College World Series 2013: Underdogs to Watch For in Omaha

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College World Series 2013: Underdogs to Watch For in Omaha
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

Everyone loves to root for the underdog, and the College World Series is the perfect time to root for the little guys.

This year features a few serious underdog contenders. There are still the powerhouse programs, including teams like North Carolina and LSU, but the underdogs present some interesting stories along with some really good players.

With that being said, let’s go ahead and take a look at some of the underdogs in Omaha.

 

Mississippi State Bulldogs (48-18, 16-14 SEC)

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

While LSU has garnered most of the attention out of the SEC, the Bulldogs continued to fly under the radar until booking their trip to Omaha.

The Bulldogs pulled off the big upset over the Virginia Cavaliers, winning the Super Regionals 2-0. 

Now, in their first appearance in the College World Series since 2007, the Bulldogs have already won their first game in Omaha, beating the Oregon State Beavers 5-4. The team’s Twitter account recorded the final out of the game.

First-rounder Hunter Renfroe, who was selected No. 13 overall to the San Diego Padres in this year’s draft, leads the team’s offense. He’s been batting .360 this year along with 15 homers and 61 runs batted in.

Picking up the win to start of the CWS is great for the Bulldogs, now they just need to keep that momentum going.

 

UCLA Bruins (44-17, 21-9 Pac-12)

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Bruins certainly don’t feature the most high-powered offense in this tournament, but they do offer an excellent pitching staff with an incredible bullpen.

Adam Plutko (8-3, 2.35 ERA), Nick Vander Tuig (12-4, 2.37 ERA) and Grant Watson (8-3, 3.22 ERA) lead a great starting rotation, with the three pitching a total of 311.2 innings over 51 game appearances.

Meanwhile, the bullpen has been even more impressive, with David Berg (21 saves, 0.88 ERA), James Kaprielian (31 appearances, 1.67 ERA) and Zack Weiss (41 appearances, 2.33 ERA) paving the way. In particular, Berg has had an electric season, earning the Stopper of the Year award, according to the team’s Twitter account.

The pitching will be crucial for the Bruins all season, as none of their starting players are batting over .280 on the year. Still, the excellent pitching has made this team a true underdog to root for, even if the games don’t tend to be slugfests.

 

Indiana Hoosiers (48-14, 15-6 Big Ten)

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Meet the biggest underdogs of the tournament, the Indiana Hoosiers.

The Big Ten hadn’t had a team in the College World Series since the Michigan Wolverines back in 1984. Now, the Hoosiers are making their first ever appearance in Omaha. Before this season, the Hoosiers had never actually advanced past the Regionals in the team’s history.

That all has now changed thanks to their solid starting lineup. Seven of the team’s regular starters are batting over .300, with Dustin DeMuth paving the way, batting .389 for the year. 

The power this season has come from Sam Travis and Kyle Schwarber. Travis has hit 10 home runs with a slugging percentage of .545 while Schwarber has smoked the ball with 18 homers and a .674 slugging percentage.

When it comes to Cinderella stories, there’s no bigger one this season than Indiana. With a strong lineup and some luck, this team could make some big splashes in the coming games.

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