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BSD Viewpoints: College Station Regional

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Weather permitting, Wake will begin NCAA Tournament play today at 4 P.M. against Minnesota. What do BSD writers expect?

Dean Shore

With the Diamond Deacs set to start NCAA Regional play against Minnesota in the College Station Regional, the BSD crew fielded a few questions about the pitching matchups, weather, and how Wake should fare moving forward.

1. Wake decided to name Parker Dunshee as the starter for the opening game against Minnesota. What do you think of this decision?

Rob: I'm all about this decision. Quite frankly, I don't think we have much of a chance to beat Texas A&M regardless of the pitcher, so we might as well use our ace against Minnesota. They have a good lineup and this makes perfect sense.

Riley: I think this is the right move. While there is definitely the other side of saving him for a potential game vs. Texas A&M, I am firmly in the camp of "win the game in front of you", and then worry about any other games that we might play. For all we know, Binghamton could upset Texas A&M, and that would set us up perfectly should we get through Minnesota with Dunshee today.

Bart: I don't want to sound like an echo chamber, but I agree with both Rob and Riley that this is the correct move. While a few comments popped up over the week expressing the opposing view, that Dunshee should be saved for another game as the ace, I firmly believe that if Wake loses today then it's going to be nearly impossible to claw back and get out of the regional. With a win in the opener, you remove the possibility of playing four consecutive elimination games. Play to win the current game, and here, that means throwing your everyday Friday starter.

2. With the threat of rain over the course of the weekend looming over the head of all the teams in the region, will this alter the way the Deacs play or handle their pitchers?

Rob: I think the rain makes it even more important to throw Parker Dunshee in game 1. They could benefit from a few days of rain, and then be able to use him again. I also think if rain looks like it's looming and a game will probably get postponed early on, then I would start a bullpen player, and then throw the typical starter after the rain delay.

Riley: Outside of Dunshee, (Drew) Loepprich, (Will) Craig, and maybe a couple of other guys here and there, the pitching has been fairly suspect all season. I don't think the rain will do much at all to the plan that Coach Walter and the staff have for the weekend unless it really stretches it out.

Bart: The rain will be interesting for a variety of reasons. It looks like the Deacs will be able to get at least most of their game in Friday before the rain comes, but if it ends up raining out the night game the loser of the Deacs-Gophers game will benefit from not having to play back-to-back games on Saturday as the loser of the TAMU-Binghamton game would likely have to do. If there are a lot of starts and stops during the games, I think that really hurts Wake though as we could have starters warmed up and throws some pitches and then potentially unable to return. Wake's bullpen is my biggest concern and eating through more guys than needed due to weather would just magnify the concern.

3. Wake is a three seed in the region and Texas A&M is the 4th national seed overall as well as the top-ranked team in the country in most of the polls. What would Wake have to do this weekend for it to be considered a success and what would it do to have it be considered a bust?

Rob: 0-2 is definitely a bust. I guess the only exception to that is if A&M somehow loses to Binghamton in the opening round. Still, I'll definitely call it a success if they can get to the championship round and be one of the final two teams in this region.

Riley: Typically as the 3 seed in a regionals, going 1-2 is the expected outcome (lose to the 2 seed, defeat the 4 seed, likely lose to the 2 seed again). In this case, I think going 2-1 and getting to the final "series" vs. Texas A&M would be a success. Anything more than that (as in moving on), would obviously be a fantastic success for the Deacs. I would be sorely disappointed with a loss to Minnesota today and then a loss to Binghamton/Texas A&M tomorrow. Going 0-2 would really end the year on a poor note.

Bart: Agreed that the only real bust from the outset would be going 0-2. It would be disappointing if Wake made it to the Championship Series and then lost to Binghamton or something, but even then the Deacs took two games to get there. The way I've thought about defining success here for Wake has been "get two cracks at Texas A&M." By that I mean take care of business in the first game and give yourself a shot to knock off the Aggies in the winner's bracket (assuming that they beat Binghamton). If you lose to the Aggies, win one elimination game and get another chance in the championship round. If Wake gets a win over a team not named Binghamton though, I think in hindsight it would likely be considered a relatively successful season.

4. What are your predictions for the Minnesota game?

Rob: I'll take the Deacs to win 5-4. Minnesota's starting pitcher has been performing well, but I truly believe that the competition in the ACC is just on an entirely different level than the competition in the Big Ten.

Riley: It's hard to assess this game because Minnesota has a similar record to Wake, but nowhere near the strength of schedule played. Wake Forest has won 13 games against the RPI top 50 this season (in 30 games), while Minnesota has PLAYED 7 top 50 RPI teams (3-4 record). If we are going strictly by RPI, Minnesota would be the 12th best team in the ACC, 11 spots behind Boston College. With Wake throwing its Friday starter in Dunshee, and Minnesota throwing their Saturday starter, I would expect the Deacs to have a slight advantage. I'll be a positive Deacon today and say that Wake gets the win 7-5 in a tight one.

Bart: Yep, agree again with Rob and Riley. Baseball has a lot of variance and any team can beat any other team on a given day probably more so than in any other sport. That being said I firmly believe that Wake is a better team overall than Minnesota. I expect the tough competition Wake faced over the course of the season to benefit Wake. Meanwhile on the flip side, Wake is the best team Minnesota has played all year according to RPI. I think Wake gets some early runs and holds on late for a 6-4 win.

5. What are your predictions for the College Station Regional for the Diamond Deacs?

Rob: I'll say that Wake beats Minnesota, loses to A&M, and then probably loses to Minnesota. I think the Minnesota game mostly rests on how well Tom Walter manages the bullpen during the Texas A&M game.

Riley: This region is Texas A&M's to lose. Minnesota is, statistically speaking, the worst 2 seed, so it's a good regional to be a 3 seed in. Unfortunately, A&M is the No. 1 team in the country on a lot of statistical websites. I will be optimistic again, say that Wake makes the final "series" vs. A&M, and ends their season with loss to A&M.

Bart: Yeah nobody is taking anyone other than A&M to win this region at home. I agree with Rob that Wake knocks of Minnesota with Dunshee Friday, falls to A&M Saturday, and gets knocked out by Minnesota on Sunday when the bullpen is depleted and we've used our top two starters. If Wake is up by a lot against Minnesota on Friday (I'm thinking at least a six or seven run lead through five innings - which I do not expect to happen), Walter should pull Dunshee with the hopes of getting him back out there for a relief opportunity on Sunday.

If rain pushes the regional back a day at some point, that would also be huge for Wake since Dunshee could have a decent shot of throwing a couple or three innings in a Monday elimination game that would've been scheduled for Sunday. As a side note, Wake fans should absolutely be pulling for Binghamton in every game they play that's not against the Diamond Deacs. The lone exception I can think of is if Wake loses against Minnesota it wouldn't be the end of the world for TAMU to take care of business so Wake can avoid getting the top-ranked team in the country in the region's first elimination game. That wouldn't be great.

That wraps up our preview coverage this week of the College Station Regional. A game thread will be out Friday afternoon before the first pitch of the region which is at 4 P.M. EST between Wake and Minnesota. If you guys have any thoughts on these questions or any other comments, drop us a line below!

Get it done against Minnesota guys and as always, go Deacs!