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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 Finals: Florida finally Wins!

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Florida Gators; your deserving 2017 CWS champs. Photo via Alligator Army

Florida Gators; your deserving 2017 CWS champs. Photo via Alligator Army

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


Here’s how the finals played out.

For Reference: LSU stats and Florida Stats:

Here’s how I thought the pitching matchups would go; turns out LSU pushed both Poche and Lange to go with a “bullpen” game 1, starting a guy in Russell Reynolds who had a 8.50 ERA on the season in a gambit to get the pitching matchup advantages (and to get both Poche and Lange with more rest) for games 2 and 3.  Risky; if Poche gets beat in game two then you lose the CWS finals with your ace on the bench.  Meanwhile, Florida changed things up too, going with middle reliever Tyler Dyson in game 2 instead of Kower on short rest.

  • Game 1:  Monday 6/26/17:  LSU middle reliever Russell Reynolds/bullpen vs Florida’s #2 starter Brady Singer (8-5, 3.18 ERA) on 5 days rest.
  • Game 2: Tuesday 6/27/17:  LSU’s #2 Starter Jared Poche (12-3, 3.33 ERA on the season) with 5 days rest vs Tyler Dyson (4-0 with a 3.23 ERA) with plenty of rest since he only has 2 starts on the year.
  • Game 3 (if necessary): Wednesday 6/28/17: LSU’s #1 Starter Alex Lange (10-5, 2.97 ERA) with 4 days rest vs Florida’s #3 starter Jackson Kower (12-1, 4.15 ERA) on 4 days rest/#1 Alex Faedo (9-2, 2.26 ERA)  on 3 days rest.

Results:

  • In Game 1, Singer bent but did not break, giving up 3 runs in 7 IP and striking out a CWS record 12 guys before handing off to Florida’s all-american closer Michael Byrne for a 2-inning save to close out game 1 win 4-3.  LSU’s Reynolds gave up 3 runs in 3 1/3 innings before handing off to middle reliever Nick Bush for the middle third and then deposed closer Hunter Newman for the final 2 and 1/3, and Bush/Newman kept it close but LSU just couldn’t score late to tie it.  As mentioned above, an interesting gambit by LSU’s coaching staff going with a bullpen game against Florida’s best remaining arm.  Lets see if Poche and Lange can pull it off in games 2 and three.
  • In Game 2, Florida rolled the dice by starting Dyson, who gave them a fantastic 6ip 3hit, 1run outing while Florida put a couple of runs on Poche.  LSU thought they had the game tied in the 7th when they scored a run on a double play ball, but an ill-advised slide caused the runner to be returned to third and LSU couldn’t capitalize the rest of the night.  LSU’s closer Hess finally ran out of gas, giving up 4 runs in the 8th inning to put the game out of reach.  Meanwhile, Florida’s coach tempted fate by bringing in his game 3 starter Kower to relieve his closer, a move that paid off as Kower shut down LSU to finish off the game and the win 6-1.

Your 2017 College World Series ChampionFlorida

Commentary: I think the right team won, and the team I predicted would win ended up winning … but neither Lange nor Faedo pitched in the final series.  Why not put a day or two in there so that the pitching can work its way out and we could get a for-real three game series between these teams?  That was the only downside of this final.  Florida’s long storied baseball program finally gets a national title.


This concludes the College Baseball season and our coverage of it for 2017.  I’ll post one more post that covers draftees and signing status for all local-connected players (prep and college).  I don’t really cover the summer collegiate wood bat leagues: for that I’d suggest NovaBaseball.com, which is really coming into its own in terms of local coverage for all players with local ties.


2017 College CWS tournament references

Written by Todd Boss

June 29th, 2017 at 9:21 am