Virginia College World Series Preview

Friday, June 17 2011 by Tiki

For the second time in three years, the Hoos are headed to Omaha. Their last experience in Omaha (also their first experience) ended in disappointment as the Hoos lost two out of 3 games. Their opening match was to eventual champion LSU, and they came out a bit flat and never managed to fully regroup, losing 9-5. The second game was a win over Cal State Fullerton, the Hoos first ever CWS win. Then, in their third game, the Hoos lost a heartbreaker to Arkansas, 4-3 in 12 innings. The Hoos held a 2 run lead into the 9th inning and blew it, then had several chances to win in extra innings before the game ended. All in all, it was a learning experience for the Hoos, but a disappointing overall performance.

Now, the Hoos head to Omaha not as first time attendants, but as the top overall seed and a favorite to win the national title.

For those who aren’t normally big college baseball fans, let me explain the CWS format. The CWS mirrors the first two rounds of the NCAA baseball tourney. The first weekend consists of 2 four team double elimination brackets. The winners of those two brackets then face off in a best of 3 series.

The Hoos, being the #1 overall seed, get a favorable bracket. There is only one other national seed, although that happens to be South Carolina, the defending national champs. The other two teams in the bracket are Cal and Texas A&M. Cal was the 3 seed in the Rice bracket, and advanced with back to back wins over 2nd seeded Baylor. Because 3rd seeded Dallas Baptist won the TCU regional, Cal got to host a super regional ,and they advanced with two easy wins.

Texas A&M was a regional host and had a relatively easy time advancing. Then, they traveled to Tallahassee to face nationally seeded FSU. Despite being outscored in the series (due to a 23 run FSU outburst in game 2), the Aggies advanced.

The Hoos will open with Cal at 1PM ET on Sunday. South Carolina and Texas A&M face each other at 6PM ET. The winners will play each other and the losers will play each other.

The other bracket consists of 4 national seeds. #2 Florida, #3 UNC, #6 Vanderbilt and #7 Texas will battle for the right to face our brackets winner.

Why don’t we start with a quick comparison of the 4 teams in our bracket? National ranks are in parenthesis.

Team

Record

Runs/game

Team BA

ERA

K/9

BB/9

Fielding %

Virgiina

54-10 (1)

7.1 (16)

.306 (27)

2.26 (1)

9.8 (1)

2.28 (4)

.980 (5)

Cal

37-21

5.6 (141)

.287 (110)

2.84 (11)

7.7 (39)

2.84 (33)

.974 (33)

South Carolina

50-14

6.2 (73)

.296 (68)

2.60 (5)

7.9 (24)

3.26 (83)

.973 (42)

Texas A&M

47-20

5.9 (96)

.293 (85)

2.88 (13)

7.5 (62)

2.52 (10)

.976 (20)

 

And here’s the same table for the opposite bracket:

Team

Record

Runs/game

Team BA

ERA

K/9

BB/9

Fielding %

Florida

50-17

6.5 (51)

.311 (16)

3.01 (20)

7.6 (51)

1.82 (1)

.975 (25)

Texas

49-17

5.2 (185)

.272 (207)

2.27 (2)

8.3 (9)

2.79 (28)

.982 (3)

North Carolina

50-14

7.0 (19)

.289 (99)

3.27 (31)

9.1 (3)

3.38 (94)

.979 (6)

Vanderbilt

52-10

7.1 (14)

.319 (5)

2.38 (3)

8.7 (4)

2.96 (41)

.973 (43)

 

The first thing that jumps out from these stats is that all 8 of these teams can pitch and field. Obviously, as the saying goes, defense wins championships. At this point in the season, stopping your opponent from scoring is more important than scoring yourself.

The good news is that the Hoos boast the nations’ top pitching staff; the best ERA, the highest K/9, and a top 5 defense to go along with it. It seems like, by and large, these 8 teams play the same game, and the Hoos play it as well as anybody.

As I mentioned, the Hoos open against the Golden Bears. Cal’s #1 starter is LH sophomore Justin Jones, who was 9-6 with a 2.93 ERA in 20 appearances (14 starts). I imagine we will face him. Jones has yet to give up an earned run in the postseason, going 2-0 with a 15:4 K/BB ratio. That is very good.

For the Hoos, I don’t think we will see Danny Hultzen. I think we will hold him back for game 2. I think senior righty Tyler Wilson gets the nod. Either way, I like our chances of shutting down the Bears offense, but we will need to score some runs. Hopefully, the bats woke up a little bit after a lackluster final 2 games in the super regional.

Tiki's Prediction: Hoos 5, Bears 1

 After the Cal game, the Hoos will face either South Carolina or Texas A&M, depending on the outcomes of the two games. I will return with a review of the Cal game, and a preview of the next game.

For now, Go Hoos!!!