Baseball Beat/WTNYJune 17, 2005
CWS: Predictions Before the Storm
By Rich Lederer & Bryan Smith

With less than an hour before the first pitch is thrown in the College World Series, we thought what better time to get our predictions out in the air than now? Expect more on the CWS this weekend, including many updates, but we wanted to go on record with who will win the tournament beforehand.

Rich: Nebraska over Tulane in the finals of the College World Series. The Cornhuskers have the number-one player in the country in Alex Gordon (named Baseball America's Player of the Year and the top college player selected in the First-Year Player Draft last week), the second-best team ERA (2.61 in the nation, and they are the top team from the only conference with three representatives (by virtue of finishing first in the Big 12 during the regular season and winning the tournament title). If that is not enough, Nebraska will also have more fan support in Omaha than any other university.

The Cornhuskers are not only the best team, but they are also arguably the hottest (having won 15 of its last 16 games). Put it all together and you've got the makings of a championship team.

MVP: Gordon

Bryan: Tennessee over Tulane. I love how the Volunteers are pitching right now, especially with Luke Hochevar leading the pack. Last year Jason Windsor showed that an ace can go a long way in Omaha, and I expect Hochevar to keep that rule going. They also have a solid second starter in freshman James Adkins who shined in the Super Regional, striking out double-digits in an attempt to copy his junior teammate.

The Volunteers also have offense, especially in the way of Eli Iorg and Chase Headley. The latter is an on-base machine that has no problem drawing a walk, and letting his teammates knock him in. The Volunteers dominated their super regional despite being the underdogs, and that role is not a bad one for them.

MVP: Who else? Luke Hochevar


It's not surprising that both of us pick Tulane to win Bracket 2 as they have been atop many rankings for a long time. The club has serious pitching depth, and their two-way stars also will make some noise with the bats.

With the games about to begin, we urge you to turn over to ESPN 2 and watch the final eight teams battle it out--first in a double-elimination format, then in a two out three series between the winners of each bracket. It all begins at 2 p.m. ET, with Hochevar leading off the tournament against the Florida Gators, with sophomore slugger Matt LaPorta.

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Friday Scores:

Florida 6, Tennessee 4 [Recap]

WP - Alan Horne (10-2) LP - Luke Hochevar (15-3) S - Darren O'Day (7)
Ten - Chase Headley (14) off Connor Falkenbach in the 7th
Fla - Matt Laporta (25) off Luke Hochevar in the 3rd
Brian Jeroloman (8) off Luke Hochevar in the 6th

Nebraska 5, Arizona State 3 [Recap]

WP - J Chamberlain (10-2) LP - Z Zinicola (3-4) S - B Jensen (16)


I am posting this after the Florida/Tenn game but it doesn't change my pick. I'm going with Oregon State over Nebraska.