Home Preview: Virginia, the #12 national seed, hosts Penn, Mississippi State and St. John’s

Preview: Virginia, the #12 national seed, hosts Penn, Mississippi State and St. John’s

college world series 2024 Virginia is the #12 national seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament, and will host a regional round in Charlottesville that will begin on Friday, with a four-team field coming to town that includes Mississippi State, St. John’s and Penn.

The Cavaliers (41-15, RPI: 12) are looking to make it back to Omaha for a second straight season, third year in the last four and seventh overall.

First things first: UVA opens with Penn (24-23, RPI: 180), the Ivy League champ, on Friday.

Mississippi State (38-21, RPI: 25) meets St. John’s (37-16, RPI: 51) in the other game on Friday.

The format is double-elimination, so, there are two games each day, Friday-Sunday, with a Game 7 on Monday, if necessary.

Scouting the Charlottesville Regional

penn baseball We’ll start with Penn, since the ‘Hoos start with Penn.

One thing to know: UVA grad lefty Owen Coady (1-1, 5.94 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, 29Ks/22BBs in 33.1 IP), who has been the #3 starter the past few weeks, transferred in from Penn ahead of this season.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brian O’Connor go with Coady on Friday, to try to save his top two starters, Evan Blanco (7-3, 3.50 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 79Ks/24BBs in 79.2 IP) and Joe Savino (2-2, 3.18 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 15Ks/9BBs in 22.2 IP) for the weekend.

The likely starting pitcher for the Quakers on Friday is Cole Zaffiro (5-4, 4.98 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 86Ks/34BBs in 68.2 IP), a 6’2” senior righthander.

Zaffiro is averaging around five and a half innings per start, so, you can expect to see a good bit of the Penn bullpen.

The best arms out of the pen are 6’2” senior righthander Carson Ozmer (2-1, 4 saves, 3.68 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 41Ks/17BBs in 36.2 IP), 6’4” senior righty Eli Trop (3-2, 3.38 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 29Ks/12BBs in 21.1 IP) and 6’2” sophomore righty Thomas Shurtleff (1-0, 4.13 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 33Ks/15BBs in 28.1 IP).

The guy to watch in the lineup is senior third baseman Wyatt Henseler (.372 BA/1.259 OPS, 22 HRs, 55 RBIs).

Henseler, who has a .474 OBP, is one of five Penn regulars with a .400+ OBP on the season.

Penn had a 1-2 record in Quad 1 games this year, all against College of Charleston (41-14, RPI: 42), which was listed among the First Four Out in this year’s NCAA Tournament field.

Penn lost the first two games of a weekend series in March at Charleston, 11-5 and 7-4, before taking the finale, 6-5.

mississippi state baseball Next up, Mississippi State, which was 17-13 in the SEC in 2024, with a weekend series win over #7 national seed Georgia and a season split with #3 national seed Texas A&M.

The #2 starter is a guy that you might have heard of, 5’11” sophomore Jurrangelo Cijntje (8-2, 3.55 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 108Ks/29BBs in 83.2 IP), who throws from both sides, and can hit 95 mph on the gun from the right side and 93 mph on the gun from the left.

That ought to be fun.

The bullpen has some nice arms – including 6’2” senior lefty Tyler Davis (5-1, 5 saves, 1.35 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 40Ks/12BBs in 33.1 IP), 6’2” junior righty Tyson Hardin (3-2, 2 saves, 3.09 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 34Ks/21BBs in 35.0 IP), and 6’5” senior righty Brooks Auger (1-2, 3.27 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 47Ks/16BBs in 41.1 IP).

The key guys in the lineup are sophomore outfielder Dakota Jordan (.339 BA/1.095 OPS, 17 HRs, 63 RBIs), senior outfielder Connor Hujsak (.350 BA/1.042 OPS, 9 HRs, 48 RBIs), sophomore shortstop David Mershon (.335 BA, .928 OPS, 5 HRs, 39 RBIs, 25 SBs) and junior DH Hunter Hines (.245 BA/.805 OPS, 15 HRs, 51 RBIs).

st. johns baseball And then, last but not least, we have St. John’s, the Big East champ.

St. John’s is the rare team with three established and successful weekend starters – 6’8” sophomore righthander Mario Pesca (6-1, 2.96 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 51Ks/36BBs in 70.1 IP), 6’5” sophomore righty Xavier Kolhosser (9-2, 3.61 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 44Ks/24BBs in 67.1 IP) and 6’1” freshman lefty Evan Chaffee (3-0, 4.30 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 54Ks/27BBs in 67.0 IP).

The top hitter is sophomore catcher Jimmy Keenan (.341 BA/1.025 OPS, 11 HRs, 55 RBIs).

Three regulars are in double-digits in stolen bases – junior outfielder Jackson Tucker (.280 BA/.812 OPS, 18 SBs), senior outfielder Ben Beauchamp (.286 BA/.892 OPS, 17 SBs) and senior infielder Anthony Brienza (.280 BA/.744 OPS, 11 SBs).

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].