Farnum, Kroll think these teams could be heading home early
|OREGON STATE BEAVERS||NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS|
Oregon State is only one of three national seeds remaining in the eight-team College World Series bracket, and the No. 3 Beavers should absolutely be considered a favorite after going 50-11 and winning the Pac-12 Conference regular season.
OSU’s pitching staff is superb and heads to Omaha with the second-best ERA in the nation at 2.27 and ranks third in Division I in hits allowed per nine innings, giving up just 6.88 per game.
The Beavers have three legitimate starters in Matt Boyd (10-2, 2.13 ERA), Andrew Moore (14-1, 1.36) and Ben Wetzler (9-1, 2.11) that have the ability to make any batter shudder.
But the Beavers showed some vulnerability against Kansas State in the Corvallis Super Regional, giving up double-digit hits in two of three games. In the previous 13 games, the Beavers had only surrendered double-digit hits twice.
While the Wildcats boasted the nation's second-best batting average, the teams on OSU’s side of the bracket -- Mississippi State, Indiana and Louisville -- also are pretty productive at the plate.
Did you see what Mississippi State did to Virginia’s pitching staff (17 runs, 30 hits) in the super regional? Or Indiana to Florida State (21 runs, 22 hits)? And, Louisville hung with -– and beat –- Vanderbilt , a team whose top-two starters were a combined 25-2 before the super regional.
While the Beavers pose a solid threat offensively, they are susceptible to good pitching. And with three of the top-13 teams in ERA on their side of the bracket, it may be a tough draw for the Beavers.
There have been a handful of times when the OSU offense has sputtered. On March 23, Arizona State’s Ryan Kellogg tossed a no-hitter against OSU. UCLA’s Adam Plutko held the Beavers to one unearned run on two hits in 7.0 innings pitched in a 3-2 victory on April 5, and Oregon recorded a two-hit shutout to beat Oregon State 3-0 on May 17.
Even in the first game of the series against Kansas State, the Beavers’ offense stalled after a two-run homer by Michael Conforto in the fourth inning and went scoreless for the rest of the 6-2 loss.
The Beavers are certainly the favorite on the top half of the bracket, but with three teams that upended national seeds to advance to Omaha, they may not be favored for long.
-- Amy Farnum, NCAA.com
A team that goes 39-2 in their first 41 games will be a favorite in any game. Even going 18-8 in its last 26 games is a record which a lot of coaches would sign for ahead of time.
Heading to Omaha after missing out in 2012, North Carolina is the No. 1-overall seed and primed to finally end the ACC’s drought of championship-less seasons at 58. But it isn’t going to happen – even with some of the gaudiest numbers we’ve seen in a while.
Sure, they won arguably the best conference in the country this year – the ACC. They boast the nation’s most formidable lineup, one that leads the nation in hits (728) and runs scored (529), and is third in the country scoring 7.9 runs per game.
Even the pitching staff’s 2.78 ERA is just fine. Nothing wrong there. It’s the last two weekends which have the alarm bells and whistles ringing loudly as the Tar Heels land in Omaha.
Florida Atlantic. Yes, those Owls were pesky. And that’s just the point. How many lives does North Carolina have? Getting pushed to an elimination game at home – that one which went 13 innings – was one thing in the regionals. Getting shut out at home in the super regionals against South Carolina to force a Game 3? That was glaring.
Jordan Montgomery can pitch and pitch very well for the Gamecocks. A team that is the No. 1 seed and has the nation’s best lineup should never have that happen to them. The vaunted lineup filled with the likes of Colin Moran, Skye Bolt, Cody Stubbs and Landon Lassiter hasn’t produced in the postseason like it had been.
But that’s not even the worst of it. How about the starting rotation? The one that had been so good all season long absolutely disappeared against South Carolina. Kent Emanuel, Hobbs Johnson and Benton Moss combined to throw just 6.1 innings. None of them got out of the third inning. That can’t happen in Omaha.
And let’s not forget just how sloppy that series was. It was as if neither team wanted to play in the College World Series.
Five errors by UNC in those three games with South Carolina isn’t good enough either. The routine fly ball dropped by Chaz Frank in Game 3 almost cost UNC its season.
Finally there’s that nugget which every No. 1-seed has to deal with since the format was adopted in 1999. The only top-seed to win the national title was Miami (Fla.) in that first year.
It’s just too stacked against these Tar Heels.
-- Douglas Kroll, NCAA.com