Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

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UVA’s 2015 baseball recruiting class ranked top-10

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The publication Collegiate Baseball Newspaper recently announced its Top 40 college baseball recruiting classes, and 2014 CWS runner-up UVA was ranked 9th.  LSU, Wichita State, Florida, San Diego and Oklahoma State comprise the surprising top 5, though the rest of the top 10 contains some of the expected collegiate powerhouse programs.

(Also: UVA announced their 2015 schedule on 9/25/14, schedule here).

UVA published their own press release, which detailed the names in their recruiting class.  A good friend (UVA alumni who has taken a big interest in the squad with their recent success) asked me to react to the class with what I knew.  Here’s what I wrote:

(Here’s what I wrote about UVA-committed players after the 2014 draft, and some of these guys were covered in my “pre-2014 season draft prospects” piece).

- Derek Casey: he’s the player I’d be most happy about coming to school, were I a UVA fan.  He was a 3rd round talent, undefeated in his HS pitching career, 93-94 on the gun.  He should go far towards replacing the arms UVA stands to lose after next season to the draft (basically, all three of their projected weekend starters are Juniors in 2015).
- Pavin Smith probably replaces Mike Papi like-for-like in the lineup; big lefty 1B/OF type.  Well regarded nationally.
- Charlie Cody was more highly ranked on prospect boards before his Senior year; he’s a good bat addition.  At one point early in 2014 he was ranked as high as #34 for all HS prospects nation-wide by one ranking service.
- Bennett Sousa is another guy who got a lot of national recognition even if he wasn’t drafted.  93mph from the left hand side, another future starter.
- Tommy Doyle: its hard to say just how good he is: yes he got drafted (by the Nats in the 34th round) but his drafting seemed to be one of those “draft a local kid to appease a part-owner’s buddy” kind of things.  He pitched at a small high school (Flint Hill Prep in Oakton) with almost no competition, making it really tough to gauge how good he is.  He also played for a no-name travel team instead of someone like the Evoshield Canes.  What he does have going for him is his size: he’s 6’6″ and hitting 91, which probably comes out of his hand about a foot closer to the plate than a guy who is 6′ even, making it look that much faster.  If he can add a few mph, he’ll be a beast.
- Jack Gerstenmaier, like Cody, had his stock drop in 2014 for whatever reason.  He was a 1st team PerfectGame All-American for the region at one point.  But Gerstenmaier-Cody could be UVA’s double play combo for years.

Of the rest of UVA’s announced class, I don’t know anything about them, even the local guys.  I’d guess that a couple of them are good talents … but most of them might be on minimal-to-no scholarship.

UVA lost a big-time recruit last minute in Devon Fisher (no relation to 2014 supp-1st round pick Derek Fisher); he was a catcher from Portsmouth who got drafted and then signed with Boston.  20th rounder so probably not for a lot of cash, which makes it that much more of a surprise.  He would have pushed this class up the rankings for sure.

With the new draft rules in place, its likely that guys like Cody, Casey and Gerstenmaier let it be known they had strong college commitments and thus that hampered their draft status.  Same thing happened to Conner Jones last year.  Good for UVA that they draw so well.

It seems UVA is quite setup for the future in terms of arms:

  • 2015 rotation: Kirby, Waddel, Sborz on weekends, one of the freshman/sophomores (Jones?) mid-week.
  • 2016 rotation: Choosing from Jones, Bettinger, Sousa, Doyle and Casey.  not bad.

2014 College World Series Finals: Vanderbilt wins

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Vanderbilt's ace Fuller helped Vanderbilt win the deciding game 3 in the CWS.  Photo unk via anchorofgold.com

Vanderbilt’s ace Fuller helped Vanderbilt win the deciding game 3 in the CWS. Photo unk via anchorofgold.com

Congrats to #13 seed Vanderbilt, your 2014 College World Series champ (following UCLA, who won the 2013 CWS as covered here last year).  This is our final College post of the year.

Here’s a review of our CWS coverage for 2014:

Here’s how the CWS final played out:

  • In Game One on 6/23/14, UVA’s All-American starter Nathan Kirby blew up in the third inning, walking in three runs en route to a NINE run inning, which held up for Vanderbilt as they won 9-8.  Kirby said that he just lost his release point, leading to a pretty uncharacteristic outing.  This is not good news for UVA, who thought for sure they’d win a matchup of their #1 All-American versus Vanderbilt’s 3rd starter Walker Buehler.  Sure enough, UVA got to Buehler for 2 runs in the first and 5 runs before knocking him out, but they just couldn’t overcome the large deficit.   Buehler’s no slouch; the sophomore went 12-2 on the season and throws an easy 95 and likely is a top draft pick next year, so it isn’t as if UVA faced the scrubs.  But their work is cut out for them now.
  • In Game two on 6/24/14, UVA got a bounce-back performance from #2 starter Brandon Waddell, who pitched a complete game giving up 2 runs on 5 hits to lead the Cavaliers to a 7-2 victory to force the deciding game.   Vanderbilt’s #2 starter, supplanted Ace and 2014 first rounder Tyler Beede pitched well for 5 innings, but got knocked around in the 7th to give up what turned out to be the go ahead runs and took the loss.  UVA continued to show why Baseball America pundits thought they were the “most complete” team in the college post season, coming at teams with both superior pitching AND superior hitting.
  • In the deciding Game 3 on 6/25/14, UVA’s Josh Sborz (of McLean HS, where he had a stellar prep career and collected every available “player of the year” award his senior year) faced off against Vanderbilt’s ace Carson Fuller, going on short rest after pitching the play-in game for Vanderbilt just 4 days ago.  Sborz was wild early and got yanked in the first, leaving mid-week starter Artie Lewicki with the ball.  All Lewicki did was throw 6 innings of 4 hit ball, giving up one unearned run (Lewikie didn’t give up an earned run in 23 IP this CWS; wow).  UVA got the ball into their closer’s hand in a tie ball game in the 8th (first rounder Nick Howard) and he gave up an unlikely homer (just the third of the entire CWS) to prove to be the game winner for Vanderbilt 3-2.  UVA loaded the bases in the 8th but couldn’t push a run across against Vandy’s bullpen, and they closed it out.  Heartbreak for UVA, who may not have a better combination of hitting (6 hitters drafted) and pitching (led by an All-American sophomore) for quite a while.

Congrats to Vanderbilt for coming out on top.

Resources:

Written by Todd Boss

June 27th, 2014 at 9:45 am

CWS Group Play review; Final set

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Here’s a look at our CWS coverage so far in 2014:

Now lets review the group play in Omaha.  Compared to the blitz of games during regionals (100+ games in four days) and super-regionals (where there were nearly 40 games in a long weekend), covering the CWS is pedestrian; there’s just a couple of games a day for nearly two weeks.

My pre-CWS predictions are with Vanderbilt from the top and UVA from the bottom, but UVA’s path through to the CWS finals is a lot tougher.  Lets see how things played out.


In the Top Bracket (UC Irvine, Vanderbilt, Louisville, and Texas):

UC Irvine continued their surprising run this post-season by getting 3 runs late on Texas’ starter Nathan Thornhill and taking the first game 3-1.  Meanwhile, Vanderbilt got to wild Louisville starter Kyle Funkhowser behind their flame-throwing converted closer Carson Fulmer and took their first game 5-3

In the first elimination game, Texas handed Louisville’s Anthony Kidston his first loss of the year and put the Cardinals 2-and-out 4-1.  In the winner’s bracket game, UC Irvine tagged Vanderbilt’s stud Tyler Beede for four runs early and knocked him out in the 4th, but Walker Buehler relieved and threw 5+ innings of no-hit ball as Vanderbilt’s offense stormed back to take the winner’s bracket game 6-4.  This sets up Vanderbilt nicely for the rest of the tournament and confirms them as the early favorite to advance to the final.  In an elimination game, Texas got a solo homer from C.J. Hinojosa and 8+ shutout innings from middle-reliever Chad Hollingsworth to eliminate UC Irvine 1-0 in a matchup of two of the games most tenured and respected coaches Augie Garido and Mike Gillespie, with nearly 3,000 combined wins between them.  Texas must now beat Vanderbilt twice over the 6/20/14 weekend to advance to the CWS final.  Texas did their part in the first game, knocking Vanderbilt’s starter out before the first inning was complete and winning 4-0 to force a doe-or-die 6/21/14 game.  In that do-or-die game, Vanderbilt outlasted Texas with a walk-off infield single in the bottom of the 10th to advance 4-3.


In the Bottom Bracket (Texas Tech,Virginia, Ole Miss and TCU):

TCU saved their #1 starter and got by Texas Tech 3-2 in the opener, scoring 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th after not being able to touch TTU starter Chris Sadberry.  Texas Tech’s coach is probably kicking himself right now; Sadberry had given up just 3 hits through 7 innings and sat on 101 pitches; his reliever immediately coughed up the game.  Meanwhile, UVA’s Nathan Kirby pitched a gem in their opener, holding Ole Miss to just one hit over 7 innings and supp-1st rounder Mike Papi drove in the walk-off run as UVA won 2-1.  UVA’s work is cut out for them though, having to face first rounder Brandon Finnegan in the winner’s bracket game.  In that marquee TCU-UVA matchup, UVA couldn’t do much against Finnegan (8ip, 1 ER) but their own co-ace Brandon Waddell also held the Horned Frogs in check (7ip, 1ER).  The game went into extras .. many extra innings, finally won by UVA in the 15th 3-2 (tying the longest CWS game ever).  UVA’s closer Nick Howard threw 4 innings and 60 pitches, which makes me wonder if we’ll be hearing complaints about his usage (perhaps not; he was a starter his first two years at UVA).  Then, In the loser’s bracket, Ole Miss put Texas Tech out in a close 2-1 game, then similarly eliminated TCU 6-4.  Ole Miss must now beat UVA twice over the 6/20/14 weekend to advance to the CWS final.  And they couldn’t do it: behind 8 innings from their #3 and #4 starters (Josh Sborz and Artie Lewicki UVA topped Ole Miss 4-1 to advance to the CWS finals.


CWS finals: #13 Vanderbilt versus #3 UVA.

Game 1 on June 23rd, Game 2 on June 24th and (if necessary) Game 3 on June 25th.

Kirby versus Beede in game 1; Kirby sits on 8 days of rest after throwing just 85 pitches on June 15th.  Vanderbilt burned their ace Fulmer in the bracket final, leaving Vanderbilt at a definite disadvantage in the pitching matchup.  In game 2, UVA has Waddell set to go with 6 days rest while Vanderbilt has to go with their #3.  Sborz/Lewicki could tandem pitch a deciding game 3 for UVA with four full days rest if neither guy is used in the first two games, while Vanderbilt could bring back Fulmer on 3 days rest (to the likely ire of pitch count scouts, despite the fact that he only threw 90 pitches on 6/21).  UVA’s pitching is setup just about as good as you could hope for and have the bats to match; you have to think they’re the favorites.


Resources: d1baseball.com has all the CWS results in easy-to-consume fashion.  Their live scoreboard is great and is up-to-the-minute all throughout the weekend with links to the ESPN box scores.  Collegesplits.com has a ton of great data on college players.  And the Washington Post is providing great coverage of UVA’s trek through the college playoffs.

CWS Super-Regionals recap and CWS field

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We’re through the initial field of 64, through the regional play, and now we’re through the super regionals.  Here’s a review of the action from the 6/6/14 weekend and a look at our CWS field of eight for 2014.

From a draft perspective, the super-regionals feature a number of high profile guys, as noted by MLB.com’s Joey Nowalk here.  Tyler Beede, Max Pentecost, Brandon Finnegan, UVA’s trio of 1st-2nd rounders (Derek FisherMike Papi and Nick Howard) and Maryland’s ace/2nd rounder Jake Stinnett are all names to watch.  Lots of good pitching in this super-regional.

Here’s how the super-regionals went down: we’ll look at these regionals in the original order of the top 8 national seeds.  Blue identifies the super-regional winners.

  • UC Irvine at #16 Oklahoma State: In Stillwater UC Irvine once again proved doubters wrong, sweeping two games quickly on the road to qualify for Omaha.
  • College of Charleston at Texas Tech: Texas Tech squeaked by Charleston 1-0 in the opener despite a stellar performance from local kid Taylor Clarke (8ip, 5 hits, 1 run).  Texas Tech won the 2nd game of the regional by the same score; Charleston’s pitching staff gave up 2 runs in 18 innings and lost both games.  Texas Tech to Omaha.
  • #3 Virginia hosting Maryland: Maryland (behind 2nd round pick Stinnett) shocked UVA in the opener 5-4, putting 5 runs on Virginia’s ace Nathan Kirby and knocking him out in the 5th.  Does Maryland have the pitching though to hold off the consensus CWS favorites?  Not in the 2nd game; Uva roared back to win 7-3 and force the tiebreaking game.  There UVA continued to batter the Maryland pitching staff and advanced to Omaha 11-2.
  • Stanford at #13 Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt destroyed Stanford in the opener (they were up 10-0 by the end of the 3rd) but Stanford took game 2 to force a super-regional tie-breaker.  In game 3 Vanderbilt jumped all over Stanford’s starter en route to 5 first inning runs and an eventual easy win.
  • Kennessaw State at #12 Louisville: Louisville outmatched the upstart Kennessaw State team and won two straight to return to Omaha.
  • #6 Louisiana-Lafayette hosting #11 Ole Miss: In game one Louisiana-Lafayette’s offense put 9 runs up in the first 3 innings and held on for a 9-5 win.  But Ole Miss fought back to win game 2 and force the tiebreaker.  In the deciding game, Ole Miss broke open a close, rainy game with 4 in the ninth to advance 10-4.
  • #7 TCU hosting Pepperdine: TCU got 6 decent innings out of its ace (and first round pick) Finnegan and held on for a 3-2 opening win.  Pepperdine forced the tiebreaker with its own 3-2 win in game 2.  In the decider, TCU won a back-and-forth affair by taking the lead with 2 runs in the top of the 9th and survived a rally to advance.
  • Texas hosting Houston: Texas took both games from Houston 4-2 and then 4-0 to qualify for Omaha.

CWS Field: UC Irvine, Vanderbilt, Louisville, and Texas on one side, Texas Tech,Virginia, Ole Miss and TCU on the other.

Interesting field; There’s just 2 national seeds left in this field (and just four overall), the lowest number of advancing seeds in the history of the tournament.  Its very much tilted to the lower side, with the two remaining national seeds in one bracket.

Quick predictions: Vanderbilt on one side, UVA on the other with Virginia as national champs.  Why not, eh?

CWS Regional Results w/ Draft Prospect highlights

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College Baseball’s Field fo 64 was winnowed to just 16 over the 5/30/14 weekend, setting up Super Regionals to be played the weekend of 6/13/14.  Here’s a recap of the action.  There were a TON of upsets all throughout the weekend.

MLB.com/Cash Kruth posted a nice summary of top100 draft prospects in action over the past weekend; using that as a guide as well as focusing on some other big time names and local teams here’s a recap of the weekend’s action.

We’ll review the 16 regionals in order of the national seeds.  Blue is the host city and Red is the winner.

  1. In the Corvalis regional (host/seed: Oregon State) the #1 overall seed survived a nail-biter against North Dakota State in a game where they threw their 3rd string arm (Andrew Moore, who struck out 14 in his 8 innings).  They will be tough to beat with their two aces (Jace Fry and Ben Wetzler, who both sport 11-1 records with sterling ERAs on the season) going in the next to games, irrespective of who they play.  However day 2 featured a shocker: UC Irvine destroyed the #1 overall seed 14-2, getting to Fry for 6 runs in 6 innings.  Huge upset there.  Oregon State now will need to advance out of the loser’s bracket and stretch their pitching staff to advance.  On 6/1/14 Oregon State got by UNLV behind Wetzler’s complete game 4-hit, 1-run, 10-K outing and then blanked UC Irvine in the first game of the regional final behind a nifty 2-hit shutout from long-man/4th starter Scott Schultz.  In the do-or-die game on 6/2/14, the #1 seed’s luck ran out as UC Irvine cobbled together innings and held off Oregon State’s offense 4-2.
  2. In the Gainesville regional (host/seed: Florida): Long Beach State beat UNC behind sophomore Andrew Rohrbach‘s 8 shut out inning effort; he allowed a run in the 9th before getting pulled.  UNC sophomore Trent Thornton gave up 6 runs in less than four innings and UNC couldn’t come back.  And in the night cap perhaps the biggest upset of day one occurred when dangerous 4th seed College of Charleston beat the #2 overall seed/host Florida 3-2.  Local kid Taylor Clarke started for Charleston but was removed mid-way in the 5th thanks to uncharacteristic wildness; he had walked five and put 12 guys on-base but survived with only 1 run allowed.  The shocks continued in day 2 as UNC neatly dispatched Florida 5-2, eliminating the #2 overall seed.  College of Charleston took care of business over Long Beach State to take control of the regional, and ended up advancing on 6/1/14 when they beat Long Beach a second time.  Huge upset of Florida, even if Charleston was badly under-seeded.
  3. In the Charlottesville regional (host/seed: Virginia): UVA blitzed Bucknell to open the tournament behind 7 shutout innings from mid-week starter Artie Lewicki, a strategic move leaving UVA’s ace All-American Nathan Kirby to pitch in the winner’s bracket game on 5/31/14.  There they face Arkansas, who squeaked out a win over local favorite Liberty.  In day 2, Liberty went two-and-out while UVA shut out Arkansas behind Kirby’s 8-inning 1-hit gem 3-0.   Arkansas worked their way to the final of the regional, but there they ran into UVA’s saturday starter Brandon Waddell, who threw 6 2/3rd mostly clean innings while UVA exploded for 6 in the third to put the regional away 9-2.
  4. In the Bloomington regional (host/seed: Indiana): Stanford opened with an upset win over Indiana State behind a complete game 4-hit, 1-run performance from freshman Cal Quatrill while host Indiana cruised to a win.  In the winner’s bracket game Indiana took control of the regional with a win over Stanford.  Stanford stormed back from the loser’s bracket and took out Indiana in the first game of the regional final, forcing one extra game on 6/2/14.  Indiana ended up losing the winner-take-all game in pretty heartbreaking fashion, losing 5-4 to the Pac-12 team when Stanford scored 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th to advance.
  5. In the Tallahasse regional (host/seed: Florida State), Kennesaw got the first win of the tournament when sophomore Travis Bergen threw 8 2/3 shutout innings over Alabama and beating their Ace Spencer Turnbull.  Then the most surprising result of the day occurred in the night-cap when Georgia Southern embarrassed Florida State 7-0 in a game where they outhit the national seed 16-2 and their hurler (junior lefty Sam Howard) threw a 2-hit shutout.  Howard is a relative unknown, not even on MinorLeagueBall’s top 350-list of draft prospects; he made himself some money today.  On day 2, Alabama put Florida State two-and-out in a shock 6-5 win, while little known Kennesaw State scored 8 runs in the 11th inning to out-last Georgia Southern in a weird-looking box score 13-5.  Kennesaw’s big-time prospect (and likely upper-first round pick) Max Pentecost went 4-5 in the game with two walks to power his team.  On Sunday Alabama stormed back, blanking Georgia Southern and then beating Kennesaw State to force the extra do-or-die game.  However in the winner-take-all match Kennesaw State advanced over their SEC rival
  6. In the Lafayette regional (host/seed: Louisiana-Lafayette): Mississippi State beat San Diego State to open the regional and then in a huge upset Lafayette and their huge offense was shutout by little-known Jackson State 1-0.  Louisiana-Lafayette faces an up-hill climb now.  Louisiana took care of business over Stephen Strasburg‘s alma-mater in the elimination game and gets another shot at Jackson State, who couldn’t match up with their SEC opponent in the winner’s game.  Lafayette stormed through the elimination games, showing the offense they’re known for, beating Jackson State 11-1 and then Mississippi State 14-8 to force the extra 6/1/14 game.  Louisiana-Lafayette made up for their earlier mis-steps by taking an early 4-0 lead and holding on for a 5-3 victory to advance.
  7. In the Fort Worth regional (host/seed: TCU), hosts TCU had to go to 11 to get their opening win (with 1st round talent Brandon Finnegan striking out 12 in 7+ innings), after which they’ll face upstart Sam Houston State.  In the winner’s bracket game, TCU advanced 3-2 over Sam Houston in a TWENTY-TWO inning game, the 2nd longest game in NCAA  history.  On 6/1/14, Sam Houston got back to the regional final but TCU held on to win the regional and advance.
  8. In the Baton Rouge regional (host/seed: LSU) the seeds held to form on day one, with Houston and LSU advancing.  On day 2, LSU took charge with an 5-1 defeat over Houston.  Meanwhile, Houston worked its way back through the loser’s bracket and outlasted LSU in extra inning to force the extra winner-take-all game on 6/2/14.  There, Houston blitzed LSU 12-2 to get the upset regional win.
  9. In the Houston regional (host/seed: Rice): local team George Mason held the lead over Rice in the 8th inning but senior lefty starter Jared Gaynor fell apart in the 8th, let in 6 runs and Rice won 7-2.  Rice moves on to play powerhouse Texas while George Mason will have to contend with SEC team Texas A&M to survive.  There GMU didn’t have the horses and was eliminated 7-3 by TAMU, while Texas handled Rice in extras.   On 6/1/14, Rice was eliminated in extras, and then TAMU forced an elimination game on 6/1 over Texas, but that was as close as TAMU got, as Texas took the winner-take-all game 4-1.
  10. In the San Luis Obispo regional (host/seed: Cal Poly): Cal Poly (behind Matt Imhof) and Pepperdine advanced to setup an all-California mid-major winner’s bracket game.  There, Pepperdine’s ace LHP Aaron Brown (a likely 4th-5th rounder) pitched a gem to upset Cal Poly 2-1.   Sacramento State embarrassed Pac-12 power Arizona State in the loser’s bracket final, setting up a rematch with the host for the right to go after Pepperdine.  Cal Poly made its way back to the regional final and a rematch with the Waves, but were handled 10-6 late sunday night and Pepperdine advances.
  11. In the Oxford regional (host/seed: Ole Miss): Ole Miss’s starting shortstop has some DC roots: Errol Robinson was featured over the weekend.  the 5/30/14 games were rained out, forcing a delayed start.  On Saturday 5/31/14 the two top seeds easily advanced to the winner’s bracket game.  There Ole Miss held on for a 2-1 victory and will face Washington again in the regional final on 6/1/14.  There, Ole Miss took another low-scoring/extra innings game to win the regional 3-2.
  12. In the Louisville regional (host/seed: Louisville): Louisville and Kansas advanced on day one.  Louisville took care of business over Kansas in day 2, setting up a re-match between Kansas and Kentucky to try to oust Louisville out of the loser’s bracket.  Kansas got the better of Kentucky in their elimination game, but was handled 4-1 by Louisville in the regional final.
  13. In the Nashville regional (host/seed: Vanderbilt): Oregon just destroyed Clemson to open the regional 18-1 and then host Vanderbilt similarly destroyed Xavier 11-0 (with 1st round talent Tyler Beede throwing 8 shutout innings and striking out 14) to setup an intriguing winner’s bracket game.   Vanderbilt controlled Oregon on day two while Xavier surprised Clemson.   Oregon made their way to the regional final, but were beaten again 3-2 by a Vanderbilt team that won its 3 regional games by a combined score of 21-4.
  14. In the Columbia Region (host/seed: South Carolina): Maryland scored 3 in the bottom of the 9th (two by virtue of bases-loaded HBPs, including the walk-off winning run) to upend ODU in the opener, bailing out their ace Jake Stinnett‘s good but not good-enough 8-inning 3 earned run performance.    They next face host South Carolina.  In day-2 ODU unfortunately went two-and-out at the hands of Campbell but the big news was Maryland’s upsetting of #15 seed South Carolina 4-3.  Maryland is now in a great position to advance out of the regional where they could play local rival UVA in the super regional.  On 6/1, South Carolina fought their way back to the regional final, where they were pounded 10-1 by Maryland for the regional upset.  Not only was this a regional upset … but this was the first time South Carolina had lost at home in something like 27 games.  In the Baseball America CWS preview, they didn’t even bother talking about this series because “South Carolina doesn’t lose at home.”  Well, South Carolina lost twice to Maryland and the Terps are moving on.
  15. In the Coral Gables regional (host/seed: Miami), host Miami struggled mightily with the below .500 Bethune-Cookman team, winning 1-0 on a walk-off wild pitch in the 9th.   They face Texas Tech next, who also struggled (comparatively speaking) with the scholarship-less Ivy league champs from Columbia.  In the winner’s bracket game Miami’s offense was exposed again as Texas Tech shut them out 3-0 to take the driver’s seat.  Miami blitzed Bethune-Cookman to make it back to the regional final, where they were losing 1-0 in the 8th inning when play was suspended on 6/1/14.  Things got no better and Texas Tech finished off Miami 4-0 on 6/2/14.  All three of Florida’s seeds are now eliminated, a huge surprise.
  16. In the Stillwater regional (host/seed: Oklahoma State): Cal State Fullerton showed why they were likely under-seeded with an opening 5-1 win over Nebraska, though they depended on a grand-slam to take the lead for good.  Meanwhile host Oklahoma State rolled to an easy victory over small school Binghamton.  In the winner’s bracket on day 2, Oklahoma State put some doubters at bay by winning a slugfest over Fullerton 13-7 to take over the driver’s seat.  Fullerton beat Nebraska to get another shot at the Cowboys, but were beaten by Oklahoma State in the regional final 6-4.

Summary of Regionals statistically:

  • 9 seeds/hosts upset, while just 7 seeds/hosts advanced out of 16.  This includes your overall #1, #2, #4, #5 and #8 seeds eliminated, some two-and-out.
  • 4 number of #2 seeds advancing, 4 number of #3 seeds and 1 #4 seed (College of Charleston) advanced to the super regionals.
  • 7 = number of regionals forced into the “extra” deciding game.
  • 9 number of #4 seeds who didn’t finish 4th in their regional (Georgia Southern, Xavier, Youngstown State, Bucknell, Campbell, Jackson State, Sacramento State, Bethune-Cookman and College of Charleston)
  • 13 = the number of extra inning games (out of 103 total played this weekend), including a 22-inning monster between TCU and Sam Houston State.  The TCU regional featured 3 extra-inning games plus a 2-1 9-inning game.
  • Biggest upsets: clearly the two Florida national seeds (#2 Florida and #5 Florida State) getting blown out and going winless in their regionals.  But the fact that all three Florida hosts were upset is pretty amazing.  Oregon State losing as the #1 overall seed is pretty shocking (even if some thought they were over-seeded).
  • Most surprising regional winner: Has to be Kennessaw State, despite its upper first round talent Penecost.  College of Charleston may have been the only #4 seed to advance, but many thought they were at least a #3 seed and maybe even a weak #2.   These were the two highest RPI teams advancing, both in the 50s.
  • The #1 ranked RPI team (UVA) and the #1 ranked Baseball America team (Louisiana-Lafayette) both advanced and are on the same side of the potential CWS bracket.
  • Exactly ONE Regionals that went pure chalk; the Ole Miss Regional.  Every other regional featured some sort of upset.
  • My predictions: just 6 out of 16 predicted correctly.  There were just a ton of upsets this weekend.

Conference Breakdowns of the teams in the Super Regionals:

  • 2 ACC teams (out of 7 that made full field).
  • 2 SEC teams (out of 10 that made full field).  This is pretty amazing; the SEC had 10 teams and 5 hosts and just two advanced.
  • 4 Big-12 teams (out of 5 that made full field).  This is the big news for me; four of the Big-12′s five teams won their regional and the lone outlier (Kansas) finished 2nd to Louisville.
  • 1 Pac-12 teams (out of 5 that made full field).  Very poor showing for the Pac-12 this year.
  • 1 Big-West teams (out of 4 that made full field).  And the Big West advancer was a shock upset in UC Irvine.
  • Both American Athletic Conference teams advanced (Louisville and Houston)
  • The remaining 4 are from one-bid conferences: Kennessaw State (Atlantic Sun), Louisiana-Lafayette (Sun Belt), Pepperdine (West Coast), and College of Charleston (CAA).

(Link at CollegeBaseballBlog that has the full field conference breakdowns)

Super Regional Matchups:  With all these upsets, figuring out the hosts was tough.  The 8 hosts were announced late 6/2/14.

  • UC Irvine at #16 Oklahoma State
  • College of Charleston at Texas Tech
  • #3 Virginia hosting Maryland
  • Stanford at #13 Vanderbilt
  • Kennessaw State at #12 Louisville
  • #6 Louisiana-Lafayette hosting #11 Ole Miss
  • #7 TCU hosting Pepperdine
  • Texas hosting Houston

Super Regional Predictions:  Clearly we’ve under-rated the Big-12 teams, and now they’re hosting four super-regionals.  In each case the’re hosting an up-start/regional upset winner.  I like all four to advance to Omaha.  I think I like the two SEC teams as well; I like Ole Miss upsetting Louisiana-Lafayette.  UVA won’t be beat and for me is the clear CWS favorite right now (The BA guys liked UVA as their pre-tournament favorite despite their losses in the ACC and their dropping in the final top 25 ranking).  Lastly I think Louisville can hold off the surprising Kennessaw State.

Predictions: Oklahoma State, Texas, Louisville and Vanderbilt for one side of the CWS.  UVA, Ole Miss, TCU and Texas Tech on the other.  A very Texas CWS ahead.

College Baseball Daily’s predictions: Oklahoma State, Texas, Louisville, Stanford, UVA, Louisiana-Lafayette, TCU and Texas Tech (with some disagreement here and there).


Resources: d1baseball.com has all the regional results on one page. Their live scoreboard is great and is up-to-the-minute all throughout the weekend with links to the ESPN box scores.

CWS Field of 64 announced; teams and analysis

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CWS 2014 logo

Hot on the heels of our “local college team” post earlier this week, the full 64-team field has been announced.  (here’s a cool picture of all 64 uniforms in the tourney)

A preliminary announcement earlier on 5/26/14 stated the 16 regional hosts, each of whom is also automatically in the field.  The full field announcement came later in the day (link from College Baseball Blog and nicely formatted regional pairings from BaseballAmerica).  Oregon State got the #1 overall seed in the field of 64 and the Top 16 National seeds are:

  1. Oregon State: Pac-12 regular season champ (no tourney)
  2. Florida: SEC Eastern Division and overall regular season champion, Conference tourney runner-up
  3. Virginia: 2nd ACC coastal division
  4. Indiana: Big-10 regular season and conference tourney champion.
  5. Florida State: ACC Atlantic division champion.
  6. Louisiana-Lafayette: Sun Belt regular season and conference tourney champion.
  7. TCU: Big-12 2nd place regular season, conference tournament Champion
  8. LSU: 2nd SEC Western division, conference tourney champion.
  9. Rice: Conference USA regular season and conference tourney champion.
  10. Cal Poly: Big West regular season champ (no tourney)
  11. Ole Miss: SEC Western Division champion
  12. Louisville: American Athletic Conference regular season champion, Conference tourney runner-up
  13. Vanderbilt: 3rd SEC Western division
  14. South Carolina: 2nd SEC Eastern division,
  15. Miami: ACC Coastal Division and overall regular season champion,
  16. Oklahoma State: Big-12 regular season champion, Conference tourney runner-up

By inferring the stated match-ups of regional hosts, we infer the 9th-16 national seeds from the regional hosts: The 16 regional hosts *usually* are also the top 16 seeds of the tournament, though there have been some deviations from this in the past.  However these seem accurate based on RPI rankings and typical top-25 votes.

Seeding Analysis: I thought Oregon State was slightly over-seeded at #1; I think you have to put Florida or Florida State there based on their record, Strength of Schedule (SoS) and the conferences they play in.   Otherwise in some form or fashion I think your top 8 seeds are correct.   Some are complaining about Indiana but their RPI and BA ranks are top 8 material and there’s no team seeded 9-12 that can make a real strong case to rise.   I think teams like Houston, Washington and Texas were pretty hard done by not getting at least a regional host/9-16 seed.  How does the Pac-12 get the #1 overall seed but its 2nd best team doesn’t even rate a top 16 seed?  Meanwhile Houston is 10th in RPI and #15 in the latest BA poll, and they have to go to LSU to compete against a championship-calibre team.

(Note: CollegeBaseballBlog is reviewing every regional this week ahead of the weekend games.  Click here for an example).

Easiest RegionalsMiami, who in their 42nd consecutive CWS appearance gets Ivy league champ Columbia as its regional THREE seed and a team with a losing record as its 4th seed.  Of course, Miami’s prize will be a super-regional matchup with my tournament favorite Florida and a likely trip home.   Oregon State’s regional looks incredibly straight forward; its #2 and #3 seeds are from smaller baseball conferences and its #2 seed (UNLV) just lost their friday starter (Erick Fedde) to Tommy John.   Indiana’s regional looks pretty easy all things considered, and Florida State’s regional isn’t difficult, with middling SEC team Alabama and small conference schools to contend with.

Hardest Regionals: LSU; they get Houston, a team that should have been seeded as well as conference champ Bryant.  Oklahoma State got no favors with Nebraska and traditional power Cal-State Fullerton.  Rice gets #12 RPI ranked Texas to go with Texas A&M.  Ole Miss gets 14th ranked and under-seeded Washington to go with 25th ranked Georgia Tech and a pesky 4th seed in Jacksonville State.   Florida has three teams ranked inside of the RPI #50 in its regional; no cupcakes here and it includes the best #4 seed in the tourney (College of Charleston with local favorite Taylor Clarke).  TCU gets baseball powerhouse Dallas Baptist to go along with Sam Houston State, a team ranked in and out of the top 25 all year.  Lastly Louisville has a regional that looks like a fantastic basketball tournament; they have Kentucky, Kansas and Kent State.  Kentucky and Kansas were in the top 25 as recently as earlier this month and this could be a very competitive regional.

Snubs: West Virginia was the highest RPI ranked team left out (#38) but that was mostly on their SoS; they were barely a .500 team overall and were just 9-14 in divisional play.  Next in RPI rankings missing out were Mercer (#46), UCF (#48), and UC Santa Barbara (#50).  Central Florida likely was the “last team out” and Clemson/UC Irvine were the “last teams in.”  Duke may feel a bit unfairly done by; they finished ahead of two other NCAA teams in the conference standings.  CAA champ William & Mary just didn’t have the SOS to get in after losing the conference tournament.   Wright State won its conference going 25-4 in division only to lose the tournamnet to the team that finished dead last in conference play (Youngstown State).

(Links to other analysis from CollegeBaseballDaily blog, BaseballAmerica cool facts and tidbits, and BaseballAmerica field of 64 analysis by Aaron Fitt).

Local Rooting Interests: #3 overall seed and regional host UVA.  Liberty (#3 seed in Charlottesville region), Old Dominion (#3 seed in South Carolina’s region), George Mason (#4 seed in Rice’s regional), and U of Maryland (#2 seed in South Carolina region).  Tough matchup for Liberty.  Maryland returns to the tournament for the first time in 43 years, an amazing fact.  George Mason not only has to travel to Dallas, but they get two top 12 ranked teams in Rice and Texas.  Its hard to envision any of these teams besides host UVA advancing.

Big-time draft prospects to watch: Many of the biggest names in the upcoming draft failed to make the tourney (Carlos RodonBradley ZimmerSean Newcomb and Jeff Hoffman).  But you will have:

  • Aaron Nola, LSU’s friday night starter for the 2nd year running
  • Max Pentecost catches for Kennesaw State.
  • Michael Conforto, an OF with #1 seeded Oregon State
  • Brandon Finnegan, TCU’s #1 starter (a lefty who may be in Washington’s sights if he drops to #18 in the draft)
  • Tyler Beede, Vanderbilt’s #1 starter, who was a first rounder in 2011 out of HS but who failed to sign and has purported “make-up” issues (though finding links to whatever his transgressions may be are difficult)
  • Kyle Schwarber, Indiana’s backstop
  • Erick Fedde‘s team (UNLV) is in the tourney but he isn’t; he had Tommy John surgery a couple of weeks back.  Remember this name; more than one pundit has the Nats drafting him in 2 weeks time.
  • UVA has three 1st-2nd rounders of note as discussed here frequently: Derek FisherMike Papi and Nick Howard.

See more of the guys in play by scanning down MLBdraftInsider’s latest mock draft.  And mlb.com posted its link to the Tourney teeming with talent.

Regionals run from Friday 5/30/14 to Monday June 2nd (if needed).

My Regional winner predictions: I’ll go chalk with national seeds 1-8.  After that most of the 9-16 seeds could be in trouble:

  • I think Texas beats out perennially over-ranked #9 Rice.
  • I think #10 Cal Poly doesn’t have the SoS to compete with either Arizona State or Pepperdine and will get beat.
  • I like Washington over #11 Ole Miss.
  • I think Kentucky can outlast #12 Louisville.
  • I think #16 Oklahoma State could be in trouble with Cal State Fullerton looming as a pretty tough #3 seed.
  • I worry about small-conference #6 Louisiana-Lafayette’s lofty ranking (they’re #1 in the final BA poll) but they got a pretty easy regional.
  • Despite Houston’s pedigre I don’t think they can beat out #8 LSU, and someone has to go through Aaron Nola.  And despite some complaints with #4 Indiana’s seeding their bracket is pretty easy.

Other pundit regional predictions: CollegeBaseballBlog and MinorLeagueBall/Chris Slade.

But no matter what happens, I hope they bring along the “Bat Dog” for one of the regionals :-)


Useful College Baseball links to use: BaseballAmerica, and their top-25 lists.  d1baseball.com is fantastic and is the best place to get updated information on day-to-day data, standings, and tournament results.  PerfectGame.org has the best data on college players in their vast prep database.  Warrennolan.com has the best guesses on college baseball RPIs.  NCBWA does top-30 polls and other analysis.

College Baseball Tournaments: Local interest teams in conference tourneys

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My first 2014 College/College World Series post.  Lets take a quick look at conferences with DC/MD/VA collegiate of interest and see how things went for them in their conference tourneys.

College Baseball Resources: BaseballAmerica, and their top-25 lists.  d1baseball.com is fantastic and is the best place to get updated information on day-to-day data, standings, and tournament results.  PerfectGame.org has the best data on college players in their vast prep database.  Warrenolan.com has the best guesses on college baseball RPIs.


ACC (local interests: UVA and Maryland)

We’ll start with the strongest local baseball conference and with two significant local teams of note.  The ACC has three teams listed in the top 7 of the latest Baseball America top 25 poll (UVA, Miami and Florida State) with the highest of them (UVA) being the lowest seeded of the three in the ACC tournament.

ACC Regular Season champs: Florida State and Miami, with Miami getting the #1 conference seed by virtue of a better in-conference record.  UVA and Maryland were 2nd in their respective divisions but got the #3 and #6 seeds thanks to a bunching of ACC teams with nearly identical .500 records in-conference.

The big story in the ACC this year was NC State’s underperformance given its two first round talents (Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner).  Rodon went just 6-7 on the season (with a 2.01 ERA and 117 Ks in 98 2/3 innings) and fell from the conesensus 1-1 draft slot that he was presumed to have ever since last year’s Rule-4 draft.  Controversy also followed Rodon and the NC State coaching staff after a couple of questionable high pitch-count outings were lambasted in the national media.   Turner had a solid year (.321/.418/.516 with 8 homers and 26/30 stolen bases) though and seems to continue to be a solid mid-late first rounder.

In the conference tournament, Maryland got an upset win over UVA in pool play on 5/22/14 behind ace Jake Stinnett‘s 8 inning, 10k performance.  UVA threw mid-week starter Artie Lewicki, saving their bigger arms for the rest of pool-play presumably.  However it wouldn’t matter; Maryland’s second pool win over Florida State combined with UVA’s victory meant that Maryland was automatically in the ACC tournament final.  There they meet Georgia Tech on 5/25/14.  UVA can save its arms for the regional tournament, where they’re extremely likely to be a national seed and regional/super regional host.

Conference tournament champion and NCAA automatic qualifier Georgia Tech, who beat Maryland (the two pool winners) 9-4 on 5/25/14.  Maryland should have a strong enough resume to get an at-large bid (they’re 25th in Warren Nolan’s RPI) while Georgia Tech may have just stolen an at-large bid from someone.


Atlantic-10 (Local interests George Mason, George Washington, Richmond and VCU)

A-10 Regular season champs: St. Louis.  GMU finished 4th in league play, VCU and Richmond were 5th and 6th.  George Washington finished 8th out of 12 teams in the A-10 and did not qualify for the post-season tournament (which oddly only invited 7 teams … a strange number).

In the conference tournament, Mason got two quick wins to sit in the championship game of the winner’s bracket, where they met VCU (who had upset #1 seed St. Louis).  Mason got the victory over state-rivals VCU in the winners’ bracket final, putting them in the driver seat for the automatic CWS spot.   VCU got a second victory over St. Louis in the loser’s bracket final and must beat Mason back to back on 5/24/14 to take the tournament.

Conference tournament champion and NCAA automatic qualifier: George Mason, who beat VCU 4-3 on 5/24/14.  First CWS appearance for Mason since 2009 and their first conference baseball title since 1992.  Wow; more than 20 years.


Big South (Local interests: VA schools Liberty, VMI, Radford, and Longwood)

Big South Regular Season champs: Liberty, a surprising small school who blitzed the conference en route to a 40-15 regular season record and frequent mention in top 25 rankings of Baseball America and other collegiate polls.  VMI and Longwood did not qualify for the post-season tournament.

In the conference tournament, Liberty suffered an early loss and faced Radford in an elimination game but put themselves in a position to advance to the tourney final by eliminating Radford on 5/23.  Winthrop ended Liberty’s quest in the bracket finals, leaving Liberty to hold their breaths on acquiring an at-large bid (they should be OK: #28 in the latest Warren Nolan RPI estimates).

Conference tournament champion and NCAA automatic qualifier: Campbell, who beat Winthrop on 5/25/14.


Colonial Athletic Association (local interests: JMU, William & Mary and Towson)

Colonial Regular Season champs: William & Mary, outlasting perennial baseball power College of Charleston by a half game (by virtue of playing one less game in-conference).  JMU had a very down year, finishing just 17-36 while Towson (who was scheduled for baseball extinction) continues to struggle thanks to their coach releasing all their players thanks to program instability.   Neither Towson nor Hofstra was invited to the post-season tournament (for unknown reasons both; the CAA has a penchant for dis-inviting teams that announce they’re leaving the conference).

In the conference tournament, JMU was two-and-out quickly as the tournament played to its seeds early.  The Washington Post had a great feature on College of Charleston starter (ex-Towson and Broad Run alumni) Taylor Clark, who turned into their ace this year and got the playoff-win for Charleston on 5/22/14.  William & Mary advanced out of the loser’s bracket and has to sweep a double-header on 5/24/14 to win the conference tournament.

Conference tournament champion and NCAA automatic qualifier: College of Charleston, who beat William & Mary on 5/24/14.  Local kid Clark gets a shot at a CWS regional.


Conference USA: Local team Old Dominion

I honestly forgot that Old Dominion had moved to this conference until seeing them in the field of 64.

Regular season champ: Rice.  ODU was 4th.

In the conference tournament, ODU got a win over Rice, but Rice fought back to take the conference tournament.

 


MEAC:  (Local teams UMES and Norfolk State):  UMES had a down  year and missed the post-season tournament.  Norfolk State lost in the final of the conference tournament to MEAC baseball power and frequent CWS participant Bethune-Cookman.

Patriot: Navy beaten by eventual conference champ Bucknell.


The College World Series field of 64 will be announced just after the Memorial day weekend, upon the completion of all the college tournaments. Analysis to follow.

Written by Todd Boss

May 25th, 2014 at 8:58 pm

The Phillies are purposely sabotaging college player eligibilty

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The NCAA always pegs this needle.

The NCAA always pegs this needle.

I started this post as a rant about the NCAA … but now I’m not sure who i’m more disgusted by, them or the Phillies organization for what was divulged today.

An interesting story popped up today; Oregon State Friday starter Ben Wetzler has been suspended by his school while the NCAA investigates his utilization of an “agent” while negotiating with the Philadelphia Phillies last summer.  The Phillies drafted him in the 5th round (when his name was apparently “Ben Holmes”) after he went 10-1 with a 2.25 ERA for Oregon State last year but did not sign.

The interesting part?  The NCAA received this “tip” from none other than the Phillies organization.

CollegeBaseballDaily had the tip off, leading to this story from Oregonlive.com.  BaseballAmerica’s Aaron Fitt has tweeted about it extensively and has some head-shaking points as cut-n-pasted here from Fitt’s twitter feed.  However it was the reaction from MLBDraftInsider’s Chris Crawford (and the post on NBCHardballTalk by Craig Calcaterra) that I agree with here: Crawford basically thinks the Phillies did this kid a huge disservice for no other apparent reason than revenge or spite.  And I completely agree with Crawford’s point that whoever the Phillies draft this year should tread incredibly carefully when it comes to negotiations, because the organization really doesn’t look good here.

The story is now getting legs, and I personally hope the vitriol towards the Phillies management group continues.  Ruben Amaro should be ashamed.  Read the Philly.com link; apparently they Phillies also did this with their 6th round pick from last year, who also refused to sign.  What the hell??   Why would a team worth hundreds of millions of dollars go out of its way to try to wreck the seasons of a couple of kids??


I post this story for another reason besides the Philadelphia organization looking really immature and petty, and its to complain about the NCAA.  I really can’t stand the continuing hypocrisyof the NCAA and all its examples of two-faced enforcement of rules, and this situation just highlights one more example of why I think the organization paints too broad a brush stroke on an issue related to amateurism.   Crawford points it out plainly; *every* single kid who gets drafted and who still has eligibilty left uses some sort of “agent” or “advisor” in order to negotiate.  They have to; you’re talking about a situation worth potentially millions of dollars with one side (the MLB teams) who enjoys anti-trust and anti-competitive advantages over any non-union player who wants to play professional baseball and who clearly has gone out of their way over the years to drive down amateur bonuses in order to save comparative pennies on the dollar.

But the big bad NCAA says that “hiring an agent” is instant grounds for nullification of eligibility for NCAA sanctioned athletics.

See the problem these kids face here?

Does the NCAA really expect a 20-yr old kid (hell, how about a 17-yr old HS grad?) to go stare down a career baseball executive/general manager 3 times his age in order to negotiate for his best interests??  Does anyone think that would lead to fair market values being granted to these kids?

I think some sort of “negotiating window” needs to be put into play here, so that situations like this don’t happen again.  If you’re a kid with college eligibility left and you’re drafted by a team (no matter what the sport), there should be an official time period where you can receive professional advice while negotiating a potential contract.  These 30-day or 60-day contracts end with either a pro contract or a kid going back to school.   I really don’t see the down side of a situation like this, nor why the NCAA would have any issue with it.  It would allow fair representation of a player’s interests without running into the situation that is occuring here with Wetzler.

I think it points to a larger issue that keeps popping up with regard to NCAA rules; the continuing criticism of just how non-sensical the rules are for athletes on “scholarship.”  When I was in college, I had a job.  I could earn some spending money.  But if you’re an athlete on scholarship …whoops can’t do that.  If I was presented with a multi million dollar job opportunity after my junior year in college and I was just a regular kid, absolutely I could hire a lawyer on contingency to help negotiate; if the contract fell through was I banned from returning to school?  Nope.  So why is this Wetzler kid being banned from playing baseball?

What is the NCAA *really* trying to protect here?  Do they really think that the college baseball game (which is, what, the 4th or 5th most important college sport in this country?) is going to undergo some drastic, life altering change for the worse because some kid decided to get some professional advice while negotiating a future contract??  I just don’t get it.

(Note: there is some precident here; Andy Oliver was suspended by the NCAA based on an allegation by a former agent in 2008, sued and won $750k.  That didn’t stop the NCAA’s tactics in this matter … clearly a larger punitive award was needed.   A year later James Paxton was banished from school over this exact same issue and had to play independent ball instead of completing his senior season.   This clearly cost Paxton; he went from being a 1st round pick to a 4th rounder; I’m not sure if he sued or not.  This situation needs to be resolved).

Editor Update: months later on 5/30/14, Phillies scouting director Marti Wolver came out with an amazingly lame “defense” of his actions.   Law has noted that (per his discussions with people in the industry) little has come of the expected backlash against the Phillies organization.  But, we haven’t had the draft yet.

Written by Todd Boss

February 20th, 2014 at 10:01 am

College World Series Finals: UCLA Wins

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UCLA Wins the 2013 College World Series.

To recap the entire NCAA post-season tournament with links to my previous posts:

CWS Finals:

  • Game 1: UCLA’s #1/Friday starter Adam Plutko pitched 6 innings of solid one-run ball and the Bruins got just enough from the Trevor Fitts/Chad Girodo Mississippi State combo starter offering to take the first game 3-1 (box/gamer).  Plutko, an 11th round pick by Cleveland, wasn’t overly dominant (just 2 strikeouts) but was effective and the UCLA bullpen shut down the Bulldog offense.
  • Game 2: UCLA’s #2/Saturday starter Nick Vander Tuig completed the two-game sweep with 8 shut-out innings while Mississippi State’s rotational depth issues were exposed badly.  UCLA battered the bullpen-by-committee efforts and won the game and championship with ease 8-0.

UCLA just had the better pitching.  Mississippi State’s missing friday starter and then the subsequent burning of their saturday starter (best remaining starter) to get to the final ended up costing them dearly.

Written by Todd Boss

June 27th, 2013 at 11:22 am

College World Series Update; The final is set

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Here’s an update of where we are in the 2013 College World Series (CWS).  We’re to the CWS final, having had the 8 competitors whittled to just two.

To recap the entire NCAA post-season tournament with links to previous posts:

A couple helpful resources for those who want to follow the College game: here’s a link to the CWS schedule page at d1baseball.com, which I use as the best way to quickly find all the core college site data.  And here’s the best (only?) College Baseball blog out there: CollegeBaseballDaily.com.

CWS Field: here’s the two Original Brackets.

  • Bracket 1: UNC, NC State, UCLA, LSU
  • Bracket 2: Mississippi State, Oregon State, Indiana, Louisville

Days 5-6:

  • Results: Two elimination Games.  Oregon State v Indiana, and UNC v NC State.
  • Oregon State shut down Indiana in one loser’s bracket elimination game 1-0 behind a complete game 4-hitter from senior lefty Ace/Friday starter Matt Boyd.   Boyd improved to 13-4 on the season in what may have been his last collegiate start; he was a 6th round pick by Toronto.   Boyd out-dueled fellow Ace/Friday starter Aaron Sledgers, himself a 5th round pick by Minnesota, who finishes his 2013 season 9-2 after giving up just one run on 7 hits for his complete game loss.
  • UNC got a couple of runs on NC State’s ace starter Carlos Rodon (pitching on 3-days rest and on a pitch count limit) and #3/Sunday starter Hobbs Johnson made it stand up, throwing 8 1/3 shutout innings in the start of his career as UNC took the loser-bracket final 7-0 (box/gamer).  Johnson is an undersized lefty with decent velocity picked in the 14th round by Milwaukee.   By throwing their #3 starter, UNC can come back with their #1 Kent Emanuel and #2 Trent Thornton ready to go to try to beat UCLA twice to make the final.

Days 7-8:

  • Results: Bracket Finals: Mississippi State over Oregon State 4-1, and UCLA over UNC by the same score.
  • Mississippi State got to Oregon State starter Andrew Moore, hanging him with just his second loss of the season and their big-time hitter Hunter Renfroe hit a 3-run homer to win the game for the SEC team (box).
  • UNC’s Emanuel didn’t pitch badly (6ip, 1 earned run) but threw far too many pitches (112 pitches through six innings) while the Tar Heel’s offense couldn’t touch UCLA’s #3/Sunday starter Grant Watson, and UCLA cruised into the CWS final (box).

CWS Bracket Results: here’s the final standings of each of the two CWS Brackets:

Bracket 1:

  • 1st place: #12 UCLA
  • 2nd Place: #1 UNC
  • 3rd Place: #9 NC State
  • 4th Place: #4 LSU

Bracket 2:

  • 1st place: #11 Mississippi State
  • 2nd Place: #3 Oregon State
  • 3rd Place: #10 Indiana
  • 4th Place: #15 Louisville

Where do we stand in the tournament now/What’s next?

  • The final is set: Mississippi State and UCLA will play a 3-game set starting tonight 6/24, 6/25 and (if necessary) 6/26.
  • UCLA’s pitching staff is set up perfectly for the 3-game set, with Ace Adam Plutko set to go on 6/24 with more than a week’s rest since his 6/16 victory.  If the series goes all three games, none of UCLA’s starters will be on anything other than regular rest.  Meanwhile Mississippi State’s “rotation” has been a patchwork the entire post-season; their #1/friday starter Luis Pollorena hurt himself in the regionals and has only thrown a handful of innings in the CWS.  We havn’t seen their #3/sunday starter Jacob Lindgren the entire post-season.  The team has leaned heavily on #2/Saturday starter Kendal Graveman, who has now started four of their post season games (including two games in the Bracket) and on a couple of bullpen guys in Trevor Fitts and Chad Girodo to make up the innings (the Fitts/Girodo combo likely starts tonight).  Graveman would be on 4-days rest for the 2nd game, 5 days rest for a 3rd game in the CWS final but likely will not pitch the opener.
  • Is this a compelling CWS final?  The 3rd place PAC-12 team and a team that finished a distant 3rd in its division (and was barely over .500 in conference play) in the SEC?   I would have loved to see a Vanderbilt-UNC or a Vanderbilt-LSU SEC grudge match in the final.  I would have liked to see an ACC team at least challenge for the title to try to break their big winless streak.  That being said, both teams were very good; Mississippi State was a 50 win team, UCLA a 47-win team.

Prediction: I think UCLA’s pitching staff is setup and rested while Mississippi State’s staff is in disarray and will be tired.  I think this will make the difference as UCLA takes it in 3.