The eight teams set to play in the 2014 College World Series have braved a tough schedule over the course of the past several weeks. The teams remaining represent the best of the best of college baseball, and they'll surely deliver exciting results during the course of the tournament.
The College World Series is double-elimination until the final two teams remain. At that point, wins and losses are reset for a best-of-three series. Last year, UCLA triumphed over Mississippi State in two games. Surprisingly, neither team is back in the College World Series this year.
Louisville happens to be the only team returning from last year's festivities. They'll start their run against Vanderbilt on Saturday.
While college baseball often takes a backseat to other college sports, the College World Series is the event that gets eyes on the sport. Omaha delivers us fantastic baseball year after year, and 2014 should be no different.
Below you'll find everything you need to know in order to keep up with the action.
Note: All games can be watched via the WatchESPN app.
|June 14||3 p.m.||ESPN2||UC Irvine (40-23) vs. Texas (43-19)|
|June 14||8 p.m.||ESPN2||Louisville (50-15) vs. Vanderbilt (46-19)|
|June 15||3 p.m.||ESPN2||Texas Tech (45-19) vs. TCU (47-16)|
|June 15||8 p.m.||ESPN2||Virginia (49-14) vs. Ole Miss (46-19)|
|June 16||3 p.m.||ESPN2||Game 5|
|June 16||8 p.m.||ESPN2||Game 6|
|June 17||3 p.m.||ESPN2||Game 7|
|June 17||8 p.m.||ESPN||Game 8|
|June 18||8 p.m.||ESPN||Game 9|
|June 19||8 p.m.||ESPN||Game 10|
|June 20||3 p.m.||ESPNU||Game 11|
|June 20||8 p.m.||ESPN||Game 12|
|June 21||3 p.m.||ESPN2||Game 13 (if necessary)|
|June 21||8 p.m.||ESPN||Game 14 (if necessary)|
|June 23||8 p.m.||ESPN||CWS Finals: Game 1|
|June 24||8 p.m.||ESPN||CWS Finals: Game 2|
|June 25||8 p.m.||ESPN||CWS Finals: Game 3 (if necessary)|
An updated bracket for the 2014 College World Series can be found here, courtesy of NCAA.com.
Teams to Watch
The University of Virginia Cavaliers are making their third trip in six seasons to Omaha, Nebraska, for the finale of the college baseball season. This team is as good as—if not better than—the other teams in the field. Head coach Brian O'Connor agrees, as he told Tom Robinson of The Virginian-Pilot that he thinks his team is equipped to win it all: "I think this is a team that's built to win in Omaha. I think in all phases of the game, this team is pretty special. I'm excited to see them go out to Omaha and compete for the national championship."
Entering the year as the preseason No. 1, the Cavs had all the pressure in the world on them. They faltered late and finished as the No. 3 team in the country, but that's really not a significant drop-off from their initial expectations.
The team has ridden quality pitching and timely hitting to where they are today. In their super regionals Game 3 win against Maryland, it was sophomore pitcher Josh Sborz who came up big. In other instances, it has been other arms that have stepped up.
As the highest seed remaining, the Cavs are the team to beat.
The Louisville Cardinals have only made three trips to the College World Series, all of which have come since 2007. The program hasn't been very successful in those trips, though, as Jeff Greer of The Courier-Journal wrote:
It's the program's third appearance on college baseball's biggest stage — all since 2007 — and the Cards (50-15) hope the third time is the charm. They went a combined 1-4 in their previous two visits to Omaha, even after going undefeated in the NCAA Tournament buildup to last year's CWS.
Freshman Nick Solak was the hero of the supers, delivering a two-run double to give his team the lead against Kennesaw State in Game 1. He then came up big again in Game 2, crushing a two-run homer to left field to put his team up by one.
Solak isn't the only guy contributing for the Cardinals, however. This team is solid up and down. Guys like Kyle Gibson and Cole Sturgeon also step up from time to time.
Their bullpen is a big part of what makes them so good. It's headlined by Nick Burdi, a flamethrowing right-hander who was selected No. 46 overall by the Minnesota Twins in the 2014 MLB draft. He can touch 100 mph on the gun, and he'll be used whenever Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell feels his team needs to get out of a jam.
The UC Irvine Anteaters have one of the best weapons remaining in the tournament at their disposal—ace Andrew Morales.
Morales, the Big West Pitcher of the Year, started two games in the Corvallis Regional last week before getting the ball for Game 2 of the supers against Oklahoma State. Morales didn't mind the extra work, even if it would represent a lot for a typical starter.
The right-hander needed 112 pitches to shut the door on the Cowboys. His team won, 1-0.
Cowboys coach Josh Holliday praised Morales' performance following the game, via John Helsley of The Oklahoman:
(Morales) had his fastball in and out. He has a changeup you have to be responsible towards. And he had a tight slider that was tough on right-handers.
He’s a very skilled pitcher. He’s unique. He made the ball do a lot of things. He made his pitches. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to a young man who goes out and works like that guy did.
We'll have to see if the increased workload gets to Morales here in the College World Series, but you can rest assured that he'll be given the ball in tough spots.