Balance gives Green Wave Bracket 2 edge
Baylor, Oregon State, Texas and Tulane will take the field at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb., on Saturday when day two of the College World Series gets under way. The quartet will compete in Bracket 2, with the winner meeting the Bracket 1 winner (Arizona State, Florida, Nebraska or Tennessee) in the best-of-three championship series, which begins Saturday, June 25.
Here's a quick look at the Bracket 2 teams.
Baylor Bears (44-22)
Manager Steve Smith finally gets Baylor to Omaha after losing in super regional Game 3s in 1999 and 2003.
|Bracket 2: Saturday schedule|
Oregon State-Tulane (ESPN, 2 ET)
Texas-Baylor (ESPN, 7 ET)
Complete College World Series schedule
Josh Ford, who has eight homers and 40 RBI, serves as the main power source in an offense that favors the short game, putting runners in motion and collecting opportune hits. Few hitters have proven more opportune than outfielder Seth Fortenberry, who's batting below .200 on the year but hit three of his home runs in the Big 12 tournament, regionals and super regionals. Jeff Mandel stepped in at first base when Kyle Reynolds went down, adding homers in the regionals and super regionals.
Still, it all comes back to the pitching — Baylor held Clemson to one run in each of the final two super regional games (7-1 and 6-1 wins) — and a two-headed closer monster of Ryan LaMotta and Abe Woody. Baylor gets Texas first in Omaha. The Bears beat the Horns in all four games the schools played this year, but Texas has loads of CWS experience.
Oregon State Beavers (45-10)
Oregon State hasn't reached the College World Series in more than 50 years — not even a member of the Beavers' coaching staff was alive then. Plus, OSU was picked no better than seventh in a preseason poll of Pac-10 conference coaches. That should make this very strong Oregon State team one of the darlings of Omaha, where new blood always goes over well.
However, the Beavers haven't been tested on the road since an early April series win at Stanford, and they have little postseason experience. Oregon State's pitching ranks sixth nationally with a 3.08 ERA and tends to hold teams down long enough for a speed-oriented offense to force the action. Oregon State has shown more power in the postseason, including Andy Jenkins' cycle in the last game of the super regional.
A bracket of heavy-hitting offenses should prove a stern test as the Beavers look to continue their best season ever.
Texas Longhorns (51-16)
Texas punched its fourth straight ticket to the CWS with two more of the gutsy comeback performances that have defined the program under Augie Garrido. Texas faced and won five elimination games in regional and super regional play to make it to Omaha for a record 32nd time.
The Longhorns, who were 30-15 after rocketing out to a 21-1 start, rank fourth nationally in ERA and fielding percentage, and J. Brent Cox is a deluxe closer, though he's not as impenetrable as his predecessor, Huston Street.
Texas' offense has picked up in the postseason as Chance Wheeless and Will Crouch have provided needed power, while Carson Kainer and Nick Peoples brought consistency to the outfield corners.
Texas has shown limitless heart this season, but with just seven pitchers logging significant innings this season, the Longhorns actually enter Omaha as an underdog.
Tulane Green Wave (55-10)
Tulane has to enter Omaha as the favorite. The Green Wave's lack of postseason experience won't be a factor since only Texas returns from last year's CWS field (the first time only one team has returned since 1991). Plus, redshirt senior Scott Madden was on the 2001 CWS team. Tulane also proved its mettle by handling its greatest adversity, rallying to win the super regional against Rice.
Tulane's talent helped it rank among the nation's top 10 in batting (.321) and scoring (8.2) thanks to an offense with seven hitters that boast on-base percentages of .421 or better. Its defense also ranks among the top 15, and the deep pitching staff offers four quality starters, including two-way stars Brian Bogusevic (13-2) and Micah Owings (11-4).
The preseason No. 1 team, Tulane has played so well this year (losing consecutive games just twice), it will be a disappointment if the Green Wave can't reach the championship series.
Will Kimmey covers college baseball for Baseball America.
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