Previewing the Coral Gables 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.

TeamConferenceRecordBerthLast NCAA appearance
1. MiamiAtlantic Coast40-17At-large2009 (Gainesville Regional)
2. Texas A&MBig 1240-19-1Won Big 122009 (Fort Worth Regional)
3. Florida InternationalSun Belt36-23Won SBC2002 (Gainesville Regional)
4. DartmouthIvy Group26-17Won Ivy2009 (Chapel Hill Regional)
The favorite: Miami (Fla.)
1. Miami (Fla.)
2. Texas A&M
3. Florida Int’l
4. Dartmouth
There are plenty observers out there that believe the Hurricanes are ripe for the picking this weekend, but it boils down to the fact that Miami, well, is still Miami. The Hurricanes typically know what it takes to win in the postseason. It will be interesting to see what happens this weekend. The ‘Canes have just an OK offensive lineup with stud catcher Yasmani Grandal leading the charge. Also keep an eye on Chris Pelaez and Harold Martinez. Martinez is interesting to watch because he only has a .298 batting average. However, he also has 19 homers and 60 RBIs. On the mound, the ‘Canes won’t have Eric Erickson, but still have a solid nucleus with Chris Hernandez, E.J. Encinosa and Daniel Miranda leading the way.
The dark-horse contender: Texas A&M
It only was a month ago that some wondered if the Aggies were trying to play themselves out of an NCAA tournament appearance. Now the Aggies are considered one of the nation’s hottest teams entering the postseason. The Aggies have a .301 team batting average with Brodie Green leading the charge. Greene is hitting .392 with 12 homers and 50 RBIs. Also keep an eye on Joe Patterson and red-hot freshman outfielder Tyler Naquin. On the mound, Loux leads the way. But the Aggies also have a fantastic freshman in Michael Wacha and a fabulous closer in John Stilson. The one thing the Aggies can’t do this weekend is be forced to go deep into their bullpen.
Best hitter: Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal
If you’re a fan of great players, you’ll absolutely love watching Grandal on ESPNU this weekend. The junior catcher is having a fabulous campaign that has him a lock to be a top-round pick in next week’s MLB draft. Grandal is solid behind and at the plate. He is hitting a team best .422 with 22 doubles, a triple, 14 homers and 56 RBIs. He also is slugging .754 and has a .545 on-base percentage. Grandal is a treat to watch.
Best pitcher: Texas A&M RHP Barret Loux
There’s a reason there is a great chance Loux gets drafted in the first round of the MLB draft next week. The junior right-hander has had a fantastic campaign for the Aggies. He enters the weekend 10-2 in 15 starts with a 2.53 ERA in 96 innings. He also has struck out 126 and walked 32 while opponents are hitting just .196 off him. Loux also has tossed a complete game this season. Loux must get the Aggie started on a positive note against Florida International.
The buzz
The Hurricanes will have to win the Coral Gables Regional without one of their best in veteran left-handed pitcher Eric Erickson. Erickson will miss the series and likely the rest of the season with an arm injury. Erickson had compiled impressive numbers. He was 4-1 with a 2.52 ERA in 53 2/3 innings. He also had struck out 47 and walked six and teams were hitting him at a .239 clip … A lot of talk regarding Texas A&M down the stretch focused on starting pitcher Barret Loux, but reliever John Stilson also has been fantastic this season. Stilson, who throws in the mid 90s, enters the weekend with nine saves in 31 appearances and a 0.87 ERA in 72 1/3 innings. He also has struck out 106 and walked 20 while teams are hitting just .172 against him … Florida International shortstop Garrett Wittels is the guy to watch this weekend. Wittels is in the midst of a 54-game hitting streak and hopes to keep it going in regional action. Wittels is hitting .412 with 19 doubles, two homers and 58 RBIs. Wittels is four games shy of Robin Ventura’s record of 58 straight games with a hit … The Big Green leave something to be desired on the mound but do have a pair of solid pitchers in Kyle Hunter and Cole Sulser. Hunter is 2-0 with a 3.69 ERA in 53 2/3 innings. He also has struck ot 36 and walked six while opponents are hitting .315 off him. Sulser, meanwhile, has a 3.76 ERA in 52 2/3 innings and is limiting teams to a low .241 batting average.

Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Yahoo! Sports and 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 Thursday, Jun 3, 2010