It’s not news that Kentucky is hosting a regional this weekend. It might be news that the three teams coming to Lexington are not pushovers. All three teams could give Kentucky a run for their money if the Cats aren’t careful. Two of the three teams have legitimate power threats and one has a dominate closer. Here is what to look for when watching the Lexington Regional this weekend.
#2 Seed- Indiana, 33-22-2 (14-9-1, 6th in the Big Ten) RPI:26
Memorable Alumni: Kyle Schwarber, Ted Kluszewski
Marquee Wins: Louisville, Michigan x2, Gonzaga x2, Maryland x2, Xavier x2
Player to watch: Craig Dedelow
The Hoosiers are a familiar opponent of the BatCats. The two teams met on May 9th in Lexington in a game that Kentucky won 5-2. Indiana couldn’t muster much against Zack Thompson as the freshman struck out ten in six innings.
The Hoosiers bring in a decent offense, a good defense and an average pitching staff to the regional. Of IU’s four starting pitchers, no one has an ERA below 3.75. Opponents are hitting .280 against the Hoosiers in 2017, a stat that may haunt IU in Lexington. Cliff Hagan Stadium is not forgiving for those that make mistakes. Jonathan Stiever has made a couple of nice starts on Fridays, but that is about it. Indiana’s pitching staff is their downfall, but their offense has helped keep them around.
Despite only having two players batting over .300, the Hoosiers have found ways to score runs. IU was second in the Big Ten in homers with 67. Craig Dedelow mashed 17 home runs this season and Luke Miller (11) and Matt Lloyd (10) both hit double digit bombs in 2017.
– NC State Baseball (@NCStateBaseball) June 1, 2017
#3 North Carolina State 34-23 (16-14, 7th in the ACC) RPI:30
Memorable Alumni: Trea Turner, Carlos Rodon, Dan Plesac
Marquee Wins: Louisville, Wake Forest, Florida State x2, UNC, Clemson x2
Player to Watch: Brad Debo
N.C. State comes to town as the hardest team to read. They took two of three against Clemson and Florida State, but the Wolfpack also lost six games to teams with an RPI below 100. They beat Brendan McKay but got swept by Boston College.
The one thing we do know about N.C. State is that they finished the season hot. For a time, it looked like they wouldn’t be in the Field of 64. Then the Pack won 14 of their final 17 games to put them right back into the NCAA Tournament.
Big time power threat Joe Dunand (Alex Rodriguez’s nephew) leads the way for the Pack on offense. Dunand’s 16 homers put him on the ACC’s Second Team All-Conference. Brad Debo, a freshman, led the team with a .343 average. N.C. State brings in a rotation of Brian Brown, Sean Adler, and Michael Bienlien that went a combined 12-9 on weekends.
The credibility is there for the Pack, they just need to play up to their ability. That has been an issue for N.C. State in recent years. In 2013, they had two first round picks but couldn’t find their way into the postseason. The Indiana vs. NC State game will be interesting to watch. If N.C. State can get to the Hoosiers’ bullpen early, the Pack should pull the upset on Friday night. Keep in mind, this team hosted a regional last year.
#4 Ohio 31-27 (13-11, 5th in the MAC) RPI: 185
Memorable Alumni: Mike Schmidt
Marquee Wins: Kent State x4
Player to watch: Jake Roehn
First off, yes Mike Schmidt did play for Ohio. Schmidt took the Bobcats to the 1970 College World Series before being drafted by the Phillies. Unfortunately for Ohio, the greatest third baseman of all-time won’t be suiting up this weekend.
Ohio got hot at the right time as they ran through the MAC Tournament and into the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years. They bested Kent State four times in the final weeks to steal their bid and finish four games over .500.
Ohio has an elite closer and several other nice pieces of their pen, but their rotation is scattered. Michael Klein was named First Team All-Conference after posting 3.24 ERA in 58.1 innings as a junior. Power hitter Spencer Ibarra and closer Jake Roehn were also named to the First Team.
Ohio plays excellent defense and will not give their opponent anything. The Bobcats finished 12th in the nation in fielding percentage thanks to three members of the All-Defensive Team leading the way. Ohio won’t be an easy opener for Kentucky. They play smart and won’t make many mistakes in the field. Sean Hjelle will need to silence Ohio’s bats long enough for UK to get momentum on offense early.