When one game could be the difference between going home and a championship run, a dominant pitcher is one of the most valuable assets a team can have in the College World Series.
Every great team needs that one guy – whether it be a reliever or starter – that they can count on to go out and shutdown an opponent.
With the College World Series field set and first pitch in Omaha on the horizon, here are five guys that possess such elite capabilities.
Logan Shore, Florida
To put in perspective how dominant Florida’s pitching staff is: Alex Faedo has the most strikeouts of any player in the College World Series and isn’t the Gators’ ace.
That honor would go to Logan Shore, who has been flat-out nasty this season.
The junior flamethrower has a perfect 12-0 record with a stellar 2.24 ERA this season. He’s also peaking at the right time; Shore threw eight scoreless innings with nine strikeouts in a must-win game in the Super Regionals against Florida State.
Coastal Carolina will have its hands full with Shore in its CWS opener on Sunday.
Kyle Nelson, UC Santa Barbara
UC Santa Barbara has been the surprise team of the NCAA tournament, as the Gauchos stunned Louisville in the Super Regionals to earn their first CWS trip.
A big reason for UCSB’s incredible run is Kyle Nelson. The sophomore relief pitcher has been lights out for the Gauchos.
For the season, Nelson has a 2.02 ERA with a 7-2 record and nine saves. He pitched two innings of shutout ball in the Super Regionals against the Cardinals.
If UCSB is able to build a lead Oklahoma State on Saturday, look for Nelson to protect it.
Thomas Hatch, Oklahoma State
UCSB obtaining the lead on Saturday is easier said than done with who Oklahoma State is rolling out on the mound.
Thomas Hatch is an ace in the truest sense; he can pitch plenty of innings and is nearly unhittable.
He has a 2.04 ERA this season with an 8-2 record and is proving to be the most reliable pitcher on an Oklahoma State team that has a fantastic staff.
Hatch is 2-0 and hasn’t allowed a run (14 innings pitched) in his two postseason starts this year. Can’t get much better than that.
Andrew Beckwith, Coastal Carolina
Logan Shore might be the most heralded pitcher of the postseason; however, it’s his counterpart who owns the better ERA among the two in Sunday’s matchup. Andrew Beckwith will take on Shore with a 2.12 ERA to his name, compared to the Florida star’s 2.24 ERA.
Beckwith has anchored the Coastal Carolina staff to near perfection this season with a 12-1 record.
Both Florida and Coastal Carolina have capable offenses, but expect a pitcher’s duel on Sunday.
Jesse Lepore, Miami
One of the big questions for the Miami Hurricanes heading into the CWS is the health of Jesse Leopre.
The sophomore pitcher missed his last start due to shoulder tightness and his status remains up in the air. Having Lepore back would be an enormous boost for a dangerous Canes team; Leopre has a perfect 9-0 record and his 2.20 ERA is the best mark on the team.
Lepore’s health is certainly a situation to monitor as the action gets started in Omaha