And then there were four as the 2013 College World Series semifinals are set to begin Friday afternoon.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs and Oregon State Beavers will start at 3 p.m. ET, with the UCLA Bruins and North Carolina Tar Heels facing off five hours later.
It should be an entertaining series. You've got plenty of star players to watch out for, especially the ones that were picked in the early rounds of the 2013 MLB draft. You've also some very good offensive teams meeting opponents with very good pitching staffs.
Even if you don't follow the sport at the collegiate level, the College World Series should be considered must-watch television for any baseball fan.
|Game||Date||Time (ET)||Watch||Live Stream|
|Mississippi State vs. No. 3 Oregon State||June 21||3 p.m.||ESPN||ESPN3|
|UCLA vs. No. 1 North Carolina||June 21||8 p.m. ||ESPN||ESPN3|
|Mississippi State vs. No. 3 Oregon State (if nec.) ||June 22||3 p.m.||ESPN2||ESPN3|
|UCLA vs. No. 1 North Carolina (if nec.) ||June 22||8:30 p.m.||ESPN||ESPN3|
|College World Series Finals Game 1||June 24||8 p.m.||ESPN||ESPN3|
|College World Series Finals Game 2||June 25||8 p.m.||ESPN||ESPN3|
|College World Series Finals Game 3 (if nec.)||June 26||8 p.m.||ESPN||ESPN3|
Players to Watch
Mississippi State: Hunter Renfroe
Hunter Renfroe hasn't had a great tournament so far. In Mississippi State's two CWS games, he's only hit 2-for-8 and driven in a run.
As things stand, Renfroe is hitting .360 on the season with 15 home runs and 61 runs batted in. He had a good enough season for the San Diego Padres to select him with the 13th pick in the 2013 MLB draft.
Renfroe is a very good hitter with a lot of power. He's due for a huge game in the College World Series. If you're Oregon State, you have to be careful when pitching to the right fielder. Make a mistake and Renfroe can send it a long way.
Oregon State: Andrew Moore
The Oregonian's Jason Quick reported it's down to Andrew Moore and Jace Fry for the start in Friday's game.
Official Oregon State game notes just released and they list both Fry and Andrew Moore as potential starters— Jason Quick (@jwquick) June 20, 2013
Of the two, it would make the most sense to go with Moore. Although, he has already faced the Bulldogs once before, giving up four earned runs in 7.1 innings in Oregon State's 5-4 loss back on June 15.
With that previous start under his belt, Moore should be a little more settled down in his second CWS start.
If he's on his game, Moore can be electric. He's got a 14-1 record in 2013 with an earned run average of 1.57. The freshman ace has also thrown three complete game shutouts.
UCLA: David Berg
David Berg might only be a closer, but when he gets on the mound, you can pretty much call the game. Berg has stepped on the mound for both of UCLA's two College World Series wins, pitching three scoreless innings and giving up two hits.
The sophomore is tied for first in the country in saves, with 23. He's allowed opposing hitters to bat just .193 in 74.1 innings.
UCLA has won its two games both by 2-1 scorelines. The Bruins don't have a great offense, so they need to keep the score low in order to have a chance. They've got a good staff that knows if they can hang onto a lead going into the eighth or ninth inning, the game is all but over in the hands of Berg.
Closers can often be interchangeable. When it comes to Berg, the Bruins have something special. Not to say that Berg is as good as Mariano Rivera, but when he steps on the mound, there's a similar sense of impending doom for the opposing team.
North Carolina: Colin Moran
There are few players better than Colin Moran. He boasts a .350 average to go along with his 13 home runs and 91 runs batted in.
Moran hasn't shied away in the CWS, either. He's hit 6-for-12 with three runs batted in.
It's no coincidence that in the Tar Heels' first loss to the NC State Wolfpack, the third baseman went 0-for-3. When Moran is clicking, North Carolina as a whole is clicking.
The matchup with UCLA will be so much fun to watch, because you've got very good pitching going up against very good hitting. Good pitching tends to win that battle, but if Moran can get a couple of hits and drive in a run or two, UNC will be in business.