No. 2 seed Owls host Sooners
Editor's note: No one knows the super regional teams better than their opponents. Will Kimmey talked to college coaches who had faced multiple teams still alive in the NCAA Tournament and offered them anonymity in exchange for their candor.
Houston Super Regional
At Reckling Park (all times Eastern)
Saturday, June 10
Game 1 -- Rice 10, Oklahoma 4
Sunday, June 11
Game 2 -- Oklahoma 11, Rice 5 ... Watch
Monday, June 12
Game 3 -- Rice 8, Oklahoma 5 ... Watch
Rice (55-11) advances to the College World Series.
How They Got Here: Won Houston regional in three games; beat Baylor in the final
CWS History: Four trips to Omaha, last in 2003; one championship in 2003
Coach: Wayne Graham (15th season)
|Rice's Top Hitters|
|Player (Position)||AVG||OBP||SLG||Key Stats|
|Joe Savery (1B)||.336||.441||.517||19 2B, 7 HR, 59 RBI|
|Brian Friday (SS)||.377||.460||.586||21 2B, 8 HR, 52 RBI|
|Josh Rodriguez (3B)||.346||.448||.573||9 HR, 20 2B, 58 RBI|
|Rice's Top Pitchers|
|Joe Savery (LHP)||5-1||2.76||62 K's, 24 BB, 62 IP|
|Eddie Degerman (RHP)||12-1||1.67||150 K's, 45 BB, 113 IP|
|Cole St.Clair (LHP)||5-2||1.55||91 K's, 24 BB, 11 saves, 64 IP|
Scouting the Owls: "Obviously, they can pitch with anybody in the country and that probably includes most Double-A teams.
"The starting pitching is dominant. [Reliever] Bryce Cox just started to figure it out in the second half of the season by changing his arm action. He always had velocity, [but] now he has control to go with it. He's a right-handed complement to [Cole] St. Clair, and St. Clair is a game-ender. If he's in the game and you're losing, you will not come back. He's a strikeout guy with a power arm from the left side and college guys just do not see that.
"When you score three or four runs on Rice, you feel like it's eight or nine. They have an athletic defense so on the rare occasions you put it in play, they're going to catch it. Degerman, in terms of his stats, is a front-line production guy. Savery will be a first-rounder next year [and] St. Clair is a first- [or] second-rounder next year. With that amount of a quality arms in a short series, you can't get to a bad arm.
"Brian Friday is a quality hitter. He's a line-drive power guy with a high average [who] gets on base a lot. Keeping him, Rodriguez and [Tyler] Henley off base is a key. The top three hitters are quality pro-type hitters. Savery is a power left-handed bat, and [Aaron] Luna has as much power as any freshman in the country with a quick bat. He has some holes, but make a mistake and you're going to pay. Jordan Dodson is an adequate outfielder. He's in there for his bat, but he can get hot and carry you for a weekend.
"You have to keep their offense down because they will keep yours down. You have to win games 4-3, 3-2. You better move runners up when you can and you better drive runners in when you can because you won't have many opportunities to do it. On the flip side, if they start to score, it's going to be tough to come back. The team that will beat them needs dominant pitching, because if they can score on you, you're done."
How They Got Here: Won Norman regional in five games, beat Wichita State twice
CWS History: Nine trips to Omaha, last in 1995; two championships, last in 1994
Coach: Sunny Golloway (1st season)
|Oklahoma's Top Hitters|
|Player (Position)||AVG||OBP||SLG||Key Stats|
|Ryan Rohlinger (3B)||.377||.444||.598||14 2B, 12 HR, 63 RBI|
|Kevin Smith (1B)||.317||.372||.522||9 HR, 65 RBI, 16 2B|
|Chuckie Caufield (RF)||.358||.431||.553||18 SB, 66 R, 9 HR, 17 2B|
|Oklahoma's Top Pitchers|
|Daniel McCutchen (RHP)||9-8||4.00||138 K's, 41 BB, 139.2 IP|
|Steven Guerra (RHP)||11-3||3.59||71 K's, 28 BB, 105.1 IP|
Scouting the Sooners: "The whole infield has been there and done that. They know what they're doing, and they can really catch it, man. Their offense is tough to pitch to. They're all older hitters who do a good job of making adjustments. Caufield is the spark plug. If he's on base consistently, you're in trouble. He can really run and gets it started for their offense.
"Rohlinger, Smith and Kody Kaiser are just good hitters who, in that park, hit for power. They're more pure hitters who have some strength. Rohlinger is a great pure hitter and never gets fooled on a pitch. Mix patterns on them because you can't pitch the same guy the same way three times in a row. You have to show in and away and change speeds.
"They were really hot against us and just dialed in. Everything we threw, they knew what was coming. Stay out of the big inning because you can't walk guys or give up free outs or defensive mistakes. They have a lot of heart and play awfully hard. During that 12-game win streak, they won five or six in their last at-bat, leaving people on the field. They did that twice to Missouri. They never give up and keep battling. You can't let them back in games if you're up.
"They've got to hit when McCutchen isn't on the mound. You have to jump on them from the start and pitch them well. If you get them down [and they're] in an RBI situation, Smith or Rohlinger are antsy. You can get them to chase early because they know they're the guys. But [Oklahoma] is going to hit and the opponent will, as well.
"McCutchen is ultra competitive and is a real high energy [guy] on the mound with a good fastball and great curveball; that's his out pitch. Try and stay with him and battle pitch for pitch. He can get frustrated if you screw with his rhythm and step out. He wants to work fast, has got three good pitches and knows how to pitch. Do what you can to frustrate him and make sure you're ready to hit.
"The main weakness is, after McCutchen, they don't have a standout arm, they just pitch. Guerra has good numbers but he's 86-88 [mph] and just moves it around. He's definitely hittable. They play good defense behind their guys, [so the pitchers need to] throw strikes and use the defense. They aren't overpowering, McCutchen can be at times, but other than that, it's going to be a pretty offensive game."
Will Kimmey covers college baseball for Baseball America.
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