NCAA Baseball Super Regionals 2011: Texas Vs. Arizona St. Preview

As far as pedigree goes in college baseball, not many schools can top Texas or Arizona State. The Longhorns are tied for the second-most national titles in history with six and the Sun Devils are right behind them with five of their own. Texas also has he most wins in College World Series with 82 victories in Omaha, while Arizona St. is third with 61 CWS wins.

As much success as the two programs have had at the College World Series, only one be able to make it there in 2011 because the two are matched up in the Austin Super Regional. With a spot in Omaha on the line between two of the nation's most historic programs, it is no wonder that the best-of-three-games series is the highlight of Super Regional weekend (Game 1 between Texas and ASU is set for Friday at 7 p.m. ET). 

Conveniently, the Longhorns and Sun Devils play the brand of baseball that their programs have become known for. Texas is full of flamethrowers, athletic guys who can pick it and they manufacture one run at a time. They bunt, they run and they play to the their ballpark. Disch-Falk Field is a big field and the turf plays fast, allowing the Longhorns to take advantage of balls on the ground and in the gaps where they can use their speed. And as a national seed, the Longhorns get this weekend's Super Regional at home

Arizona St. may not have the sluggers of old like Barry Bonds, Reggie Jackson, Andre Ethier or Dustin Pedroia, but they have a little pop in their bats. Eight of their nine regular starters hit over .300 and they have two men with at least 20 steals and another two in double digits. They finished fifth in the country in triples and shouldn't have much an of issue playing in Texas' big ballpark. One of the nation's premier recruiting teams, it's also no surprise that both on the mound and at the plate Arizona St. goes 11 or 12 guys deep.

If nothing else, you can bet that Arizona St. won't collapse when faced with adversity either. They started off the season ineligible for the postseason after the NCAA hammered the program with sanctions following numerous rules violations under the previous coaching staff. An appeal stayed the penalties and while the NCAA continues to decide, the Sun Devils are able to play in the postseason. A season that started with no hope and an end date on the day before Memorial Day is still going, and might go on to Omaha.

It wasn't all smiles for the Sun Devils, though. They lost their final series of the season to UCLA, ending a string of four consecutive Pac-10 titles, and probably losing out on a national seed in the process. That's compared to Texas, who were Big 12 co-champions, the sixth time in seven years that they can claim a conference title.

Conference titles don't define the Texas and Arizona St. baseball programs though. They are defined by where their season ends. It is Omaha or bust for them both and this year, only one can make it.

Projected Starters

Friday, 7 pm ET (ESPN): Taylor Jungmann (13-1, 1.39 ERA) vs. Brady Rogers (8-4, 2.85 ERA)- Defeating Texas' Jungmann proved impossible during the regular season, but Kent St. got to him in the Regionals to the tune of seven runs. As far as match-ups go, this one bodes as well for Arizona St. as one can go against Jungmann because of their ability to hit the fastball, Jungmann's go-to pitch, and Rogers' command that saw him walk just nine all season.

Saturday, 7 pm ET (ESPN): Cole Green (7-3, 3.09 ERA) vs. Kramer Champlin (9-3, 2.93 ERA)- Unlike the flamethrowing Jungmann, Green works off of a sinker and his best pitch, the change up, but he still gets his strikeouts and has the nation's third-best defense behind him. Kramer is a similar pitcher, but he instead of the sinker he works a cutter that has made him effective even against left-handers.

Sunday, 7 pm ET (ESPN2): Sam Stafford (6-2, 1.57 ERA) vs. Mitchell Lambson (7-3, 4.41 ERA)- Stafford gives Texas another high strikeout guy, but he is also a high walk guy so he doesn't go as deep into games as the Longhorns' other guys. Lambson has slide into the Sunday role of late for the Sun Devils, but he has also worked as the closer so if he's needed on Friday or Saturday, he may not start Sunday.

What To Watch For

The Sun Devils, as usual, can score and they are led by Joey DeMichele, who led the team with a .368 batting average and nine homers. He and the rest of the Arizona St. offense will be going up against the second-best run prevention team in the country, who, thanks to outstanding pitching and defense, allowed just 2.8 runs per game this season. If the Sun Devils can get some runs on the board early, they can take down a Longhorn offense that has little power and is dependent on small ball (they led the country in sacrifice bunts), but get caught in a close one and things turn in the Longhorns' favor.

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