Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2016:
- College Baseball 2016 Preview and pre-season Rankings
- 2016 Draft Preview for Local College-age eligible players of note.
- Field of 64 announcement
- Regionals Review
- Super Regionals Review and CWS preview
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:
- Ncaa.com’s interactive full 64-team bracket with up-to-the-minute box scores of live games: my go-to link this year.
- d1baseball’s tournament Post season Index
- d1baseball.com’s Regional Schedule Home Page
- d1baseball’s Regional participant information
- d1baseball.com’s daily scoreboard
- Baseball America’s Regional Roundup
- NCAA Individual player stats
- Warren Nolan.com’s College Baseball RPI