2019 NCAA Baseball Tournament: Stanford Regional Preview
No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 4 Sacramento State (4 p.m. ET, ESPN3
No. 2 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 3 Fresno State (10 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
No. 1 Stanford (41-11)
Season In A Sentence: After going 41-11 with a 22-7 record in the Pac-12, Stanford is hosting a regional for the third consecutive year, and this time around, it’ll look to advance after being upset by Cal State Fullerton in each of the last two seasons.
Best Pitcher: LHP Erik Miller, Jr. — Miller is 7-2, 2.91 this spring with 85 strikeouts in 74.1 innings. His development this year has been crucial to the Cardinal, as he’s finally harnessed his raw stuff, allowing him to pitch with more control.
Best Hitter: 1B Andrew Daschbach, Jr. — Daschbach is hitting .310/.392/.642 with 16 home runs this spring. He’s got considerable power and gives Stanford a big bat in the heart of the order.
Outlook: The Cardinal never got their metrics to line up with the eye-test evaluation and, as a result, they have a tough regional draw as the No. 11 overall seed. If the Cardinal are going to breakthrough to super regionals this year, it’s going to need to rely on the formula that carried it to a second-place finish in the Pac-12—a dynamic offense and a strong bullpen. Stanford’s rotation is solid and anything it gets out of that group is a bonus, but it really needs closer Jack Little to lock in and for its offense to provide plenty of run support.
No. 2 UC Santa Barbara (45-9)
Season In A Sentence: The Gauchos enjoyed a monster 2019 season that saw them put up a gaudy 45-9 overall record and win their first Big West title since 1986, and although they are undoubtedly disappointed to miss out on hosting a regional, they’ll head north with a real shot to break into a super regional.
Best Pitcher: LHP Jack Dashwood, R-So. — Dashwood has been excellent this season, going 9-2, 2.17 with 90 strikeouts and 17 walks in 87 innings. He’s made a jump as he’s gotten further away from Tommy John surgery, which kept him out in 2017.
Best Hitter: OF Armani Smith, Jr. — Smith is hitting .325/.395/.636 with 11 home runs this season. Long a promising player for the Gauchos, Smith has put it all together in his junior season.
Outlook: The Gauchos put together an outstanding season, but the weakness of the Big West this year means they haven’t been tested quite to the extent they will be this weekend. UCSB has the talent to matchup with Stanford, but it’ll need its pitching to be at its best because the Gauchos probably won’t be able to match the Cardinal offensively. UCSB also can’t afford to get caught looking ahead because Fresno State presents a difficult opening round opponent.
No. 3 Fresno State (38-14-1)
Season In A Sentence: The Bulldogs made quick work of the Mountain West Conference over the second half of the season, pushing to win the regular season title by 4.5 games and then securing the league’s automatic bid by going a perfect 3-0 in the MWC Tournament.
Best Pitcher: RHP Ryan Jensen, Jr. — Jensen went 11-1, 2.92 in 92.1 innings as the Bulldogs’ ace. He has 99 strikeouts, allowing only 26 walks and giving up only 3 home runs.
Best Hitter: INF Tatum McCarthy, R-Sr. — Also a relief pitcher, McCarthy is hitting .353/.397/.601 with 14 doubles and 12 home runs. In a lineup full of powerful hitters, McCarthy stands out.
Outlook: The Bulldogs are back in regionals for the first time since 2012, and while they have flown a bit under the radar this year, they are a strong No. 3 seed. Fresno State has some star power in outfielder Zach Ashford, catcher Carter Bins and righthander Ryan Jensen, and it figures to make life difficult this weekend for Stanford and UCSB. It went on the road to Oregon and Tennessee this year, going 3-4 in those games—results that will give the Bulldogs confidence they can compete at Sunken Diamond.
No. 4 Sacramento State (39-23)
Season In A Sentence: The Hornets continued a string of impressive streaks in 2019 by making it eight straight years of 30 or more wins and eight straight years of going .500 or better in conference play, all while ending up in a regional for the third time in six years.
Best Pitcher: RHP Austin Roberts, Jr. — Roberts has bounced between the rotation and the bullpen for Sacramento State, but he’s been coming out of the bullpen of late. He’s 9-4, 3.18 with six saves. In 70.2 innings pitched, Roberts has 83 strikeouts and has allowed 29 walks.
Best Hitter: OF Matt Smith, Jr. — Smith hits cleanup for the Hornets and is hitting .318/.384/.478 with nine doubles and six home runs this season.
Outlook: The Hornets can’t match the prospect talent of the other three teams in this all-California regional, but they’re a scrappy team that just proved their mettle by winning six straight elimination games to win the Western Athletic Conference Tournament. Sacramento State has wins this season against California and UCLA, and if any of the higher-seeded teams in Stanford don’t take the Hornets seriously, they’re in danger of getting upset.