This is really interesting and not because one dugout features a toy dinosaur in Utropolis and the other a toy super hero in Spiderman. Oklahoma State and Arizona are two teams that have had to fight, scratch and claw along the way to get to Omaha and now one of them will find after tonight that they will be in the proverbial "catbird's seat."
One will be unbeaten and will not have to play until Friday and then they will only need one more win to get into the NCAA College World Series Championship best-of-three series starting on Monday night. Just think, the Cowboys could be playing on Friday with Thomas Hatch back up for the start to earn a trip to the best-of-three finale.
Here are several things to think about going into the Oklahoma State-Arizona matchup at 6 p.m. (CT).
1. Pitching Matchup
The Cowboys will send out Tyler Buffett (pictured above) with his 8-3 record and 3.15 ERA. Buffett in the NCAA postseason has made two starts and pitched 14 innings, allowing one run, which was earned, 15 hits, only one extra base hit and that was a double versus Clemson. He has walked four and struck out 10.
My guess is Arizona may keep the Cowboys guessing and will likely start either left-hander J.C. Cloney or right-hander Bobby Dalbec. Cloney, who has more experience, is 6-4 with a 2.86 ERA. He took a loss to ULL in the Lafayette Regional but overall has allowed 91 hits and 39 runs, with 30 earned in 94.1 innings pitched. He has walked 17 and struck out 53 hitters. Dalbec got the win in the first game over Mississippi State in the super regional. He is also a position player that can play third base. He has pitched 80.0 innings this season and has started five games. He has allowed 69 hits with 18 extra base hits (13 doubles and 5 home runs). He has allowed 31 runs, 26 of those earned. He has walked 31 hitters and struck out 70.
2. Arizona Can Really Hit
The Wildcats have a team batting average of .291 and have three hitters batting over .300 and another pair hovering right at the .300 mark. They also have speed because to go with their 120 doubles (OSU has 106), and they have 31 triples (OSU has 12). Oklahoma State wins the battle of home runs with 47 compared to just 25 for Arizona. Oklahoma State is hitting .266.
Oklahoma State is fielding at a .978 clip and Arizona is at .976.
Bottom line: This should be a really competitive game, but I like the Cowboys edge in pitching. I like Buffett over either of the possible Arizona starters. I also like that Oklahoma State is due with some more offense after having to deal with UC Santa Barbara standout Shane Bieber in the opener.