Previewing the Charlottesville Regional

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The Road to Omaha continues this weekend with NCAA regional action.

We take an in-depth look at all 16 NCAA regionals.

THE TEAMS
TeamConferenceRecordBerthLast NCAA appearance
1. VirginiaAtlantic Coast47-11At-large2009 (College World Series)
2. MississippiSEC38-22At-large2009 (Oxford SR)
3. St. John’sBig East40-18Won Big East2008 (Houston Regional)
4. Virginia CommonwealthColonial34-24-1Won CAA2007 (Houston Regional)
THE BREAKDOWN
The favorite: Virginia
1. Virginia
2. Mississippi
3. St. John’s
4. VCU
The Cavaliers are one of the most balanced teams in the NCAA postseason field and will show their strengths in a big way this weekend. The Cavaliers have a solid and balanced offensive lineup that is hitting .333 with Keith Werman, Stephen Bruno, Phil Gosselin, John Barr and Tyler Cannon leading the way. Also keep an eye on Jarrett Parker, Steven Proscia and Dan Grovatt, as all three have the ability to get on hot streaks. On the mound, it doesn’t get much better than left-hander Danny Hultzen. Robert Morey also has put together a solid campaign and has a 3.60 ERA in 90 innings. Cody Winiarski, meanwhile, is 5-0 with a 4.39 ERA in 67 2/3 innings. Virginia also possesses a pair of solid relievers in Tyler Wilson and Kevin Arico.
The dark-horse contender: Mississippi
The Rebels have a solid pitching staff with Pomeranz, Aaron Barrett, Brett Huber and Matt Crouse leading the way. But the offense is their biggest question mark this weekend. The Rebels have gone into offensive lulls at times this season and enter the Charlottesville Regional with just a .287 batting average. Ole Miss desperately needs big weekends from Matt Smith, Tim Ferguson and Alex Yarbrough to advance. Zach Miller and Kevin Mort, who are just hitting .279, must rise to the occasion, too.
Best hitter: St. John’s OF Jeremy Baltz
Baltz has put together a fabulous freshman campaign and had an opportunity to showcase his skills on the national stage this weekend. Baltz enters regional play hitting a team best .393 with 16 doubles, a triple, 20 homers and 74 RBIs. He also is slugging .741 and has a .471 on-base percentage. The most impressive thing about Baltz is the fact it’s just his first season at the Division I level. He will be a Freshman All-American.
Best pitcher: Mississippi LHP Drew Pomeranz
There’s a good reason why Pomeranz could be a very rich man in the near future. The talented left-handed pitcher has had a fabulous junior campaign for the Rebels. He enters regional play with an 8-2 record and a 2.21 ERA in 93 2/3 innings. He also has struck out 134 and walked 46 and teams are hitting just .190 off him. Also impressive is that Pomeranz only has thrown one wild pitch this season.
The buzz
The Cavaliers have several players to thank for their amazing run last season and fantastic campaign this spring. No player may be more important than two-way player Danny Hultzen, though. Hultzen is having a phenomenal season on the mound. He enters the regional with a 9-1 record and a 2.43 ERA in 92 2/3 innings. He also has struck out 111 and walked 20 and teams are hitting .184 against him. Hultzen is a big key to Virginia’s national title hopes … Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco isn’t ready to take any chances this weekend. Bianco will send lefty Drew Pomeranz to the mound in the opener against St. John’s, opting to throw usual No. 2 starter in the second game against either Virginia or Virginia Commonwealth. Barrett is 7-4 with a 4.16 ERA in 88 2/3 innings. He has struck out 97 and walked 46 and teams are hitting .238 against him … Speaking of solid pitchers, St. John’s will send freshman right-hander Kyle Hansen to the mound against Ole Miss in the regional opener. Hansen, of course, is the younger brother of former Johnnies star and current big league pitcher Craig Hansen. Kyle is making a name for himself this season. He enters the weekend 8-1 with a 3.09 ERA in 87 1/3 innings. He also has struck out 81 and walked 36 and teams are hitting him at a .208 clip … VCU hopes to shock the national by upsetting Virginia in the regional opener. The Rams have an excellent ace pitcher in Seth Cutler-Voltz. Cutler-Voltz has a 3.20 ERA in 115 1/3 innings and is limiting teams to a .246 batting average. At the plate, keep an eye on leading hitter Joe Van Meter, who’s hitting at an amazing .433 clip with 13 doubles, seven triples, 10 homers and 72 RBIs. He also is slugging .671 and has a .476 on-base percentage.

Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Yahoo! Sports and Rivals.com. Follow him on Twitter and follow Yahoo! Sports College Baseball on Facebook. Send Kendall a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Friday, Jun 4, 2010