Story Poster
Jim Schlossnagle
Claunch, Dallas
TCU
Matt Deggs
Marusak, Roccaforte
Oral Roberts
Texas A&M Baseball

Regional Preview: Impact players, paths to victory in College Station

June 2, 2022
8,156

TCU and Oral Roberts press conference videos courtesy of the NCAA.


What: College Station Regional 
Who: #1 Texas A&M, #2 TCU, #3 Louisiana, #4 Oral Roberts
Where: Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park – Bryan-College Station, Texas
When:

  • Friday: 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. CT (ESPN+)
  • Saturday: 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. CT (TV TBD)
  • Sunday: 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. CT (TV TBD)
  • Monday: 6 p.m. CT (TV TBD) (if necessary)

The Texas Aggie baseball team begins the 2022 Road to Omaha looking for the school’s third trip to college baseball’s ultimate destination since 2011. That road to the College World Series goes through College Station in week one of regional play, where the Aggies will host TCU, Louisiana and Oral Roberts.

Surprisingly, this will be the first time Texas A&M has hosted the first round of the NCAA Tournament since 2016.

Lexie Hudson, TexAgs
Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park has not hosted the NCAA postseason since the 2017 College Station Super Regional.

In another surprise, Jim Schlossnagle has elected to play the 1 p.m. game on Friday as the top-seeded Aggies battle with Golden Eagles of Oral Roberts. TCU and new coach Kirk Saarloos will face Louisiana and former Texas A&M assistant Matt Deggs in the nightcap at 7 p.m.

The two losers will play Saturday at noon, while the two winners from Friday will face off in the critical semifinal game at 6 p.m. The winner moves to the championship game Sunday at 7 p.m. while the remaining one-loss teams play an elimination game Sunday at 1 p.m. If the undefeated squad loses in the championship game Sunday night, then both teams will battle Monday evening for the right to advance to the super regional round.

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:

#1 Seed: Texas A&M Aggies

  • RPI: 22
  • Record: 37-18 (19-11 SEC)
  • Team average: .288
  • Team ERA: 4.74
  • Fielding percentage: .969
  • Offense: 7.44 runs/game
  • Defense: 5.45 runs/game

Season record vs. RPI teams

  • Quadrant 1: 15-8
  • Quadrant 2: 8-8
  • Quadrant 3: 6-2
  • Quadrant 4: 8-0

Top Pitchers

  • Nathan Dettmer (5-2, 4.22 ERA, 15 starts)
  • Micah Dallas (5-3, 5.64 ERA, 78 strikeouts)
  • Jacob Palisch (4-3, 2.93 ERA, four saves)

Top Hitters

  • Dylan Rock (.326 avg, .668 slug, 54 RBIs, 17 HRs)
  • Jack Moss (.373 avg, .437 OBP)
  • Austin Bost (.358 avg, .453 OBP)
  • Ryan Targac (.298 avg, 53 RBIs, 14 HRs)

Keys to winning the regional

It’s no secret that the Aggies’ success revolved around a potent and timely offense. The pitching staff has been inconsistent for most of the season, particularly the starting rotation that has produced just one quality start in the last month.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Micah Dallas has been named the starter for Friday’s opener vs. Oral Roberts. 

For Texas A&M to advance in a pretty difficult regional, they must follow the same recipe for success. That means a patient offensive approach at the plate and driving mistake pitches into the gaps and out of the yard. Nobody utilized that approach better than Dylan Rock in the three-hole, leading the team in almost every run-producing category this season.

What makes this offense special is the depth of the lineup. Spots one through seven are all dangerous hitters that will put constant pressure on an opposing pitcher. Ryan Targac caught fire mid-season and finished as the SEC’s RBI leader in conference play. Austin Bost finished second in hitting with a .385 batting average in SEC play. In fact, the Aggies led the SEC in hitting with a remarkable .290 team average in a very difficult SEC that includes #1 overall seed Tennessee.

However, given the quality of competition in the College Station Regional, Texas A&M must get some quality pitching along the way. That means getting quality starts from veterans Micah Dallas and Nathan Dettmer, something that has been rare in recent weeks. It also means staying in the winner’s bracket because pitching depth is A&M’s primary Achilles’ Heel. Jacob Palisch, Joseph Menefee and Will Johnston have been the primary consistent performers out of the bullpen, and all three will need to be hooked in this weekend.

Finally, the Aggies must field cleaner than they did at the SEC Tournament in Hoover. Texas A&M has the lowest fielding average (.969) of any team in the field.

With all of that said, Texas A&M is the most battle-tested squad in this regional, winning 15 games against Quadrant 1 (Q1) competition. TCU comes the closest in Q1 wins with eight. So despite some weaknesses on the mound and in the field, the Aggies are still the favorite to advance out of the College Station Regional.

Chance to win College Station Regional: 65 percent

No. 2 Seed: Texas Christian Horned Frogs

  • RPI: 36
  • Record: 36-20 (16-8 Big 12)
  • Team average: .272
  • Team ERA: 4.62
  • Fielding percentage: .978
  • Offense: 7.21 runs/game
  • Defense: 5.04 runs/game
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
First-year head coach Kirk Saarloos is no stranger to NCAA regionals, serving as TCU’s pitching coach from 2013-21

Season record vs. RPI teams

  • Quadrant 1: 8-15
  • Quadrant 2: 5-4
  • Quadrant 3: 6-0
  • Quadrant 4: 17-1

Top Pitchers

  • Riley Cornelio (4-4, 4.41 ERA, 14 starts)
  • Marcelo Perez (6-3, 3.34 ERA, .212 opp. avg.)
  • Luke Savage (1-1, 2.15 ERA, .214 opp. avg., two saves)

Top Hitters

  • Tommy Sacco (.350 avg, .626 slug, 51 RBIs, 12 HRs)
  • Brayden Taylor (.314 avg, .456 OBP, 44 RBIs, 10 HRs)
  • Elijah Nunez (.297 avg, 55 walks, 30 stolen bases)

Keys to winning the regional

The key for any two-seed winning a regional is surviving game one against a very capable three-seed. The Horned Frogs face a very offensive-minded Louisiana squad that can hit and is aggressive on the basepaths.

Unfortunately for TCU, they don’t have a true dominant ace to set the tone on Friday. TCU has some capable middle relief arms in the bullpen, but the starting pitching has been as spotty as the Aggies’ starting pitching down the stretch. Saarloos has tried several different pitchers on Friday nights with inconsistent results. That’s not a good match-up against Matt Deggs’ offensive bunch.

However, as is the case with Texas A&M, TCU found a way to win games and series in a competitive Big 12, and they have a regular-season title to show for it.

There’s a reason why the Frogs are the two-seed. They know how to win big games.

If TCU can grab and hold a lead through the middle innings, they are in the best shape of any team in the regional to hold a lead in the back half of a contest. The Frogs have the deepest bullpen of the field. 

Offensively, they are led by Tommy Sacco in the two-hole, hitting .350 with 16 homers and 51 RBIs. That matches any of the big bats in the Aggies’ lineup. In front of him in the lead-off spot is Elijah Nunez, hitting .297 with 55 walks and an on-base percentage of.445. He also creates on the base paths with 30 steals and a team-leading 58 runs scored.

Thus, the key to winning this regional for the Frogs rests with their success to get on base at the top of the lineup and create pressure for opposing pitchers.

If TCU can grab and hold a lead through the middle innings, they are in the best shape of any team in the regional to hold a lead in the back half of a contest. The Frogs have the deepest bullpen of the field. 

Chance to win College Station Regional: 20 percent

#3 Seed: Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

  • RPI: 53
  • Record: 36-21 (19-11 Sun Belt)
  • Team average: .288
  • Team ERA: 4.14
  • Fielding percentage: .973
  • Offense: 6.19 runs/game
  • Defense: 4.67 runs/game

Season record vs. RPI teams

  • Quadrant 1: 6-10
  • Quadrant 2: 10-6
  • Quadrant 3: 4-2
  • Quadrant 4: 16-3

Top Pitchers

  • Jacob Schultz (4-3, 3.94 ERA, ten starts, 72 strikeouts)
  • Bo Bonds (4-3, 3.04 ERA, .197 opposing BA, 76 strikeouts)
  • Dylan Theut (1-2, 3.25 ERA, .208 opposing BA)

Top Hitters

  • Carson Roccaforte (.379 avg, 68 RBIs, 16 HRs, 23 stolen bases)
  • Heath Hood (.341 avg, .546 slug, 17 stolen bases)
  • Tyler Robertson (.322 avg, 96 total bases, 21 stolen bases)

Keys to winning the regional

The Ragin’ Cajuns had an inconsistent 2022 season. They won a series over regional host Georgia Southern but were swept by Troy and Texas State. However, they saved their best for last, winning the Sun Belt Conference Tournament with impressive wins over No. 11 Texas State and No. 25 Georgia Southern. Overall, Louisiana has won five in a row and come in red hot.

Andre Broussard/USA TODAY NETWORK
Deggs served as an assistant at A&M from 2006-10 and was previously the head coach at Sam Houston from 2015-19.

While the Ragin’ Cajuns have a few quality arms on the pitching staff, the team is built around speed and offense, which is the calling card of former Texas A&M assistant Matt Deggs. When he left Rob Childress’ staff in 2010, the Aggie offense took a notable slide backward.

Deggs’ teams are extremely aggressive at the plate and on the basepaths.

Louisiana stole a whopping 134 bases in 2022. Five players in their lineup have 16 or more stolen bases. It’s not just the stolen bases opponents must worry about. The Ragin’ Cajuns will take the extra base on a hit. Several times at A&M, Deggs would send the runner home from second base on a sacrifice bunt or a chopper to the right side. Louisiana will take advantage of teams not paying attention to the little things on the field. Pitchers must field well and hold-on runners effectively. Catchers better be ready to come up throwing anytime a Louisiana runner is on base. 

For Louisiana to advance in the regional, they need to get on-base and rattle opposing defenses. Ultimately, they will need to score plenty of runs in a regional with a lot of offensive firepower. If they can parlay a productive offense with a few good outings from their top arms like Bo Bonds and Jacob Schultz, they’ve got a legitimate shot at winning the regional.

Chance to win College Station Regional: 10 percent

#4 Seed: Oral Roberts Golden Eagles

  • RPI: 135
  • Record: 38-18 (17-7 Summit)
  • Team average: .306
  • Team ERA: 4.09
  • Fielding percentage: .978
  • Offense: 7.82 runs/game
  • Defense: 4.62 runs/game

Season record vs. RPI teams

  • Quadrant 1: 3-7
  • Quadrant 2: 3-0
  • Quadrant 3: 4-4
  • Quadrant 4: 28-7

Top Pitchers

  • Ledgend Smith (7-4, 2.41 ERA, 13 starts, 92 strikeouts, .218 opposing BA)
  • Isaac Coffey (7-5, 3.72 ERA, 14 starts, .210 opposing BA)
  • Cade Denton (4-0, 0.44 ERA, .165 opposing BA, six saves)

Top Hitters

  • Jackson Loftin (.348 avg, 54 RBI, 10 HRs, 25 stolen bases)
  • Caleb Denny (.336 avg, .578 slug, 57 RBI, 11 HRs)
  • Holden Breeze (.335 avg, 17 doubles)

Keys to winning the regional

Oral Roberts is not your typical four-seed. This is a perennial NCAA Tournament team that regularly wins the automatic bid from the Summit League.

If that doesn’t convince you, how about wins over No. 3 Oklahoma State, Big 12 Tournament champion Oklahoma and then-No. 2 Ole Miss in Oxford.

Oral Roberts is not your typical four-seed. This is a perennial NCAA Tournament team that regularly wins the automatic bid from the Summit League.

Now that I have your attention, it should also be noted that 28 of the Golden Eagles’ 38 wins in 2022 came against very mediocre Q4 competition. It’s really hard to reconcile these two data points of beating three ranked Power 5 teams but then playing a bunch of low-caliber squads the remainder of the season.

Because of the competition level, the team statistics look quite scary. In fact, Oral Roberts has the highest team batting average and the lowest team ERA of any team in the College Station Regional. However, you must put an asterisk by those numbers, but then you keep looking at those wins over Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Ole Miss. 

Oral Roberts has a really good starting pitcher in Oklahoma transfer Ledgend Smith. He started 14 games and ended up with a sparkling 2.41 ERA with a very impressive hits-to-IP ratio (78 IP, 62 hits) and an incredible strikeout total (92). We’ve been saying for several weeks that Texas A&M is vulnerable to a match-up with a stud starter, and this is it. Now, the competition level must be accounted for here, but still, these are impressive numbers.

Number two, as of the time of this writing, Oral Roberts has not announced its game one starter. Smith has actually pitched game two of every weekend series this season. If that’s the case, Texas A&M will miss Smith. However, do the Golden Eagles hope to slay the Golden Goose and change pitching strategies to take down the national seed Aggies? We shall see.

Oh, and it’s not just Smith to worry about on the mound. Oral Roberts’ closer is 4-0 with six saves and a mind-boggling 0.44 ERA. Again, is he that good or is it the competition? Probably a little of both.

For Oral Roberts to advance, they will need quality outings from their top pitchers, and they will need a little luck with a few opposing pitchers falling flat. Fortunately for the Golden Eagles, the other teams in the regional have a history of inconsistent pitching in the regular season.

Chance to win College Station Regional: 5 percent

Discussion from...

Regional Preview: Impact players, paths to victory in College Station

4,952 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by jgriffith73
jigsaw87
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dermdoc
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AG
Thanks Hop.
No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See full Medical Disclaimer.
jgriffith73
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AG
Thanks very much Hop. This is really helpful. Looking at Q1 and Q2 records it would appear that TCU might be the weakest team. But then the Quadrants are based on RPI's, aren't they? If so, it may just reflect the problems in the RPI system.

Really good to be able to compare all of this at one time. I appreciate it.
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