Four teams will start their run toward the National Championship on Saturday when the College World Series commences from Omaha, Neb., and be sure to expect the unexpected.
Oregon State is the only program on this side of the bracket that was expected to make it this far in the tournament. Louisville, Indiana and Mississippi State all had to take down one of the top national seeds in order to even get to Omaha. Winning even more games will just enhance their stories as underdogs.
So, what kind of things are going to happen when Louisville plays Indiana and Mississippi State tries to upend Oregon State? Well, here is a prediction for each game that might seem a little unlikely, but is certainly still possible—let’s call them bold predictions.
Each of the two games is bound to be close and will keep you on the edge of your seat through all nine innings. If the following things happen too, you could be a witness to two of top games all season long.
Cardinals Shut Out Hoosiers
Game Information: Saturday, June 15 at 8 p.m. ET
Indiana has played 66 games to this point in the season and will enter its first-round game in Omaha having scored in every single one of them. In other words, the Hoosiers have yet to be held scoreless in a game all season long—which is pretty incredible considering how many games they’ve played.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, though, considering the Hoosiers have only lost 14 times and they have seven batters that are currently hitting at least .300. Dustin DeMuth leads the team hitting, flaunting a .389/.443/.564 slash line with five home runs and 41 RBI.
But when DeMuth and Indiana take on Louisville on Friday night, not one Hoosier is going to cross home plate.
While it hasn’t been announced as to whether Jeff Thompson or Chad Green will be on the mound for the Cardinals, one would assume it would be Thompson. Thompson is the better pitcher and has been all year long. He’s 11-1 in 16 starts with a 2.00 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 103.1 innings of work.
Thompson is going to be mowing down every Hoosier he faces. He’s done it all season long and not even a powerful offense like Indiana’s is going to stop him. But all Thompson needs to do is throw around six shutout innings and then Indiana’s streak of not getting shutout is going to come to an end.
Why’s that? Louisville’s bullpen is about as good as it gets.
As you can see in the chart above, the Cardinals have four relievers who have pitched in at least 20 games this year and also have very low ERAs. Nick Burdi, Louisville’s closer, has only allowed four runs (three earned) in 34.2 innings this year. He’s also a strikeout machine, K-ing 61 batters on the year, which is nearly two per inning.
Cody Ege, Kyle Funkhouser and Kyle McGrath are no joke either. If Louisville opts to go with another reliever instead, the Cardinals have other outstanding arms to choose from too. Anthony Kidston’s ERA is 1.31 and Cole Sturgeon’s stands at 2.19—they weren’t included in the chart since they’ve only appeared in 13 games apiece.
If Thompson can hand the ball over with a lead of any size, the game is over. Indiana’s only chance of scoring against Louisville is when Thompson is on the mound, and that doesn’t seem very likely. The Hoosiers will be sent to the loser’s bracket after failing to put a run up on the scoreboard against Indiana.
Hunter Renfroe Hits 3 Home Runs
Game Information: Saturday, June 15 at 3 p.m. ET
Hunter Renfroe is easily the best player that Mississippi State has on its roster. The outfielder hit .360/.445/.644 with 15 home runs, 61 RBI and 54 runs in 61 games this season for the Bulldogs. He is the heart and soul of the offense and when he doesn’t produce, Mississippi State doesn’t win.
Oh, and Renfroe was the No. 13 overall pick of the San Diego Padres in the 2013 MLB draft. Here’s what Renfroe told The Mississippi Press about getting take in the draft:
The draft couldn’t have gone any better for me. It’s always been my dream to have a chance to play professional baseball, and now it’s like the dream is coming true. And San Diego has an excellent organization.
Part of the reason why Renfroe was drafted so high was because of his power. As previously mentioned, Renfroe has hit 15 home runs to this point in the season, which leads all other players on the team by eight. He also leads the team with 17 multi-hit games. He’s had five games this year with at least three hits.
See where I’m going with this?
Renfroe will be taking on either Andrew Moore, Ben Wetzler or Matt Boyd on Saturday afternoon—as it’s unconfirmed as to whom Oregon State’s starting pitcher will be. The trio starters have allowed 11 home runs on the season to this point, but I think you’ll be able to add at least three more to that after Saturday’s game.
Look for Renfroe to put a big smile on the face of the Padres and the Bulldog fans when he has a monster game against the Beavers.
Renfroe will come up in the first inning and hit a bomb to straight away center field. In the third, he’ll he another tape-measure shot. He’ll be retired in the sixth inning, but will come up in the eighth and hit his three homer of the afternoon. Going 3-for-4 with a trio of homer runs isn’t bad these days from what people are telling me.
Even though Renfroe is going to be playing the game of his life, I’m not convinced that it’ll be enough for the Bulldogs advance to the winner’s bracket. In the end, I think Renfroe plays well, but his teammates don’t and despite a three home run performance, Mississippi State ends up in the loser’s bracket.