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2018 CWS Super-Regionals recap, CWS field and predictions

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(Just realized I forgot to post this earlier this week!  CWS started yesterday; this is a recap of the super regionals with predictions and key names to watch in the CWS).

Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2018:


CWS Super Regionals were played this past weekend.

Super Regional Recaps:  I’ve got these ordered by they way they’ll be playing into the CWS field (i.e. by bracket, with former Natioanl seeds 1,8,5,4 in the top and 6,3,7,2 in the bottom).  And this is the order they’re listed on d1baseball’s Tourney Central, the quickest way to find results.

  • #1 Florida vs Auburn: Brady Singer overcame a leg injury in the first to throw a quality start while his offense spoiled Casey Mize‘s likely final collegiate start to get Game 1.  In game 2, Auburn could do nothing with Jackson Kowar, but got two runs late including a walk-off in the 9th to force a decided against Florida’s closer.   The two teams played a classic 3rd game, with Florida eventually advancing on a walk-off homer in the 11th to advance to Omaha for the fourth year in a row.
  • Duke vs #9 Texas Tech:  Texas Tech got the first game 6-4.   Duke pounded them 11-2 to force the decider.  There, Texas Tech won 6-2 to advance.
  • #5 Arkansas vs South Carolina: Arkansas showed why they’re a tough out, with their offense lighting up in a game one win 9-3.  Nats 10th rounder Carson Shaddy was a huge factor here, hitting a bases-clearing double in the 7th to break open the game.  In game 2, South Carolina got a solid start from Reservoir HS grad Cody Morris to force the deciding 3rd game (Note: Shaddy again had a solid game for Arkansas, and our 15th rounder Evan Lee got into the game as a match-up lefty for one batter).  In the decider, Arkansas jumped on South Carolina early and cruised 14-4 to earn a trip to Omaha.  Shaddy had another huge game with 3 RBIs.
  • Tennessee Tech vs #13 Texas: Tennessee Tech upset Texas 5-4 in the opener.  Texas won game two 4-2 to force a deciding third game.  There, Texas took the series against pesky Tennessee Tech to advance.
  • #3 Oregon State vs #14 Minnesota: OSU continued their dominant post-season by beating Minnesota 8-1 in the first game behind nearly a CG from OSU ace and lightening rod Luke Heimlich.  They had to work a bit harder in game 2, but Oregon State still advanced to their 2nd straight CWS 6-3.
  • #6 UNC vs #11 Stetson: UNC got to Stetson 1st rounder Logan Gilbert, putting 4 runs on him in 5 innings and holding on for the game 1 victory.  UNC made quick work of Stetson in Game 2 to advance to the CWS.
  • Mississippi State vs Vanderbilt: In a game dominated by poor pitching and errors, Mississippi State’s junior undrafted outfielder Elijah Macnamee hit a walk-off 2-run homer to take game one.  Vanderbilt scored 3 runs late, including a walk-off homer in the 9th, to take game 2; our two Vandy picks Reid Schaller and Chandler Day got the hold and the win by pitching the 8th and 9th in this gameMississippi State took game 3, getting a couple runs off of Day’s long-relief effort but exploding for four runs in the 11th to advance.
  • Cal State Fullerton vs Washington: UWash got to CSF starter Colton Eastman in the 7th, and put enough runs on the board to make the lead stick in game 1.  Fullerton got revenge in game two 5-2 and forced the decider.  There though, Washington won in extra innings to advance to their first ever CWS.

My CWS Predictions: Florida, Texas Tech, Arkansas, Texas on one side, Oregon State, Stetson, Vanderbilt, Cal-State Fullerton on the other.

Actuals: Florida, Texas Tech, Arkansas, Texas on the top, Oregon State, UNC, Mississippi State, Washington on the bottom.

I got the whole upper bracket right, whiffed on most of the lower bracket.

 


CWS Field and Profiles

Top Bracket:

  • #1 Florida: 47-19 overall, 20-10 in the SEC.  1st place SEC-East regular season.
  • #9 Texas Tech: 44-18 overall, 15-9 in Big-12.  3rd place Big-12 regular season.
  • #5 Arkansas; 43-19 overall, 18-12 in the SEC.  2nd place SEC-West regular season.
  • #13 Texas: 42-21 overall, 17-7 in Big-12.  1st place Big-12 regular season.

Bottom Bracket

  • #3 Oregon State: 49-10-1, 20-9-1 in the Pac-12.   2nd place, Pac-12 regular season.
  • #6 UNC: 43-18 overall, 22-8 in the ACC.  1st Place ACC-Coastal division regular season.
  • Mississippi State; 37-27 overall, 15-15 in the SEC.  5th Place, SEC-West division regular season.
  • Washington: 35-24 overall, 20-10 in the Pac-12

CWS field review by the numbers

  • SEC: 3 teams
  • Pac12: 2 team
  • ACC: 1 teams
  • Big12: 2 teams
  • National top 8 Seeds: 3
  • Regional Hosts (i.e. top 16 seeds): 6
  • First time programs: 1 (Washington)

CWS Field thoughts

An interesting field.   The entire bottom half of the tourney was decided before any of the upper half, as six of the eight super-regionals went the full 3 games.  At first glance, its easy to predict the two best teams here (Florida and Oregon State).  But its hard to not see what Mississippi State has done lately.  They finished 15-15 in SEC play … but that included them sweeping both Arkansas and Florida late just to get their league record up to .500.  They’re incredibly hot, just flipped the script on Vanderbilt, and is not a team i’d want to mess with right now.  The upper bracket has more seeds, but the lower bracket might be a tougher road for the favorite Oregon State.

Florida beat Arkansas 2 of 3 in their season series, but it was in Florida.  On a neutral field its hard to say who might win.  In the bottom , Oregon State will open with conference rival Washington, who they took 2 of 3 against (again at home).   Its hard to see a Texas-Texas Tech rematch but if they do meet, Texas took 2/3 on Texas Tech’s field and should be slightly favored on a neutral field.

Quick predictions:

Final: Oregon State over Florida.

Player Star power in this CWS: By team, here’s the top-end draft talents

  • Florida features top picks Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Jonathan India
  • Texas Tech’s top pick was a Supplemental 2nd rounder Grant Little.
  • Arkansas had three upper round picks: 3rd rounder Blaine Knight, 4th rounder Eric Cole and 5th round C Grant Koch.
  • Texas’ highest draft pick is the son of Roger ClemensKody Clemens, drafted in the 3rd round.  Also features role player Andy McGuire, from Madison HS in Vienna, drafted in the 28th round.
  • Oregon State features Nick Madrigal (#4 overall), plus 1st-day picks Trevor Larnach and Cayden Grenier, as well as the controversial 1st round talent Luke Heimlich.
  • UNC had just one top 10 round pick, RHP 6th rounder Rodney Hutchinson.
  • Mississippi State’s ace Konner Plikington slipped to the 3rd round.
  • Washington had and 8th rounder A.J. Graffiano and a 9th rounder Willie MacIver.

Nats 2018 Draftees in the CWS: thanks to the Nats strategy of drafting only College players, they drafted a ton of guys who are playing in Omaha.  By team:

  • #5 Arkansas features 10th rounder Carson Shaddy, the Arkansas starting 2B as well as our 15th rounder Evan Lee, a role-player on the team this year.  Shaddy had a massive super-Regional at the plate and will look to continue in the CWS.

College CWS tournament references:

CWS 2018: Field of 64 announced with Regional predictions

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First College Baseball post of the season!   And it comes with the announcement of the field of 64 for the 2018 tournament.

Here’s a nice summary of the field from d1baseball.com, including a conference breakdown.

Quick summary of the field: No Miami, no UVA, no TCU in big surprises for big programs.  The field is also missing perennial powers like Rice and Wichita State this year.  Kentucky seems to be the biggest snub … but they were sub .500 in their league and was one-and-done in the SEC tournament.  One win there and they’re probably in.  Northeastern probably the most controversial at-large bid, having their one-bid conference slot “stolen” by UNC-W but not really having earned it on their season.  There’s some sniffling at the national seeding of (in particular) the ACC teams, but otherwise most of the pundits I read think this is a pretty solid field.

Here’s your National seeds:

1. Florida
2. Stanford
3. Oregon State
4. Ole Miss
5. Arkansas
6. UNC
7. Florida State
8. Georgia

That’s a solid SEC showing; four of the top 8 national seeds and 10 teams overall in the tourney.

Next seeds

9. Texas Tech
10. Clemson
11. Stetson
12. ECU
13. Texas
14. Minnesota
15. Coastal Carolina
16. NC State.


 

Quick predictions (here i’ve put in the teams by Super Regional match-up):

1. Florida; cakewalk regional; their #2 is Jacksonville?  See you in a couple weeks.
16. NC State: Get the seed over Auburn; if they save their Ace NC State could be in the Loser’s bracket really quickly.  I think Auburn advances here.

2. Stanford: got no favors by getting the always-tough Cal State Fullerton team in their regional, but their #2 seed Baylor is manageable.
15. Coastal Carolina: gets UConn as their #2 seed and their tough arm Tim Cate.  Coastal has played tough down the stretch though and should advance.

3. Oregon State; tough regional with LSU and San Diego State; Oregon State will have to earn this.  Part of me hopes they go out early so the Heimlich stories die soon.
14. Minnesota; gets two west coast teams in UCLA and Gonzaga; i do not give Big10 baseball teams much credit … but they might be able to handle UCLA this year.

4. Ole Miss; gets a tough Missouri State team (with top draft prospect Jeremey Eierman), but i’m not sure they’re that scared of their #2 Tennessee Tech.
13. Texas: i’d be more scared of TAMU as a 3-seed than Indiana as a #2 seed this year.  TAMU somehow is a #3 seed despite being a top 16 team by RPI and possibly being in the host discussion.  Meanwhile Texas is not as strong as its #13 seed in this tournament looks … I smell an upset here.

5. Arkansas: gets two traditional smaller-school baseball powers in Southern Miss and Dallas Baptist; does anyone ever know how these teams will fare?
12. ECU: gets a tough #2 in South Carolina; can they survive the SEC power?  I’m not sure they can and think South Carolina advances.

6. UNC: gets a manageable region thanks to a Big10 team as their #2 seed.
11. Stetson: two great arms in this region in Gilbert and McClanahan with USF … but Oklahoma State looms too.

7. Florida State: A solid regional here with SEC and Big12 powers.  Florida State is always a tough out though.
10. Clemson gets Vanderbilt again … which means one good team goes home early, again.

8. Georgia: they should be able to get past Duke in this weaker regional.
9. Texas Tech has to face off against Louisville, who for the first time in a few years doesn’t have a top-10 draft pick leading their line.


 

Local rooting interests in the tournament: amazingly, zero DC/MD/VA colleges made this tournament.  No UVA, no Maryland, no Liberty, no VCU or ODU or any of the CAA teams that sometimes sneak in.  Here’s a quick peek at the DC/MD/VA players I could think of who will be playing:

  • #12 Seed ECU has the former dominant LHP Jake Agnos (Battlefield HS in Haymarket) on their staff; he had 80 Ks in 60 innings split between starting and relief roles and stepped it up in the post-season tourney.
  • LSU moved Zach Hess (Lynchburg/Liberty Christian Academy) into the rotation this year and he was the saturday starter all spring; he went 7-5 with a 4.43 ERA and saw his draft stock drop significantly (he’s a draft-eligible sophomore this year).  I wonder if he stays in school another year to rebuild value as a starter.
  • #15 Coastal Carolina has several Virginia-natives in starting roles, including weekend starter Zack Hopeck (Heritage HS in Leesburg) and starting OF Kieton Rivers (Nansemond River HS in Suffolk).
  • #16 NC State has three VA-natives on their pitching staff, including staff-ERA leading Kent Klyman (Jamestown HS in Williamsburg).
  • South Carolina’s friday starter is Cody Morris, who dominated Maryland prep for Reservoir HS in Laurel.  They also feature a starting catcher Hunter Taylor from Nandua HS in Onley VA.

Significant Draft picks from the top seeds worth noting: here’s some of the guys we’re hearing rumors about being 1st rounders in June:

  • Florida; no wonder they’re #1: they may have three guys taken in the top 10 picks.  Weekend starters Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar and clean-up hitter Jonathan India the players to watch, plus Michael Byrne who was All American pre-season as their closer.
  • Stanford: paced by two top-end starters getting 1st round buzz in Kris Bubic and Tristan Beck.
  • Oregon State: Nick Madrigal may be a top 5 guy and be lightening fast to the majors.  Ace is the highly controversial Luke Heimlich (if you don’t know who he is … he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated a few weeks back; google it).  OF Trevor Larnach is getting some 1st round buzz too.
  • Ole Miss; Ace starter Ryan Rolison was the top prospect in the Cape Cod league last  year.
  • Florida State: Tyler Holton was All-American last year and pre-season All American again this year.
  • Auburn: likely 1-1 Casey Mize is their friday starter.
  • Stetson: ace Logan Gilbert has seen his stock fall but is still likely a mid-1st rounder.
  • South Florida’s ace Shane McClanahan could go high.
  • Duke’s Griffin Conine has a famous pedigree and could be a 1st-day pick.
  • Texas Tech’s starter Steve Gingery has a long line of awards behind his name.
  • Clemson’s Seth Beer has been mashing ever since he arrived at school, winning the Dick Howser award as a freshman.  He could be a sleeper pick late in the 1st round.

2017 CWS Group Winners and CWS Final preview

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Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2017:


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 LSU from the top and TCU from the bottom.  My predictions weren’t looking too hot after the first day, but ended up being half right.  Read on.


In the Top Bracket (#1 Oregon State, Cal-State Fullerton, #12 Florida State, #4 LSU)

  • In the opening games, Oregon State overcame a bad outing from Jake Thompson, rallying to top Cal-State Fullerton 6-5.  Meanwhile, LSU similarly overcame a bad outing from its ace Alex Lange, getting a shutdown relief effort from #2 starter Jared Poche and the one-out close-out from Virginia native Zach Hess to beat Florida State 5-4.
  • In the first elimination game, Florida State took advantage of 8 CS-F walks to win 6-4 and eliminate the Titans.
  • In the winner’s bracket game, Oregon State made a pretty large statement by destroying LSU 13-1.  OSU’s Bryan Fehmel totally baffled LSU for 8 innings, giving up just 1 run on 2 hits (the run was on a very large homer in the 8th inning when the game was well in hand).   LSU’s staff walked *twelve* batters and never had a chance.
  • In the play-in game to the group final, LSU’s Poche came back on short rest and dominated FSU for 8 innings, giving up just one unearned run.  After back-to-back crushed homers to open the 9th, Lynchburg’s Hess came on and just blew away three hitters to close out the game with 95-96 heat and a fantastic curve.  LSU moves on.
  • In the group final, OSU could do nothing with LSU’s ace Lange, who gave up just two hits through 7 and a third; then super closer Hess came on and struck out 4 of the 5 guys he faced to force a winner-take-all game to close out the group.  Its only fitting.  I’m not the only one gushing over Hess; the CWS broadcasters spent a full inning talking about him … in the TCU/Florida game.  In the winner take all game on 6/24/17, LSU got to OSU’s starter early, their own starter was fantastic (mid-week starter Caleb Gilbert gave up just 2 hits through 7 and change before handing the ball over to Hess once again.  LSU comes back through the loser’s bracket to advance.  Its hard not to say that the loss of OSU’s ace Luke Heimlich didn’t affect the outcome of this CWS: I have no issues saying that LSU would have been much harder pressed to overcome OSU two days in a row if they had to face a guy with a 0.76 ERA on the season.

Final Group standings: LSU, Oregon State, Florida State, Cal-State Fullerton.

 


In the Bottom Bracket (Texas A&M, #7 Louisville, #6 TCU, #3 Florida)

  • In the opening games, Louisville overcame a bad start from its #1 draft pick Brendan McCay to bash their way to victory over TAMU 8-4.  In the nightcap, Florida rode a fantastic outing from its 1st rounder Alex Faedo, who shut down TCU on 2 hits over 7 innings for a 3-0 victory, severely dampening TCU’s chances and my predictions.
  • In the first elimination game, TCU got a stellar start from Brian Howard (12ks in 7 innings) and eliminated TAMU 4-1.
  • In the winner’s bracket game, Florida got a dominant start from its #2 starter (and likely 2018 early 1st rounder Brady Singer), who gave up just one run in 7 innings and Florida eased by Louisville 5-1.
  • In the play-in game to the group final, two of the best teams all  year in Louisville and TCU met in a loser-goes-home game.  TCU got 4 runs early on Louisville’s #3 starter and their freshman ace Nick Lodolo  combined forces with Sean Wymer to make it stick.
  • In the group final, TCU broke out against Florida’s bullpen and won a laugher 9-2 to force the winner-take-all game.  Again, only fitting given the talent that is in this CWS.  However, in the final game, Florida’s Faedo shut down TCU and Florida got just enough against TCU’s Jared Janczak to advance.  Florida to the CWS final.

Final Group standings: Florida, TCU, Louisville, TAMU

 


CWS finals discussion: Games 1,2,3 set for M-T-W June 26, 27,28

Pitching Matchups (LSU stats and Florida Stats):

  • Game 1:  Monday 6/26/17: LSU’s #2 Starter Jared Poche (12-3, 3.33 ERA on the season) with 4 days rest vs Florida’s #2 starter Brady Singer (8-5, 3.18 ERA) on 5 days rest.
  • Game 2: Tuesday 6/27/17: LSU’s #1 Starter Alex Lange (10-5, 2.97 ERA) with 3 days rest vs Florida’s #3 starter Jackson Kower (12-1, 4.15 ERA) on 3 days rest.
  • Game 3: Wednesday 6/28/17: LSU’s mid-week starter Caleb Gilbert (7-1 with a 2.85 ERA) with 3 days rest vs Florida’s #1 Alex Faedo (9-2, 2.26 ERA)  on 3 days rest.

LSU’s missing their #2 starter (Eric Walker), who left the 2nd game of the CWS early and has not returned.  This puts them in a bind, having to use both Lange and Gilbert on short rest.  If Walker could return, they’d likely go Poche-Walker-Lange in that order.  But, Gilbert was awesome in the OSU elimination game, so its not a big step down.  Meanwhile, Florida burned Faedo to get to the final, and they may struggle to cobble together enough pitching to last the final.  Singer is ready to go game one and will be a tough out, but Kower isn’t going to slow LSU’s bats, so it may come down to how far they push Faedo on 3 days rest and after throwing a 113 pitch gem in the group final.

These teams met in March at Florida, with the Gators winning Faedo and Singer’s starts before LSU battering Kower to take the Sunday finale.  I see the same pattern here: I think Singer shuts down LSU in game one, Lange does likewise in game 2 while LSU batters Kower again, leading to a distinct pitching advantage in game three.

Prediction: Florida in 3.


College CWS tournament references

2017 CWS tournament: Regional Results, Super-Regional Pairings

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Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2017:

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.

It was a crazy set of regionals; by Sunday night only 6 of the 16 brackets were decided; a slew of regionals were forced to monday games (two weather delays involved).  And we saw one of the biggest upsets in recent memory.  Read on.


Regional Recaps

In the #1 Oregon State regional, Oregon State held serve easily while Yale scored the unlikely upset over Nebraska in the 2/3 game.  In the winners bracket game, Oregon State blitzed Yale 11-0 behind Luke Heimlich‘s 7ip-2hit performance.  Holy Cross sent home Nebraska in the loser’s bracket, cementing their status as a drastically over-seeded team from the Big-10.  In the regional final, Oregon State again crushed Yale 8-1 to cement their status as the #1 team in the land and advance to Super Regionals.
In the #16 Clemson regional, Vanderbilt crushed an over-ranked St. John’s team in the opener (an upset not by seeding but by ranking) while Clemson snuck by UNC-Greensboro.  In the losers bracket, St. Johns was sent home 2-and-out by UNCG while Vanderbilt blitzed by Clemson 9-4.  Clemson fought their way out of the loser’s bracket and then forced the Monday decider with a 6-0 win over Vandy.  In the do-or-die game though, Clemson never got started and Vanderbilt advanced 8-0.

In the #8 Stanford regional (which started a day early), both top teams blasted inferior competition to setup a Stanford-Cal State Fullerton winner’s bracket game.   In that game, Fullerton won easily to put themselves into the driver’s seat.  Sacramento State became the first team eliminated thanks to this regional starting a day early to placate BYU.  Stanford made their way back to the title game, but were beaten again by Fullerton, making Cal State Fullerton the upset winner and the first team to advance.
In the #9 Long Beach State regional, Texas beat UCLA for the fourth time this season (beating UCLA’s ace and likely 1st rounder Griffin Canning along the way), while host Long Beach State beat SDSU easily.  In the winner’s bracket game, Texas’ Morgan Cooper (the Nats 2014 34th round pick) threw a solid game and the Longhorns got into LBSU’s bullpen for an extra inning’s victory.  UCLA went 2-and-out in the loser’s bracket game; yet another example in SDSU of a #4 seed not finishing 4th.  Long Beach got back to the deciding game and took one from Texas, forcing the Monday finish.  There, Long Beach State got 2 runs early and made them stick, advancing through the loser’s bracket and setting up an in-conference matchup with Fullerton.

In the #5 Texas Tech regional, the hosts won easily while Sam Houston state took it from Arizona in a 2/3 seed upset.  TT took out Sam Houston easily in the winner’s bracket.  However the pesky #3 seed Sam Houston took out Arizona again, then took a game from TTU to force the Monday decider.  There, the amazing happened, with tiny Sam Houston State beating the #5 national seed again and becoming the 2nd most unlikely regional winner this year.
In the #12 Florida State regional, Auburn scored the slight upset over UCF in the opener and then Tennessee Tech took out Florida State for 2 upsets in a row.  Auburn won the winner’s bracket game while FSU kept their hopes alive in the elimination game.  Florida State grinded their way back to the final and then took a walk-off win over Auburn to force the Monday decider.  Florida State made the decider a non-issue, dominating Auburn and winning 6-0 to advance.

In the #4 LSU regional, both top seeds won in an offense-minded regional, scoring double digits.  The region continued to go chalk with both seeded teams again winning and again scoring in the double digits.  Rice beat out SELA to get to the regional final, but there LSU got 8 shutout innings from its #3 starter Eric Walker and they advanced to the super-regionals.
In the #13 Southern Miss regional, the host won a barn-burner to avoid a first round upset against Illinois-Chicago while South Alabama upset SEC power Mississippi State.   Southern Miss held-serve to advance to the final, while Mississippi State got revenge against South Alabama to reach the regional final.  There, the SEC power Mississippi State took two from Southern Miss to advance.

In the #2 UNC regional, Davidson took it to upper 1st rounder J.B. Bukauskas and knocked him out early, then held on for the day’s biggest upset over UNC.  Meanwhile FGCU easily topped Michigan to setup a very weird winner’s bracket game.  Bukauskas’ final collegiate performance (coupled with his struggles in the ACC tournament) may have cost him draft spots; lots of mocks have him going 6th overall, but now I think he falls.  In the winner’s bracket game, Davidson again defied the odds, taking out FGCU while UNC salvaged some hope with an easy 8-1 win over the over-seeded Michigan team (again showing why the Big-10 did not deserve as many teams in the CWS as they got).   UNC made it back to the regional final, but their bats came up empty as Davidson shocked the baseball world and took the regional 2-1.  The most amazing thing I heard about Davidson this week?  They only gave out three (3) scholarships.  Three!  UNC probably has 3 full-rides just in its rotation.
In the #15 Houston regional, both top seeds were upset, with TAMU and Iowa topping Baylor and Houston respectively.  And Iowa did it without any input from their cleanup slugger Jake Adams (who had 27 homers this season).  Houston took out some aggression on Baylor in the elimination game, winning 17-3, while TAMU (who were supposedly one of the last four teams in) took the winner’s bracket game to hold the driver’s seat in this regional.  Houston made it back to the title game with a win over Iowa, but couldn’t take out Texas A&M, who won the regional and likely won the right to host a super-regional despite not being a regional host.

In the #7 Louisville regional, both top seeds advanced with ease (Oklahoma and Louisville).  Louisville destroyed Oklahoma 11-1 in the winner’s bracket game behind top-pick Brendan McCay‘s 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball (to go along with his batting clean-up as perhaps the best two-way college player we’ve seen in a while).  Virginia’s Radford went two-and out as the #4 seed.  Xavier blitzed Oklahoma in the loser’s bracket final, but then couldn’t hang with Louisville in the regional decider, losing 8-7 as Louisville advances.
In the #10 Kentucky regional, Kentucky survived a late rally to top Ohio in the opener while under-seeded NC State topped Indiana in a 2/3 seed upset.  NC State showed why they were underseeded as a #3 by taking out the host in the winner’s bracket game.  Kentucky made it back to the regional final, and took a game from NC State to force the extra decider.  There, hand it to Kentucky, they got the win they needed and advanced to setup a great in-state super-regional.

In the #6 TCU regional, all games were delayed a game due to rain to start.  Both top seeds advanced, with UVA getting a strong performance from #2 starter Derek Casey over the tough Dallas Baptist team.  In the winner’s bracket game, UVA’s Daniel Lynch got hit early and their hitters could do nothing with TCU’s Jared Janczak and they lost 5-1.  UVA has to face DBU again, as DBU eliminated #4 seed Central Connecticut in the loser’s bracket.  In the loser’s bracket final rematch between UVA and DBU, UVA’s thin pitching staff was finally exposed, giving up 9 runs in the first two innings (Evan Sperling could not record an out as the starter) and never getting all the way back.  It didn’t matter much, as TCU destroyed DBU in the final to advance and show why they were the consensus #1 ranked team pre-season.
In the #11 Arkansas regional, the host won easily while the day’s best game featured Missouri State getting a do-or-die walkoff 2-run homer to top Oklahoma State.  Missouri State showed they belong by upsetting the hosts in the winner’s bracket game while Oral Roberts pounded OK-State in the elimination game.  Arkansas made it back to the regional final, taking an 11-10 wild game from Missouri State to force the extra decider on Monday.  There, Missouri State gritted out the win over Arkansas to advance.

In the #3 Florida regional, the hosts and South Florida easily advanced to hold serve against lower-seeded competition.  The region continued chalk with Florida scoring 4 in the 12th to ease past South Florida (Florida threw their ace Alex Faedo in this game; he delivered with 7 innings of one run ball).  Bethune Cookman advanced out of the losers’s bracket and promptly took a game off of Florida, forcing the extra regional decider Monday.  There, Florida outlasted tiny Bethune to advance as expected.
In the #14 Wake Forest regional, the two top seeds both battered Maryland teams UofMaryland and UMBC.  In the loser’s bracket, UMaryland committed some Terrapin-on-Terrapin crime by destroying them 16-2, while  Wake held on for a win over WVA in the winner’s bracket.  WVA took advantage of Maryland’s thin pitching corps to advance to the regional final, but lost 12-8 as Wake Forest advanced.


Predictions versus Actuals

My Predictions: Oregon State, Vanderbilt, CS-Fullerton, Long Beach State, Texas Tech, Florida State, LSU, Mississippi State, UNC, TAMU, Louisville, Kentucky, UVA, Arkansas, Florida, Wake Forest.

Actuals; Oregon State, Vanderbilt, CS-Fullerton, Long Beach State, Sam Houston, Florida State, Mississippi State, LSU, Davidson, Tamu, Louisville, Kentucky, TCU, Missouri State, Florida and Wake.

I got 12 of 16 right.  I missed on Davidson and Sam Houston State (like every one else), but over-thought the TCU/UVA matchup, forgetting how good TCU was, and missed on the Arkansas/Missouri State matchup.

 


Summary of Regionals statistically:

  • 9 of 16 hosts advanced, including 5 of 8 National seeds.  National Seeds losing: #2 UNC,  #5 Texas Tech, #8 Stanford.
  • 3 first time Super-Regional participants; Davidson, who was also a first time REGIONAL participant.  Sam Houston State.  Kentucky is also a 1st timer despite being seeded.
  • 7 = number of regionals forced into the “extra” deciding game: Vanderbilt/Clemson, Long Beach/Texas, Texas Tech/Sam  Houston, FSU/Auburn, Kentucky/NC State, Arkansas/Missouri State, Florida/Bethune-Cookman.
  • 9 number one seeds, 4 number two seeds, 2 number three seeds, and 1 number four seeds advance to the super regionals.  
  • 7 number of #4 seeds who didn’t finish 4th in their regional; Holy Cross, UNC-G, SDSU, Tennessee Tech, Davidson, Iowa, Oral Roberts.  That’s great balance.
  • Zero hosts that went 2-and-out this year.
  • 1 of the regionals went pure chalk (Wake Forest).  That’s either a great testament to the balance of the tournament, or a real indictment of the seeding of #2s versus #3 teams.
  • #4 over #1 openers: Davidson over UNC, Tennessee Tech over Florida State, Iowa over Houston
  • Most surprising regional winner: Davidson easily, followed by Sam Houston State.

Conference Breakdowns of the teams in the Super Regionals:

  • SEC: LSU, TAMU, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Florida
  • Big12: TCU
  • ACC: Louisville, Wake Forest, Florida State
  • Pac12: Oregon State
  • Big West: Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State
  • Atlantic 10: Davidson
  • Southland: Sam Houston State
  • Missouri Valley: Missouri State

9 of the 16 super regional teams from the two power conferences ACC and SEC.  The Big12 was the #1 ranked RPI conference and placed 7 teams into the tourney, but just one advanced, perhaps an indictment of these conference RPI rankings in general.  But, with 8 conferences represented overall, there’s good spread.  Only the Big10 really didn’t show up, putting 5 teams in the tourney and faring horribly.  It seems like this is a recurring theme; Big10 gets 5 teams in and does nothing while higher ranked conferences like the AAC and C-USA put in fewer teams (3 and 2 respectively).  I doubt anything will change in the future; the committee seems to fall in love with wins (not one eligible team with 40+ wins missed the tourney) and with marginal big-conference teams in lieu of better teams from smaller conferences .


Super Regional Matchups:  the higher ranked team is the host in each case.

  • #1 Oregon State vs Vanderbilt
  • Davidson vs TAMU
  • #3 Florida  vs #14 Wake Forest
  • #4 LSU vs Mississippi State
  • Sam Houston State v #12 Florida State
  • #6 TCU v Missouri State
  • #7 Louisville v #10 Kentucky
  • Cal State Fullerton vs #9 Long Beach State

Super Regional Thoughts:

Hard not to pick Oregon State, who looks the part of a #1 ranked team.  Also hard to pick Davidson to continue their upset run, so I’ll go with TAMU based on experience.

I’ll take Florida over Wake, despite Wake’s being rather under-rated.  They lost only two weekend series allyear, both away to top teams.  But Florida has the ace in Faedo and the cache.

A SEC rematch between LSU and Mississippi State might be a laugher; LSU swept MSU on their field in their weekend series earlier this year, and LSU will host.  Look for two quick wins for the National power.

As with Davidson, its hard to give Sam Houston a shot at the veteran Florida State team.

The in-state Kentucky matchup between Louisville and Kentucky is a good one; they met twice in mid-week games and split them, but those games (both throwing mid-week starters) aren’t a great predictor.  I like Louisville’s pitching and experience here.

The final matchup, between two Big West teams, seems easy enough to call on paper: Long Beach State and CS-Fullerton met 6 times this year and Long Beach won five of them.  I’m guessing LBSU hosts, where they swept Fullerton earlier this year.  I think the Dirtbags should advance easily.

Super Regional Star Power

Lots of top-end draft picks will be playing this weekend, just ahead of the MLB draft which starts on 6/12/17.  By Super Regional:

  • Oregon State/Vanderbilt: the likely #1 overall draft pick Kyle Wright, also Kendall, plus Oregon State’s two dominant starters Heimlich and Jake Thompson.
  • Davidson/TAMU; none really.
  • Florida/Wake Forest: Alex Faedo mostly.
  • LSU/Mississippi State: Alex Lange for LSU, Brendan Rooker for MSU.
  • Sam Houston State/Florida State; none really, despite FSU’s ranking.
  • TCU/Missouri State; MSU’s Jake Burger; TCU is led more by under-classmen but does have Evan Skoug who might get drafted relatively highly.
  • Louisville/Kentucky; Louisville of course led by possible #1 overall pick Brendan McKay.
  • Cal State Fullerton/Long Beach State; no 1st round notables.

MLB.com has a nice summary with all the above names plus more.


 

CWS Predictions: Oregon State, TAMU, Florida, LSU, Florida State, TCU, Louisville, Long Beach State.

Or, in the CWS groupings: Oregon State, CS Fullerton, FSU, LSU in one bracket, and TAMU, Louisville, TCU and Florida in the other.

That’d be a great CWS field.


College CWS tournament references:

CWS 2017: Field of 64 announced with Regional predictions

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CWS-2017_calendar-narrow

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

On 5/28/17, 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.  I’ve organized them as they’ll meet in the super regionals.

#1 Oregon State, with Nebraska, Yale and Holy Cross.  No challenges here for the #1 overall seed, which finished the season an amazing 49-4.
#16 Clemson, with Vanderbilt, St. Johns, UNC-Greensboro: Clemson draws the always-tough Vanderbilt, who may upset the Tigers.

#8 Stanford, with Cal State-Fullerton, BYU, Sacramento State: tough draw for Stanford, who has a national seed for the first time in a while.  Fullerton is always a tough out.
#9 Long Beach State, with Texas, UCLA, San Diego State: wouldn’t be surprised to see the scrappy SDSU team make some waves here, nor would I be surprised watching Texas win this.  Texas may be one of the weaker #2 seeds, but the rest of this regional is weaker too.

#5 Texas Tech, with Arizona, Sam Houston State, Delaware.  Texas Tech has quietly put together a monster season, and I see little to prevent them from sweeping through this regional.
#12 Florida State, with UCF, Auburn, Texas Tech.  We’ll get to the snubs below, but the fact that Florida State is hosting over UVA (not to mention Clemson) is kind of ridiculous.

#4 LSU, with Southeastern LA, Rice and Texas Southern.  Odd to see Rice with a #3 seed, odder still to see SELA with a #2 seed.  LSU should breeze here.
#13 Southern Miss, with Mississippi State, South Alabama and Illinois-Chicago.  Tough draw for Southern Miss; Illinois-Chicago has one one of the best staffs in the country.

#2 UNC with Florida Gulf-Coast, Michigan, Davidson.  Davidson’s first ever visit to the CWS tourney will be against the #2 team in the land …though they’ll probably save J.B. Bukauskas for the second game (likely against under-seeded Michigan).  Still, not much here to trouble UNC.
#15 Houston with Baylor, TAMU, Iowa.  Last team in TAMU, which did not suck in the SEC this year, probably makes this regional more interesting than Houston likely wants.  I could see either Houston or TAMU winning … but based on Houston having kicked off their #1 starter .. i’ll go TAMU.

#7 Louisville with Oklahoma, Xavier and Radford.  Good to see Radford representing the Commonwealth here; they’ll be two and out.  Louisville has the arms and shouldn’t be troubled by any of these teams.
#10 Kentucky with Indiana, NC State and Ohio.  NC State may give Kentucky a run for their money in this regional, but I don’t think they can beat them.

#6 TCU with UVA, Dallas-Baptist and Central Connecticut.  The last time UVA got snubbed so badly, they went to a stacked UC-Irvine regional, battered Stephen Strasburg in his final collegiate start, and made the CWS as a regional #3 seed.  Watch out TCU.
#11 Arkansas with Missouri State, Oklahoma State, Oral Roberts; I know little about any of these teams; Okla State is having a down year, Arkansas was 18-11 in the SEC West.  They’re a tough out.

#3 Florida with South Florida, Bethune-Cookman, Marist.  Man, what an easy draw for Florida.
#14 Wake Forest with West Virginia, Maryland, UMBC.  Well, the West Virginia-Maryland game should be interesting; does either team have enough to beat a good Wake Forest team?


 

Easiest Regionals: Oregon State & Florida

Hardest RegionalsTCU, Stanford

Regional Predictions (in the order listed above): Oregon State, Vanderbilt, CS-Fullerton, Long Beach State, Texas Tech, Florida State, LSU, Mississippi State, UNC, TAMU, Louisville, Kentucky, UVA, Arkansas, Florida, Wake Forest.

My Omaha predictions right now: #1 Oregon State, CS-Fullerton, #5 Texas Tech, #4 LSU on one side.   #2 UNC, #7 Louisville, UVA, #3 Florida.

DC/MD/VA rooting interests: UVA, Maryland, UMBC, Radford, plus Virginia-born players on UNC, NC State and Wake Forest rosters.


Snubs

The d1baseball.com guys think the last 3 teams out (roughly, ODU, Gonzaga and UConn) were more deserving than the last three teams in (roughly Maryland, St. Johns and TAMU).  But they also admit that its nit picking to some extent.  There were 6 or so “stolen bids” when the non-favored team won a 1-bid conference tourney … leaving a lot of deserving teams on the sidelines.

There’s some oddities in the draw; too many Big10 teams, which was only the 7th ranked conference, yet the Conference USA (higher ranked) only got two teams in (this goes to the ODU snub).

But the biggest, least defensible decision was to give Clemson the #16 seed/last host over UVA.  UVA beat Clemson 10-2 in the ACC tourney, finished with a better conference and overall record than Clemson, and (to say nothing about Clemson’s hosting) had similar arguments for hosting versus Florida State.  Then to add insult to injury … UVA gets sent to TCU’s regional.  Did UVA piss off the committee for some reason?

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 Oregon State’s lefty starter Luke Heimlich is their main draft-eligible player this year.  He leads the nation with a 0.81 ERA on the year.
  • #2 UNC’s #1 starter is of course Ashburn’s J.B. Bukauskas; he likely goes #6 overall in the draft.  They also have likely 2nd rounders Logan Warmoth and Brian Miller as high-end draft prospects.
  • #3 Florida’s #1 starter is Alex Faedo, who is probably an upper-first round talent.
  • #4 LSU is led by Alex Lange, who is tied to the Nats as a lower 1st round pick.
  • #7 Louisville’s star is top-5 pick Brendan McCay.
  • #8 Stanford’s top-ranked draft prospect is pitcher Tristan Beck, a draft-eligible sophomore who missed the whole season with a back injury.
  • #10 Kentucky has a good hitting prospect in 1B Evan White.
  • #11 Arkansas is led by RHP Blaine Knight.
  • #15 Houston’s former friday starter was LHP Seth Romero, kicked off the team for disciplinary purposes.
  • Vanderbilt has two 1st round talents in Kyle Wright and Jeren Kendall.
  • UVA also has two upper 1st round players in Pavin Smith and Adam Haseley.
  • Missouri State has big hitting 3B prospect Jake Burger (4th in the nation in Homers this year).
  • UCLA is led by RHP Griffin Canning, likely 2nd/3rd rounder.

Several back of the 1st round arms listed here, many of whom are rumored to be on the Nats radar at #25.  Keep an eye on Lange, Romero, Beck (even if he isn’t playing) and maybe even Faedo if he drops that far (doubtful).

Other News

Defending National Champ Coastal Carolina struggled on the year and failed to make the tourney.  Miami had a relatively mediocre season and broke an amazing streak of 44 straight appearances in the CWS tournament.  A light year for Virginia schools with decent teams like ODU getting snubbed, VCU getting upset in the conference tourney, Virginia Tech struggling, the three local “George” teams struggling George Mason, Georgetown, George Washington), etc.


College CWS tournament references: (i’ll put more here when they get posted).