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Mike Lopresti | | May 23, 2022

21 numbers to know just before DI college baseball's postseason

Watch: A moonshot and some flashy glove work lead this week's top plays

Need a preview of coming attractions on the road to Omaha? The latest RPI ratings might help. The past 12 national champions were all in the top 21 on tournament selection day.

And so, 21 numbers from the RPI top-21 club, now that the regular season is over and serious business begins.

8: The ACC is an RPI juggernaut, with eight members in the top-21. But will that mean anything come late June? Virginia of 2015 is the only College World Series champion the ACC has produced in 66 years. Maybe if the balls were orange...

13: All hail, the long ball. Thirteen members of the top-21 gang also appear on the list of the nation’s 50 leading home run producers. That includes Tennessee, Maryland, Texas, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest, all in the top six in homers. The journey to the College World Series might be taken four bases at a time.

RANKINGS: Check out the latest RPI

137: Tennessee home runs, the most in college baseball since the BBCOR bat era dawned in 2011. The Vols also own a gaudy 49-7 record and the lowest earned run average in the nation by a ton; 2.37 with the next best back in the fog at 3.08. Any Omaha conversation must begin with a program that has never won a national championship and whose only runner-up finish was 71 years ago. But then there’s the Top Seed Curse to face. Tennessee will likely be the No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament and that honor has historically been like swimming in a lake with an anvil tied to your ankles. The last No. 1 seed to win the title was Miami — 23 years ago.

23: Oregon State errors in 54 games, the surest gloves and throwing arms in the land. Someone will have to beat the Beavers because they rarely do it themselves.

1965: Maryland’s last outright season conference championship. Until now. The Terps’ march to the Big Ten title — they hadn’t even shared a league championship in 51 years — including the 20th nine-inning perfect game in Division I history. That was Ryan Ramsey against Northwestern. Now he’s 10-0. Maryland, a shining No. 3 on the RPI list, has never been 44-10 before. Know something else the Terps have never done? Advanced to Omaha.

30-5: Virginia Tech’s record in its last 35 games. The Hokies were unranked, unheralded and picked to finish next to last in the ACC when the season began. Not anymore. They haven’t seen the NCAA Tournament since 2013, but that’s about to change. Combined with Maryland, that means two of the top four teams in the RPI have never seen the College World Series.

16-4: The combined score of the three-game broom job Tennessee put on Vanderbilt in April, back when the Commodores had hit a lull. But it’s May, and they know how to look at a calendar in Nashville. All five Vanderbilt CWS appearances in history have come since 2011. And the Commodores have the most accomplished thief in the land. Enrique Bradfield Jr. has stolen 42 bases, and nobody has caught him yet.

62: Introducing the Sonny DiChiara Show at Auburn. See the first baseman hit (.382 average). See him keep the line moving (.561 on-base percentage, tied for best in the nation). See him walk (62 times, most in the country, with a chance at the school season record of 73, held by a future Hall of Famer named Frank Thomas). DiChiara was at Samford until this year, but it somehow seemed inevitable he’d wear an Auburn uniform. His mother Lara was a Diamond Doll, one of the hostesses for the Tigers baseball program.

3: Where have you been, Miami? Time was, the Hurricanes were as regular a sight in mid-June as Father’s Day, with 25 College World Series appearances. But the last was 2016 — not long in many places, plenty long in Coral Gables — and they have won only three NCAA Tournament games since then. They would appear to be back, at No. 8 in the RPI. Louisville, one of the ACC's steadiest contenders lately, is right behind them.

86-52: Stanford’s run differential over its opponents in the first two innings. Trailing the Cardinal early has become a custom. Last year, the spread was 90-50 in the first two innings and 24-6 in the postseason.

14: Georgia Southern once hit 14 home runs in a single game. That was 14 years ago but it’s still an NCAA record. At the moment, though, the Eagles are lurking at No. 10 in the RPI and acting like they want to sit at the big-name table.

20-27: That was Wake Forest’s record this time last season. Now the Demon Deacons are 39-16-1. Funny, what 107 home runs can do.

DEEP, FAR AND GONE: The top home run hitters in 2022

3: How ‘bout them old Dawgs? The first three hitters in the Georgia lineup are all graduate students. There’s a fourth later in the batting order.

120-10: The rather dazzling strikeout-walk ratio for Southern Mississippi’s Tanner Hall.

14: This seems a pretty lofty RPI for a team seeded only third in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, but that’s what comes with 12 wins over top-50 RPI opponents, which is what Dallas Baptist has done. The Patriots knocked on Omaha’s door last June, taking Virginia to the limit in the super regional. All the components are in place for a proper Cinderella tale — a school of under 5,000 students, never before in the College World Series, and the player bios include their favorite Bible verses.

1-7: Virginia’s skid in April, but then the Cavaliers got a second wind by sweeping North Carolina, taking one of the games on Devin Ortiz’s walk-off grand slam, the first such thing for Virginia in 22 years. It was also one of five Cavalier grand slams this season. Between Virginia Tech’s No. 4 spot in the RPI and Virginia’s No. 15, consider this tasty possibility — a Hokies-Cavaliers super regional. And while we're at it, Oregon State and Oregon are on the top-21 list, too.

20.3 inches: Average total snowfall for February — the month the college baseball season opens — in South Bend, Indiana. So yeah, a Notre Dame return to the College World Series for the first time in 20 years would be a stirring example of overcoming the northern climate thing in college baseball.

.421, 28, 85: What does a .421 average, 28 home runs and 85 RBI get you? Nearly a national triple crown for Texas’ Ivan Melendez. He leads in homers, is one percentage point off the best batting average and is only four back in RBI.

PREDICTIONS: Check out the latest Field of 64 predictions for the College World Series

513: Griffin Doersching’s big bat was at Northern Kentucky in 2019, when he won the college home run derby. Now he’s a graduate transfer for Oklahoma State, hitting pitching mistakes into the next area code — 513 feet against Texas Tech, 500 feet at Wichita State. He missed more than a month with a broken foot but had nine of his 11 home runs in the past 22 games.

38: Shawn Rapp’s last name starts with an R, as in rubber-armed. The North Carolina reliever has pitched in 38 games, most in the country. The Tar Heels have played only 15 games without a Rapp fastball. And this gem from his Tar Heels’ bio: He was vice-president of his high school’s Ping-Pong club.

89: UCF’s current spot in the RPI rankings. Why even mention the 32-23 Knights? Because Fresno State, with a 33-27 record, was No. 89 in the RPI on selection day in 2008. Four weeks later, the Bulldogs were national champions. So the RPI means a lot, except when it doesn’t.

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