2014 College World Series Breakdown

Virginia College Baseball

2014 College World Series Breakdown

The field for the College World Series is set, but it is an unusual one. The 2014 NCAA Tournament has been upset galore, as just two national seeds and five regional hosts remain. The field is made up of teams who are new to the CWS. Texas Tech is making its first ever trip, while TCU and UC Irvine are making their second ever trips. Texas on the other hand, has made more trips to the World Series than all the other teams in the field combined. Will the newcomers shock the field, or will the veteran teams win it all? Tune into the coverage this weekend to find out.


#3 Virginia

Virginia is the highest remaining seed and the Cavaliers have the talent that backs their number three ranking up. The Cavaliers had six players drafted in the top ten rounds of the 2014 MLB Draft, including three first round picks. Two of those first round picks, first baseman Mike Papi and outfielder Derek Fisher, lead a high-powered offensive attack. The lineup has seven starters who were key parts of last year’s Super Regional team, and they have a proven track record. Those players have all posted down numbers in terms of batting average from a year ago, but they have still driven in the runs and are ranked 10th in the nation collectively in walks. Key to getting to the College World Series though has been the pitching staff. The Cavaliers boast two top ten draft picks in their bullpen, led by first round pick Nick Howard. Howard, the closer, is 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA and 19 saves on the season, while eighth round pick Artie Lewicki has posted a 6-1 record and a 1.61 ERA as a spot starter and reliever. They back up a solid trio of sophomores who make up the weekend rotation.  ACC Pitcher of the Year, Nathan Kirby, leads the way with a 9-2 record and a 1.73 ERA. He is joined by Brandon Waddell, 9-3 with a 2.66 ERA, and Josh Sborz, 5-4 with a 3.03 ERA. As a staff, the Cavaliers pitchers rank in the top five in the country in ERA and WHIP, and lead the nation in hits per nine innings. With a team fielding percentage of .982 backing them up, Virginia is a legitimate candidate to win a national championship.


#7 TCU

TCU is in the College World Series because of their phenomenal pitching staff. The Horned Frogs lead the nation in ERA and WHIP, and are ranked in the top five in strikeout-to-walk ratio, shutouts and walks per nine innings. Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Preston Morrison, 9-4 with a 1.32 ERA, first round draft pick Brandon Finnegan, 9-2 with a 9-3 with a 2.12 ERA, and Freshman All-American Tyler Alexander, 10-3 with a 2.16 ERA, make up one of the best rotations in the country. Jordan Kipper, a midweek starter who was key to the Horned Frogs winning game three of the Super Regional with solid relief work, and closer Riley Ferrell, who has a 0.68 ERA and 15 saves, provide a solid bullpen behind those starters. TCU’s lineup isn’t the juggernaut that the pitching staff is, but the lineup does feature a solid 3-4 combo in Boomer White and Kevin Cron. White is hitting .318 with two home runs and a team leading 46 RBI’s, while Cron is hitting .279 with a team-high 5 home runs and 40 RBI’s. TCU will open with a red hot Texas Tech team and has Virginia on their side of the bracket, but the Horned Frogs have the talent to emerge from this group of teams.



With a win over Louisiana-Lafayette in the Super Regionals, Ole Miss is headed back to the College World Series for the first time since 1972. The Rebels are a veteran group and have plenty of experience. The top five players in the Rebels lineup are either juniors or seniors, led by seniors Will Allen and Austin Anderson. Allen is hitting .345 with seven home runs and a team-high 61 RBI’s and Anderson is hitting at a .331/5HR/41RBI clip. Juniors Auston Boufield, team leading .348 batting average, and Sikes Orvis, team leading 14 home runs, add a powerful punch to the lineup, combining for 20 home runs and 101 RBI’s, while junior Braxton Lee has stolen 30 bases from his leadoff spot. Junior Chris Ellis, 10-2 with a 2.45 ERA, and redshirt-sophomore Christian Trent, 9-0 with a 2.21 ERA, form a dominant duo at the top of the rotation and a trio of veteran pitchers, Josh Laxer, Aaron Greenwood and Scott Weathersby, have combined to save 12 games while all posting ERA’s of 2.00 or better out of the bullpen. Ole Miss is a team that has excelled behind their veteran leadership this season and it has them ready to compete for a championship.



Louisville is the lone returning team from last year’s College World Series, where they went to 0-2, and their returning cast will look to improve on those results. The Cardinals have nine juniors or seniors who are back and play prominent roles. Seniors Kyle Gibson, Cole Sturgeon, and Jeff Gardner occupy three of the top four spots in the lineup. Gibson and Sturgeon have been catalysts at the top of the lineup, with .319 and .331 batting averages respectively, and Jeff Gardner has provided power from the cleanup spot, hitting .321 with nine home runs and 68 RBI’s. Juniors Alex Crittendon, Grant Kay and Zach Lucas provide a dangerous threat in the other half of the order, combining to hit 11 home runs and 109 RBI’s. Junior pitchers Nick Burdi, 18 saves and a 0.51 ERA, and Kyle McGrath, 1.38 ERA in 39 innings, provide the Cardinals with a dominant bullpen duo to go along with Sturgeon, who has a 1.98 ERA in 36.1 innings pitched. Sophomore ace Kyle Funkhouser gives the Cardinals a dominant starter after going 13-2 with a 1.73 ERA this season, and Anthony Kidston and Josh Rogers have stepped up to form a solid rotation, despite Jared Ruxer going down with an injury. Louisville is going to get on base a lot and score a lot of runs, ranking in the top ten in the country in stolen bases, hit by pitches and runs scored. With TCU, Ole Miss and Virginia on the other side of the bracket, the Cardinals have a great shot to win some games in Omaha.



Vanderbilt was supposed to be in Omaha last year as the top overall seed, but they were upset by Louisville. This year’s team is out looking for vengeance, as they face off against Louisville in the opener. Just two members of last year’s lineup are still around, shortstop Victor Conde and third baseman Xavier Turner. Conde has been the rock in the lineup, posting near identical numbers from last year, hitting .303 with 4 home runs and 47 RBI’s. Turner has struggled this year, hitting .283 opposed to last season’s .324, but is still a reliable member of the lineup. Freshman Bryan Reynolds and sophomore Dansby Swanson have made the difference. Both players are hitting over .335 with 24 doubles apiece and Reynolds has driven in a team-high 52 runs. Vanderbilt’s forte is pitching and first round draft pick Tyler Beede leads the way. The junior is 8-7 with a 3.58 ERA, but he his much better than his record indicates. Behind him are two sophomores, Walker Buehler, 11-2 with a 2.39 ERA, and Carson Fullmer, 6-1 with a 1.78 ERA, who help form one of the nations best rotations. With four key members of the bullpen sporting ERA’s under 2.00, Vanderbilt is a serious title contender.



After a two-year absence from the NCAA Tournament, the Longhorns are not only in back in the tournament this year, but they’re in the College World Series for the 35th time. The Longhorns have relied on their pitching and defense to get here and they will continue to do so. Texas has a trio of big time arms that make up the rotation. Senior Nathan Thornhill, 8-2 with a 1.57 ERA, is the ace of the staff and juniors Dillon Peters, 7-3 with a 2.12 ERA, and Parker French, 6-5 with a 2.45 ERA, help make up a staff that will stack up well against anybody. John Curtiss, 9 saves and a 2.06 ERA, and Chad Hollingsworth, 3-0 with a 1.36 ERA, give the Longhorns two reliable bullpen arms. When it comes to the offense, the Longhorns rely on a balanced attack. Four players have driven in at least 32 runs, led by senior Mark Payton, who has driven in 38 runs to go along with a .326 batting average, 15 doubles and five triples. Texas is a team that relies on small ball and that could be a factor that gives them an edge against the CWS field.


Texas Tech

The Red Raiders may be the hottest team in the CWS field. Over the course of their six NCAA Tournament games, Texas Tech has allowed just three runs, going 5-1. Leading the way has been the pitching staff. Sixth round draft pick Chris Sadberry has provided the staff with an ace, while Dylan Dusek and Jonny Drozd provide a starter bullpen duo that is a combined 15-0 on the season. Sadberry has been a workhorse, leading the team in innings, at 88, while Dusek and Drozd have both thrown over 70 innings and sport ERA’s of 2.00 or below. The Red Raiders back them up with a fielding percentage that is top five nationally and an offense that is in the top 20 in runs per game, base on balls and doubles. Sophomore Eric Gutierrez and Adam Kirsch are the big bats in the lineup, posting lines of .312BA/12HR/58RBI’s and .300BA/10HR/51RBI’s respectively. The Red Raiders have a tough draw, squaring of against TCU, but they have the talent to beat them.


UC Irvine

The Anteaters have made some noise this postseason. After barely making the field, Irvine has knocked off two top seeds, including the overall number one in Oregon State. The Anteaters have done it behind their dominant pitching staff. Second round pick Andrew Morales has been the ace of the staff. After going 10-0 last season, Morales has gone 11-2 with a 1.53 ERA this year, throwing a team leading 129.2 innings. Behind him are two solid starters, Elliot Surrey, 8-4 with a 1.99 ERA, and Evan Brock, 8-6 with a 3.16 ERA. With Closer Sam Moore, 23 saves and a 1.88 ERA, and reliever/spot starter Evan Manarino, 4-3 with a 2.83 ERA, the Anteaters are in good shape. The lineup is not to be outdone though. Taylor Sparks, a second round draft pick, has been the table setter, hitting .307 with 16 doubles, eight triples, five home runs and 34 RBI’s. Juniors Connor Spencer, .370 batting average and 40 RBI’s, and Jerry McClanahan, .320 with 36 RBI’s, provide support. The Anteaters may be the lowest ranked team in the field, but they have the makeup to end up on top when it ends.


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