This is the 2nd in a 4-part series previewing the Los Angeles Regional which begins Friday. Yesterday we covered the venue, today we look at a team we hopefully wont see, 4-seed Kent State.
Kent State University (39-23, 19-14 in the MAC) of Northeast Ohio, near Akron, enter the LA Regional as the four seed, and one of the lowest RPI teams in the postseason at 116. Here only as the MAC Tournament Champion auto-bid, which they nearly 2 and BBQ'd out of after being upset early as a 2-seed, Kent State doesn't have much going for it. The MAC as a conference is pretty bad in baseball and KSU's out of conference losses aren't even impressive. Just 1-5 against tourney teams this year, they lost 4 straight at Kansas St., and lost to Vandy and beat Illinois St. (who, by great coincidence, will play each other) at a weekend tournament in Nashville. That 1 win came thanks to a 7-run 5th in Vandy's pitchers park.
At the plate, KSU's starters are all in the .360 to .340 range. Only guy worth noting is LF Anthony Gallas who leads the team with 17 HR and 81 RBIS. He bats in the 3-spot. Pitching is pretty bad as well. None of their typical starters has an ERA under 4 and most of their main relief corps have more that 20 appearances and even worse ERAs. Fielding percentage at .974 is about standard for any postseason team. They wont hurt themselves, but the Talent gap between them and the rest of the regional is just too wide.
Early strategy for an LSU-KSU matchup: KSU is here because UCLA can't play air on the 1st day and still call it a 4-team regional. They are not an "overlooked" team that might have some postseason magic, they are a gimme in a packed regional. If we play them because something has gone wrong or inexplicably right then I say we go with Bradshaw and see if we can get the 2nd complete game of the year. Dishon and Dozar should see significant playing time in this matchup, maybe even put Watkins out there to see if he can get his swing back. Dominate early and plan for a rematch or elimination game the next day.
Trivia about KSU: Currently celebrating their centennial. School colors originally Purple and Orange but were changed after the basketball team's jerseys faded to blue and gold in the wash and every one decided they looked better that way. Unfortunately famous for something that has nothing to do with sports. They have been to the NCAA postseason 8 times since 1990, all of their bids are thanks to winning the MAC tournament. Home field at Schoonover Stadium is FieldTurf and was built it 2005. It doesn't seat more than UCLA, but only by 102 seats.