texas A&M Aggies

RPI: 15
Record: 37-21-1 (16-13-1 SEC)
Team average: .249
Team ERA: 3.04
Fielding %: .971
Offense: 5.39 runs/gm
Defense: 3.56 runs/gm

Season record vs. RPI teams
vs. 1-50: 14-16-1
vs. 51-100: 11-3
vs. 101-200:  9-2
vs. 200+:  3-0

Top pitchers
John Doxakis (7-3, 1.84 ERA, 106 K’s)
Asa Lacy ( 7-4, 2.20 ERA, 123 K’s, .164 opposing BA)
Chris Weber (4-1, 2.95 ERA)

Top hitters
Braden Shewmake (.315 BA, .863 OPS, 46 RBI)
Mikey Hoehner (.286 BA, 29 walks)

Keys to winning the regional:

Texas A&M has the deepest pitching staff in the regional and has the arms to fight through the loser’s bracket if necessary. The Aggies also have a deadly 1-2 punch of John Doxakis and Asa Lacy at the top of the rotation to go along with their depth. So the Aggies have plenty of firepower on the mound. But that’s never been the issue with this 2019 team. The Texas A&M offense has struggled to score runs most of the year, and that culminated in 18 innings of scoreless baseball in the SEC Tournament. The Aggies will never overpower any opponent at the plate, and it won’t happen again this weekend. However, Texas A&M can score enough runs and win this regional with timely hitting and a couple of big swings in critical situations. If the offense can put four runs on the board in every game this weekend, the pitching is good enough to win this regional. The opposing offenses of the other three teams are very average by SEC standards, but West Virginia and Fordham are fast on the basepaths and steal a lot of bases, so Mikey Hoehner behind the plate could be a key to success this weekend slowing down the Mountaineers and Rams. 

Chance to win Morgantown Regional:  30 percent

No. 3 Seed: Duke Blue Devils

RPI: 44
Record: 31-25 (15-15 ACC)
Team average: .271
Team ERA: 4.17
Fielding %: .967
Offense: 6.09 runs/gm
Defense: 5.04 runs/gm

Season record vs. RPI teams:
vs. 1-50:  9-15
vs. 51-100: 6-6
vs. 101-200: 11-4
vs. 200+: 5-0

Top pitchers:
Ben Gross (6-4, 4.41 ERA)
Thomas Girard (9 saves, 1.44 ERA)
Hunter Davis (2 saves, 1.47 ERA)

Top hitters:
Kennie Taylor (.333 BA, 18 doubles, .527 slug)
Ethan Murray (.316 BA, .403 OBP)
Chase Cheek (.293 BA, 20 stolen bases)

Keys to winning the regional:

Relatively speaking, Duke has the most explosive offense in the Mogantown Regional leading all teams with a .271 average and scoring an average of 6.09 runs per game in 2019. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the other three teams are very strong on the mound and will provide a big challenge to the Blue Devil offensive attack. There’s more bad news. Duke’s pitching is the weakest in the field with a 4.17 team ERA. The key for Duke is to score just a few runs early in the opener against Texas A&M and put the pressure squarely on the struggling Aggie offense and hope they press. They also need to hope for West Virginia’s back-pitching gamble backfires and they face Fordham in the winner’s bracket game. If that happens, thenDuke is in the driver’s seat as the quality and depth of pitching from the other squads is consumed, putting the Blue Devils on an even footing on the mound.

Chance to win Morgantown Regional:  20 percent

No. 4 Seed: Fordham Rams

RPI: 135
Record: 38-22 (15-9  A-10)
Team average: .253
Team ERA: 3.08
Fielding %: .970
Offense: 4.97 runs/gm
Defense: 3.88 runs/gm

Season record vs. RPI teams:
vs. 1-50:  0-3
vs. 51-100:  2-2  
vs. 101-200:  9-6
vs. 200+:  27-11

Top pitchers:
John Stankiewicz (8-3, 1.21 ERA, 102 K’s)
Anthony Zimmerman (0.76 ERA, .163 opposing BA, 3 saves)
Kyle Martin (6-2, 2.30 ERA, .188 opposing BA, 10 saves)

Top hitters:
Jake MacKenzie (.313 BA, 48 runs, 43 stolen bases)
Alvin Melendez (.275 BA, 36 runs, 35 stolen bases)

Keys to winning the regional

Texas A&M head baseball coach Rob Childress can attest that Fordham isn’t your average four-seed. The Aggies did sweep Fordham in an early season series at Olsen Field, but it wasnt easy by any means. The Rams have a very salty pitching staff, led by ace John Stankiewicz and his 8-3, 1.21 ERA and 102 strikeouts on the season. That’s why West VIrgina’s strategy to back-pitch is a risky strategy. And Fordham has arms in the bullpen with Anthony ZImmerman’s 0.73 ERA and Kyle Martin’s 10 saves. This is a dangerous four-seed on the mound. On the other side, there’s not much punch to the Rams’ offense. Their team batting average of .253 is just north of Texas A&M’s .249, and Fordham’s strength of schedule is much lower than the Aggies. So a good case can be made that Fordham has the weakest offense in the regional. The one weapon, though, is speed on the basepaths. If Fordham gets on base, there’s a good chance they will run and challenge any catcher. They stole a whopping 177 bases in 2019 with seven starters in double digit totals. Jake Mackenzie and Alvin Melendez alone account for 78 thefts. So for Fordham, expect patience at the plate and finding a way to get on base. The Rams will try to steal their way to manufacturing enough runs to win the regional.

Chance to win Morgantown Regional:  10 percent

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