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Texas A&M Baseball

Regional Preview: Impact players, paths to victory in Stanford

June 2, 2023
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Also included above is a radio segment with Ryan Brauninger, Richard Zane and Scott Clendenin from Friday morning, previewing this weekend’s Stanford Regional.

What: Stanford Regional 
Who: #1 Stanford, #2 Texas A&M, #3 Cal State Fullerton, #4 San Jose State
Where: Klein Field at Sunken Diamond – Stanford, California
When (all times CT):

  • Friday: 4 p.m. (Stanford vs. SJSU) and 9 p.m. (A&M vs. CSUF) (ESPN2)
  • Saturday: 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. (ESPN+)
  • Sunday: 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. (ESPN+)
  • Monday: TBA (TV TBD)

The Texas Aggie baseball team begins the 2023 Road to Omaha looking for the school’s fourth trip to college baseball’s ultimate destination since 2011, and the first back-to-back trips to Omaha in school history. That road to the College World Series goes through Stanford in week one of regional play, where the No. 2 seed Aggies will battle No. 3 seed Cal State Fullerton in the opening round Friday night.

The two losers will play Saturday at 2 p.m.(CT), while the two winners from Friday will face off in the critical semifinal game at 8 p.m. CT. The winner moves to the championship game Sunday at 8 p.m. while the remaining one-loss teams play an elimination game Sunday at 2 p.m. If the undefeated squad loses in the championship game Sunday night, then both teams will battle Monday (TBD) 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: Stanford Cardinal

  • RPI: 14
  • Record: 38-16 (23-7 PAC-12)
  • Team average: .317
  • Slugging percentage: .546
  • On-base percentage: .403
  • Home runs: 102
  • Walks: 276
  • Team ERA: 4.74
  • Fielding percentage: .971

Season record vs. RPI teams

  • Quadrant 1: 0-0
  • Quadrant 2: 14-9
  • Quadrant 3: 14-6
  • Quadrant 4: 10-1

Top Pitchers

  • Quinn Mathews (7-4, 3.87 ERA, 15 starts)
  • Matt Scott (5-3, 4.68 ERA, 10 starts, .218 opp. BA)
  • Ryan Bruno (2-1, 5.16 ERA, eight saves)

Top Hitters

  • Alberto Rios (.403, 17 HR, 66 RBI, .756 slug)
  • Tommy Troy (.394, 14 HR, 17 stolen bases)
  • Carter Graham (.326, 15 HR, 69 RBI)

Keys to winning the regional

This isn’t your father’s Stanford Cardinal that won back-to-back national championships in the late 1980s with top-level elite pitching and defense. Stanford has a long history of future first-round draft picks and All-Americans on the mound, including hurlers like Jack McDowell, Mike Mussina, Kyle Peterson, Chad Hutchinson, Jeff Austin and most recently Mark Appel and Cal Quantrill. However, the 2023 version of the Cardinal baseball team is more focused on an explosive offense than a stingy pitching staff.

Patrick Breen/The Republic
In his sixth season at Stanford, David Esquer has taken the Cardinal to Omaha twice already and is looking for a third consecutive trip.

With that said, head coach David Esquer does have a Friday night ace in Quinn Mathews, a preseason All-American with a 7-4 record and a 3.87 ERA over 15 starts and 100 innings of work this year. Mathews has been consistent most of the season, having completed at least seven innings in nine of his 15 starts in 2023, and he ranks third nationally in strikeouts while only walking 35. Esquer has several other high-potential arms, but they’ve been inconsistent all season.

That’s where the pitching accolades begin and end. With a team ERA of 5.99 — the highest of any team in this regional — Stanford relies on a potent offense that centers around first-team consensus All-American Alberto Rios and his team-leading 17 home runs, 66 RBI and .403 batting average. Not to be outdone, Carter Graham has belted 15 homers with 69 RBI, while Tommy Troy brings a versatile speed/power combination to the lineup with a .394 batting average, 14 long balls and 17 stolen bases.

With eight starters hitting over .300 and six players with double-digit home runs, the Cardinal will look to offensively overpower its opponents this weekend. Overall, the pitching in this regional isn’t strong, so the bats alone can certainly carry this team onto the Super Regional round. If Stanford can get a quality start from Mathews and one of either Matt Scott (4.68) or Joey Dixon (4.87), they will be hard to beat. If an opponent can get into their bullpen, that’s when the Cardinal should get very worried.

It should be noted that despite playing in the Pac-12, Stanford has not faced a Quadrant 1 opponent this season. The Pac-12 doesn’t have any elite teams outside of Stanford, but they are 14-9 against Quadrant 2 schools, and Texas A&M is technically a Q2 squad at No. 29 (Q-1 is 1-25). In contrast, the Aggies have played 27 Quadrant 1 games. That’s quite a difference.

Chance to win Stanford Regional: 50 percent

#2 Seed: Texas A&M Aggies

  • RPI: 29
  • Record: 36-25 (14-16 SEC)
  • Team average: .268
  • Slugging percentage: .451
  • On-base percentage: .392
  • Home runs: 81
  • Walks: 368
  • Team ERA: 5.49
  • Fielding percentage: .979

Season record vs. RPI teams

  • Quadrant 1: 12-15
  • Quadrant 2: 3-3
  • Quadrant 3: 5-4
  • Quadrant 4: 16-3

Top Pitchers

  • Evan Aschenbeck (8-1, 3.63 ERA, 72 K)
  • Troy Wansing (3-3, 4.99 ERA, 1.38 K/IP)
  • Justin Lamkin (3-3, 5.62 ERA, 74 K, .213 opp. BA)

Top Hitters

  • Jack Moss (.359, .465 OBP)
  • Jace Laviolette (.290, 19 HR, 58 RBI, 18 stolen bases)
  • Hunter Haas (.320, .439 OBP, 58 runs scored)

Keys to winning the regional

Michael Wade/SEC
In a potential career-changing week in Hoover, Troy Wansing tossed 9.2 innings of scoreless ball, allowing just two hits and earning All-SEC Tournament honors.

It’s pretty simple for the Aggies. Pitch as they did in Hoover last week, and the odds dramatically turn in A&M’s favor to leave the west coast the lone team standing. The key to this regional is the performance of Justin Lamkin, who has more upside potential than anybody on the roster. Did he come of age in his shut-out performance against South Carolina last week? That’s the big key for this postseason. The Aggies need to get a quality outing from Troy Wansing as well. If A&M can get a quality start from this pair, then they are in good shape with Evan Aschenbeck, Brandyn Garcia, Will Johnston and Shane Sdao in the back half of games. Let’s even throw Matt Dillard into the discussion after his gutty effort in the SEC Tournament.

Aside from looking to replicate last week’s performance on the mound, the Aggies have to win the battle of the free pass. Look at the stats below, Texas A&M has walked 100-plus times more this season than Stanford. They’ve also walked 80 more batters than Friday's opponent Cal State Fullerton, and that’s the danger in this opening-round ballgame. The Aggies use free passes to create big innings, yet the Titans don’t walk a lot of batters. This is the most important and dangerous game of the weekend for the boys in Maroon. A&M must pitch, play clean defense and find a way to win what will most likely be a low-scoring affair.

If A&M can survive Friday, I like their chances of rolling the dice against a talented but very inconsistent Cardinal pitching staff. Either way, the road to success is the same as last weekend. Pitch with consistency, eliminate walks and get some timely long balls from veterans like Trevor Werner, Ryan Targac and Austin Bost, and the good guys have a decent chance. Now, get Jace LaViolette hot again, and it could be a very nice weekend for the Aggies in Northern California.

Chance to win Stanford Regional: 35 percent

#3 Seed: California State Fullerton Titans

  • RPI: 65
  • Record: 31-22 (20-10 Big West)
  • Team average: .274
  • Slugging percentage: .401
  • On-base percentage: .371
  • Home runs: 34
  • Walks: 247
  • Team ERA: 4.94
  • Fielding percentage: .976

Season record vs. RPI teams

  • Quadrant 1: 1-2
  • Quadrant 2: 6-5
  • Quadrant 3: 9-10
  • Quadrant 4: 15-5

Top Pitchers

  • Tyler Stultz (7-4, 4.53 ERA, 2.4 BB/Game)
  • Evan Yates (2-2, 3.57 ERA, 1.07 H/IP)
  • Jo Jo Ingrassia (5-2, 2.63 ERA, seven saves)

Top Hitters

  • Caden Connor (.333, .500 SLG, 40 RBI)
  • Carter White (.332, 42 runs scored, 10 sac bunts)
  • Zach Lew (.279, seven HR, 43 RBI)

Keys to winning the regional

The Titans don’t have the firepower or the depth to overpower Stanford or Texas A&M, but they will gladly hang around if an opponent lets them and steal a win or two if the ball bounces their way.

Fullerton brings you back to old-school college baseball when elite pitching and defense used to dominate the game, and the use of the bunt to advance runners into scoring position was a common sight. The offensive numbers won’t scare many opponents. The Titans have hit just 34 home runs in 2023 and just barely break the .400 mark (.401) in slugging percentage, which is by far the lowest in this regional and probably in the entire NCAA Tournament field. They score one run at a time, and do it with walks, bunts, wild pitches and slap singles. The Fullerton hitters will be patient, especially against a Texas A&M staff that has a bloated walk total of 368. They try to force the opposing teams to beat themselves with free passes and defensive miscues. The pitching isn’t stellar, but their team ERA of 4.94 is the lowest in this regional. They don’t give up many walks or free bases, but the numbers show the pitching staff is hittable. You can beat them, but they usually won’t beat themselves. That’s the rub here. They don’t have the firepower or the depth to overpower Stanford or Texas A&M, but they will gladly hang around if an opponent lets them and steal a win or two if the ball bounces their way.

Chance to win Stanford Regional: 10 percent

#4 Seed: San Jose State Spartans

  • RPI: 109
  • Record: 31-25 (18-11 Mountain West)
  • Team average: .284
  • Slugging percentage: .453
  • On-base percentage: .375
  • Home runs: 60
  • Walks: 253
  • Team ERA: 5.76
  • Fielding percentage: .971

Season record vs. RPI teams

  • Quadrant 1: 0-0
  • Quadrant 2: 1-5
  • Quadrant 3: 1-2
  • Quadrant 4: 29-18

Top Pitchers

  • Jonathan Clark (4-4, 4.50 ERA, 13 starts)
  • Micky Thompson (3-5, 4.52 ERA, 13 starts)
  • Jack White (6-2, 2.62 ERA, .201 opposing BA)

Top Hitters

  • Hunter Dorraugh (.336 avg, 10 HR, 45 RBI)
  • Caleb Denny (.296 avg, 11 HR, 52 RBI)

Keys to winning the regional

Forty-seven of San Jose State’s 56 games played so far in 2023 have come against weak Quadrant 4 teams, so trying to garner any insight from looking at their team statistics is a risky proposition. Given the competition they did play, the team hit a respectable .284 with a team slugging percentage of .453, which is solid but nothing to be feared. The pitching numbers don’t look good, even with the weaker strength of schedule. A team ERA of 5.76 in the Mountain West likely won’t cut it against the explosive Stanford offense on Friday. After sifting through the team statistics, I didn’t find anything that struck me as remarkable. It’s a very average 31-26 college team in a third-tier baseball conference with no big stars. Who knows, they could catch an opponent sleeping, but frankly, the No. 109 RPI Spartans will have a very hard time surviving this regional. Of course, after I write this, watch the gritty Spartans take it to the mighty Cardinal. I highly doubt it, but anything is possible.

Chance to win Stanford Regional: 5 percent



Statistical Comparisons

Batting Average
1. Stanford - .317
2. San Jose State - .284
3. Cal State Fullerton - .274
4. Texas A&M - .268

Slugging Percentage
1. Stanford - .546
2. San Jose State - .453
3. Texas A&M - .451
4. Cal State Fullerton - .401

Walks (received)
1. Texas A&M - 368
2. San Jose State - 253
3. Stanford - 250
4. Cal State Fullerton - 247 

Team ERA
1. Cal State Fullerton - 4.94
2. Texas A&M - 5.49
3. San Jose State - 5.76
4. Stanford - 5.99

Walks (Allowed)
1. Cal State Fullerton - 215
2. Stanford - 275
3. San Jose State - 281
4. Texas A&M - 294

Fielding
1. Texas A&M - .979
2. Cal State Fullerton - .976
3. Stanford - .971
4. San Jose State - .971

Discussion from...

Regional Preview: Impact players, paths to victory in Stanford

3,838 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by Ag in ATL
gigemgolfer
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Ya know, I'm not one to be a stickler about facts, but believe Jack Moss is batting .361 now there Ringo.
Ag in ATL
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
I think the walk is the most overlooked stat. Take a 100 of our bases-on balls and count 'em as singles and we still have the highest total but our batting avg jumps to an equivalent .318, one point higher than the Tree. I like our chances!
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