On May 30, there were 64 teams fighting for the chance to play for a national championship. On June 6, the field was reduced to 16. Now, only eight remain, and they’ve made it to Omaha, Nebraska, for the 2014 College World Series.
The tournament has been filled with late-game heroics and plenty of upsets, as just two of the eight national seeds remain (Virginia and TCU). Per the Associated Press, via FoxNews.com, every College World Series since 1999 has had more top teams still in play than it has this year.
The action begins Saturday with two Game 1s in what is sure to be a thrilling start to the College World Series. Below is a full schedule and a preview of Saturday’s games.
|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)|
UC Irvine (40-23) vs. Texas (43-19), 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2
UC Irvine defeated Oklahoma State in the super regional to make its second-ever trip to Omaha. The Anteaters—who finished third in 2007—advanced behind their ace and Big West Pitcher of the Year Andrew Morales.
Morales performed like he has all season, striking out eight batters in a five-hit, 1-0 shutout to earn his third complete game of the year, per the school’s athletic department.
Which team has the best shot at a title?
Pitching has been the story for the Anteaters all tournament, as the team has given up just 15 runs in six games. Pair that with an offense that has scored 37 runs and UC Irvine will be a tough out for the Texas Longhorns.
The Longhorns are no strangers to the College World Series, reaching Omaha for the 35th time in school history but the first since 2011. The team swept Houston in the super regional, and like UC Irvine, it has used dominant pitching to advance through the tournament.
The Longhorns have allowed only nine total runs, which has enabled the team to win despite an offense that hasn’t been overwhelming.
A six-time national champion, Texas has the experience and pedigree that can intimidate opponents. But in a series dominated by great pitching, UC Irvine’s bats may give the Anteaters the advantage.
Louisville (50-15) vs. Vanderbilt (46-19), 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2
The Louisville Cardinals are the only team to return to the College World Series from a year ago, making their third appearance in program history, all coming since 2007. However, the Cardinals are just 1-4 in this stage of the tournament and have yet to win a national championship.
The team cruised through the regional and super regional and is a combined 10-0 in the first two rounds of the tournament since 2013, according to the Louisville athletic department.
Pitcher Kyle Funkhouser gets the nod in Game 1, according to the team on Twitter.
Kyle Funkhouser talks to the media before today's practice. Funk will get the start on Saturday night at the CWS. pic.twitter.com/7ZIErQ4rfP— Louisville Baseball (@UofLBaseball) June 11, 2014
Funkhouser is the team’s ace—going 13-2 on the season with an earned run average of just 1.73—and he will provide a challenge for the Vanderbilt Commodores.
The Commodores reached the College World Series for just the second time in school history (2011) after ousting Stanford in three games. Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin recognizes the importance of such an achievement, per Nick Cole of The Tennessean:
To be playing in probably the heaven of college baseball is a tremendous opportunity for us. I don’t want to build it up so much so that they can’t play — and they’ll be able to play — but there is a build up to it because you have to recognize the work it took to get to this point.
The team found its rhythm offensively, scoring 27 runs in the Stanford series. It will be tough to replicate that kind of production against Funkhouser and the Cardinals, but the Commodores certainly have the momentum to put up similar numbers.
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