No big entry for this. I'll just give an example of what some coaches are saying:
What they’re saying about Rice: "As always with a Wayne Graham-coached team, the Owls are very fundamentally sound. They have an excellent set of weekend starters with Ryan Berry and Mike Ojala as the headliners. However, the bullpen can be exploited and the key to beating the Owls is to get into that bullpen. Offensively, the Owls are much better than anyone would’ve thought before the season. Diego Seastrunk hasn’t had a particularly great year at the plate but Brock Holt and Anthony Rendon have taken up the slack. Speaking of Rendon, he’s one of the best freshmen I’ve ever seen at this level. He is an excellent hitter and an even better defensive player. Don’t make mistakes and get into the bullpen and you have a chance to beat Rice."
What they’re saying about LSU: "They’re definitely the best team I’ve seen in the postseason. They have great balance throughout their lineup and are very good up the middle with Austin Nola and DJ LeMahieu. I also really like freshman Mikie Mahtook. They have a pair of front-line guys in the weekend rotation that make very few mistake pitches. You can, however, exploit their bullpen to some extent. However, they will then turn around and throw reliever Matty Ott out there, who reminds me a lot of former Texas reliever Huston Street. Overall, the key to beating the Tigers is to slow them down offensively more than anything else. Good left-handed arms can slow them down and that’s essentially how you beat them. Still, I told my team after we played them that LSU would win the national title."
The specifics about LSU (good middle infield, less than spectacular bullpen, great couple of ace pitchers, vulnerable to lefties) aren't exactly secrets to those of us who care about the topic enough to read this site.
It looks like I had it pretty much right in discussing Rice the other day, when I only had a stat sheet to go by. The bullpen is not nearly as good as the starters. The key is to get into the bullpen, which the Owls appear to make relatively easy by only pitching their starters 5 or 6 innings most of the time. This could be deceiving, as it is known that Taylor Wall had a complete game during the regional.
LSU coaches need to tell their hitters to be patient. Work counts and get the starters' pitch counts up. It's a good strategy in college baseball in general because most teams use all their best arms in the starting rotation and don't have solid backup in the bullpen. Rice appears to be no exception, and is remarkable only in that its starting pitching has such outstanding numbers.
Working pitch counts will also allow your teammates to see more pitches to get a better idea of what kind of stuff the pitcher has. If commenter Big McLargeHuge is right that Ryan Berry throws a knuckle curve, it will be helpful if our batters get a chance to see it a few times before they have to try to hit it. I don't imagine any of our hitters have had to hit knuckleballs very much, and it is no wonder that hitters do so poorly against him. The key here is not to get a lot of 1- and 2-pitch outs. You only get 27 outs, and you better use them well. A 1-pitch out is a poor use against a starting pitcher whose endurance is questionable.
We start up tonight at 6:00pm central. Open thread at 5:00pm.