The 2014 College World Series kicked off with a pair of thrilling games Saturday, and the action will continue with two more contests Sunday.
In this double-elimination format, getting off to a fast start is of the utmost importance. A loss Sunday will suddenly set a team on the brink of elimination with a daunting trip to the losers bracket.
With so much at stake, we're likely in for some intense baseball.
To ensure that not a single pitch is missed, let's take a look at the day's schedule and updated tournament bracket, followed by a prediction for how each game is likely to unfold.
The full interactive tournament bracket can be found at NCAA.com.
|3||3 p.m.||ESPN2||Texas Tech (45-19) vs. TCU (47-16)|
|4||8 p.m.||ESPN2||Virginia (49-14) vs. Ole Miss (46-19)|
Texas Tech vs. TCU
The Red Raiders will have to contend with some extremely strong pitching right out of the gate. According to Stefan Stevenson of the Star-Telegram, TCU ace Preston Morrison is set to take the mound Sunday.
TCU Baseball's Twitter account confirmed the news:
Morrison has been stellar this season, earning a 9-4 record while posting a 1.32 ERA over 17 games. He may not be a strikeout artist—he's struck out 85 batters while allowing 85 hits—but his control and command over his pitches are fantastic.
The Big 12 Pitcher of the Year is one big reason why TCU leads the nation with a team ERA of just 2.19.
Morrison will face off against a Texas Tech team that boasts a couple of good sluggers in Eric Gutierrez and Adam Kirsch, but the team will have to do better than its combined .287 batting average to get past Morrison on Sunday.
Expect him to shine bright on the mound while TCU's small-ball offense generates a few runs against the Red Raiders defense.
TCU 3, Texas Tech 0
Virginia vs. Ole Miss
Virginia may be on upset alert here.
The Cavaliers are favored to win it all this year—and with good reason. The team boasts the nation's fifth-best ERA of 2.31 and can generate enough runs on offense to provide its pitchers with a reasonable amount of support.
But Virginia will take on a very well-rounded Ole Miss squad Sunday.
Right-hander Chris Ellis—a third-round pick of the Los Angeles Angels—will take the mound for the Rebels. The junior has been very efficient this year, with a 10-2 record and 2.45 ERA.
Brian Tolley of the Clarion Ledger expanded on Ellis' stats with this graphic:
With Ellis on the mound and an Ole Miss offense that ranks 14th in the nation with a .303 batting average, Virginia will have its hands full.
The Cavaliers will start lefty and co-ACC Pitcher of the Year Nathan Kirby against the Rebels. Kirby boasts a 9-2 record and an impressive 1.73 ERA this season. However, he was blown up by Maryland in his last outing, giving up five runs in 4.2 innings.
Will he rebound against a solid hitting team?
During a media session with Andrew Ramspacher of the Times Dispatch, Kirby spoke of his mentality heading into the game.
"I'm really nervous," he said. "But I think once I get here and get in my routine, I think it'll come back to me. But right now, I'm kind of just soaking everything in."
If he can't shake those nerves, it will be Ole Miss emerging victorious Sunday.
Ole Miss 4, Virginia 3