Five teams have advanced to the 2012 College World Series, but there's still room for three more contenders.
Game 2 of South Carolina vs. Oklahoma and Game 3 of Oregon vs. Kent State and Baylor vs. Arkansas kicks off today. The Gamecocks won the first game of the series against the Sooners, 5-0.
Who will advance to the College World Series among the six remaining teams?
Let us examine.
South Carolina vs. Oklahoma
Game 1 was the game Oklahoma needed to take, in my opinion. But, trotting ace Jordan John out in the opening game, the Sooners lost, 5-0. Now they must face a Gamecocks team in Game 2 that is 30-7 at home this season.
Matt Oberste is once again key for the Sooners if they are to pull off the victory. He's a big part of Oklahoma's offense and he struggled in Game 1, going 0-for-4, as Gamecocks starter Michael Roth pitched 7 2/3 innings of shutout ball.
In the end, South Carolina has the mental advantage (beating Oklahoma en route to the 2010 CWS Finals) and has momentum at home. I see the Gamecocks pulling this off in two games and advancing.
Oregon vs. Kent State
Oregon has firepower that can come back and bite you, and that showed when the Ducks came back from a 2-0 deficit in Game 2 to shock Kent State. They have three impressive pitchers in Alex Keudell, Jake Reed and Jimmie Sherfy, and Eugene Regional MVP Ryan Hambright has been swinging a hot bat.
Kent State was ranked 74th in the nation headed into the postseason, but had momentum on its side headed into Game 2 against Oregon, winners of 21 straight. But Oregon's comeback shifted momentum to the Ducks' side, and I see that ultimately being the difference in Game 3.
Baylor vs. Arkansas
Who will advance?
After No. 4 Baylor got off to a quick start against Arkansas, winning Game 1 8-1, the Razorbacks pulled off an improbable 5-4 victory in Game 2, stunning the Bears.
But I still see the Bears winning this series. They trot out Tyler Bremer to the mound on Monday, who owns a 7-1 record and 3.08 ERA, and Arkansas will start Randall Fant, who has only two wins on the year with a 3.26 ERA.
I think Bremer gets it done, while the Bears bounce back behind All-Americans Josh Ludy and Logan Vick. The Bears are simply too good to not make the College World Series.
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