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2016 CWS Finals: Coastal Carolina Wins!

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CCU wins! Photo via twitter just as it happened.

CCU wins! Photo via twitter just as it happened.

Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2016:


Here’s how the Finals played out.  My predictions on the starters to be used was completely off, with each team opting to save their marquee arms for the decider.

  • In Game One on 6/27/16, Arizona’s #3 starter J.C. Cloney pitched like an All-american, throwing a CG 4-hitter to beat Coastal Carolina 3-0 in game 1.   CCU threw their mid-week starter (and Leesburg Native) Zack Hopeck, who gave up 2 runs in 6+ innings to take the loss.  CCU just couldn’t do anything with Cloney and now face a very uphill climb, having to beat Arizona’s two aces.
  • In Game Two on 6/28/16, Arizona mixed us all up by going with Kevin Ginkel on the hill instead of presumed starter Nathan Bannister (who left his last start with “arm tightness” and clearly was still injured) who pitched masterfully but his bullpen let him down.  Meanwhile, CCU’s Mike Morrison struck out 10 in 6 2/3rds and the bullpen held while CCU scored three in the 8th to get a lead that Arizona couldn’t quite get back, losing 5-4.
  • Game three was rained out, so the NCAA (inexplicably) decided to play the national title game on 6/30/16 at 1pm .. meaning that instead of a sold out stadium they had just a few hundred fans in attendance.  Nonetheless, CCU threw its post-season ace Andrew Beckwith while Arizona countered with their own Bobby Dalbec and the two arms traded zeros for 5 innings.  In the top of the 6th, a 2-out mis-play by Arizona’s 2nd basemen led to two unearned runs, followed quickly by a 2-run homer by G.K. Young for four unearned runs in a flash.  In the bottom of the frame, Arizona got two unearned runs back themselves.  CCU held on despite a furious Arizona rally where they had the winning runs on base to take game three 4-3 and win their first ever NCAA title in any sport.

CCU finishes the season 55-18, leading the nation in wins.  In case anyone thinks this is some huge massive cinderella … CCU was ranked in the top 25 pre-season and had 6 guys drafted this year.  They weren’t a huge star-power team like Florida; just a solid baseball team that came together at the right time.  Andrew Beckwith was named the “mvp” (technically the Most Outstanding Player) for the CWS 2016.

Your 2016 College World Series Champion: Coastal Carolina University


This concludes the College Baseball season and our coverage of it for 2016.  I’ll post one more post that covers draftees and signing status for all local-connected players (prep and college).  I don’t really cover the summer leagues: for that I’d suggest NovaBaseball.com, which is really coming into its own in terms of local coverage for all players with local ties.


College CWS tournament references:

 

Written by Todd Boss

July 1st, 2016 at 9:08 am

CWS Group Winners and CWS Final preview for 2016

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Andrew Beckwith's side-winding action leads Coastal Carolina into the CWS final. Picture via myrtlebeachonline.com

Andrew Beckwith’s side-winding action leads Coastal Carolina into the CWS final. Picture via myrtlebeachonline.com

Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2016:


Lets review the CWS group play.  The CWS plays just one or two games a day; a far cry from the first weekend, where 64 teams played hundreds of games over the course of a long weekend.  So this post has been written in one or two sentence increments for a week and a half…

My pre-CWS predictions were Florida from the top and Miami from the bottom.  Lets see how things turned out.


In the Top Bracket (#Florida, Coastal Carolina, #5 Texas Tech, #13 TCU)

  • In the opening games, TCU’s all-american freshman Luken Baker crushed a 3-run homer in the top of the 9th to beat Texas Tech 5-3 in the opener.  In the other opener, Coastal Carolina shocked #1 overall seed Florida  2-1 behind a dominant effort from their Ace Andrew Beckwith (a college junior who went undrafted this year).  CCU got two runs against Florida’s ace Logan Shore, who then gave way to Nats 1st rounder Dane Dunning, who threw 2 2/3rds shutout in relief to hold the fort down for the offense, which never came through.  Huge upset to start the bracket.  Beckwith’s sidewinding and unorthodox delivery carried him to a 12-1 record on the season but left  him completely off the draft boards of all 30 teams, highlighting an interesting anachronism of college baseball.  There are “college pitchers” who get recruited thanks to such an unorthodox style who are never going to be pro prospects.
  • In the first elimination game, Florida faced Texas Tech in a battle of upset losers.  Florida threw their sophomore fireballer Alex Faedo, who leaked a couple of runs early.  Florida couldn’t get to Texas Tech’s starter, who gave way to closer and Nats draft pick Hayden Howard.  Florida rallied for 2 runs with their season on the line but it wasn’t enough; Florida goes two and out, shocking me and the rest of the college baseball world.
  • In the winners bracket game to take control of the group, TCU kept pecking away at Coastal’s pitchers, eventually winning easily 6-1.  Baker was again a stud, hitting another homer and going 3-3 with a walk.  2018 upper 1st rounder in the making already.
  • In the play-in game to the group final, Texas Tech faced of with Coastal Carolina, who outlasted the last remaining national seed 7-5 to eliminate Texas Tech.
  • In the group final, Coastal Carolina got a complete game gem from its sidewinder Beckwith to win 4-1 and force a winner-take-all game.  In that game, Coastal Carolina jumped ahead early and never looked back, taking a 7-1 lead in the 4th and making it stick 7-5.

Final Group standings: Coastal Carolina, #13 TCU, #5 Texas Tech, #1 Florida

Group winner advancing to the CWS finals: Coastal Carolina.

 


In the Bottom Bracket (Arizona, #3 Miami, Oklahoma State, UC Santa Barbara)

  • In the opening games, Oklahoma State stole a run early and made it stick behind a 5-hitter from Thomas Hatch (3rd round pick to Chicago Cubs) to beat UCSB 1-0 in the tourney opener, spoiling Shane Bieber‘s gem (4th round pick of Cleveland).  In the night cap, Arizona’s senior-heavy offense stuck 3 early on Miami sophomore starter Michael Mediavilla while their starter Nathan Bannister (28th round pick to Seattle) struck out 11 through 7 to cruise to a 5-1 upset victory.
  • In the first elimination game, bracket favorite Miami faced upstart UCSB, and promptly went 2-and-out on the game’s biggest stage.  UCSB got to Miami starter Danny Garcia (15th round pick by Seattle) and despite their star 1st rounder Zack Collins reaching base all four times up, Miami couldn’t tie the game late.  They lose 5-3 and are out.
  • In the winners bracket game to take control of the group, Oklahoma State beat Arizona’s stud Bobby Dalbec (4th round pick, as a 3B, by Boston) by the same 1-0 score they got by UCSB in the first game.  OK State’s Tyler Buffett (7th round pick by Houston) went 8IP giving up just 3 hits in the win.  We’re starting to see why the pundits like OK State.
  • In the play-in game to the group final, UCSB faced off against Arizona in a meeting of the two remaining West Coast representatives.  UCSB’s luck ran out with a 3-0 loss to Arizona, eliminating the Gauchos.
  • In the group final, Arizona’s closer Cameron Ming threw 5 innings to seal a victory after its starter Bannister went down with arm tightness, and Arizona forced a winner-take-all game.  In that game, Arizona’s Dalbec got his revenge, shutting down OK State’s ace Hatch and Arizona shocked them to advance.

Final Group standings: Arizona, Oklahoma State, UC Santa Barbara, #3 Miami

Group winner advancing to the CWS finals: Arizona, the 4th place team from the Pac-12.

 


CWS finals discussion: Games 1,2,3 set for June 27th, 28th and 29th.

Well, my predictions were to go chalk with #1 Florida facing #3 Miami.  Instead, those two teams were the first two eliminated in CWS pool play and we get perhaps the most unlikely CWS final matchup we’ve seen since Fresno State.  Coastal Carolina comes from a one-bid league that had never previously sent a team to Omaha … yet they’re no cinderella.  CCU is a major baseball program in a major baseball state.  They’re an experienced team that ran away with their conference and played games against the big boys when they could.  Arizona comes with a great pedigree, a national title in the last 5 years, and no expectations; they have a first year coach and are coming from a conference that clearly had a “down” year.

Both teams’  ideal rotation match-ups are out of order thanks to both having advanced out of the loser’s bracket.  Arizona’s rotation has been pretty consistent; they’ll go 3-1-2 in the CWS final.  All three of their starters have sub 3.00 ERAs and mostly gaudy W/L records.  CCU’s ace is Beckwith; he threw a CG 137 pitch game on Friday 6/24; he’d be on 3-days rest for the 6/27 opener so he’d be more likely to start Game 2.   Long reliever Mike Morrison is available to be “tandem” with CCU’s 4th starter Bilous (CCU’s missing one of their normal weekend starters Tyler Poole to injury).   So here’s my guess as to the pitching match-ups:

Game 1: CCU’s Alex Cunningham (9-3, 3.58 ERA) versus JC Cloney (6-4, 2.86 ERA)

Game 2: CCU’s Andrew Beckwith (12-1, 2.72 ERA) versus Nathan Bannister (11-2, 2.71 ERA)

Game 3: CCU’s Jason Bilous (3-1, 4.04 ERA) versus  Bobby Dalbec (10-4, 2.93 ERA)

Prediction: CCU in three.

Of note: CCU has two “local” guys on the roster:  Zack Hopeck so (Heritage HS in Leesburg) and Keiton Rivers Fr (Nansemond River in Suffolk).  Hopeck looked like he was a mid-week starter and hasn’t seen much action in the post-season, and Rivers got just 13 ABs all year as a freshman backup.


College CWS tournament references:

 

2016 CWS Super-Regionals recap and CWS field

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"Florida Gators pitcher Dane Dunning throwing from the mound during the first inning. Florida Gators vs Miami Hurricanes. February 22nd, 2015. Gator Country photo by David Bowie. "

Florida Gators pitcher Dane Dunning throwing from the mound during the first inning. Florida Gators vs Miami Hurricanes. February 22nd, 2015. Gator Country photo by David Bowie.

Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2016:

Here’s how the super-regionals went down: we’ll look at these regionals in the original order of the top 8 national seeds.  Red indicates the winner.

  • #1 Florida vs #16 Florida State: a rematch of last year’s super-regional and a chance for Florida State to redeem itself after losing all three of their mid-week matchups this year.  In game one, Florida State’s starter Drew Carlton threw a 2-hit shutout and beat Florida’s #3 starter (why did Florida start Alex Faedo?) in game one to put Florida behind the 8-ball.  In game 2, Florida DID start their ace Logan Shore, and he threw 8 innings of 2-hit ball himself to even the series.  In the final, Florida’s 6th overall pick A.J. Puk lasted just 3 2/3s .. but the Nats’ first round pick Dane Dunning threw 4 1/3 shutout ball to help seal an easy 7-0 victory to help Florida become the final team to advance.
  • #2 Louisville vs UC Santa Barbara: This is why they play the games, so to speak.  Highly favored Louisville went down two straight to UC Santa Barbara, losing with their Ace Brendan McKay on day one and when their #2 Drew Harrington handed a 3-run lead to their 1st round closer Zack Burdi in Game 2; Burdi promptly loaded the bases and then gave up a walk-off Grand Slam to a pinch-hitter Sam Cohen who had just one HR this year.  The video is pretty amazing.
  • #3 Miami vs Boston College: Miami’s bats got to BC’s Ace Justin Dunn and then opened up the game late for a 12-7 game one victory.  BC came back to force a decider, but Miami won out to advance.
  • #4 TAMU vs #13 TCU: TCU bashed their way to an 8-2 surprise game 1 victory.  TAMU came back with a comprehensive 7-1 win in game two to force the decider.   TCU’s Brian Howard gave up just 2 hits and one unearned run over 7 innings to solidify a comfortable 5-1 deciding victory and send TCU back to the CWS.
  • #5 Texas Tech vs ECU: ECU jumped out in Game 1 with a five-run 5th to knock out TT’s starter and held on with Matt Bridges striking out 6 of the 8 batters he faced to close out the upset win.  Texas Tech won game two and then destoyed ECU 11-0 in the decider to advance.
  • #6 Mississippi State vs Arizona: Arizona got nearly a complete game shutout of its starter Bobby Dalbec, who threw 8 2/3rds shutout innings before getting lifted with 2-on in the bottom of the 9th.  Arizona’s closer made quick work of the final batter to preserve the game 1 upset.  Game two went to extras, but Arizona got the walkoff run to win 6-5 and advance.
  • Oklahoma State vs #10 South Carolina: Despite not being the “seeded” team, Oklahoma State made quick work of South Carolina in 2 straight to punch a CWS ticket.
  • #8 LSU vs Coastal Carolina: Coastal won a slug-fest 11-8 in game one to put LSU in a precarious position.  Game 2 was closer and had a great finish, with LSU tying it in the top of the 9th and Coastal Carolina getting a walk-off single to win and advance to their first CWS.

My Original Predictions: #1 Florida, #2 Louisville, #3 Miami, #4 TAMU, ECU, #6 Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, #8 LSU

How it turned out: #1 Florida, UC Santa Barbara, #3 Miami, #13 TCU, #5 Texas Tech, Arizona, Oklahoma State, Coastal Carolina


CWS Field and Profiles

Top Bracket:

  • #1 Florida: 2nd Place SEC Eastern Division, 2nd Place SEC tournament.  52-14 overall record, (19-10 in conference).
  • Coastal Carolina: Big South Regular season champ.  Big South post-season champ.  49-16 (21-3).
  • #5 Texas Tech: Big 12 Regular Season champ.  46-18 regular season (19-5).
  • #13 TCU: 3rd place Big 12 regular season, Big 12 conference tourney champion.  47-16 (15-9).

Bottom Bracket

  • Arizona: 4th place Pac12 regular season.  44-21 regular season (16-14).
  • #3 Miami: 1st Place ACC Coastal Division.  2nd Place ACC tournament.  50-12 regular season (21-7).
  • Oklahoma State: 2nd Place Big 12 regular season.  41-20 regular season (16-8).
  • UC Santa Barbara: 3rd place Big West Regular season.  42-18-1 regular season (13-11)

CWS field review by the numbers

  • Just 1 from the SEC (Florida) despite 7 bids
  • Just 1 from the ACC (Miami) despite 10 bids
  • 3 from the Big 12 (Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU) despite only getting 3 bids.
  • 1 from the Pac 12 (Arizona)
  • 2 from elsewhere: UC Santa Barbara from the Big West, Coastal Carolina from Big South

CWS Field thoughts

Two first time CWS participants in UC Santa Barbara and Coastal Carolina.  The return of Arizona (the 2012 champ).  Presumptive favorite Miami (college royalty).  Some Big-12 muscle in a sport dominated by the ACC and SEC.  And the #1 overall seed, who has been favored from day one to win this thing.  A very interesting field.  I’m kind of shocked that Louisville and Texas A&M got upset … but TAMU losing to TCU wasn’t really that much of a shock based on their super regional from last  year.  All three Big12 teams who made the field advance to Omaha; that’s pretty impressive (then again, you really had to squint to find even a 4th team from that conference worth inviting).

In the top half: Despite their struggles getting past Florida State, I don’t see the teams in Florida’s bracket troubling them.   Texas Tech beat TCU 2 of 3 this year at TCU and I see them being the 2nd place team.  Coastal Carolina likely goes 2-and-out in Omaha.  I think it’ll go Florida, Texas Tech, TCU, Coastal.

In the bottom  half, Miami has a pretty clear pathway to an all-Florida CWS final.  I think they’ll handle Arizona in the first while OK State won’t be troubled by UC Santa Barbara.  The bracket goes Miami, OK State, Arizona, UC Santa Barbara.  I’m somewhat wary of picking Miami over Oklahoma State and wouldn’t be shocked if OK State made the final, but for now i’m picking chalk of the two best seeds remaining.

Quick predictions: Florida from the top, Miami from the bottom.  Florida already beat Miami 2 of 3 in Miami this year and will be favored to win 2 of 3 again on a neutral field.

Player Star power in this CWS: By team, here’s the guys to look for either for Nats interest or for overall talent/draft position:

  • Florida: had 8 players taken in the first 10 rounds, including two 1st rounders (6th overall pick A.J. Puk and the Nats 1st round pick Dane Dunning), three 2nd rounders (Ace Logan Shore, MD-native Buddy Reed and slugger Pete Alonso) and their closer Shaun Anderson (3rd rounder and 2013 Nats draft pick).   Just a ton of talent here, which is why they were #1 overall seed and are the presumptive favorites.  Logan Shore was the sole Golden Spikes semi finalist, and was named a finalist for the award this week.
  • Coastal Carolina: 4th rounder Michael Paez is the highest drafted player of 6 taken.  CCU has a couple of players with VA roots (Zack Hopeck from Heritage HS and Keiton Rivers from new 5A state champs Nansemond River) but neither are regular starters.  Closer Austen Kitchen was on the Freshman All-american team.
  • Texas Tech: 10 players taken in the draft, but none before the 8th round.  Nats 12th rounder Hayden Howard is ostensibly the closer and should see some time.  But Texas Tech’s strength is in its  youth: they had two players named Freshmen All-americans this year (Davis Martin and Steven Gingery).
  • TCU: 6 players drafted, none before the 13th round.  But they’re clearly a young team: Starter Dalton Horton, closer Durbin Feltman, OF Josh Watson and perhaps the best player on the team Luken Baker were named to the Freshman All-american team.  Baker was a very highly regarded draft prospect last year but opted for college and has not stopped  hitting since.
  • Arizona: 4th rounder Bobby Dalbec is the highest drafted player this year on AZ’s team.  Ace Nathan Bannister went 10-2 but was just a 28th round pick.
  • Miami: Led by 10th overall pick Zack Collins (a Golden Spikes semi-finalist), Miami had two other 6th rounders and 7 overall picks.
  • Oklahoma State: ten picks in this draft, led by 3rd rounder Tom Hatch and 5th rounder Donnie Walton.  Have a starter Jensen Elliott named Freshman All-American.
  • UC Santa Barbara: 4th rounder Shane Bieber and four other draft picks.

 


College CWS tournament references:

2016 CWS Regional Results, Noted Player performances, Super Regionals pairings

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Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2016:

Now we’re through the Regionals and the field has been winnowed from 64 to just 16.

We’ll review the 16 regionals in order of the larger bracket.  Bold is the host and Bolded Red is the winner.  We’ll also highlight significant players and/or guys who are big names in the upcoming draft as we get to them (MLBpipeline.com summarizes their top 200 ranked players here: i’ll just talk about the 1st round talents and players w/ local ties).

1. In the Florida regional, UConn put a mini upset loss on Georgia Tech, who tried to sneak a win with a mid-week starter and now face a loser’s bracket hole.  Meanwhile Florida surprisingly stuck with their rotation and threw ace/friday starter Logan Shore in game one against Bethune-Cookman. Presumed #1 pick A.J. Puk then went up against UConnn and their 1st round Ace Anthony Kay.  In the winner’s bracket game and both laid eggs; Puk couldn’t get out of the 5th and Kay gave up 5 runs in 5+ innings.  One wonders if this causes some last minute changes at the top of draft boards.  Nonetheless, Florida got a run in the 8th to take it 6-5 and assume control of the regional.  Georgia Tech took out UConn to face Florida in the regional final, where they got pummelled 10-1 as Florida advanced.

16. In the Florida State regional, Florida State and Southern Miss destroyed their foes in the first games, and Florida State made quick work over Southern Miss to advance to the championship game.  South Alabama lost 14-2 in their opening game; they were one of the last at-large teams to make the tourney at the expense of UNC and UNC’s Zac Gallen took to twitter to let the selection committee (which included South Alabama’s athletic director) know it.  Can’t blame him; the ACC has dominated in this tourney so far.  That being said, South Alabama did advance out of the loser’s bracket to face Fla State in the regional final, where they got obliterated.  Florida State Advances, scoring 43 runs in three games.

2. In the Louisville regional, both Louisville and 2-seed Ohio State handled their openers.  Louisville threw Kyle Funkhouser and he gave up just 4 hits in 8 innings, with presumptive upper 1st rounder Corey Ray going 3-5 at leadoff.  Louisville pounded Ohio State in the winner’s bracket game, putting themselves in the easy driver’s seat and making them an early CWS favorite.  Louisville ended up downing Wright State to advance.

15. In the Vanderbilt regional, awful news broke just prior to the game when it was learned that one of Vanderbilt’s freshmen pitchers Donny Everett drowned the previous weekend, casting a pall over the regional.   UC Santa Barbara held serve in their first game.  When Vanderbilt finally took the field, they completely melted down in the 7th inning, giving up 13 runs in the frame (half of them against likely 1st rounder Jordan Sheffield) to lose 15-1 to 4th seeded Xavier.  In the loser’s bracket, Vanderbilt’s coach left in his starter Kyle Wright far too long (122 pitches but more importantly turning an 8-2 lead in to an 8-7 nailbiter), and Washington eventually hit a 2-run homer against the bullpen for the win.  Vanderbilt goes 2-and-out as a host and ends their streak of making the CWS finals.  Meanwhile UC Santa Barbara took control of the region and forced Xavier to have to beat them twice to advance; it didn’t happen as UC Santa Barbara pounded Xavier 14-5 to advance to their 1st super regional ever.

3.  In the Coral Gables regional (host #3 Miami), Long Beach State got an early upset win over Florida Atlantic while Miami eased past in-state rival Stetson.  Miami won a squeaker over Long Beach to take control of the regional, but it was closer than you’d expect. Stetson went 2-and-out quickly.  LBSU got back to the winner’s final, and almost had a 9-run comeback against Miami before dropping the regional final 9-8 on a Miami walk-off.

14. In the Ole Miss regional, Mississippi became one of the only hosts to lose its first game, dropping a 6-5 decision to the probably-underseeded Utah team.  Boston College also got a mini-upset when their 1st round prospect ace Justin Dunn dominated Tulane to setup a 3-4 seed winner’s bracket game.  Ole Miss then promptly went two and out by losing the next game to Tulane.  Boston College beat Utah to take control of the regional.  Tulane overtook Utah to make it to the regional final, but Boston College handled them easily to advance as a #3 seed.

4. in the Texas A&M regional, both seeds advanced (TAMU and Wake Forest) initially without much fanfare, but then TAMU embarassed Wake Forest to the tune of a 22-2 beatdown in the winner’s bracket.  TAMU may “only” be the 4th seed, but they’re #1 in some polls and are looking very dangerous.  TAMU eventually advanced against Minnesota, who made it to the regional final as what many thought was an undeserved #2 seed.

13. In the TCU regional, Gonzaga upset Arizona State and pressed TCU in the winner’s bracket game before falling 4-3.  Arizona acquitted themselves and got back to the regional final, where TCU made short work of them 8-1 to advance.

5. In the Texas Tech region, the hosts destroyed Fairfield in the opener and then New Mexico shocked Dallas Baptist.  DBU advanced to the loser’s bracket final.  Texas Tech won a nail-biter over the tough New Mexico team in the winner’s bracket game.  DBU advanced to the regional final, where they took one game off of Texas Tech to force the winner-take-all game.  In a back-and-forth game, Texas Tech jumped ahead in the 6th and made the lead stick to advance.

12. In the Charlottesville Region (host #12 UVA), UVA took a gamble and threw struggling sunday starter Alec Bettinger against in-state rival William & Mary (filled with Northern Virginia alum) and pounded their starter Dan Powers (of my alma mater Madison HS in Vienna).  UVA didn’t stop there, eventually winning 17-4.  Meanwhile, ECU (half of their lineup is VA-based) destroyed Bryant’s bullpen en route to a 9-1 easy victory in a “minor upset.”  ECU has to like their chances, having taken 2 of 3 in Charlottesville earlier in the season.  UVA did their best to keep this from happening, taking a 6-3 lead into the 9th against some-time starter (and Vienna native Tommy Doyle, who promptly gave up 5 runs in the 9th and a walk-off 3-run homer to blow the game for the Cavaliers.  W&M made quick work of the over-seeded Bryant team and gets a second crack at UVA, who now faces a big up-hill battle to advance.  Interesting choice to finish the game; doesn’t UVA have, you know, relievers and a closer for that task?  Then, to add insult to injury in the Loser’s bracket elimination game William & Mary quickly got to UVA’s saturday starter Daniel Lynch and then tacked on two more on Doyle to eliminate last year’s champion UVA 5-4.  UVA just didn’t have the pitching they needed and sorely miss the presence they got from someone like Josh Sborz last year.  W&M and ECU face off having eliminated the top two seeds in this regional, and ECU easily advanced to the Super Regional.  ECU was the first team to book its ticket to the super-regionals this year.

6. In the Mississippi State regional, the hosts won their first game and then eased by the dangerous Cal-State Fullerton team to take control of the regional.  CSF got upset by Louisiana Tech in the losers’s bracket, but it didn’t matter as Mississippi State wasn’t troubled in the regional final to advance.

11. In the Louisiana-Lafayette regional, both top seeds held serve in the first games before weather pushed the whole regional by a day.  ULL made it to the regional final with a 10-3 victory over Arizona, but Arizona came back through the loser’s bracket and took two straight over ULL to win the regional in a winner-take-all game Monday.

7. In the Clemson regional (host #7 Clemson), Clemson scored an astounding 24 runs to win a slugfest in its opener but then had its hat handed to them 12-2 by Oklahoma State in the winner’s bracket game.  Huge showing by the Big-12 so far in this tournament.  Clemson battered their way back to a rematch … where Oklahoma State promptly beat them again 9-2 to advance.  Clemson becomes the first national seed to fall, albeit not in a hugely surprising fashion to a very good OK State team.  Clemson’s Seth Beer continued his monster season, finishing up one of the 5-best freshman seasons we’ve seen in a while and putting his name on the map for the 2017 draft (where he’ll be a draft-eligible sophomore).

10. In the South Carolina regional, the hosts were shocked by Rhode Island in the opener while UNC-Wilmington (who starts four guys in the lineup hailing from Virginia) destroyed Duke to put themselves in the driver’s seat.  UNC-W continued on, beating Rhode Island 11-7 to head to the winner’s bracket final.  South Carolina downed Duke in the elimination game to face up with R.I. again.  There, South Carolina got their revenge, beating Rhode Island by the astounding score of 23-2.  In the regional final, SC had to beat UNC-W twice to advance; they forced the winner-take-all game with a 10-1 dismantling of their CAA foes sunday night.  The winner-take-all game got rained out monday, pushed to Tuesday.  In that tuesday game, South Carolina jumped ahead early and held on to win the last game 10-5 to complete the comeback out of the Loser’s bracket and advance.

8. The LSU regional was plagued by rain.  They only got one game in on Friday and Saturday.  however, LSU saved their ace Alex Lange for the Rice matchup, where he’ll face another highly regarded college junior in Jon Duplantier.  A freak “ground rule grand slam” set the tone early and LSU prevailed.  Rice came back through the loser’s bracket and took the first game from LSU in the regional final, forcing a winner-take-all Tuesday.  In that winner-take-all game, Rice jumped out ahead but LSU had a clutch go-ahead homer in the 7th to break Rice’s back.  LSU advances and becomes the last of the 16 teams to do so.

9. In the NC State region,  NC State pounded Navy’s Luke Gillingham to put away any chances of an upset while Coastal Carolina eased past St. Marys to setup a fun all-Carolina matchup in the winner’s bracket.  Navy put St. Marys on 2-and-out.  The NC State-Coastal game was delayed a day by weather, but Coastal held a 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the 9th to delay the inevitable.  NC State destroyed Navy in the loser’s bracket final 17-1 to face off against Coastal twice to advance.  In the first game of the final, NC State easily beat CC to force the winner-take-all game.  That game, believe it or not, was suspended in the top of the 9th with NC State holding a 2-run advantage and had to be pushed to Tuesday.  When they resumed the game … Coastal Carolina rallied for four runs in the top of the 9th to win the game and the regional.  Amazing.

 


Summary of Regionals statistically:

  • 10 of 16 hosts advanced, including 7 of 8 National seeds.  This is a far cry from 2014, which lost most of its national seeds early, but about in line with 2015’s tournament where 11 of 16 advanced.
  • 2 first time Super-Regional participants (Boston College, UC Santa Barbara)
  • 5 = number of regionals forced into the “extra” deciding game, most of them on Tuesday thanks to weather.
  • 10 number one seeds, 4 number two seeds, and 2 number three seeds advance to the super regionals.  
  • 6 number of #4 seeds who didn’t finish 4th in their regional: two were runner’s up in their region (William & Mary and Xavier).
  • 2 hosts that went 2-and-out (the understandable Vanderbilt and Ole Miss).
  • 5 of the regionals went pure chalk, a decent indication of the job the seeding committee did this year.
  • Biggest upsets: Xavier destroying Vanderbilt, Utah beating Ole Miss.
  • Most surprising regional winner:  UC Santa Barbara

Conference Breakdowns of the teams in the Super Regionals:

  • SEC: florida, TAMU, Mississippi State, South Carolina, LSU
  • Big12: TCU, Texas Tech, OK State
  • ACC: Fla State, Lousiville, Miami, BC
  • Pac12: Arizona
  • other: UCSB, ECU, Coastal Carolina

Super Regional Matchups:  The super-regional hosts were announced just after the last regional ended.

  • #1 Florida vs #16 Florida State (a rematch of last year’s super-regional)
  • #2 Louisville vs UC Santa Barbara
  • #3 Miami vs Boston College
  • #4 TAMU vs #13 TCU (a rematch of last year’s super regional)
  • #5 Texas Tech vs ECU
  • #6 Mississippi State vs Arizona
  • Oklahoma State vs #10 South Carolina
  • #8 LSU vs Coastal Carolina

 


Super Regional Thoughts:

I think the top 4 seeds are class this year; i’m going with Florida, Louisville, Miami and TAMU to start, and two of them are helped by going against first time super-regional teams.  We have two Super-Regional rematches from last year (Florida-Florida State and TAMU-TCU), which followed last year’s multiple super regional rematches.  I know the committee likes this, but I don’t; give these teams a shot at playing someone else.  Florida destroyed Florida State last year and their pitching staff should control them again this year.  I don’t see Louisville troubled.  Miami-BC is an ACC match-up that never happened this season.  I love TAMU-TCU and think its unfortunate they meet here and not Omaha; they played a fantastic regional last year that culminated in a 16-inning decider.

I like ECU but don’t know enough about Texas Tech to predict a possible upset.  Same with Mississippi State; are they the most non-descript national seed we’ve had in awhile?  Arizona came out of the weak Pac12 this year so its hard to pick against the nationally ranked team.  I think Oklahoma State is better

Predictions: Florida, Louisville, Miami, TAMU, ECU, Mississippi State, OK State, LSU

 


College CWS tournament references:

CWS 2016: Field fo 64 announced with Regional predictions

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Its that time of year again; Its College Baseball playoff season!

On 5/29/16, a day before the entire field was announced, the 16 Regional hosts were announced.  These are also the top 16 seeds (though they only acknowledge the top 8 “national seeds”).  The following day, the entire field was announced.  Here’s a look at the 16 regional tournaments with some quickie thoughts.

Each of these 4-team sets is listed in the “seed” in the regional, starting with the host:

1. Florida, Georgia Tech, UConn, Bethune-Cookman: hard to see the #1 overall seed and presumptive favorite all year lose at this stage.
16. Florida State, Southern Miss, South Alabama, Alabama State: Some think there’s an upset possible here, since both Southern Miss and South Alabama are tough; I still think Fla State can power its way through here.

If seeds hold, Florida meets Florida State for a fun intra-state tourney.  They’ve played three mid-week games this season with Florida sweeping them all, so odds are that Florida is making Omaha.

2. Louisville, Ohio State, Wright State, Western Michigan: Ohio State as your 2-seed isn’t scaring anyone.
15. Vanderbilt, UC Santa Barbara, Washington, Xavier: Not really much of a challenge for Vanderbilt in this regional; not even another top-25 team.

If seeds hold, yet another intra-state repeat super-regional matchup between these two teams, and a pretty tough draw for Louisville if it happens.  Vanderbilt is better than a #15 seed and this match-up seems like its forced to save a few dollars in travel costs; both of these teams are legitimate Omaha threats, with Vanderbilt having made the final in both of the last two seasons.

3. Miami, Florida Atlantic, Long Beach State, Stetson: Miami and Florida Atlantic split a couple of mid-week games; they have a dangerous Long Beach State as a #3 seed.  tough regional.
14. Ole Miss, Tulane, Boston College, Utah: Ole Miss will have its hands full with Tulane but should advance.

If seeds hold, Ole Miss gets a tough assignment going to Miami, but Miami should prevail.

4. Texas A&M, Minnesota, Wake Forest, Binghamton: wow, Minnesota as your #2 seed?  Tough regional you laid out there for TAMU this year.
13. TCU, Arizona State, Gonzaga, Orel Roberts: I don’t trust any of the Pac-12 teams this year; TCU should prevail.

If seeds hold, yet another manufactured super regional of local teams.  They didn’t play mid-week this season.  This could be a good series; some think TAMU is the beat team in the land.

5. Texas Tech, Dallas Baptist, New Mexico, Fairfield: shouldn’t be too tough for newcomer Texas Tech.
12. UVA, Bryant, ECU, William & Mary: well, UVA got kind of short changed here; Bryant isn’t tough but ECU can be.  They can’t be happy about seeing in-state rival W&M either.  They dodged a bullet with a weaker #2 seed though.

If seeds hold, Texas Tech-UVA is super close; they’re #6 and #7 in d1baseball’s latest poll.  I know nothing of Texas Tech but know UVA has played great as of late, has two 1st round talents and could be a tough out.

6. Mississippi State, Cal-State Fullerton, Louisiana Tech, Southeast Missouri State; Mississippi State should cruise here: Fullerton looks tough on paper but can come up short in the playoffs.
11. Louisiana-Lafayette, Arizona, Sam Houston State, Princeton: some upset potential here if you trust any Pac-12 teams.

If seeds hold, hard to see Mississippi State (ranked #3 in d1baseball’s latest poll) losing.

7. Clemson, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Western Carolina: Clemson will be favored but will struggle with OK State.
10. South Carolina, UNC-Wilmington, Duke, Rhode Island; tough regional for South Carolina; Duke is no slouch and Wilmington is tough.

If seeds hold (and sensing a pattern here), another intra-state superregional.  Clemson-South Carolina would be fun.

8. LSU, Rice, Southeastern LA, Utah Valley: hard to see LSU getting stressed here: Rice always underperforms in the post-season.
9. NC State, Coastal Carolina, St. Marys, Navy: tough blow for Coastal, which apparently went from just missing being a regional host to having to travel to tough ACC competitor NC State.  Meanwhile, NC State probably has the hardest regional of them all, with Navy’s pre-season all-american Luke Gillingham set to go in game 1.

If seeds hold, LSU-NC State could be a barn burner.

Easiest Regionals: I’d go with TAMU, Florida, Louisville.

Hardest Regionals: NC State, South Carolina, UVA.

My Omaha predictions right now: Florida, Louisville, Miami, TAMU, UVA, Mississippi State, South Carolina, LSU.  A lot of chalk there.


Snubs

North Carolina.  A top 20 team by RPI but yet again finishes with a sub-par, sub-.500 record in ACC play and gets left out.  10 other ACC teams made the tournament, making college baseball more and more of an ACC-SEC affair, but not having a top 20 team by the same RPI factors that clearly drove both the regional host selections and the at-large teams really is kind of hypocritical.  Why not just tell teams at the beginning of the year, “if you don’t finish .500 in conference play you will not be selected.”

The college podcasts listed a few other snubs like Kent State and PAC-12 teams Oregon and/or Oregon State, but for me it starts and ends with UNC.

Marquee Draft-related players to watch

I won’t go through all 64 teams, but here’s some of the more interesting names to keep an eye on:

  • #1 Florida has likely #1 overall pick A.J. Puk, but their “other” Ace starter Logan Shore is also a likely 1st or 2nd round pick.  Also a likely high pick is OF Buddy Reed.
  • #2 seed Louisville is led by likely top-5 pick Corey Ray and has two big arms you’ll hear mentioned on draft day (Zach Burdi and Kyle Funkhouser).
  • Miami’s Zach Collins is probably the first catcher off the board.
  • UVA is led by Conner Jones and Matt Thaiss, both likely 1st rounders.
  • Mississippi State’s ace is Dakota Hudson, likely the 2nd or 3rd college arm drafted.
  • Vanderbilt is led by 1st rounder Jordan Sheffield and in the field by likely 2nd rounder Bryan Reynolds.
  • Boston College’s staff is led by likely 1st rounder Justin Dunn.
  • Wake Forest’s Will Craig is one of the top sluggers in the nation, on the leader boards for both average and home runs.
  • UConn’s Anthony Kay will make life difficult for Florida if he is saved for the winner’s bracket game.

Other News

After Texas failed to make the tourney, their long-time coach and noted arm-shredder Augie Garrido stepped down to take an administrative job.


College CWS tournament references:

 

College draft-prospects with local-ties to keep an eye in for the 2016 draft

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UVA's Connor Jones is a likely first rounder in this year's draft. Photo via UVA sports

UVA’s Connor Jones is a likely first rounder in this year’s draft. Photo via UVA sports

For the fourth year running (here’s 2013’s wrap-up, 2014’s wrap-up, and 2015’s wrap-up), we’re going to keep an eye on “local” draft prospects leading up to the 2016 amateur draft.  By “local” I essentially mean anyone who hails from the DC/MD/VA areas plus anyone who is playing their college ball in the DC/MD/VA irrespective of where they hail from.


Here’s a list of DC/MD/VA college players draft-eligible in 2016 of note from our area.  We’re now to the point where HS seniors we covered previously in this blog are becoming college Junior draft eligibles; here’s our 2013 draft wrap up mentioning a number of these 2016 draft eligible players.

Major Local College Draft Prospects for 2016

These are the big-time names that we’ve been hearing may be 1st or 2nd rounders this year with Local Ties.

  • Connor Jones, UVA RHP via Great Bridge; a 1st round talent in 2013 who desired to go to college and he hasn’t disappointed; took over as the Friday starter by mid 2015, finished with a 7-2 record and a 2.96 ERA in 16 starts.  Pitched well in the CWS, getting an unlucky loss against Vanderbilt in the final.  Playing in the Cape Cod league this summer, on the 2015 Collegiate National team and on the MLB.com 2016 draft short list already.  Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 2nd team All-American.
  • Mike Shawaryn: RHP for Maryland; went 13-2 with a 1.71 ERA as Maryland’s friday starter as a sophomore.  He was named to Baseball America’s 2nd team All America in 2015.  2015 Collegiate National team.  He could be a very high draft prospect as a junior.  Didn’t pitch well for Team USA in summer 2015.  Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 1st team All-American.
  • Matt Thaiss, UVA C who led the team in hitting as a sophomore and is on the 2015 National Collegiate team.  Impressed while playing for Team USA in summer of 2015, with a top-2 round projection.  Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 3rd team All-American.
  • Buddy Reed, OF from Florida via Finksburg, MD (NW of Baltimore).  Not previously on the radar list despite hailing from Maryland b/c he attended a prep school in Rhode Island.  But he’s playing for Florida and is on the 2015 National Collegiate team.  Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 1st team All-American.
  • Errol Robinson, SS from Ole Miss via St. Johns Prep in DC: hit .297 and started every game for Ole Miss as a sophomore.  Getting a lot of attention in his junior year, with Ole Miss’ high national ranking and the general dearth of capable shortstops.

Other Local College draft eligibles w/ Local Ties

Some of these guys will get drafted, others may not.  But they’re all draft eligible, having gone to 4-yr programs 3 years ago.

  • Luke Gillingham a senior at Navy who was named Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 2nd team All-American.  There’s some history of Navy grads making the majors, including Mitch Harris and Oliver Drake in 2015.
  • Charlie Gould, a rising Sr at William & Mary.  Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 3rd team All-American, pre-season all-CAA.
  • Michael Morman, a 5th year senior/grad student at Richmond.  Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 3rd team All-American.
  • Daniel Pinero, UVA middle infielder who started 60 games and hit .300 as a sophomore.
  • Alec Bettinger, UVA RHP via Hylton: 50ip and 4 mid-week starts as a sophomore, could take a bigger role with the graduation/drafting of so many UVA arms in 2015.
  • Jack Roberts, UVA RHP via James River HS: struggled to a 6.08 ERA in 23 innings as a sophomore.
  • Andy McGuire, RHP from Texas via Madison HS: converted to middle relief at Texas, had 12 IP in 13 appearances in 2015, but does not appear to be on the Texas roster in 2016.  No idea where he is now.
  • Thomas Rogers, LHP from VCU via Lake Braddock: Initially went to UNC, transferred to VCU in the fall of 2014 and sat out 2015 per NCAA transfer rules.  Will be a draft eligible sophomore.
  • Tyler Ramirez, OF from UNC via Suffolk VA (Cape Henry Collegiate).  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Aaron McGarity, RHP from Virginia Tech (home town also Blacksburg).  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015 and made the All-Star team; prospects looking up.
  • Andre Scrubb, RHP from High Point U by way of Woodbridge VA (Hylton HS).  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Luke Scherzer, RHP from Virginia Tech by way of Midlothian VA (Powhatan HS).  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Nick Walker, OF from Old Dominion by way of Chesapeake VA (Kellahm HS).    Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Kit Sheetz, LHP Virginia Tech by way of Midlothian VA (James River HS).  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.  Not sure he’s actually still at Va Tech; missing from 2016 roster.
  • David Ellingson, RHP from Georgetown U.  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Andrew Yacyk, inf from Liberty U via Hagerstown.  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Andrew Knizner, C from NC State via Glen Allen, VA (Hanover HS).  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Nick Cieri, C/IB from U Maryland, played in Cape Cod league and made the all star team.
  • Logan Farrar OF/2B from VCU
  • Parker Bean, RHP/OF from Liberty
  • Zack Rice: OF from UNC via Suffolk HS in Norfolk: converted to pitching at UNC: had a 2.31 ERA in 20 appearances in 2015.
  • Bryce Harman, jr 1B from ECU via Chesterfield, VA (Lloyd C. Bird HS).  Huge power potential but 1B-only guy, still projects as top 5-10 rounds in 2016.
  • Garrett Brooks, sr OF (CF) from ECU via Chesapeake VA (Western Branch).  Could be a classic round 6-10 senior sign this coming spring as a capable player who struggled early but is coming on late.
  • Luke Bolka, jr LHP from ECU via Mechanicsville, VA (Atlee HS).  Drafted late out of HS, has big K/9 numbers in small sample sizes and could easily feature as a matchup lefty reliever.
  • Mac Caples, jr OF from Virginia Tech by way of Midlothian VA (James River HS).

Sources used to kick off this post (which I started the day after the 2015 draft and update through out the 2015 spring awards season and the 2015 summer baseball showcase season):

Please let me know if you feel there are draft-eligible players with local ties who I should be following.  I don’t want to leave anyone out!

 

College Baseball Kickoff – Opening Weekend review and some pre-season ranking lists

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UVA's Connor Jones kicked off this year with a gem. Photo via UVA sports

UVA’s Connor Jones kicked off this year with a gem. Photo via UVA sports

Welcome to the 2016 College Baseball Season!  Despite there still being snow on the ground here,  D1 programs all over the country played their first series this past weekend.

I know; I’m one of the few guys out there (at least in DC blogger-land) covering the College game.  So i’m ok if you keep moving on.  I probably got really turned onto the College game as I started to really look at the college arms the Nats were drafting, and the focus the Mike Rizzo establishment puts on college players.  Its a very “Billy Beane-esque” strategy; college players have more ABs, more consistent stats and more experience playing against “known quantities” of talent (especially those guys in the top baseball leagues like the SEC and ACC).  Now with two very good local programs (UVA and UMD) and a ton of local guys who i’ve been following long enough to track them from HS draft prospect to College draft prospect, I continue coverage of the College game.

Quick rundown of the top local prospects first weekend in action;

  • UVA’s Connor Jones threw 7 shut-out innings in a UVA win over Kent State.
  • Maryland’s Mike Shawaryn gave up 2 runs on 3 hits in a loss at Alabama
  • UVA’s Matt Thaiss went 6-13 in the kickoff tournament down in Myrtle Beach.
  • Ole Miss’ Error Robinson (a dc-native but quickly rising on the draft boards) went 2-for-7 with 3 walks and 4 runs in a their opening series sweep against FIU.
  • UNC’s J.B. Bukauskas had 9 Ks in 4 2/3’s innings but got a hook after showing some wildness in an eventual UNC loss.

I have a comprehensive post about all DC-area prospects coming, headlined by these four guys but also including all the local prep and college players, which we’ll post once HS season starts up.

Meanwhile, here’s some pre-season top-X lists for the new year: you’re going to see the same 4 teams at the top of every list.  There’s only 5 or so main sites covering the game, so we’ll go back to these blogs and sites constantly.  D1baseball.com and BaseballAmerica.com are the leaders but the other Collegiate Baseball sites are good as well.

  • D1Baseball’s pre-season top 25: Florida, Louisville, TAMU, Vandy, Oregon State.
  • Baseball America’s pre-season top-25: Florida, Louisville, TAMU then surprisingly UVA #4.
  • College Baseball Daily pre-season top 25 from 2/1/16: Louisville #1, TAMU #2, Vanderbilt #3 and Florida #4.  Virginia #8, Maryland #22.
  • College Baseball Central’s pre-season top 25 January 2016: Florida #1, Louisville #2
  • Collegiate Baseball News pre-season top-40 announced in Dec 2015.  Florida #1, Louisville #2, which isn’t surprising since both teams have multiple pre-season first team all-americans on their team.  Local teams mentioned: UVA #9, Maryland #28.
  • NCBWA (National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association)’s pre-season top-30: Florida, Louisville, Vandy and TAMU.

And here’s some pre-season All-America lists.  You’ll recognize a lot of these names if you’ve followed any pre-2016 draft coverage, and this list will eventually comprise a huge percentage of the first round draft this coming June.

  • Collegiate Baseball News announced in Dec 2015 their pre-season All Americans and it contains a whole slew of names in contention for 1-1 in 2016.  A.J. Puk, Alec Hanson, Corey Ray along with other big-time names such as Kyle Funkhouser, Nick Banks.  Maryland’s Mike Shawaryn is a 1st teamer, UVA’s Connor Jones and the Navy’s Luke Gillingham a 2nd-teamer, and Matt Thaiss (UVA), Charley Gould (W&M) and Michael Morman (Richmond) are 3rd teamers.
  • D1Baseball.com’s pre-season all American list: the two aces for local college teams UVA and UMD are listed (Jones and Shawaryn).   UVA’s Thaiss is a 2nd teamer.  D1baseball also has a list of the Top 300 College draft prospects for 2016.
  • BaseballAmerica’s pre-season All American team is here.  No local guys on 1st team, Shawaryn, Jones and Pavin Smith are on the 2nd and 3rd teams.
  • USA Baseball pre-season Golden Spikes watch list: includes most major D1 prospects and local guys Shawaryn, Jones, Thaiss and Gillingham.

A full overview of D1Baseball’s coverage is here.  BaseballAmerica’s College index is here.

 

 

Player Killers: what college programs are known for hurting pro prospects?

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Did TCU destroy Purke's arm? Photo AP/Nati Harnik

Did TCU destroy Purke’s arm? Photo AP/Nati Harnik

Its always dangerous to make a blanket statement in baseball.  If I say that “CollegeX is known for killing pitcher arms” then there’ll immediately be people who cite players who are exceptions to such a rule.

Nonetheless, while reading a ton of prospect-driven content on the web over the years, some common themes pop up.  And the crux of it is this: there are some college baseball programs out there that are accused of hurting their players’ professional prospects and draft statuses by virtue of the misguided or (in some cases) outdated coaching and usage of players.

Grantland’s Michael Baumann wrote an excellent article summarizing some of the “danger programs” in 2013, citing work done by Rany Jazayerli and Baseball Prospectus.  Some of this also comes from Keith Law‘s freely offered opinions on the topic, and he offers up plenty of supporting evidence in his columns and chats.  Some of these are “arm shredder” programs, others are places that are thought to change player’s swings.

Here’s some trouble-maker programs (and by “programs” often times by implication you’re blaming the head coach as the decision maker):

  • Stanford: Law calls it the “Stanford Swing.”  Per Law, Stanford coaches emphasize going away, altering hitters’ swings to de-emphasize pull hitting, to the point apparently where players are outright benched for pulling the ball.  Now, there’s quite a few Stanford grads in the Majors right now, and the  hitters listed aren’t exactly an honor roll of top-hitting guys.  Jed Lowrie might be the best active hitter.  The career Stanford grad homer leader is the recently retired Carlos Quentin, out of baseball at 32.  So maybe there’s something to it.
  • TCU: Jim Schlossnagle is not well known for its handling of pitchers.  The Nats are well aware of this, having drafted damaged goods in Matthew Purke, who was 15-0 as a freshman and basically hasn’t been the same since.
  • Rice’s Wayne Graham: Law has provided an exhaustive list of pitchers who he accuses the Rice coaches of blatantly over-working and has flat out suggested that pitchers considering attending Rice should go elsewhere.  In fact, the most blatant example of this was the 2004 draft: Rice had three starters drafted in the first 8 picks (Philip Humber, Jeff Niemann, and Wade Townsend) and ALL three of them suffered shoulder injuries soon there after.
  • UNC‘s Mike Fox so over-used a reliever a few years back that the New York Times of all papers wrote about it.  And he had Matt Harvey, don’t forget, allowing Harvey to throw an astounding 157 pitches in a 2010 outing and 5 other instances of 120+ pitches.  Is it a coincidence that Harvey blew out his UCL just a couple years later?  Or just bad luck?
  • South Carolina‘s Ray Tanner: won back to back CWS’s … on the backs of his pitching staff.
  • Texas‘ legendary coach Augie Garrido already had a reputation for overuse before the infamous Texas-Boston College regional game in June of 2009.   Texas’ Austin Wood, a reliever, came out of the bullpen to throw 13 innings and 169 pitches in the 25-inning game.  Garrido really took a lot of heat for that … but his BC counterpart might have only been slightly less culpable.  BC threw its own guy Mike Belfiore for 129 pitches and 9 2/3 innings.  In Wood’s case, it was made even worse by the fact that he had thrown two innings *the day before.*  It is no surprise to report that Wood had to undergo Shoulder Surgery the next season, nor is it a surprise that the crusty Garrido disclaimed any responsibility for the injury by Wood’s usage in that game.  Belfiore, it should be noted, has never shown any evidence of injury, was a 1st round draft pick just prior to his appearance, and looks like a 4-A pitcher who is now in the Detroit organization but who had a cup of coffee in 2013.  Perhaps its because Belfiore was a starter and basically threw a start instead of Wood, who was clearly a reliever.

Pitch count guidelines: there’s research out there that basically shows that anything above 120 pitches in an outing is an indicator of fatigue-induced regression their next time out, and 130+ pitch outings might as well be prescriptions for injury.

Times have changed: no longer are A-1 pitching prospects left in games to rack up ridiculous pitch counts.  Mark Prior had at least 6 starts the year he was drafted where he threw 120-130+ pitches.  Ben McDonald was famously started in back to back CWS games, getting clobbered in the second game … all while having *already* been drafted by the Baltimore Orioles, who must have been screaming at the television set watching what was  unfolding as legendary LSU coach Skip Bertman set about destroying the best arm in the nation.

But then again, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  NC State, in a mad dash to make the post-season in 2014, let their Ace starter Carlos Rodon throw 120+ pitches seven times.  Rodon’s usage was also discussed in Baseball America.  Did that lead to Rodon’s diminished stuff and subsequent drop in the 2013 draft?  Maybe.  I’m sure the White Sox are ok with it, since he doesn’t seem to have suffered any ill effects and is in their rotation 2 years later.  Trevor Bauer, while at UCLA, *averaged* more than 120 pitches an outing the year he was drafted … but he seems like such an outlier because of his warm-up technique (which involves extreme long toss and clearly has built up his shoulder strength over the years).  Are NC State and UCLA trouble-programs?  I havn’t heard much since so i’m leaving them off for now.

Did I miss anyone?

2015 CWS Finals: Virginia wins!

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WaddellBrandon via 247sports.com

Brandon Waddell pitched the game of his life in the CWS final. Photo via 247sports.com

Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2015:

 


Here’s how the Finals played out.

  • In Game One on 6/22/15, UVA’s Connor Jones matched Vanderbilt’s ace Carson Fulmer zero for zero for the first five innings.  However, Vanderbilt got a well-timed opposite field double down the line to plate two and then scored three more, knocking Jones from the game in the 7th to win game one 5-1.  Fulmer was outstanding, holding UVA to just 2  hits through 7 2/3rds innings, leaving with a large lead in his final collegate appearance (he was drafted 8th overall by the White Sox).  Other players of note: #1 overall pick Dansby Swanson finally had a good game, going 2-4 with a run and an RBI.  Nats 3rd rounder Rhett Wiseman struggled; going 0-4 with the hat-track of three punch-outs.
  • In Game Two on 6/23/15, UVA turned to their regular outfielder Adam Haseley in somewhat of a shock, and he threw 5 shut-out innings before handing the ball to the most dominant pitcher this post-season has seen in Josh Sborz, who threw another 4 shutout innings to shore up the win 3-0 and force a game 3.  UVA’s offense was also unexpected; they were powered by their #8 and #9 hitters, the latter of which was walk-on senior Thomas Woodruff, who had a grand total of 67 ABs in his collegiate career.  It was Woodruff’s 2-run bases loaded single that provided the game winning runs.  Amazing.
  • In Game three on 6/24/15, UVA’s Brandon Waddell threw the game of his life, giving up 2 runs early but then shutting down Vanderbilt’s offense for the next six innings en route to a 4-2 win.  Vanderbilt’s Walker Buehler struggled with his control, giving up runs early and getting unceremoniously yanked in his last collegiate appearance.  Nathan Kirby came on to relieve Waddell, who threw 105 pitches on 3 days rest, and blew away Vanderbilt’s hitters in the 8th and 9th for his first (and last) career save.  3B Kenny Towns, a lowly 20th round pick by the Angels, was the game hero, with a very good diving stop to save a run early and a crucial go-ahead RBI late.   But it was freshman 1B Pavin Smith who was the offensive star of the game, clubbing a 2-run homer early to tie the game and deflate Vanderbilt.

UVA wins the first Baseball title for the ACC since 1955, an amazing stat considering the baseball-playing pedigree of the conference.  Super reliever Josh Sborz recieved the MVP award for his CWS work; final tally:  3IP on 6/13, 2IP on 6/15, and 4ip on 6/20, and 4IP on 6/23.  All Scoreless.

UVA completes a pretty amazing season all things considered; they suffered injuries to a number of their key guys, struggled in conference all season and likely only even made the field by virtue of a sweep of UNC in their final ACC season series.  But, for those who thought the final was a fluke based on the seedings of the two teams, consider this: Vanderbilt was the consensus pre-season #1 team by every poll out there, and UVA was either 2nd, 3rd or 4th in those same polls.  So these teams were expected to return to the CWS at the very least … they just to circuitous paths there.

Your 2015 College World Series Champion: The University of Virginia

This concludes the College Baseball season and our coverage of it for 2015.  I have some draft posts about summer leagues and summer travel teams of note for high schoolers that I may dig out again, for those interested.

 


College CWS tournament references:

CWS Group Winners and CWS Final preview

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Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2015:

Lets review the CWS group play.  The CWS plays just one or two games a day; a far cry from the first weekend, where 64 teams played hundreds of games over the course of a long weekend.  So this post has been written in one or two sentence increments for a week and a half…

My pre-CWS predictions were Florida from the top and LSU from the bottom.  Lets see how things turned out.


In the Left Bracket (UVA, Arkansas, #5 Miami and #4 Florida)

  • In the opening games, UVA took out Arkansas 5-3 behind a decent effort from Connor Jones (Great Bridge HS) but an even better effort from 2nd rounder Josh Sborz, who shut down Arkansas for the win.  Both teams’ premier hitters (Andrew Benintendi and Joe McCarthy) hit solo shots during the game.  In the other opener,  Florida destroyed Miami 15-3, knocking out Andrew Suarez after just 3 1/3 innings.
  • In the first elimination game, Miami got two hits in the bottom of the 9th to walk off and eliminate Arkansas 4-3.
  • In the winners bracket game to take control of the group, UVA’s #2 Brandon Waddell pitched perhaps the game of his career, shutting down Florida on just 2 hits for 7 scoreless innings before Sborz got the 2-inning save, giving UVA a 1-0 victory and a surprising (to me) clear path to the CWS finals for the 2nd year in a row.
  • In the play-in game to the group final, Florida jumped all over Miami’s starter, so they brought back Suarez on short rest (which I’m sure his drafting team (San Francisco) was thrilled about), but the game was over early and Florida eliminated Miami 10-2 to setup a rematch with UVA for a berth in the finals.
  • In the group final, UVA’s gambit of throwing ace Nathan Kirby after being side-lined for months backfired; he was hit hard early and UVA’s notional 3rd starters (Alec Bettinger) just couldn’t keep Florida at bay long enough to allow his offense to come back.  Florida wins 10-5 to force a winner-take-all game and wreak havoc on UVA’s pitching matchup strategy.  Luckily for UVA, they have Josh Sborz, who relieved Waddell and threw four shut-out innings, enough to give UVA’s offense time to scrape together the winning run and advance to the CWS final.

Group winner advancing to the CWS finals: UVA


In the Right Bracket (#2 LSU, #7 TCU, #11 Vanderbilt and #14 Cal State-Fullerton)

  • In the opening games, TCU stunned LSU 10-3, with TCU’s ace (and Chicago Cub 8th rounder) Preston Morrison shutting down LSU’s offense.  Nats 2nd rounder Andrew Stevenson was 1-4 with an RBI.   Meanwhile, Cal State – Fullerton got to Vanderbilt ace Carson Fulmer while their own ace (2nd round pick Thomas Eshelman) showed why he’s got 80 command, throwing 5+ scoreless, walk-less innings before weather forced the suspension of the opener.  Luckily for Vanderbilt, the rest of CSF’s staff wasn’t as effective, and Vanderbilt got a 4-3 walk-off win.
  • In the first elimination game, LSU’s Alex Lange pitched a complete game to defeat Cal State-Fullerton and eliminate them from the CWS.
  • In the winners bracket game to take control of the group, Vanderbilt’s clean-up hitter Zander Weil hit a solo homer in the 7th to provide the only offense of the night as Vanderbilt beat TCU 1-0 to take control of the group and make it seem more and more likely of a CWS rematch.
  • In the play-in game to the group final, TCU punished LSU’s bullpen and took an easy 8-4 win to eliminate the highest seed in the CWS and force a rematch with Vanderbilt for a spot in the CWS final. 
  • In the group final, Vanderbilt threw their 1st rounder Walker Buehler for the first time in 3 weeks and he was sparkling; he pitched into the 7th, allowing just 4 hits.  Meanwhile Nats 3rd round pick Rhett Wiseman, after taking a ball to the neck in the 1st, absolutely crushed a homer to put the game out of reach for Vanderbilt, who go on to win 7-1 and advance.

Group winner advancing to the CWS finals: #11 seed Vanderbilt.


CWS finals discussion: Games 1,2,3 set for 6/22-6/24/15.  Vanderbilt’s pitching staff for the CWS final looks like this:

  • Ace Fulmer threw 6 innings and 104pitches on 6/14/15.   He’ll be on 7 days rest for game 1.
  • #3 Philip Pfeifer threw 7 innings and 112 pitches on 6/16/15.  He’ll be on 6 days rest for game 2.
  • #2 Buehler, who threw 6 2/3rds innings on 6/19/15 would be on 4 days rest for a decider on 6/24/15, normal rest for a pro but a little short for a college guy.  Otherwise, some-time starter John Kilichowski, who threw 2+ in both the 2nd and 3rd games of the CWS group play, could be available depending his usage in the first two games.

Meanwhile, UVA’s pitching staff is in trouble.  Here’s where they stand:

Sborz meanwhile threw multiple innings in each group win: 3IP on 6/13, 2IP on 6/15, and 4ip on 6/20.   And all of those were very high leverage innings, with UVA either tied or clinging to a small lead.  UVA almost has to consider throwing one of its mid-week starters in Game 2.  That would give them Kirby on 4 days rest in the final, to be relieved by Waddell on 3 days rest.  You just can’t take a guy who hasn’t thrown in months and then pitch him back to back on the shortest rest of his life.

You have to like the way the CWS lines up for Vanderbilt’s staff.  Jones wasn’t exactly overpowering against Arkansas in his start (3 runs in 6ip) and Vanderbilt’s got a better offense.

I’m note quite sure how Vanderbilt slipped to an #11 seed in this tournament, given the talent and leadership on their squad.   It is worth noting they had no less than nine draftees in the 2015 draft; 3 first rounders (1st, 8th and 24th overall), 2 third rounders and a 6th of note.  That’s a ton of talent.  You have to think they’re the favorites in the final to repeat.

Prediction: Vanderbilt in 2.

 


College CWS tournament references: