Each of Saturday’s pair of opening-round games at the 2013 College World Series provided a result that not many expected and directly impacted what’s to come on Monday in Omaha.
As the second round of the tournament begins, every batter of every inning is essential. There won’t be many high-scoring games in Omaha and just one or two runs can do the trick with how good the pitching is at the College World Series—as we saw in the Louisville-Indiana game.
So, which team is going to advance to the bracket final? Which will fall into the loser’s bracket? Which will live to see another day come Monday? Let’s take a look at how each team got to where it is now, what each team looks like heading into its second-round matchups and who’s going to be winning and losing.
What Happened on Saturday?
Oregon State is the highest seed in the top bracket of the College World Series and I was one of many who thought that they’d easily come away with a victory in the opener. But the Bulldogs of Mississippi State prevented that from happening.
The Beavers had a prime opportunity to extend their 4-3 lead in the seventh, but a double play started by the Bulldogs’ pitcher ended any of those hopes. Oregon State would give up the lead in the top of the eighth, as Wes Rea smacked his second double of the afternoon to score a pair and to take a 5-4 lead.
Jonathan Holder, the Bulldog’s closer, came into the game during the eighth inning and stayed in to try to close out the game for Mississippi State. Oregon State did put on a bit of pressure, though, as the Beavers got two men on with just one out. But Holder managed to retire the next two batters to send the Bulldogs into the winner’s bracket.
Later in the day, Indiana took on Louisville, each hoping to avoid a trip to the loser’s bracket. The Hoosiers couldn’t have gotten a better outing from starting pitcher Joey DeNato. DeNato tossed a four-hit, complete game shutout against the Cardinals, walking three batters while striking out eight.
Chad Green was on the mound for Louisville and just wasn’t himself. He doesn’t usually walk many batters, but on Saturday he walked four in two-plus innings while allowing a pair of runs on three hits. Those two runs would prove to be the difference, as Louisville fell 2-0.
It was an interesting decision to put Green on the mound for the opening game, as Jeff Thompson—arguably the team’s ace—would have provided for a better matchup. But that wasn’t the decision the Louisville coaching staff made and now the Cardinals sit just one game away from being eliminated.
Winner’s Bracket Game: Mississippi State vs. Indiana
Game Information: Monday, June 17, at 8 p.m. ET
Both of these teams impressed on Saturday and match up well against each other. But only one is going to advance to the bracket final while the other goes on to face the winner of the two teams in the loser’s bracket.
While Mississippi State took out the top-seeded team, Indiana’s victory was much bigger. Louisville is the best team in this bracket regardless of seeding, and the Hoosiers managed to shut the Cardinals down completely. Whether the Hoosiers can replicate their win on Monday is what’s up for debate.
Despite putting two runs up on the board on Saturday, Indiana has a very good offense. It has seven batters hitting at least .300 and several players have moderate-to-good power. Indiana will also have its best pitcher, Aaron Slegers, on the mound. He’s been phenomenal throughout the year.
Mississippi State got an average game from its top pitcher, Kendall Graveman, and will now have to hope that the remaining Bulldogs pitchers can get them a second win. That doesn’t seem likely, though, because starting pitching isn’t one of the team’s strengths.
The Bulldogs' offense also isn’t very threatening. Sure, they put up five runs on a good team, but I wouldn’t expect that to happen again. There are a few threatening bats in the heart of the lineup, but overall this is not a team that should be hitting with the best teams in the country.
Prediction: Indiana 6, Mississippi State 1
Loser’s Bracket Game: Oregon State vs. Louisville
Game Information: Monday, June 17, at 3 p.m. ET
This is sure to be one of the better matchups in Omaha, as I originally had these two taking each other on in the winner’s bracket. But that’s not the case, as either Louisville or Oregon State will be headed home after Monday afternoon’s game.
There’s no question that the Beavers enter the loser’s bracket in better shape. Oregon State was in its game until the later innings and at least put some runs on the board. After looking great in the Super Regionals, Louisville got stymied in its opener and must get the bats going quickly to avoid elimination.
While Oregon State comes into Monday’s matchup on better terms, Louisville is still the better team overall. Since Thompson didn’t take the mound in the first game, he’s sure to get the nod against the Beavers. He’s 11-1 with a 2.00 ERA on the year, with 109 strikeouts in 103.1 innings of work. That doesn't bode well for the Beavers.
The Beavers used their ace, Andrew Moore, in the opener to no avail. Ben Wetzler will probably be the guy on the mound for Oregon State, and he’s a good option—but the Beavers could also throw Matt Boyd out there, who’s been just as good.
Louisville will not win this game if the regulars fail to hit again. It’s that simple. The Cardinals can’t score if they don’t hit. Either of the pitchers they face on Monday is tough against opposing hitters, which isn’t good, but the Cardinals have proven in the past they can hit against the best in the nation.
Prediction: Louisville 4, Oregon State 2