After an improbable run to a Missouri Valley Conference title, Creighton faces UCLA in the NCAA regionals on Friday. Here’s a capsule look at the three teams in Creighton’s regional:
Rankings: 2nd Baseball America, 4th USA Today, 5th NCBWA, 7th Collegiate Baseball
NCAA appearances: 18 Record: 44-37
Coach: John Savage. Record: At UCLA 268-204; overall 356-288-1.
Leading hitters: OF Jeff Gelalich .367-9 HRs-39 RBIs; C Tyler Heineman .359-1 HR-25 RBIs; OF Cody Keefer .338-0 HR-34 RBIs; 2B Trevor Brown .326-3 HRs-46 RBIs. Leading pitchers: RH David Berg 5-3, 1.79 ERA; RH Scott Griggs 3-1, 2.27 ERA, 15 saves, 61 strikeouts in 35 2⁄3 innings; RH Adam Plutko 9-3, 2.79 ERA; LH Grant Watson 9-2, 4.41 ERA.
Scouting report: The Bruins are the No. 2 overall seed in the tournament after earning a share of the Pac-12 championship. UCLA doesn’t overwhelm opponents with its power but the Bruins are one of the nation’s most productive offensive teams with a .310 average. Their attack is dependent on getting runners on, getting them over and getting them in. The back end of the pitching staff is definitely formidable, with a power arm in closer Griggs and dependable set-up men in Berg and Ryan Deeter. Opposing batters are hitting .150 against Griggs. The starting pitching is solid but hardly spectacular with Plutko, Watson and Nick Vander Tuig.
Rankings: 23rd USA Today, 27th Collegiate Baseball, 28th NCBWA
NCAA appearances: 7 Record: 7-12
Coach: Rich Hill. Record: At San Diego 441-314-3; overall 774-534-3
Leading hitters: OF-DH Corey LeVier .367-3 HRs-31 RBIs; 3B Kris Bryant .359-14 HRs-57 RBIs; SS Andrew Daniel .350-4 HRs-45 RBIs; OF Louis Lechich .313-1 HR-33 RBIs.
Leading pitchers: LH James Pazos 5-1, 1.53 ERA, 4 saves; RH Michael Wagner 5-1, 2.50 ERA, 19 saves; RH Paul Sewald 8-3, 2.83 ERA; RH Calvin Drummond 8-6, 3.33 ERA.
Scouting report: The Toreros, who have lost four of seven, might be without leading hitter LeVier. He reportedly suffered a jaw injury that could keep him out of the regional. LeVier is part of a rejuvenated offense that ranks among the nation’s best in average and slugging percentage. Bryant is San Diego’s most dangerous hitter and has had a hand in 115 (58 scored, 57 driven in) of the team’s 344 runs. Hill’s teams generally have been pitching-rich, but like UCLA, this year’s staff might be a cut below usual standards. That still makes it plenty good, with senior Sewald anchoring the front end and sophomore Wagner the back end. Wagner ranks second in the nation in saves with 19.
Rankings: 26th Collegiate Baseball
NCAA appearances: 4 Record: 2-6
Coach: Ray Birmingham. Record: At New Mexico: 165-130; overall: 983-458-2.
Leading hitters: 3B DJ Peterson .418-16 HRs-76 RBIs; C Mitchell Garver .391-10 HRs-57 RBIs; OF Ryan Padilla .368-5 HRs-48 RBIs; OF Josh Melendez .356-3 HRs-43 RBIs.
Leading pitchers: RH Gera Sanchez 8-2, 2.45 ERA, 3 saves; RH Austin House, 7-5, 2.92 ERA; RH Josh Walker 8-2, 3.81 ERA; RH Hobie McClain 2-1, 1.95 ERA, 2 saves.
Scouting report: The Lobos are hot entering their third straight regional appearance, having won nine straight and outscoring opponents 115-39. This might be Birmingham’s most balanced team as New Mexico has pitching to complement a powerful offense. The Lobos are fourth nationally in hitting (.333), and the team’s ERA of 4.38 is the program’s lowest since 1977. Pitching depth could be a concern if the Lobos play deep into the regional but House and Walker are solid front-line starters. Peterson and Garver provide the offense with a potent 1-2 punch. Peterson ranks sixth nationally in batting average, 12th in homers and second in RBIs, while Garver is second in doubles and third in hits.