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Preview: Tough task ahead for Army baseball at Lubbock Regional in NCAA tournament

Army is in the regional with Texas Tech, Dallas Baptist and Florida. Play begins on Friday for the Black Knights.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Florida vs Texas Tech
Texas Tech and Florida are two of the teams grouped with Army in the 2019 Lubbock Regional.
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight season, the Army Black Knights are in the NCAA baseball tournament.

Next stop: Lubbock, Texas.

Army begins play in its regional on Friday, taking on host No. 8 Texas Tech at 4 p.m. ET. According to Texas Tech’s website, the game is already a sellout. The other two teams in the regional are Dallas Baptist and Florida. The Black Knights are making the farthest trip out of any of the four schools in the regional.

And you can watch Army, and the rest of the NCAA baseball tournament, for free online, via ESPN3.

Here’s a quick look at Army, the teams they’ll be matched up against and what lies ahead for the Black Knights’ baseball team.

Army (35-24)

How’d they get here: Via automatic qualification, by beating Navy for the Patriot League title

Best pitcher: Daniel Burggraaf – Senior, Righty (5-2, 2.85 ERA, 82 K’s, 82 innings)

Best hitter: Anthony Giachin – Sophomore, IF (.323 avg., 67 RBI’s, .518 slg., 73 hits, 6 HR’s)

X-Factor: Jacob Hurtubise – Junior, OF (third in the nation in stolen bases with 45 steals)

Army and Texas Tech have only met one other time on the diamond. In 2008, the Red Raiders won 16-2 in San Antonio.

The Field

Lubbock Regional

Team ERA Batting AVG Slugging K's HR's Fielding %
Team ERA Batting AVG Slugging K's HR's Fielding %
Texas Tech 4.01 0.301 0.471 515 57 0.977
Dallas Baptist 3.92 0.282 0.459 566 70 0.974
Army 3.86 0.273 0.385 460 27 0.963
Florida 5.22 0.281 0.452 415 70 0.973

Best Hitter: Cameron Warren (Texas Tech) – Junior 1B (.361 avg., 67 RBI’s, .659 slg., 75 hits, 14 HR’s)

Best Pitcher: M.D. Johnson (Dallas Baptist) – Senior, Righty (9-2, 2.46 ERA, 105 K’s, 91.1 innings)

X-Factor: Brady McConnell (Florida) – Sophomore, IF (.341 avg., 47 RBI’s, .594 slg., 74 hits, 15 HR’s)

Outlook

Many folks would argue that Army shouldn’t be here, and that Navy had the best team in the Patriot League. The Mids certainly had the best pitcher in Noah Song, but one man can’t win three games and Army had the edge in the Patriot League championships.

But Lubbock is going to be tough for Army to come out of. The Black Knights only faced three teams that wound up in the tournament field during the regular season in LSU, Stony Brook and Harvard, and the Black Knights only beat Harvard, a team that doesn’t really compare to the level of talent that a Texas Tech or Florida presents.

Even Dallas Baptist could be a tough out for Army, if the Black Knights end up facing them at some point. DBU is in the tournament for the sixth straight season and has wins over TCU, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Meanwhile, the Florida Gators are just two seasons removed from winning the College World Series, and Texas Tech – the Big 12 champs – has been to the World Series three times since 2014.

Still, few expected Army to win a game last year in their regional in Raleigh. With another year of seasoning, are the Black Knights ready to play spoiler and come out of the Lubbock region as winners? It’s possible.