College baseball: Five unheralded teams that could make noise in June

2 AAC teams:

Houston

On the exact opposite end of the spectrum, Houston has a squad that sometimes struggles to break games open offensively but has a great pitching staff to give them a chance to win. In fact — though you can’t read too closely into mid-February games — the Cougars held that stacked Wake Forest offense to just one run in a 7-1 season-opening victory.

Though he can be inconsistent in terms of results, no pitcher is more adept about getting strikeouts than lefty Seth Romero. The junior has fanned 85 batters in 48.2 innings pitched. That’s good for a 15.72 strikeouts per nine innings rate, easily tops in the country. The Cougars were without him for close to a month due to a suspension, but he was reinstated on May 1 and looks to be a valuable weapon down the stretch, though he’s been eased back in the bullpen.

In his absence, Trey Cumbie (7-1, 2.41 ERA) has stepped up as the second ace of the staff. The sophomore had a poor two-start stretch in which he allowed 10 earned runs, but in his other 60.1 innings this season, he has allowed just nine (1.35 ERA). John King (5-1, 3.26 ERA) and Mitch Ullom (6-3, 3.28) are also very reliable options.

Things aren’t as deep on the offensive side, with only one true impact hitter in Jake Scheiner. The infielder is smashing the ball with a .360 average and 13 homers, but he hasn’t had a ton of help. Connor Wong (.302, 10 home runs) has also been very good, but there’s a pretty steep dropoff after that. Pitching around Scheiner and taking your chances with the other eight might be the best way to succeed against the Cougars in the postseason, but with such a loaded starting rotation, a few runs could be all they need.

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