College World Series: 5 things you should know about each team
Here we are, just days away from the first game of the College World Series. But before the first pitch is thrown in Omaha, here are five facts about each team that you should know, whether you're a rookie or know every player from California's 1947 championship squad:
No. 1 Florida Gators
History: The Gators have a storied history going back to their first season in 1912. UF made its first of ten trips to Omaha in 1988. Florida has also enjoyed success in the competitive Southeastern Conference, winning 13 regular season titles stretching back to 1951 and seven conference tournament championships with its most recent coming in 2015.
The Road to Omaha: UF hosted both its Regional and Super Regional thanks to a stellar regular season that earned the Gators the top national seed. Florida swept the Gainesville regional with consecutive wins over Bethune-Cookman, Connecticut and Georgia Tech. The Gators encountered a slight set back in the Super Regional against arch-rival Florida State. The Seminoles handed Florida their first NCAA Tournament loss of 2016 on June 11. But, the host shut out its hated rival in the next two games to punch its ticket to the College World Series.
Players to Watch: Left-handed pitcher A.J. Puk has tossed 101 strikeouts in 73.2 innings while accumulating an ERA of only 3.05. Fellow hurler Logan Shore has an 11-0 record on the season -- part of a 16-game win streak that stretches back to 2015 -- along with an excellent 2.44 ERA. First baseman Peter Alonso has a stellar batting average of .373 complete with 13 home runs and 58 RBI.
Game of the Year: On the road in Columbia, South Carolina, back in April, The Gators were down by one against the conference-leading Gamecocks in the ninth, but two freshmen went long and gave Florida a 5-4 win and a share of the SEC lead.
Fun Fact: Outfielder Buddy Reed loves Sour Patch Kids, like really loves them.
MORE: DI Baseball Bracket
No. 3 Miami Hurricanes
History: The Hurricanes are one of the more storied programs in modern collegiate baseball. Miami has been to the College World Series 25 times since 1974. And, once they're in Omaha, the Canes typically aren't done winning. Miami has won four NCAA Baseball titles (1982, 1985, 1999, 2001) and finished as runner-up twice (1974, 1996).
The Road to Omaha: As the No. 3 national seed, the Hurricanes hosted their Regional and Super Regional, and, in typical Miami fashion, the Canes swept their way out of the first round, defeating Stetson and Long Beach State twice. Miami welcomed ACC foe Boston College to Coral Gables in the Super Regional round, and things seemed to continue in the Hurricanes' favor when they opened the round with a 12-7 victory over the Eagles. But, BC stunned the Canes in Game 2 with a 5-3 victory. The Eagles couldn't keep Miami's bats quiet for long, however, and the Canes advanced to the College World Series with a 9-4 win in Game 3.
Players to Watch: Pitcher Michael Mediavilla has been nothing but great on the mound. Mediavilla has a solid 3.11 ERA with 82 strikeouts in 98.1 innings pitched. Oh, and he's 11-1 as a starter. Christopher Barr is a sneaky speedster; he's stolen 14 bases on 15 attempts. Outfielder Jacob Heyward may not wow you with stats, but he's really good at this.
Game of the Year: The Canes gave head coach Jim Morris a pretty nice gift on March 19, his 1,500th win as a Division I head coach. But the fashion in which they presented the gift was even more incredible. Junior Willie Abreu hit a walk-off grand slam over the right field wall.
Fun Fact: Miami has made 44 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, the longest such streak in history.
No. 5 Texas Tech Red Raiders
History: The Red Raiders' success has come more recently than the previously discussed teams. Texas Tech first trip to the postseason was in 1995, the same year they won the Southwest Conference, their first conference title. That first postseason trip would be followed by nine more, but 11 NCAA tournament-less seasons would follow. In 2014, the Red Raiders returned to the NCAA Regionals and made their first ever College World Series appearance.
The Road to Omaha: As the last national seed, Texas Tech also hosted their Regional and Super Regional. The Raiders coasted to the Regional final with wins over Fairfield and New Mexico, but Dallas Baptist handed Tech a 10-6 loss which prompted a rematch with the Regional title on the line. The Raiders wouldn't be fooled by Dallas Baptist again, winning 5-3. Tech welcomed East Carolina to Lubbock for the Super Regional round and suffered a 8-6 loss in Game 1, but the Red Raiders won the next two by a composite score of 14-1 to punch their ticket to Omaha.
Players to Watch: Pitchers Robert Dugger, Davis Martin and Hayden Howard each have an ERA below 3.00 and have won a combined 24 games. The Red Raiders will live and die by their pitching staff.
Game of the Year: In early April, Texas Tech completed their first sweep of a ranked conference opponent on the road. The final game of the series against Oklahoma State was the most exciting for the Raiders. Tech run ruled the Cowboys 15-5 in seven after scoring nine runs in the first four innings.
Fun Fact: The Raiders' rowdy fan base is called the Hecklers, and they employ interesting props such as a rubber chicken and olympic-style scorecards.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
History: The Cowboys have earned 20 College World Series bids, including eight consecutive from 1981-1987, dating back to 1954. They've earned only one National Championship (1959), but they've come in second five times (1961, 1966, 1981, 1987, 1990). They also won the Big Eight regular season title 30 times, and the Big 12 regular season title once (2014).
The Road to Omaha: Oklahoma State competed in the Clemson Regional and swept the field, defeating Nebraska 6-0, Clemson 12-2 and Clemson again 9-2. They then traveled to Columbia for the Super Regional series with South Carolina. The Gamecocks fell 5-1 and 3-1 in consecutive games, and Oklahoma State made plans for their 20th trip to the College World Series.
Players to Watch: Pitcher Thomas Hatch has had an absolutely terrific season. The sophomore has a stellar 2.04 ERA with 105 strikeouts in 119 innings pitched. Donnie Walton leads the Cowboys balanced offensive threat -- OSU has seven batters with 30 or more RBI -- with a .342 batting average and 44 RBI.
Game of the Year: The Cowboys lost a series to in-state rival Oklahoma in May, but they staved off a sweep with a 10-9 win against the Sooners at home.
Fun Fact: Donnie Walton is making his first trip to Omaha. His father is current OSU pitching coach Rob Walton, who played on four straight CWS teams for the Cowboys in the 1980s.
TCU Horned Frogs
History: The Horned Frogs had a bit of a gap between their first NCAA tournament appearance to their second -- about 38 years. Their first NCAA appearance was in 1956; their second was 1994. TCU's first CWS trip wasn't until 2010, but this year's trip makes three consecutive College World Series appearances.
The Road to Omaha: The Horned Frogs welcomed Arizona State, Gonzaga and Oral Roberts to Fort Worth for the Regional round and handily defeated them all. TCU then took a trip to College Station for a Super Regional face-off with Texas A&M. The Frogs took Game 1 8-2, but the Aggies struck back with a 7-1 win to force Game 3. TCU punched its Omaha ticket with a 4-1 win in the Super Regional final.
Players to Watch: The Frogs have six batters with 40 or more RBI on the season, including Luken Baker who is hitting a stellar .379 with nine home runs and 57 RBI.
Game of the Year: Luken Baker hit a solo homer in the top of the 10th to give TCU a 11-10 lead over West Virginia, and closer Durbin Feltman retired the Mountaineers in order to win the Big 12 Tournament.
Fun Fact: Freshman pitcher Durbin Feltman and freshman DH Luken Baker both shined Game 1 of the super regional, with Feltman closing the game and Baker hitting a three-run homer. The pair were high school teammates at Oak Ridge, near Houston.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
History: The Gauchos made their first NCAA tournament appearance way back in 1952, and they have six conference championships dating back to 1950. But, this will be UCSB's first ever trip to the College World Series.
The Road to Omaha: Santa Barbara was placed in the Nashville Regional where they swept through the competition, defeating Washington and Xavier twice. They traveled to Louisville for the Super Regional round where they defeated the Cardinals in consecutive games. Read the "Game of the Year" section for more on Game 2.
Players to Watch: Shane Bieber has a 12-3 record as a starting pitcher with a solid 2.84 ERA and a whopping 103 strikeouts. Austin Bush leads the offense with team-high totals in both RBI (49) and home runs (11).
Game of the Year: In Game 2 of the Louisville Super Regional, the Cardinals were leading the Gauchos 3-0 in the bottom of the ninth. Louisville was 47-0 when leading after eight innings in 2016. Things weren't looking great for UCSB. But freshman Sam Cohen came to the plate with one out and the bases loaded, and he launched a walk-off grand slam to send the Gauchos to the CWS for the first time in program history. It was his second homer of the season.
Fun Fact: "Gaucho" is the Spanish word for cowboy. The UCSB Gauchos are playing the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the first game of the College World Series.
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
History: The Chants have appeared in the NCAA Tournament 14 times since 1991 and advanced to the Super Regionals three times (2008, 2010, 2016). This is Coastal Carolina's first College World Series appearance in program history.
The Road to Omaha: Coastal Carolina competed in the Raleigh Regional where they defeated St. Mary's and host North Carolina State (twice) to advance to the Baton Rouge Super Regional. The Chants won a shootout with LSU in game one, 11-8, and used a walk-off double to win game two 4-3 and punch their ticket to Omaha.
Players to Watch: The Chantileers have four batters with at least 15 home runs led by Zach Remillard, who's hitting .374 with 19 long balls and 69 RBI. The Coastal pitching staff is anchored by Andrew Beckwith (2.12 ERA, 61 strikeouts) and Alex Cunningham (3.58 ERA, 91 strikeouts) who have a combined record of 21-4.
Game of the Year: The Chants were a win away from their first College World Series when they found themselves tied at three with LSU in the bottom of the ninth. Anthony Marks started the inning with a single, then stole second to set the stage for Michael Paez. Paez lifted the second pitch to shallow left to drive Marks home to end the game and send Coastal to their first College World Series.
Fun Fact: Coastal Carolina is the fourth program from the state of South Carolina to take a trip to the College World Series
History: The Wildcats have played in the NCAA Tournament 34 times stretching back to 1950. Their first of seventeen College World Series appearances came in 1954. Arizona has four NCAA National Championships (1976, 1980, 1986, 2012) and have been CWS runner-ups thrice (1956, 1959, 1963).
The Road to Omaha: Arizona competed in the Lafayette Region where they defeated Sam Houston St., lost to UL-Lafayette, defeated Sam Houston again and defeated the Ragin' Cajuns twice to win the region. The Wildcats then defeated Mississippi State in the Starkville Super Regional in consecutive games to earn a trip to Omaha.
Players to Watch: The Wildcats have a pair of brilliant pitchers who've earned double-digit wins. Nathan Bannister has earned a record of 11-2, a 2.71 ERA and 98 strikeouts. Bobby Dalbec has tossed 70 strikeouts with a 2.92 ERA on the way to a 10-4 record.
Game of the Year: In Game 2 of the Starkville Super Regional, the Wildcats trailed by four in the bottom of the eighth, but they cut down the Bulldog lead a bit. Following four straight Arizona hits, Ryan Aguilar hit a three-run homer to bring the Cats within one. In the ninth, Alfonso Rivas drove Cody Ramer from second to home with an RBI single to tie up the game. Fast forward to the 11th, bases-loaded, two outs and Cesar Salazar comes to the plate. Salazar lifts a walk-off single, and the Cats -- not the Dogs -- punched a ticket to Omaha.
Fun Fact: Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona played for Arizona, and the program has retired his jersey.