Three top teams are already on the brink of elimination after the opening weekend of the 2013 College World Series in Omaha.
Oregon State, North Carolina and LSU all surprisingly dropped their tournament openers, putting themselves in must-win situations on Monday and Tuesday.
Monday’s action will feature Games 5 and 6 of the tourney, with No. 3 seed Oregon State battling Louisville in the loser’s bracket, and Mississippi State and Indiana squaring off to advance to the next round without a loss.
Can the Beavers ward off elimination by surviving Louisville? Or will another slip-up lead to a disappointing exit against the Cardinals?
Take a look at a couple of key players who need to step up their game during Monday to ensure their clubs' survival in Omaha.
Dylan Davis, OF, Oregon State
Oregon State’s Dylan Davis was one of the biggest producers for the Beavers this season. Hitting from the clean-up spot, Davis had an abysmal game against Mississippi State. He struck out in the ninth inning and left six men stranded throughout the game, finishing 0-for-5 at the plate.
When you’re as aggressive as he is at the plate you’ll have bad games like that, but he simply needs to be better, especially with runners on base.
We’ve seen how clutch he can be; his walk-off double against Texas-San Antonio in early June propelled his team past the Corvallis Regional.
With elimination staring Davis’ team in the face, he may need to come up with another clutch hit in Omaha. Any hit from their sophomore star would be welcomed by the Beavers, though.
Coco Johnson, OF, Louisville
When a team’s three and four hitters go hitless, generally things aren’t going to turn out well offensively. Louisville’s Coco Johnson and Ty Young failed to reach base in eight total plate appearances between the two.
Of course, only seven Cardinals—three on walks—found success at the plate against Indiana’s Joey DeNato during their shutout opening-game loss to the Hoosiers.
Johnson carried his team offensively during their sweeps of Bowling Green and Vanderbilt. He was tabbed as a potential top performer prior to entering the College World Series after recording three home runs, seven hits and six RBI during the team’s five previous games.
He’ll need to be the spark offensively for the Cardinals if they hope to survive Oregon State’s excellent pitching.
Dustin DeMuth, 3B, Indiana
Indiana’s Dustin DeMuth was hitless during his team’s narrow 2-0 victory over Louisville. The Hoosiers aren’t going to continually post shutouts as they get deeper in the bracket, making DeMuth’s emergence at the plate a key.
He is a major reason why the Big Ten is making an appearance at the CWS for the first time in nearly 30 years, leading the Hoosiers with a .389 batting average, including 91 hits and 24 doubles.
That team-leading average is falling quickly during the postseason, according to Zach Osterman of InsideIndiana.com.
Dustin DeMuth's team-leading batting average has fallen more than 10 points in the postseason. #iubsb— ZachOsterman (@ZachOsterman) June 16, 2013
Drafted in the eighth round of the 2013 MLB draft, DeMuth is a junior and is likely contemplating returning to Indiana next season. Improving from his poor first game in Omaha is crucial for his team’s chances at succeeding there, but also important for helping shape his future.
The biggest stars step up on the biggest stages. We’ll see what the third baseman is all about as this tournament progresses.