College World Series 2013: Early Predictions and Preview

Benjamin KleinContributor IIIJune 12, 2013

Jun 10, 2013; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs outfielder Demarcus Henderson (2) waves to Bulldogs fans in the stands after their game against the Virginia Cavaliers during the Charlottesville super regional of the 2013 NCAA baseball tournament at Davenport Field. The Bulldogs won 6-5 and advanced to the College World Series. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In the coming days, the journey continues for eight esteemed programs, each hoping to hoist the 2013 College World Series trophy after more than a week of anticipated matchups in Omaha, Neb.

Teams have battled and battled all season long, hoping to earn a berth to Omaha. There was only room for eight programs, though, and these eight have proven to be the top in the nation—regardless of what the national rankings may say or suggest.

Omaha is where champions are born, and one team is going to make history this year. But which team will it be?

Let’s take an in-depth look at each team that’s in Omaha, what each bracket looks like, who will come out of the bracket victorious and then what’s going to happen when the bracket winners take each other on in the College World Series National Championship.


Bracket 1 Schedule and Preview

Game Date Time (ET) CWS Team CWS Team
1 Saturday, June 15 3 p.m. Mississippi St. Oregon St.
2 Saturday, June 15 8 p.m. Indiana Louisville
3 Monday, June 17 3 p.m. Game 1 Loser Game 2 Loser
4 Monday, June 17 8 p.m. Game 1 Winner Game 2 Winner
5 Wednesday, June 19 8 p.m. Game 3 Winner Game 4 Loser
6 Friday, June 21 3 p.m. Game 4 Winner Game 5 Winner
7 *Saturday, June 22 3 p.m. Game 6 Winner Game 6 Loser
*If necessary 

Louisville and Indiana are a pair of teams that weren’t expected to make it this far into the tournament. Louisville ended up sweeping No. 2 Vanderbilt while Indiana did the same with No. 7 Florida St. Both are very balanced and clearly aren’t afraid to take on some of the top teams in the country.

The pitching trio of Jeff Thompson, Chad Green (both starters) and Dace Klime (mainly a reliever) has been outstanding for Louisville this year. Nick Burdi, the team’s closer, has been unbeatable as well. Taking the Cardinals down twice won’t be easy for any opponent. Keep in mind that five batters hit over .300 this year too. That’s a scary combination.

But Indiana is just as scary, if not more. The Hoosiers have seven batters hitting over .300, led by Dustin Demuth, who’s hitting .389/.443/.564 with 30 extra-base hits on the year. Kyle Schwarber has 18 home runs and Sam Travis has 10 of his own. Only one Indiana pitcher has more than two losses this year as well. With ace Aaron Slegers likely on the mound for the first game, how could the Hoosiers lose?

Oregon St. is the highest seed in the first bracket, but the Beavers are also the most vulnerable. They’ll have to take on a dangerous Mississippi St. team that just swept Virginia in the Super Regionals.

Oregon St. heads into Omaha with one of the top pitching staffs in the country. The team’s ace, Andrew Moore, is 14-1 with a 1.36 ERA this year. He’ll likely look to get the Beavers off on the right foot. Max Engelbrekt and Tony Bryant, both relievers, each have ERAs under 2.00. Strong pitching could get OSU into the championship.

While Mississippi St. also has good pitching—mainly all relievers—it’s been the team’s offense that has gotten it to this point. Hunter Renfroe, a top draft pick this year, has been a monster at the plate, hitting .360/.445/.644 with 15 home runs and 61 RBI. Three other Bulldogs are hitting at least .300. It’ll be interesting to see whether OSU’s pitching or MSU’s hitting wins the battle.

Bracket 1 is easily the weaker bracket, in my opinion, but also feature teams that are tough competitors and extremely difficult to take down. That being said, I think Louisville will be the team that comes out of this bracket to advance to the Championship Series. It has the best pitching in the bracket, and that’s what will get it to the title series. Louisville is the team with the most grit, and that’ll go a long way here.


Bracket 2 Schedule and Preview

Game Date Time (ET) CWS Team CWS Team
1 Sunday, June 16 3 p.m. North Carolina NC State
2 Sunday, June 16 8 p.m. UCLA LSU
3 Tuesday, June 18 3 p.m. Game 1 Loser Game 2 Loser
4 Tuesday, June 18 8 p.m. Game 1 Winner Game 2 Winner
5 Thursday, June 20 8 p.m. Game 3 Winner Game 4 Loser
6 Friday, June 21 8 p.m. Game 4 Winner Game 5 Winner
7 *Saturday, June 22 8:30 p.m. Game 6 Winner Game 6 Loser
*If necessary 

Programs with outstanding pitching dominate the second bracket in Omaha. Each of these games is going to be very low scoring because it’s going to be nearly impossible to sneak a run off of any of the starting pitchers or any of the relievers. They’ve been fantastic all year long, and that’s not going to stop now.

While each team in this bracket has solid hitting, too, I’m going to focus more on the pitching. Here’s a little preview of what each staff brings to the table.

The Tar Heels have three great starting pitchers and a reliever who’s tied for the team lead in wins. You don’t see that very often. Trent Thornton is UNC’s closer, and in 84.2 innings he has a 1.28 ERA and 78 strikeouts. UNC isn’t losing with a lead in the ninth. Kent Emmanuel will be one of the top starters in Omaha, currently holding an 11-3 record with a 2.93 ERA.

NC State is a team that relies on its bullpen a little more than the others in this bracket. Chris Overman and Grant Sasser each have closed this year and have only allowed six earned runs combined in 67.1 innings. Carlos Rodon is arguably the best starter. He has the second-lowest ERA among the rotation and strikes out well more than a batter per inning.

David Berg, UCLA’s closer, has allowed just seven earned runs in 71.1 innings this year. He has saved 21 games for the Bears and is one of the top relievers in the nation. He helps back a variety of starting pitchers who UCLA throws out on the mound. The one to keep an eye on is Nick Vander Tuig, who is 12-4 with a 2.37 ERA, along with 81 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 114 innings of work this year.

And then there’s LSU. The Tigers’ starters just cannot be stopped. Aaron Nola, Cody Glenn and Ryan Eades have won 27 games this year combined. Nola has yet to lose in 16 starts. Additionally, the three almost never walk anyone. Nola has 17 walks and Glenn has 16. Eades isn’t far behind with 32. LSU can win this tournament off of pitching alone.

This is a tough bracket to win—much tougher than the other—but like I’ve been saying, it’s all about pitching. The pitchers are rarely going to allow a run to cross the plate. One run for the offense might be all the staff needs to come out victorious. In the end, LSU will advance. The Tigers clearly have the best staff and their offense should be able to provide enough run support.


Championship Series Schedule and Preview 

Game Date Time (ET) CWS Team CWS Team
1 Monday, June 24 8 p.m. Bracket 1 Winner Bracket 2 Winner
2 Tuesday, June 25 8 p.m. Bracket 1 Winner Bracket 2 Winner
3 *Wednesday, June 26 8 p.m. Bracket 1 Winner Bracket 2 Winner
*If necessary 

In my opinion, it’ll be Louisville taking on LSU in the Championship Series. Both teams would be worth national champions, but only one will be able to dog-pile on the mound at the end of the tournament.

That team will be the LSU Tigers.

LSU’s pitching is the best in Omaha, hands down. The Tigers feature a starting rotation that doesn’t falter very often. If they hiccup just once, that might be enough for an opponent to knock them out, but I just don’t see that happening. They’re so deep and powerful that no one will be able to defeat them.

I wouldn’t be surprised if LSU doesn’t lose a game in Omaha. Louisville has played well all year long, but I just don’t see any way that the Cardinals are going to score against a team like LSU. And if you don’t score, you’re not going to win.

LSU will win the national championship.