Green Wave ready to roll over Omaha
Here's an in-depth look at the Tulane Green Wave, one of the eight teams competing in the College World Series, which starts Friday at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.
Tulane Green Wave
Bracket 2/No. 1 national seed
Coach: Rick Jones (12th season).
CWS History: Second trip to Omaha (last in 2001), no titles.
How They Got Here: Won the New Orleans regional in three games, beating Alabama in the final. Beat Rice in three games at home to win super regional.
Players To Watch: Jr. RHP/1B Micah Owings (11-4, 3.38, 131 SO/123 IP; .354-18-63), Jr. LHP/OF Brian Bogusevic (13-2, 3.14, 123 SO/123 IP; .322-0-24), Jr. CF Nathan Southard (.355-11-52, 15 SB), Sr. SS Tommy Manzella (.356-8-62, 21 SB).
Scouting The Green Wave: They have dominant starting pitching, a very solid, experienced defense, and power in the middle of the lineup. Of course, the front-line starting pitching is as dominant as you can have in college baseball. Even J.R. Crowell, who started on Sunday, would be a Friday guy for a lot of teams. Brian Bogusevic was fastball, slider and maybe a cutter right on our hands all night. We couldn't get good swings on him. Micah Owings is a rear-back-and-chuck-it guy. He works up and down, fastball at the chest and slider low. He doesn't throw the ball in the same place twice. You can't miss pitches early in the count when they give you a pitch to hit. Attack early, because when they get two strikes on you, they have weapons.
The bullpen gets overshadowed because it's not relied upon to do much. After all, they jump on teams early and don't have a lot of close games, but they can bring quality arms out of the pen. Brandon Gomes is 88-90 mph with a slider, and he's coming out of the pen and can be a fourth starter. Rick Jones has done a great job convincing guys to be part of that program when they could be starters elsewhere.
They don't make mistakes, they defend the field real well and dominate the routine play, which is exactly what good teams do. Tommy Manzella sets the pace on that club with great defense. It took three years, but now he's a proven shortstop defensively and hits atop or in the middle of your lineup, too. They've done a good job protecting Brad Emaus, the freshman third baseman, with experienced guys in the lineup. Nothing's new to them. Even in spite of Brian Bogusevic's lack of power because of his hamstring injury, Georgia Tech transfer Micah Owings picked up the slack in the power department. Most clubs can't replace a third or fourth hitter, and they did with Owings. Nathan Southard, the leadoff man, can go yard any time. Most college baseball teams can't overcome losing a middle of the order guy you're counting on to hit a bunch of home runs, and they did. It's amazing.
Omaha Outlook: Tulane has to enter Omaha as the favorite. The Green Wave's lack of postseason experience won't be a factor with only Texas returning 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 at least .421. 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).
As well as the preseason No. 1 team has played all year (losing consecutive games just twice in 2005), it will be a disappointment if the Green Wave can't reach the championship series.
Will Kimmey covers college baseball for Baseball America.
Editor's note: Baseball America contacted college coaches familiar with the teams for analysis. Anonymity was granted in exchange for their candor.