If you’re not a fan of College Baseball, or if you have never really given College Baseball a chance, do yourself a favor and tune in this weekend. I’ll be the first to admit, that with 300 Division I teams, each playing roughly 60+ games, a lot of ‘bad’ baseball get’s played during the college season. If you want to see two teams sending their best out to face the other teams’ best, you’re relegated to making the season one of only Friday Nights. During the course of the regular season, almost 1/3 of the games are started by non-top 3 starters, and quite frankly the college game just isn’t afforded that much pitching depth. But when the College World Series kicks off on Saturday, #4 starters will be a thing of the past. More importantly, this year’s field contains the Top Three teams in the nation as well as six of the Top Eight. My point is that we have some really good teams hooking up in a double elimination format that should showcase the best the game has to offer. When all the dust settles, here’s how we see things falling out.
Bracket #1 –
The Tournament’s #2 seed, Cal State-Fullerton takes on the Arkansas Razorbacks in the opening game and not only is Fullerton the superior offensive club, but this is a pitching match-up that tilts in the Titan’s favor as well. The Titans play a college version of ‘small ball’ that relies on a lot of baserunners, scoring a lot of runs, and solid pitching, combined with excellent defense. There isn’t a single facet that the Razorbacks hold an advantage in.
In the second game, we have one of the best matchups of the weekend when the Anthony Ranaudo led LSU Tigers take on the Tournament’s team with the biggest chip on their shoulder, the Virginia Cavaliers. Ranaudo is one of the best Starters still in the tournmanet, and I’ll go with the Tigers to prevail in a close one.
The elimination game should be another dandy, but I see the Razorbacks pulling off a slight upset there to stay alive.
In the Winner’s bracket, I think the Tiger-Titan matchup will be another dandy. The pitching matchup should be about dead even on talent, but it will be a battle of The Senior Lou Coleman against the Freshman Noe Ramirez. In this kind of environment, I expect that the experience factor swings the advantage to the Tigers.
Fullerton should easily dispatch the Razorbacks again in the rematch, setting up the rematch between the Tigers and the Titans. Look for the Titans experience to prevail in back-to-back games, squeaking this out and moving on to the Championship.
Bracket #2 –
Texas gets what I see as, essentially, a bye in the opener against Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles have made me look stupid all tournament, but their run is seriously over now.
In the second game, we could have a match-up that pits the #8 pick from Tuesday’s draft, Mike Leake, against the #15 pick, Alex White…or will it. Some of us think that the Tar Heels are stronger against righties than they are against left-handers and the smart play by Sun Devil coach Pat Murphy just might be to go with Josh Spence, saving Leake for a second round match-up with Texas. From my perspective, White has been too inconsistent this season to count on against either starter and I expect the Sun Devils to win.
In the elimination game, look for Carolina to walk all over Southern Miss. On the winner’s side, I think whoever the Sun Devils throw, and my guess is it will be Leake, will prevail. Leake has been the closest thing to automatic in College Baseball all season.
In the North Carolina – Texas elimination match, if Augie Garrido has the courage to throw Freshman, Taylor Jungmann, I’ll take the Longhorns. Jungmann has pitched like an Ace this year.
In the Texas-Arizona State finals, I can see the Longhorns possibly getting one game, but don’t see how they will get them both.
The Sun Devils have been my favorite to win the whole thing for about six weeks now. I think they have more pitching depth than anyone else in the tournament, to go along with a balanced offense. When it’s all over, expect the Arizona State Sun Devils to be the 2009 College World Series Champs.