CWS Bracket Two Schedule
(All Times CDT)
Game 1: Texas Tech vs. No. 7 TCU
2 p.m. Sunday
TTU: LHP Chris Sadberry (5-3, 3.17 ERA)
TCU: RHP Preston Morrison (9-4, 1.32 ERA)
Game 2: Ole Miss vs. No. 3 Virginia
7 p.m. Sunday
MIS: RHP Chris Ellis (10-2, 2.45 ERA)
UVA: LHP Nathan Kirby (9-2, 1.73 ERA)
Game 3: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
2 p.m. Tuesday
Game 4: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2
4 p.m. Tuesday
Game 5: Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4
7 p.m Thursday
Game 6: Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5
7 p.m. June 20
Game 7: *Game 6 Repeated if necessary
7 p.m. June 21
Virginia is almost always a recent favorite. The Cavaliers received a national seed for the fourth time in five years. Each time they make it to Omaha, the Cavaliers fail to make it out of bracket play including 2011 when they were the top seed.
The Atlantic Coast Conference always seems to have at least one team who is a clear-cut favorite to win the College World Series, but has not produced a national champion since 1955 when Wake Forest won. Florida State, Georgia Tech and North Carolina are all teams who made it to the National Championship, but failed to win. With only two national seeds remaining and the other being a seven seed, Virginia is the favorite, but what can hold this ACC team from advancing to the championship series?
It's their offense.
The Cavaliers ranked ninth out of 14 ACC teams in conference batting average. Virginia averaged .247 at the plate during ACC play. It's amazing this team finished 22-8 in conference play considering the only conference team they produced more runs than is Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish featured the worst offense in conference play and tied with Virginia Tech for the worst conference record.
Virginia uses pitching to pull out victories. The Cavaliers have a combined 2.31 ERA which is led by sophomore LHP Nathan Kirby (9-2, 1.73 ERA). Kirby is a strikeout pitcher who averages a strikeout per inning in 104 innings tossed. He averages more than five strikeouts for every earned run given up.
LHP Brandon Waddell (9-3, 2.66 ERA) and RHP Josh Sborz (5-4, 3.04 ERA) are no slouches either. Combine these fellas with closer Nick Howard (19 saves, 2.05 ERA) and the pitching staff is solid.
No. 7 TCU Horned Frogs
Texas Christian University may have the hottest team in the nation right now. In their past 36 games, the Horned Frogs have won 32 including a 13-game win streak at one point during the stretch.
TCU has also scored revenge on two teams this postseason who stole the regular season series from them. Sam Houston State defeated the Horned Frogs in the Houston College Classic while Oklahoma State is the last team to take a regular season series from them. Not only did the Cowboys take the regular season series, but they won the Big 12 Conference Regular Season Championship by one game ahead of TCU. The Horned Frogs came back to score revenge on Oklahoma State in the title game of the Big 12 Tournament and beat Sam Houston State twice to win the Fort Worth Regional. Their first opponent, Texas Tech, also scored a regular season series victory over the Horned Frogs.
However, Tech won the conference regular season series.
The Horned Frogs scored revenge on the Red Raiders during a mid-week game in April. Now TCU is giving RHP Preston Morrison (9-4, 1.32 ERA) a shot to score revenge on a Tech team that lit up Morrison for his worst career start. The Big 12 Pitcher of the Year was knocked out by the Red Raiders after two innings in a game where Morrison was knocked up for four earned runs on six hits and two walks. Morrison finished the regular season without being handed another loss, but he has yet to be so lucky in the field of 64. Morrison is 0-1 in the NCAA Tournament giving three earned runs on eight hits and five walks in 14 innings.
Not to fear though, there's more pitching on this staff than just Morrison. Surprisingly, Brandon Finnegan (9-3, 2.12 ERA) will not make the Sunday start, but rather the Tuesday start. Finnegan was recently selected No.17 overall in the MLB First-Year Player Draft. The junior lefty owned the Red Raiders in a 9-0 game earlier this season racking up 10 strikeouts.
TCU features two more quality starters in LHP Tyler Alexander (10-3, 2.16 ERA) and RHP Jordan Kipper (8-2, 3.10 ERA). The Horned Frogs also feature a stout closer in Riley Ferrell (15 saves, 0.68 ERA).
TCU isn't just a pitching staff though. The Horned Frogs sit atop the Big 12 Conference in batting average during conference play with a .291 average. The offense is led by Boomer White and Dylan Fitzgerald who are each hitting .318 with two home runs.
The key to beating the Horned Frogs is to knock out their starters early. The team does not know how to respond when they get knocked in the mouth. Knocking out starters early is what made Oklahoma State and Texas Tech find success against the Horned Frogs early in conference play.
Ole Miss Rebels
Aside from the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Southeastern Conference has the most to prove.
The SEC features 14 teams and 10 of them made it into the field of 64. Half of the teams who made it into the NCAA Tournament, hosted a regional with two teams securing one of eight national seeds. Only two SEC teams advanced to the Super Regionals and both were forced to a rubber match before escaping to the College World Series. Ole Miss is one of the survivors.
The Rebels love statistics. These guys look real nice when you check their hitting and pitching. After all, they are the best pitching team in the SEC and the best hitting team overall. The conference known for great football defense, produced a College World Series team that allowed 23 unearned runs.
The Rebels are terrible on defense. In 30 SEC games, Ole Miss committed 38 errors. They're easy to steal against too. Opponents attempted 57 steals against the Rebels this season with just 14 of the thieves being erased from the base paths. The Rebels have all the offense and pitching they need to win the National Championship, but they must be able to shore up their mistakes.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Baseball is a mental sport. Texas Tech is one of the strongest teams in the nation mentally. These guys don't care about history, who says what, or even when a call doesn't go their way.
Texas Tech is led by National Coach of the Year Tim Tadlock. He rightfully earned the honor after turning a 26-30 program around the very next season and taking the program to its first ever College World Series.
To recap what the Red Raiders have been through on their way to Omaha, let's start with their 0-2 stumbling out of the Big 12 tournament and the loss of senior third baseman Jake Barrios. The NCAA selection committee did not provide any favors to the Red Raiders as Tech was the only Texas team out of eight who made it to the field of 64 to be forced into another time zone. Six of the eight squads remained in the state of Texas with Houston having a short flight to Louisiana. Once the Red Raiders made it to Coral Gables, Florida, they came back to walk off against a tough Columbia team. The next day Tech shutout host Miami (FL), who started the ACC Co-Pitcher of the Year.
Tech's next game, against Miami again, featured: three weather delays, an injury break, the suspension of the game overnight, a bench-clearing brawl and the ejection of the Big 12 Player of the Year. After resuming the game, Tech blew the lead and lost. The Red Raiders came back 55 minutes later with LHP Cameron Smith tossing a complete game shutout to earn the program's first regional championship.
The Red Raiders did not blow through the Super Regionals either. College of Charleston's pitching staff gave the Tech offense all it could handle, but Tadlock's squad prevailed thanks to stout pitching and tremendous defense.
The Red Raiders featured one of the best offenses in the Big 12 Conference, but pitching and defense has paved the way to Omaha for Texas Tech. The Red Raiders have scored four shutouts in their past five games. They'll need a few more stellar outings in Omaha as the opposing pitching just keeps getting stronger.