With the 2014 NCAA Baseball Tournament about to get underway, let’s take a look at the four teams in the Columbia field to see how they stack up against one another, and more importantly, how they stack up against the South Carolina Gamecocks.
(2) Maryland Terrapins: Who knew we would see this team in this regional? Or this late at all in the season? This tournament appearance is the first in 43 years for the Terps. Coming in with an overall record of 36-21, 15-14 conference (ACC) and 11-12 on the road, this team is hot. A couple of big wins early in the year set the pace, defeating Florida on the road, then defeating Florida State in the middle game of a 3 game series. Maryland would add two more big wins late in the season, which turned out to be far more than just “big” wins. The offense seemed about average, hitting at a .270 mark with 308 runs scored in 57 games. Pitching turned out to be the key for this squad, with a team ERA of 3.42 and an even better starters’ ERA of 2.58. With two weeks to go in the season, it seemed maybe it would be another year missing the tournament. On the outside looking in, Maryland rattled off 11 straight wins, including two ACC sweeps (Notre Dame and Pitt), and beating then-#3 Virginia and then-#4 Florida State in back to back conference tournament games. The win streak was snapped by North Carolina in a meaningless pool game, but Maryland had already clinched a spot in the ACC Championship game, eventually losing to Georgia Tech. Make no mistake, this team fears nobody and will give nothing less than 150% whoever they play.
(3) Old Dominion Monarchs: With an overall record of 36-24, 17-13 conference (C-USA) and 13-9 on the road, Old Dominion pulled off a few huge wins in the regular season to show they can compete with anybody in the field. In late April, the then top-ranked power Virginia came to town, which Old Dominion would blast 8-1, followed by big wins over Rice (a regional host) on the road and again in the conference tournament. The Monarchs were led by their bats with a team batting average of .283 with 340 runs scored in 60 games, while pitching held down their end with a team ERA of 3.43 and a starter’s ERA of 3.52. The Monarchs lost the C-USA Tournament opener to Middle Tennessee State, then won three consecutive including another over Rice before falling to the Owls to end their tournament. A lot of the numbers can be deceiving with this squad because they can play with anybody.
(4) Campbell Camels: The Camels come into tournament play with an overall record of 40-19, 18-8 conference (Big South) and 11-9 on the road. A couple of their notable wins came on back to back nights, taking down NC State and Virginia Tech on the road at the end of April. The strength of the Camels numbers-wise is the offense, hitting at a team average of .271 with 310 runs scored in 58 games. The pitching wasn’t bad either, with a team ERA of 3.49 and the three-man starting rotation ERA of 2.72. The Camels had a stellar showing in the Big South Tournament despite falling in the tournament opener, only to win the next five straight–including High Point twice in the semi-finals on Saturday and Winthrop on Sunday to claim the Big South title.
The Columbia regional kicks off tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 with Maryland facing Old Dominion, followed by the Gamecocks sending Jordan Montgomery to the hill to face fourth-seeded Campbell at 7:00.