Baseball 2015 College World Series Overview

2015 College World Series Overview

The road to Omaha is complete for the 2015 College World Series. The SEC leads a very balanced field with four teams followed by the ACC with two. TCU and Cal State Fullerton round things out as the Horned Frogs and Titans punched their tickets to Omaha in dramatic and controversial fashion. Instant replay had to get involved in the Cal State Fullerton-Louisville game with David Olmedo-Barrera’s homerun that hit off of the left-field foul pole. This field is very deep and has teams that all very capable of making some noise with LSU, Florida, Arkansas and Vanderbilt being put to the test to prove that the Southeastern Conference is the top conference in college baseball when it counts the most in Omaha at the College World Series. With that here is a look at the eight team field that will battle it out for the national championship starting Saturday afternoon with Virginia and Arkansas.


LSU is the highest remaining national seed at number two. The Tigers have the ingredients to win at TD Ameritrade Park. They have power and speed with players like Alex Bregman, who was drafted number two overall by the Houston Astros on Monday. Pitching has been excellent in the postseason thanks to Alex Lange and Jared Poche getting deep into games. Getting the first two wins is going to be critical for the Tigers to take some of the pressure off of being the highest remaining national seed and allow them to settle in to a groove in Omaha. The fan support, as always, will be off the charts by the incredibly rabid Tiger fans and will only add to an electric atmosphere at TD Ameritrade Park.

Florida is on fire offensively as they obliterated the Florida State pitching staff entourage to a Super Regional sweep. Harrison Bader leads an offensive attack that can score with anyone on any given day. If the Gators can combine their nice mix of power and speed, they should be able to still thrive offensively in TD Ameritrade Park. The 1-2 punch of Logan Shore and AJ Puk on the mound is one of the best in the country. A win over Miami is going to be critical to setting up a run to the Championship Series so head coach Kevin O’Sullivan can maximize the availability of all of his pitching since the Gators can get into a bullpen battle with just about anyone and do just fine.

Miami - This team is electric offensively and it will be fun to see how they attack TD Ameritrade Park. The Hurricanes are deep and have the ability to hit for a high average, which will be a big asset for them heading into the College World Series. David Thompson paces Miami with 19 homeruns and 87 runs batted in. Thompson will be a great player to monitor in Omaha to see if the more homerun friendly baseball will let him be a threat in the College World Series. Zack Collins is also going to have to perform well at the plate to keep opposing pitchers honest. On the mound, Andrew Suarez and Thomas Woodrey will set the tone and will need to get ahead of hitters, especially in the opener against Florida.

TCU - The Horned Frogs have that team of destiny look to them as they outlasted Texas A&M 5-4 in an epic 16-inning battle on Monday night in Fort Worth. TCU has the pitching depth necessary to succeed at a high level in Omaha as Preston Morrison, Alex Young, Mitchell Traver and Tyler Alexander are all high quality starting pitchers. The bullpen has been able to overcome struggles with Riley Farrell during the regional and Super Regional rounds including a herculean effort on Monday night led by Preston Guillory, Brian Howard and Mitchell Traver, who threw four scoreless innings to get his ninth win of the season. Offensively, the Horned Frogs won’t blow you away with gaudy numbers, but they find a way to get the job done when it counts the most as they are led Cody Jones who is hitting.371 heading into the College World Series. Overall, TCU is going to pose a fascinating challenge for LSU in the opener which could very well be another epic extra-inning affair on Sunday.

Vanderbilt - The defending national champions are on fire right now and it’s truly going to take a knockout punch to eliminate the Commodores. Dansby Swanson paces an offense that can torch quality pitching when its gets locked in. Swanson had a critical homerun in game 2 against Illinois on Monday that helped them punch their ticket back to Omaha. Then to top off Swanson’s day, not even five minutes after the Commodores eliminated the Illini, he was selected number one overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Carson Fulmer and Walker Buehler are going to have to show why they went in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft and lead Vanderbilt through a very tough bracket if they are to get back to the Championship Series. If the Commodores can get past Thomas Eshelman and Cal State Fullerton, a winners bracket matchup with LSU or TCU will be a very intriguing showdown for the right to get to 2-0.

Cal State Fullerton - Resilience has defined the Titans as they started off 19-18 with a difficult schedule. They had to scratch and claw their way back into the NCAA Tournament and that has helped them greatly during the Fullerton Regional and the Louisville Super Regional. Thomas Eshelman is going to be the key on the mound right away in game one for Cal State Fullerton as he will have to battle Carson Fulmer on Sunday in game one. Eshelman has outstanding control and was brought back on one day of rest to pitch in the bottom of the 11th in game three against Louisville and slammed the door against the Cardinals for a 4-3 win. Offensively, David Olmedo-Barrera’s solo homerun in the top of the 11th, which stood after the replay review, provided the timely key hit that the Titans have gotten a lot down the stretch during this run that they are on. This Cal State Fullerton team is so battle tested that playing the reigning national champions on a neutral field at the College World Series won’t phase them one bit.

Arkansas - The Razorbacks had their backs against the wall with an 11-12 start to the 2015 season. However, after a road series win in College Station over Texas A&M and thanks to great mix of veteran experience, Arkansas has just gotten stronger and stronger as the season has gone along. Andrew Benintendi sets the pace for the Razorbacks offensively and was selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft as the seventh overall pick by the Boston Red Sox. Benintendi is one of the game changing type of players that will cause opposing pitching staffs fits. Joe Serrano and Tyler Spoon provide significant threats as well offensively, along with a stabilizing leadership that has helped Arkansas win plenty of tight games down the stretch. Zach Jackson will need to set the tone early against Virginia in a rematch of last year’s Super Regional in Charlottesville against the Cavaliers. Jackson is going to have to get the Virginia batters to be active early in counts and put the ball in play.

Virginia - Last year’s national runner-up went into the final ACC weekend at North Carolina at 12-15 staring down the barrel of missing the NCAA Tournament. But the Cavaliers swept the Tar Heels and have not looked back by winning the Lake Elsinore Regional and sweeping Maryland in the Super Regionals to get back to Omaha. Virginia has battled injuries and inexperience all season long but getting players like Joe McCarthy and guys like Kenny Towns, Matt Thaiss, Pavin Smith and Ernie Clement to step up at key moments has a been huge plus for head coach Brian O’Connor’s team. The Cavaliers are peaking at the right time offensively, which makes them very dangerous. Connor Jones and Brandon Waddell have been on point starting wise in the postseason and, with moving Josh Sborz back to closer, the bullpen has gotten better and that will be very important moving forward in the College World Series.  Virginia is going to be a very tough out in Omaha for Arkansas on Saturday and the rest of the field moving forward in the College World Series.


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