The 2013 College World Series is about to provide fans with plenty of intense baseball as only eight teams remain in the running for the national championship.
The final stage of college baseball's coronation process is a tough one. The eight teams are divided into two double-elimination-style brackets. The winners of those two brackets will then have a crack at the sport's ultimate prize in the best-of-three championship series.
Teams can't afford to make mistakes in the double elimination tournament and every at-bat will be important. It's times like these that big-time players step up and lead the way for their teams.
Here's a look at the full roster for each one of these special squads along with the top stars to watch. All roster information provided by NCAA.com
|Game||Date||Time (EDT)||CWS Team||CWS Team|
|1||Saturday, June 15||3 p.m.||Mississippi State||Oregon State|
|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|
Mississippi State Bulldogs (48-18)
The Bulldogs come in with one of the hottest lineups in the tournament field. They've scored at least five runs in eight of their last 10 games and swept Virginia to get here.
|28||John Marc Shelly||P||Fr.|
Star to Watch: Hunter Renfroe, C
Renfroe is definitely the biggest star on this Bulldogs team. The junior slugger hit .360 on the season with 15 home runs, 61 RBI and nine stolen bases. His performance made him the the No. 13 selection, by the San Diego Padres, in the recent MLB draft. His bat will be key to keeping the Bulldogs' hopes alive.
The Hoosiers are another team that can put runs on the board in a hurry. They've scored double-digit runs in three of their last four games. They're also 18th in the country in home runs per game.
Star to Watch: Dustin DeMuth, 3B
DeMuth doesn't have tremendous power—he only has five home runs this season—but he makes up for it with consistency at the plate. He was 15th in the nation in hits and 12th in doubles. The Hoosiers will need to count on him to keep that pace up throughout their stay in Omaha.
Oregon State (50-11)
The Beavers have a good offense, but they got here because of fantastic pitching. They were second in the country in team ERA and will be very tough to beat in Omaha because of it.
Star to Watch: Andrew Moore, P
Moore has put college baseball on notice with his stellar freshman season. He leads the nation in wins with 14 and was sixth in the nation in WHIP. The World Series stage will provide a new challenge, but if the young hurler can keep his cool, the Beavers will have an ace in the hole to guide them to glory.
The Cardinals have plenty of momentum heading into the final stage of the tourney—they toppled the No. 2 ranked team in the country, Vanderbilt, to get here. They're extremely dangerous due to their dominant pitching: They were tops in the country in strikeouts per nine innings with 9.5.
Star to Watch: Jeff Thompson, P
Thompson has put together a consistent season for the Cardinals. He leads the country in hits allowed per nine innings at just 5.23 and earned 11 victories on the season. His 2.00 ERA and 109 strikeouts are also impressive. He's a quality ace that makes Louisville a legitimate threat in their bracket.
|Game||Date||Time (EDT)||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|
North Carolina State (49-14)
The Wolfpack don't jump off the page statistically. They only have two batters over .300 and the pitching isn't overwhelming, but they just seem to keep on winning. They'll come in with a five-game win streak on the line.
Star to Watch: Carlos Rodon,P
Rodon is the real wildcard for the Wolfpack going forward. The sophomore ace gives them a chance to win any game when he's on, and he leads the nation with 170 strikeouts. His ERA on the season is double what it was last season at 3.19, but he's capable of pitching a gem on any given start. In the regionals against William & Mary he fired a two-hit complete game shutout with 10 strikeouts. He makes the Wolfpack dangerous when he takes the mound.
North Carolina (57-10)
The star-studded Tar Heels entered the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed and have showed that they deserve it thus far. They can score (most runs in the country) and pitch (2.78 ERA, 14th nationally) with anyone and have to be considered among the top two teams remaining.
Star to Watch: Colin Moran, 3B
The No. 6 pick in the 2013 MLB draft, Moran is one of the biggest stars in the entire tournament. He led the country in RBI with 88 and went yard 13 times while hitting .343 on the season. This is a Tar Heels roster full of stars, but Moran has outshined all of them. His offensive prowess will be tough for rivals to overcome.
The Bruins find themselves this far thanks, in large part, to a great pitching staff. The Bruins were ninth in the country in ERA and fourth in WHIP. The Bruins aren't flashy on the hill, but they locate pitches well and keep them in the ballpark. They're also among the best fielding teams in the country at 98 percent. They don't beat themselves.
|31||Darrell Miller Jr.||C||Fr.|
|21||Nick Vander Tuig||P||Jr.|
Star to Watch: Nick Vander Tuig, P
Vander Tuig is emblematic of what the Bruins have been all year. He's a consistent pitcher that gets the job done. His 81 strikeouts on the season won't put him anywhere near the national leaderboard, but only five pitchers in the country topped his 12 wins on the season. Now he'll get the opportunity to win on the biggest stage of them all.
North Carolina may be the top seed, but the Tigers have to be considered the favorite. They have yet to lose a tournament game and have enough hitting (ninth nationally in scoring) and pitching (third in ERA at 2.41). With plenty of lights-out pitchers and athletes throughout the order, their balance is difficult to contend with.
Star to Watch: Aaron Nola, P
There aren't many aces with a track record like Nola's this season. The sophomore stud has great command with the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the country at 12.57 and he's 10th in the nation in strikeouts. He's picked up 12 wins this season and will need to pick up a few more if the Tigers are going to claim another national title.