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Jacksonville College Baseball Classic Preview

The second weekend of college baseball is upon us and that means another weekend of tournaments and showcases. #13 Virginia, #15 Iowa, #21 Auburn, and Wichita State have arrived in Jacksonville, Florida prepared for a big early season test. It has the feeling of an NCAA Regional field, despite the high rankings of three of the teams. And despite Wichita's offseason player exodus, there are no easy games for this Classic.

Game Schedule

Friday, February 23rd

2 PM: Wichita State (2-1) vs #13 Virginia (4-0)

LHP Caden Favors (1-0, 6.35 ERA, 8 K) vs LHP Evan Blanco (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 K)

6 PM: #15 Iowa (3-1) vs #21 Auburn (4-0)

RHP Brody Brecht (0-0, 2.08 ERA, 11 K) vs RHP Chase Allsup (0-0, 5.79 ERA, 5 K)

Saturday, February 24th

12 PM: #21 Auburn (4-0) vs Wichita State (2-1)

RHP Joseph Gonzalez (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 K) vs RHP Tommy Lapour (0-0, 10.12 ERA, 2 K)

4 PM: #13 Virginia (4-0) vs #15 Iowa (3-1)

RHP Jack O'Connor (0-0, 6.75 ERA, 3 K) vs RHP Marcus Morgan (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 9 K)

Sunday, February 25th

12 PM: Wichita State (2-1) vs #15 Iowa (3-1)

RHP Daniel Zang (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 8 K) vs LHP Cade Obermueller (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 7 K)

4 PM: #13 Virginia (4-0) vs #21 Auburn (4-0)

TBA vs LHP Carson Myers (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 8 K)

Meet the Teams

Wichita State (2-1)

Wichita State is coming off a weekend in which they took two of three at Arkansas-Little Rock. With a new head coach and a massive roster overhaul, the new look Shockers looked impressive as they outscored Little Rock 32-5 in the first two games. They lost a close one-run game in the series finale on Sunday, but overall have to be pleased with their performance against a potential tournament team on the road.

The Shockers faced the 2023 National ERA champion on Opening Weekend and tagged him for seven runs in two innings. Per our very own AAC expert Ash (@ashleighxcash), the player to watch is Mauricio Millan. "Millan is one of the best catchers in the AAC, an experienced vet with excellent defense and a solid arm. He’s not easy to pitch to either, coming off a season where he batted .315 with 15 doubles. He’s also got a solid eye, walking almost as much as he strikes out."

With a talented lineup and solid pitching staff, don't be surprised if Wichita State manages to steal a game against on of these ranked teams.

Top 2024 Performers:

IF Camden Johnson (Fr): 8-15, 2B, 7 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB

IF/OF Ryan Callahan (R-Jr): 7-13, 2B, 6 R, 3 BB

C Mauricio Millan (Jr): 5-11, 2B, 4, 3 BB

OF Seth Stroh (Sr): 4-13, 3B, HR, 7 RBI, 3 R

#13 Virginia (4-0)

Virginia is coming off a shaky Opening Weekend despite being undefeated. The deep lineup produced as expected, scoring 44 runs over three games against Hofstra. The pitching staff, however, showed some concerns as starters Jack O'Connor and Jay Woolfolk weren't very sharp. With a couple of injuries during the preseason setting guys back, it could just be a case not being stretched out enough for the start of the season. We'll have a better idea this weekend after they face three talented lineups.

The lineup is led by junior shortstop Griff O'Ferrall, who has already doubled his home run total from last season. He's added 10 pounds of muscle and is taking a more aggressive approach at the plate, which makes the UVA record holder for hits in a season an even more dangerous hitter. While he insists that he's not a slugger now, it's hard to argue against that when he was casually hitting bombs in the pre-tournament batting practice on Thursday afternoon.

Another bat to watch out for is junior catcher and first baseman Ethan Anderson. The switch hitter has gotten off to a slow start in 2024, but expect him to start producing very soon.

Top 2024 Performers:

SS Griff O'Ferrall (Jr): 8-17, 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 5 R, 1 BB, 1-1 SB

1B Henry Ford (Fr): 8-15, 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 8 R, 2 BB

RF Casey Saucke (Jr): 5-13, 2 2B, 6 RBI, 6 R, 3 BB

LF Harrison Didawick (So): 7-17, 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 8 R, 2 BB

2B Henry Godbout (So): 4-11, 4 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R, 3 BB

#15 Iowa (3-1)

Iowa may have dropped a game on Opening Weekend to Lehigh, but other than that the Hawkeyes looked as expected. Led by a three-headed monster of Brody Brecht, Marcus Morgan, and Cade Obermueller in the rotation, it's safe to say that Iowa is a threat on a national level. They'll get a chance to prove that this weekend as Brecht and Morgan are slated to face very strong lineups in Auburn and Virginia.

While the pitching gets all of the accolades and attention, the Iowa lineup goes a bit under-the-radar. The bottom of their order hasn't gotten things going yet this season, but outfielder Sam Peterson and infielder Raider Tello have each gotten off to hot starts and shouldn't be overlooked.

Top 2024 Performers:

OF Sam Peterson (Jr): 10-16, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 8 R, 1 BB, 6-6 SB

IF Raider Tello (R-Jr): 7-18, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 2 R

C Reese Moore (R-Fr): 5-9, 4 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB

OF Kyle Huckstorf (R-Sr): 3-12, HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB

C Davis Cop (Sr): 4-16, 2B, 4 RBI, 1 R, 2 BB

#21 Auburn (4-0)

The Auburn Tigers, like Virginia, are undefeated through the first four games of the season. They scored 32 runs over their opening weekend sweep of Eastern Kentucky, which also feature impressive outings by starting pitchers Joseph Gonzalez and Carson Myers. The player to watch in the lineup is sophomore Ike Irish, who already has four extra base hits on the early season. The Tigers have a deep lineup that will get the chance to face a premier pitcher on Friday night in Iowa's Brody Brecht. Look for them to work counts and look for the fastball against a talented pitcher that can sometimes struggle with command.

Auburn will face #13 Virginia on Sunday which might be the most underrated matchup of the weekend. With Virginia unsure of who will start on the mound, you have to give the edge to Carson Myers and Auburn. If Myers struggles against the deep Virginia lineup, you could see a Sunday shootout in the tournament's finale.

Top 2024 Performers:

C Ike Irish (So): 6-18, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 4 R, 1 BB

SS Cooper Weiss (Gr): 5-13, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 2 R, 4 BB, 6-7 SB

CF Chris Stanfield (So): 5-13, 2 2B, 3B, HR, 4 RBI, 6 R, 5 BB, 2-2 SB

RF Bobby Peirce (Gr): 4-14, 3B, HR, 4 RBI, 7 R, 3 BB

3B Deric Fabian (Jr): 3-10, 6 RBI, 1 R, 3 BB, 2-2 SB

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