The Nebraska Cornhuskers, along with 63 other teams, start their march int he 2014 NCAA Baseball Tournament Friday afternoon at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma against the Cal State Fullerton Titans at Noon Friday. The hosting Oklahoma State Cowboys take on the Binghamton Bearcats at 6pm Friday evening.
Lets take a look at the three other teams in the regional on the eve of play:
Cal State Fullerton Titans
Record: 32-22 overall, 14-10 Big West Conference play (4th place)
Home: 21-8, Road/neutral: 11-14.
Tourney Bid: At-large
RPI: 54. SOS: 63. 8-2 in their last 10 games.
On Sunday, May 11th, CSF lost against UC Riverside 8-7, and looked dead in the water. The preseason #1 team across the land had a RPI of 80 and was in danger of missing the NCAA's for the first time in over 2 decades. This was about the same time that HC Rick Vanderhook was suspended for allegations of detrimental conduct with student-athletes. However, since Vanderhook has returned, the Titans have not lost. Winners of their last 7 straight, the Titans squeezed into the Tourney for the 23rd straight year.
Record: 25-25 overall, 12-12 America East Conference play (won Conf Tourney)
Home: 9-5, Road/Neutral 16-20.
Tourney Bid: American East Tourney Champions
RPI: 157. SOS: 212. 6-4 in their last 10 games.
Playing .500 ball and losing their first game in the America East Tournament, the Bearcats won their last 4 games to take the automatic seed from the AE for the second straight year, including back to back wins against Stony Brook, who was the top seed in the Conference Tournament.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Record: 45-16 overall, 18-6 Big 12 Conference play (Reg. Season champs)
Home: 22-8, Road/Neutral: 26-8.
Tourney Bid: At-large
RPI: 18. SOS: 49. 7-3 in their last 10 games.
For a overview of the Cowboys (plus the skinny on what to do if you're heading to Stillwater for the games), we got our man Graham Coffelt of SBNation Okie St community Cowboys Ride For Free to discuss their season and how they look at the Regional in their eyes:
Seems like a very successful regular season for the Cowboys this year, and making the Big 12 Tournament final to lose to a very good TCU team. What’s been the secret for the Cowboys success this season?
Efficiency...the team makes as few mistakes as possible, especially at the positions where they happen the most. Tim Arakawa has been an absolute gem at 2B, an exceptional fielding player for the Pokes. Efficiency also in hitting, as our situational hitting is superb. I’ve seen some of the best bunts laid down by this team, and then those same players slam a double into right field. The only thing that is hindering the team at all is the starting pitching. It seems like there were a lot of games this season where you could almost go ahead and put them down by 2-3 runs. Overall, though, a pretty complete team.
While we’re not meaning to dismiss Binghamton in a bad way, how do you think that the Cowboys match up with both Fullerton and Nebraska in the limited time you’ve been able to research them?
Both Fullerton and Nebraska have solid pitching and hitting. Nebraska reminds me a lot of OSU, just with some better starting pitching. Fullerton may have the best starting rotation in this regional. Hitting wise, just like OSU has Zach Fish, Nebraska has Pritchard and Fullerton has J.D. Davis. Davis is a stud, just like Fish. Nebraska doesn’t have as much power hitting as OSU or Fullerton, but it seems like they can play small ball with the best of them. (I’m familiar with both previously, I am originally from Arkansas, so I know quite a bit about Nebraska because of Van Horn, and Fullerton is always in the national light.)
Since many folks are going to be coming to Allie P. Reynolds Stadium, what is the first thing visiting fans should know before they head to the ballpark?
Don’t expect to park close to the stadium. There is limited parking around the stadium, but with classes being out, that might help some. There is a dorm up against the stadium so that limits parking during the year. Eskimo Joes is four blocks away from the stadium for those that want to do the typical Stillwater visit.
Everyone knows of Eskimo Joe’s in Stillwater, but tell us some of the other food & drink places that should be frequented by out of town folks this weekend?
Hideaway Pizza is really the place to go. I will definitely be there some. Best pizza in Oklahoma. Period. Joe’s is great and it has it’s place in Stillwater lore, but Hideaway is often forgotten and locals know how much history is in that place too. Not too far from the stadium either (further away than Joe’s).
Finally, what’s your prediction for the winner of this regional?
I believe this will be a tough regional for all teams. I honestly think that Fullerton could win, but with home field advantage and the chip on their shoulder OSU will advance, although not by any comfortable margin. Fullerton is dangerous. That #2 vs. #3 game is going to be a great. One of the best regionals in the entire tournament from a parity standpoint.