NCAA Lubbock Regional Preview: Delaware vs Texas Tech
The Texas Tech Red Raiders will open up their road to Omaha in their home stadium against the Blue Hens of Delaware.
Texas Tech, on paper, is the better team. The no. 5 national seed is the one seed in this Regional with Delaware as the four seed. The Texas Tech RPI is 5th in the nation, with Delaware at 123rd.
Even with Texas Tech ranking more than 150 ahead of Delaware in strength of schedule, you have to remember this game isn't played on paper; it's played on the field at 2 p.m.
So let's take a look at who will be on the field today for the Red Raiders and the Blue Hens.
Davis Martin is the probable starter for the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Martin came back during the Big 12 Tournament after a lengthy layoff due to injury. Martin was pretty sharp in his return on a limited pitch count against Oklahoma State. On the year, Martin is 4-2 in seven starts with a 3.05 ERA.
The Delaware starting pitcher will likely be Ron Marinaccio, who has a 1.85 ERA in 21 appearances with seven starts. Marinaccio had one complete game shutout on the season and held opposing bats to a .195 batting average.
Martin, if healthy, is the better pitcher. Marinaccio has a 4-plus ERA in his career, but seemed to figure something out in his junior season.
The difference in these two schools will be the bullpen. Texas Tech has a much deeper bullpen than Delaware, whose best reliever has a 3.22 ERA. Texas Tech has two relievers who have 20-plus innings with a 2.05 ERA in John McMillon and Parker Mushinksi. Texas Tech also has four other relievers who had at least 17 appearances and sub-4 ERAs.
I think the starters here will be similarly successful today, with the Texas Tech bullpen creating a clear advantage.
The Delaware lineup features some strong bats. It's hard to judge the quality because of the strength of schedule, but seven batters are hitting over .300 with at least 150 at bats. The Blue Hens have four players with double-digit home runs. As a team, Delaware is hitting .313 with a .411 OBP and a .487 slugging percentage. They've played 55 games and have 57 HRs.
Defensively, all eight position players have a fielding percentage over .900 with a team wide fielding percentage of .967. The fundamentals of baseball transcend strength of schedule, so if nothing else you know for sure Delaware has a solid defense.
The Texas Tech lineup is just as stout against much better competition. Five Red Raiders are hitting over .300 with at least 150 at bats, with two more hitting .298 and .297 and another (if you add Cody Farhat) who is hitting .354 in 130 at bats. Twelve Red Raiders have hit the ball out of the park this season. As a team, the Red Raiders are hitting .306 with an OBP of .391 and a slugging percentage of .472. The Red Raiders played 58 games and hit 54 HRs.
Defensively, the Red Raiders are incredibly solid in the field. The outfield has been making SportsCenter top 10 plays reels all season long. Nobody on the entire team is under a .970 fielding percentage with a team total of .979, which is good for 15th in the nation.
The defense is a wash with these two teams. The hitting is also a wash, with both teams facing opposing pitching staffs with 6-plus ERAs. Delaware has dangerous power, but Texas Tech has a relentless offense from top to bottom.
The 1 seed should beat the 4 seed. That's a fact. Texas Tech also has post-season experience and a home field advantage where they are 23-5 in 2017.
I'll take Texas Tech to win game one.