The field has been cut down from 299 to 64. Five of the nine Big 12 teams are in the field of 64. After this weekend, only 16 teams will remain. The winners of each regional, which utilizes a double elimination format, will move on to the Super Regionals. Each of the past five seasons, the Big 12 has been represented in the College World Series. Will the streak continue? Who will advance? The Road to Omaha continues this weekend with the NCAA Regionals.
Los Angeles Regional
*All games will be played at Jackie Robinson Stadium
All Times Central
Game 1: (2) Baylor vs. (3) Loyola Marymount , 3 p.m. Friday
Game 2: (4) Omaha at (1) UCLA, 9 p.m. Friday
Game 3: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 4 p.m. Saturday
Game 4: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 9 p.m. Saturday
Game 5: Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 2 p.m. Sunday
Game 6: Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5, 7 p.m. Sunday
Game 7: If Necessary, Game 6 rematch, 9 p.m. Monday
*All games will be streamed on ESPN3
UCLA: John Savage, 15th season (534-357-1)
Baylor: Steve Rodriguez, 4th season (129-90)
Loyola Marymount: Jason Gill, 11th season (320-284-1)
Omaha: Evan Porter, 3rd season (58-97-1)
Baylor will feel right at home in Los Angeles this weekend. For Steve Rodriguez and eight of his players, California is where they’ve spent most of their life. Rodriguez is a hero in California, Malibu to be specific. He lead the Pepperdine Waves to the 1992 National Championship and coached the Waves from 2004-2015. With his connection, he’s created a pipeline from the Golden State to Waco. Now, a mixture of Texas and California with a sprinkle of Kentucky takes Steve Rodriguez’s first full recruiting class at Baylor into Jackie Robinson Stadium on the north side of Los Angeles. In game one, the Bears will meet a natural foe for Rodriguez. Pepperdine’s arch-rival in the PCH Cup, the Loyola Marymount Lions from Santa Monica. The Bears will get Loyola Marymount’s best shot. Ace pitcher Cody Paiva has a 1.71 ERA through 95 innings. He’s surrendered 17 walks and 18 earned runs while collecting 84 strikeouts. Paiva is 11th in the nation for ERA and No.42 in WHIP at 1.02. Loyola Marymount is going to present trouble for opponents on the mound. This may catch up to Baylor, who lost ace Cody Bradford at the beginning of the season. If you don’t score, you can’t win. Baylor’s entire starting rotation has a plus-4 ERA. If the Bears are going to win the opening game, they must get to Paiva early and force the Lions to play offense. Baylor can certainly light up the scoreboard. The Bears rank ninth national in batting average.
If the Bears are to lose, they’ll likely face a foe whose used one of the best pitchers in the nation to try and dismantle the No.1 team in the nation. While Payton Kinney has placed up some amazing statistics, Omaha has not played a ranked opponent all season. That doesn’t bode well against the top team in the land. Baylor should be able to eliminate the Mavericks with ease.
Outside of that scenario, Baylor is going to have fight tooth and nail against the UCLA Bruins. This is the No.1 overall seed for a reason. They have the best pitching staff in terms of WHIP and ERA. The Bruins are No.31 nationally in batting average. The only team with a better fielding percentage than UCLA is Omaha. One thing Baylor does have going for it, is they played a three-game series at UCLA in 2018. The Bears took a game in that series, and they nearly won the series. Baylor can compete with these guys. They won’t be easy. There’s no Cody Bradford, but Baylor can compete. It’s likely UCLA wins this regional with ease, but Baylor and Loyola Marymount can certainly spoil the party. I give each of those teams a fighting chance. A lot of this will depend on Baylor’s pitching staff.
UCLA Players to watch: Garrett Mitchell (.360 avg., 6 home runs, 9 triples, 14 doubles, 17 of 21 stolen base attempts), Michael Toglia (.315 avg., 14 home runs, 4 triples, 16 doubles), Ryan Kreidler (.314 avg., 8 home runs, 2 triples, 17 doubles, 10 of 13 stolen bases)
UCLA Probable Rotation: RHP Ryan Garcia (9-0, 1.42 ERA, 11 starts), RHP Jack Ralston (11-0, 2.43 ERA, 15 starts), RHP Jesse Bergen (5-0, 4.09 ERA, 14 starts)
Baylor Players to Watch: Davis Wendzel (.377 avg., 8 home runs, 17 doubles, 11 of 14 stolen base attempts), Cole Haring (.333 avg., 10 home runs, 1 triple, 4 doubles, 6 of 9 stolen base attempts), Nick Loftin (.326 avg., 6 home runs, 3 triples, 16 doubles, 6 of 8 stolen base attempts)
Baylor Probable Rotation: LHP Paul Dickens (5-2, 4.07 ERA, 12 starts), RHP Jimmy Winston (5-2, 4.28 ERA, 10 starts), RHP Jacob Ashkinos (2-4, 4.95 ERA, 6 starts)
Loyola Marymount Players to Watch: Trevin Esquerro (.335 avg., 15 home runs, 1 triple, 18 doubles), Nick Sogard (.309 avg., 8 doubles, 29 of 31 stolen base attempts), Brandon Shearer (.298 avg., 2 home runs, 1 triple, 11 doubles, 8 of 14 stolen base attempts)
Loyola Marymount Probable Rotation: RHP Cody Paiva (7-5, 1.71, 14 starts), RHP Josh Agnew (6-4, 3.28 ERA, 13 starts), RHP CJ Fernandezees (3-1, 3.22 ERA, 3 starts)
Omaha Players to Watch: Parker Smejkal (.333 avg., 6 home runs, 1 triple, 14 doubles, 40 RBIs, 27 runs), Breyden Eckhout (.283 avg., 2 home runs, 11 doubles, 1 triple, 6 of 11 stolen bases), Thomas Debonville (.281 avg., 6 home runs, 6 triples, 8 doubles, 10 of 14 stolen base attempts)Omaha Probable Rotation: RHP Payton Kinney (11-1, 1.65 ERA, 16 starts), Joey Machado (6-2, 4.37 ERA, 13 starts, Spencer Koelewyn (4-2, 4.79 ERA, 14 starts).
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