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College : : Story
Preview: Gainesville SR
Kendall Rogers        
Published: Friday, June 08, 2012

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North Carolina State (43-18) vs. Florida (45-18)


National rank by PG: N.C. State (10, Florida (1)
When: Saturday (6/9), 2 p.m. (ESPNUHD) -- Sunday (6/10), 1 p.m. (ESPNUHD) -- Monday (6/11), 1 p.m. (ESPN2HD)
Where: McKethan Stadium (5,500) in Gainesville, Fla.
College World Series appearances:N.C. State (1968), Florida (7)
The pick: Florida


Gainesville Super Regional: Who has the edge?
Starting pitching

When you consider N.C. State has the elite starting pitcher in this NCAA Super Regional in big-time left-hander Carlos Rodon, it's tough to go against it in terms of starting pitching. But Florida has the better overall package.

The Gators essentially have four or five guys capable of being weekend starters. But as of right now, the starters include right-hander Hudson Randall, who will touch 91 at times, and left-handers Brian Johnson and Jonathon Crawford, who touch 93-94 and 98, respectively throughout their outings.

Randall is Mr. Command for the Gators. He has a 2.83 ERA in 86 innings of work. He has struck out 57 and walked 10, while teams are hitting him at a .239 clip. Meanwhile, Johnson has been fabulous down the stretch and has a 3.56 ERA in 86 innings with 68 strikeouts and 15 walks. Crawford threw a no-hitter last weekend against Bethune-Cookman and is the next big-time arm for the Gators. He has a 2.92 ERA in 71 innings of work.

As for N.C. State, it possesses an absolute stud in lefty Carlos Rodon. Rodon probably would've been the top pick in this year's MLB draft if he was eligible. But he still has two seasons to go until that happens. The lefty is 9-0 with a 1.61 ERA in 111 2/3 innings. He has struck out 132 and walked 41, while teams are hitting him at a .181 clip.

Ethan Ogburn is another quality starter for the Wolfpack. He has a 3.23 ERA in 86 1/3 innings, with teams hitting him at a .248 clip, while Anthony Tzamtzis is 5-5 with a 3.84 ERA in 63 1/3 innings of work. He has struck out 63 and walked 39 this season.

Expect some good starting pitching this weekend.
Bullpen

When it comes to quality bullpens, it's tough to get much better than these two clubs.

The Gators enter the weekend with arguably the nation's best bullpen, as they have several premier arms. UF is led out of the pen by veterans such as Greg Larson, Steven Rodriguez and Austin Maddox, while Daniel Gibson also has played a key role this season.

Larson has made 31 appearances this season and has a 1.31 ERA in 48 innings of work. He has struck out 34 and walked 10, while teams are hitting him at a .194 clip. Meanwhile, Rodriguez has appeared in 32 games and has a 2.08 ERA in 60 2/3 innings, while Maddox has a fastball in the 92-95 range and has a 2.24 ERA in 52 1/3 innings. Gibson also is worth watching, as he has appeared in 23 games and has a 2.96 ERA, while Johnny Magliozzi could see times as well as he has appeared in 16 games and has a 5.03 ERA.

For N.C. State, it's led out of the bullpen by outstanding closer Chris Overman. Overman has appeared in 27 games, recorded six saves and has a 3.00 ERA in 33 innings.

Also keep an eye on Vance Williams (who started last weekend), Travis Orwig and Ryan Wilkins, who was fantastic in the Raleigh Regional last weekend.

Williams has appeared in 21 games and has a 3.44 ERA in 55 innings, while Orwig has a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings of work and Wilkins has a 5.10 ERA in 47 2/3 innings, though, like I said a bit ago, he threw very well last weekend in clutch situations.
Offense

Florida enters the weekend with one of the nation's hottest and most talented offensive lineups, but from a sheer consistency standpoint, N.C. State has been the better offensive club this season.

The Wolfpack enter the weekend with a very respectable .298 team batting average with shortstop Chris Diaz and third baseman Trea Turner leading the way. Diaz is hitting an impressive .356 with 25 doubles, a home run and 55 RBIs, while Turner is hitting .344 with 13 doubles, five homers and 42 RBIs.

Also keep an eye on catcher Danny Canela, designated hitter Ryan Mathews, Andrew Ciencin and Tarran Senay.

Canela is hitting .342 with six homers and 44 RBIs, Mathews has big-time power potential and is hitting .336 with 17 homers and 62 RBIs, and Ciencin and Senay both are capable of putting together some impressive performances, hitting .284 and .223, respectively.

For the Gators, it simply doesn't get much better than catcher Mike Zunino. In addition to being a very good defensive catcher, Zunino is hitting .316 with 18 homers and 60 RBIs. Meanwhile, outfielder Daniel Pigott is hitting a team-high .321 with seven homers and 38 RBIs, while Preston Tucker and Brian Johnson are hitting .316 and .310, respectively.

Though N.C. State has the edge here, the Gators' numbers are deceiving. For instance, they were outstanding from an offensive standpoint last weekend in the Gainesville Regional.

It'll be interesting to see how both teams hit this weekend.
Defense

Both the Wolfpack and Gators have been sensational from a defensive standpoint, but it's Florida gets the edge in this category.

UF has one of the nation's elite defensive teams. The Gators enter the weekend with a .978 fielding percentage and have some outstanding players in key positions.

For instance, catcher Mike Zunino is a safe bet to be an All-American and is an outstanding defensive catcher, while shortstop Nolan Fontana and second baseman Casey Turgeon formulate one of the nation's best middle infield tandems.

The Gators also have a very stable outfield.

For N.C. State, catcher Danny Canela is a seasoned veteran and a big frame behind the plate, while the middle infield typically is in good shape with shortstop Chris Diaz the leader with a .958 fielding percentage.
Intangibles

The Gators might take a slight step back next season with the likely departure of several seasoned veterans, but for now, they're in great shape from an experience and leadership standpoint.

UF reached the College World Series title series last season before dropping a tough series to SEC foe South Carolina. This team is motivated and more confident than ever entering this weekend, which by the way, is at the friendly confined of McKethan Stadium.

With the Gators playing at home, it's important for the Wolfpack, who seized a lot of momentum last weekend with a spectacular comeback against Vanderbilt, to get off to a fast start in the series.

All the intangibles point UF's direction at this point.



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