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LSU Regional: Getting to know Arizona State, Southern Miss, and Stony Brook

Kristian Garic
May 29, 2019 - 8:22 pm
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As we steamroll into the Baton Rouge baseball regional round of the NCAA tournament, fans might be a little unfamiliar with at least two out of three teams LSU could end up facing this weekend. Save for Stony Brook; I don’t need to remind Tiger fans about the Seawolves.  Here is a look at each of the three teams that are competing with No. 1 seeded LSU to move on to a Super Regional.

No. 2 Arizona State

The Sun Devils have played in this tournament 40 times in program history, advancing to the College World Series 22 times while winning 5 national titles.  Arizona State is making their first appearance in a regional since 2016.  Arizona State finished the season with a 37-17 record, and 16-13 Pac-12 conference.  They lead the country in home runs with 92.  Junior outfielder Hunter Bishop is Arizona State’s best everyday player, hitting .347 with 22 home runs and 66 RBI.  Junior right hander Alex Marsh is the ace of the pitching staff.  Marsh is 9 -3 on the bump this season with a 3.17 ERA with 92 recorded strikeouts. The Sun Devils started the season winning twenty one games in a row. Tracey Smith (5th season) manages Arizona State.  

Arizona State quality opponents:  The Sun Devils have played three teams that made the NCAA tournament during the regular season.  Here is how they fared: Oregon State three game series, Arizona lost two out of three to the Beavers; No. 1 national seed UCLA three game series, lost two out of three to the Bruins; Lost two out of three to Stanford.

Famous Alumni:   The MLB all-time home run leader Barry Bonds played at Arizona State from 1982 to 1986.  Bonds finished his MLB career with 762 home runs. Comedians Jimmy Kimmel, David Spade, and Steve Allen also went to ASU.

Fun Fact about Arizona State:  “Sparky the Sun Devil” (school mascot) was created by Disney Studios.

My take: If ASU had not finished the season 16-17 down the stretch they likely would have been a regional host.  This team is dangerous!  Don’t be surprised if Arizona State is playing LSU for the right to move on in the regional championship game.

 

No. 3 Southern Miss

The Golden Eagles have made 16 appearances in this tournament and have reached the CWS one time.   A pre-season top-25 team, the Golden Eagles didn’t have the season many expected.  Southern Miss swept their Conference USA tournament to punch their ticket to the regional.  The Golden Eagles struggle defensively, committing 81 errors this season. Southern Miss finished the regular season 38-19 and 20-10 in Conference USA play.  Junior outfielder Matt Wallner paces Southern Miss at the plate.  Wallner is hitting .324 with 21 home runs and 55 RBI.  Junior right hander Walker Powell is the ace of the pitching staff.  Powell is 6-2 on the season with a 2.78 ERA with 71 strikeouts in 94 innings on the hill.  Southern Miss is managed by Scott Berry (10th season). 

Southern Miss quality opponents:  The Golden Eagles played five games against two SEC teams this season (Ole Miss, Mississippi State) going 2-3 in those games, beating the Rebels once and the Bulldogs once.

Famous Alumni:  Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre quarterbacked the Southern Miss football team from 1987 to 1990.  Originally Southern Miss wanted Favre to play defensive back.  Ha! Singer/Songwriter Jimmy Buffet is also a Golden Eagle. 

Fun Fact about Southern Miss:  The first ever school basketball team started in 1917 and played on a dirt court.

My take:  Southern Miss was ranked in the preseason, so they are a really good team in their own right.  I could see Southern Miss winning a game against ASU, but it has to be low scoring.  The Golden Eagles are flawed defensively, and in tournaments like this that usually is a team’s undoing.

 

No. 4 Stony Brook 

Yep those guys!  The team that nobody had ever heard of until 2012 when they beat LSU in the Super Regional in Baton Rouge.  The Seawolves have made the tournament five times and advanced to the CWS one time in program history.  Stony Brook won the America East tournament to cement their spot in a regional.  While Stony Brook might send shivers down the spines of Tiger fans, let me assure you this is the not the same team that stunned LSU seven years ago.  They are good, but not that good! Stony Brook finished the regular season 31-21 going 15-9 in America East play. Short stop Nick Grande is their stud.  He’s hitting .342 with 23 extra base hits this season and has 19 stolen bases.  Senior right hander Bret Clarke is the staff ace for the Seawolves.  Clarke is 8-0 this season with a 3.76 ERA recording 49 strikeouts in 67 innings of work.

Stony Brook quality opponents:  This weekend won’t be the Seawolves first trip to Louisiana this season.  In February, Stony Brook lost two out of three games against Southeastern in Hammond.  The following weekend, they were swept in Fayetteville, Arkansas by the Razorbacks.

Famous Alumni:  Alia Sabur became the world’s youngest professor at age 18, and received her B.S at age 14.

Fun Fact about Stony Brook:  They produce a lot smart people.  The school ranks in the top 1-percent of higher education institutions worldwide.

My take:  I’m not naïve, certainly Stony Brook is capable of beating LSU.  However here is how it would have to happen.  The Tigers would have to fall asleep at the plate and commit some costly errors, along with issuing a bunch of free passes.  LSU is clearly the superior team here.   Again, this is nowhere near the same Stony Brook team that upset LSU in 2012.  Not even close.

Lagniappe 

No. 2 Arizona State will play No. 3 Southern Miss Friday at noon at the Box.  No. 1 LSU faces No. 4 Stony Brook Friday night at 6 p.m.  The biggest threat to LSU is Arizona State.  The Sun Devils play an SEC brand of baseball with the power numbers to prove it.  They rely on the long ball, and if LSU pitchers keep the ball in the yard that will go a long way against Arizona State.  Post-season baseball at the Box.  Let’s GEAUX!

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