October in June: CWS Bracket Two
Our day-late previews continue with bracket two today, following the exciting Tulane and Texas victories. It appears the two best teams in the bracket might just be Tulane and Oregon State, who were forced to bash heads in the preliminary rounds. Here's a look at all the clubs in bracket two...
Key Players: Micah Owings (P/DH), Nathan Southard (CF), Tommy Manzella (SS), Brian Bogusevic (SP)
WHY THE GREEN WAVE WILL WIN: Plain and simple, Tulane might just be the most complete team in the College World Series. Offensively they are the best of the eight, with the highest average and runs per game totals. Their team 3.80 ERA just missed being top 30 in Division I, and their fielding percentage was 17th in the nation.
None of this could be done, of course, without Saturday starter Micah Owings. The former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket transferred from his old school following a disappointing draft-eligible sophomore season. Owings shined with the Green Wave this season, saving his best pitching for the end of the season, and using his power bat in the middle of the lineup. Teammate Brian Bogusevic joins him in two-way duties, and while not quite the hitter that Owings is, Bogusevic is a better pitcher when he's on top of his game.
Three other hitters in the lineup, besides Owings, hit above .350 this season. The list includes shortstop Tommy Manzella who was one of the more overshadowed and underappreciated players in college baseball this year. The same thing happened in the bullpen with Sean Morgan and Dan Latham, as the pair combined for 78.1 innings with an ERA under 3.00 closing games for Owings and Bogusevic.
WHY THE GREEN WAVE WILL LOSE: Well, I guess I could fault the team for not having a ton of depth, but that would simply be nitpicking. Tulane goes six or seven deep in their order, and have three effective starters and a good-enough bullpen.
The problem most often for Tulane is their starting staff, as Owings and Bogusevic are very prone to bad outings from time to time. Both players are relatively raw on the mound, and not the Jason Windsor/John Hudgins-type pitchers that normally dominate in Omaha. Effective hitting teams should be able to rough up the Green Wave, which will put some considerable pressure on Tulane's offense.
Key Players: Jacoby Ellsbury (CF), Andy Jenkins (1B), Dallas Buck (SP), Jonah Nickerson (SP), Kevin Gunderson (RP)
WHY THE BEAVERS WILL WIN: If you ask Boyd Nation, this is likely the team he would have chosen to win. The top team on Boyd's ISR, Oregon State had both the 20th best batting average and eighth best ERA through June 12. The club showed very few weaknesses in a cinderella season that brings them back to Omaha for the first time in fifty years.
First of all, the club has two collegiate superstars in Ellsbury and Buck. Jacoby has drawn numerous comparisons to Johnny Damon in the past, and his .413/.502/.596 numbers were fantastic this past season. There was simply no better leadoff man in the NCAA this year, so Ellsbury will often begin a Beaver rally. Buck became the club's ace and a 2006 blue chipper in a season in which his sinker yielded a 2.12 ERA.
WHY THE BEAVERS WILL LOSE: Well, first of all, because they have already lost. The devastating defeat to Tulane on Saturday really puts the Beavers against the wall, especially considering their opponents on Monday. Also, many think that the Beavers could simply be satisfied by making it to College World Series, as proving they belonged could have been enough.
Some could voice concern about a pitching staff that only goes six deep, but that would be pushing things. Oregon State may have drawn the worst opponents of anyone in the tournament, and while they might not be the caliber of Tulane, they are likely one of the best four teams in Omaha.
Key Players: Zach Dillon (DH), Ryan LaMotta (RP), Mark McCormick (SP), Trey Taylor (SP)
WHY THE BEARS WILL WIN: Pitching. If the Bears can make it deep into the CWS, it will be because of their arms. The club ranked 12th in the NCAA in ERA, led by junior fireballer Mark McCormick. Unfortunately McCormick did not win on Saturday, leaving the rest of the Bear staff with a considerable onus.
Luckily for McCormick, the staff is good enough to do so, especially with the best bullpen of the eight teams. The club is extremely deep in pitching, so don't expect too many troubles in that area.
WHY THE BEARS WILL LOSE: Their offense is very lacking, with just two hitters above .300. Furthermore there is not one Baylor slugger that has nine home runs this season, and just one with a .400 OBP or .500 SLG. If opposing teams can avoid Josh Ford, then very little else in the lineup will hurt you.
Only twice this season, and not since March 5 has Baylor lost a game in which they scored more than four runs. In fact, the majority of their losses have been in the case of zero, one and two run contests. Baylor has succeeded this season in games in which they score runs, but if they can't, expect a trip back to Waco right on the horizon.
Key Players: Seth Johnston (SS), Drew Stubbs (CF), Brent Cox (RP), Adrian Alaniz (SP), Taylor Teagarden (C)
WHY THE LONGHORNS WILL WIN: The Longhorns offer one of the most balanced attacks in college baseball. In the lineup they have Drew Stubbs, a contact-first leadoff man with some of the best baserunning skills in college baseball. They also have senior shortstop Seth Johnston, who will bring as much pop from a middle infielder as anyone in this tournament. Taylor Teagarden is the other big name in the lineup, the polished catcher that handles the pitching staff and shows big-time power.
They also have the Yankees second round draft pick, closer Brent Cox. Huston Street's prodigy, Cox is also the most accomplished closer in the tournament. Finally there is Alaniz, the freshman phenom who is developing into the next Longhorn ace. The foursome is a formidable group, that's for sure.
WHY THE LONGHORNS WILL LOSE: While the Longhorns have the longest running streak of trips to Omaha, they also are an extremely different group than the 2004 version. This squad is very young and inexperienced, and despite being red hot right now, are capable of getting in some bad stretches.
Still, they overcame a big obstacle in defeating Baylor -- who had handled them all season -- and moving on to play Tulane. This team would have championship aspirations if Sam Lecure was still on the club, but without him, they are simply just a good squad. Expect them to lose the next two games, to Tulane and Oregon State, and go home having had one wonderful season.
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Arizona State 4, Tennessee 2 [Recap]
WP - P Bresnehan (5-4) LP - J Adkins (10-5)
HOME RUNS: Ten - J.P. Arencibia (14) off Erik Averill in the 1st
Tennessee is the first team eliminated from the CWS.
Florida 7, Nebraska 4 [Recap]
WP - Darren O'day (8-3) LP - Johnny Dorn (12-2)
HOME RUNS: Fla - Adam Davis (11) off Johnny Dorn in the 1st
Florida won its seventh straight game. Jeff Corsaletti tied a CWS record with three doubles. The Gators, one win away from reaching the finals, are off until Wednesday when they will play the winner of Tuesday's matchup between the Cornhuskers and Arizona State.