The College World Series is always filled with exciting stories, but this year seems to have some of the bigger stories in a while.
Even though most of the campuses are relatively empty this time of year, students and alumni alike are beginning to root for their schools now that they have made it Omaha. From the powerhouse schools to the Cinderella stories, fans will be rooting as hard as ever for their respective teams to reach greatness in college baseball.
Like I said, there are some big stories this year. Let’s take a look at some of the more intriguing storylines heading into the tournament.
The Dramatic Tar Heels
Despite being the overall favorite to win the College World Series, the North Carolina Tar Heels have certainly played it close to the chest heading into the tournament.
Even though they’re one of the top-ranked teams in the country, the Tar Heels still managed to give everyone quite a scare the past few weeks. In the Chapel Hill Regional against Florida Atlantic, the final game went 13 innings before the Tar Heels were final able to pull out the win and advance. In the Super Regionals, the South Carolina Gamecocks were able to take Game 2 of the series. After that, the Tar Heels barely won the final game 5-4.
Still, the Tar Heels are here, and that’s all that really matters. At 57-10 record and a team batting average of .306 on the year. The hot bats are led by All-American Colin Moran and Cody Stubbs.
The Tar Heels will be trying to make sure that nothing dramatic happens against the N.C. State, but the Wolfpack have quite a lot of momentum on their side, and they will be looking to pull off the major upset.
The Bruins’ Great Pitching Staff
Sure, it’s always exciting to watch a slugfest, but the Bruins are built more on great pitching, and that’s why they’ve made it this far.
The Bruins have three starters that have simply been outstanding this season. Adam Plutko (8-3, 2.35 ERA), Nick Vander Tuig (12-4, 2.37 ERA) and Grant Watson (8-3, 3.22 ERA) have been putting the team in excellent position to win game in and game out.
Meanwhile, David Berg has been ridiculous out of the bullpen, putting up an ERA of 0.88 in 71.1 inning pitched with a 7-0 record and 21 saves. Despite only being a sophomore, Berg is showing his stuff. His high level of play all season was good enough to earn him the Stopper of the Year award, according to the UCLA Baseball Twitter account.
This staff will need to make sure they continue this excellence, as they will be playing a tough LSU team. The Tigers are batting .302 in the tournament, with Raph Rhymes hitting .444 so far. The Tigers failed to lose a single match in the Regional or Super Regional rounds.
As long as guys like Berg and Plutko keep it up, they will be in a position to advance.
The Hoosiers’ Unprecedented Run
Big Ten teams tend to struggle in college baseball. In fact no Big Ten team had made it to Omaha since the Michigan Wolverines did it back in 1984.
That has quickly changed.
Now, the Indiana Hoosiers have become the true Cinderella story of the tourney. After winning their first-ever Regional a few weeks ago, they are now heading to Omaha for the first time in school history. They were able to advance after stunning the Florida State Seminoles in two simply wild games.
Kyle Schwarber has been the best power hitter for the Hoosiers this season, with 18 home runs and a .674 slugging percentage. Others like Dustin DeMuth and Scott Donley continue to have hot bats and help lead this strong offensive lineup.
Despite being an underdog all year, the Hoosiers might actually have the edge on the Louisville Cardinals, who have a decent pitching staff but a lack of offensive firepower.
Will the Hoosiers continue this magical run? We will see soon enough.