The 2014 College World Series will feature an exciting double dose of college baseball on Day 3, featuring powerhouse programs, legendary coaches and loads of strategic small ball for the tactically inclined baseball fan.
Vanderbilt will take on UC Irvine in Monday's first contest. UC Irvine was an at-large bid in this year's tournament after losing eight of their final nine regular-season games. The Anteaters have fared much better in postseason play and will look to continue their recent string of success against the Commodores.
Texas will square off against Louisville in the day's second game as both teams try to save face and stave off elimination from the prestigious tournament.
Here is the complete schedule for the 2014 College World Series along with the results from the first two days of the tournament.
|UC Irvine vs. Texas||June 14||3 p.m.||UCI 3-1 Texas|
|Louisville vs. Vanderbilt||June 14||8 p.m.||Vanderbilt 5-2 Louisville|
|Texas Tech vs. TCU||June 15||3 p.m.||TCU 3-2 Texas Tech|
|Virginia vs. Ole Miss||June 15||8 p.m.||Virginia 2-1 Ole Miss|
|Texas vs. Louisville||June 16||3 p.m.||TBD|
|Vanderbilt vs. UC Irvine||June 16||8 p.m.||TBD|
|Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss||June 17||3 p.m.||TBD|
|TCU vs. Virginia||June 17||8 p.m.||TBD|
|Game 9||June 18||8 p.m.||TBD|
|Game 10||June 19||8 p.m.||TBD|
|Game 11||June 20||3 p.m.||TBD|
|Game 12||June 20||8 p.m.||TBD|
|Game 13*||June 21||3 p.m.||TBD|
|Game 14*||June 21||8 p.m.||TBD|
|CWS Finals: Game 1||June 23||8 p.m.||TBD|
|CWS Finals: Game 2||June 24||8 p.m.||TBD|
|CWS Finals: Game 3*||June 25||8 p.m.||TBD|
NCAA.com, *if necessary
Check out NCAA.com for an interactive bracket.
Predictions for Day 3
Vanderbilt vs. UC Irvine
UC Irvine needed a late comeback in order to survive Texas on Day 1. Texas held a 1-0 advantage heading into the eighth inning, but UC Irvine's Taylor Sparks keyed a comeback by smashing his nation-leading ninth triple of the season.
The Anteaters would go on to score three runs and sealed the deal thanks to reliever Evan Brock, who pitched 2.1 innings and struck out the side in the ninth to preserve the 3-1 scoreline.
Sparks may have used a big extra-base hit to propel UC Irvine to victory, but that doesn't mean it's the team's usual method of operation.
Vanderbilt is wary of the devastating deployment of small-ball tactics by UC Irvine. The Anteaters are so well-known for their bunting acumen that the team's Twitter account has created a motto of sorts:
According to The Tennessean's Nick Cole, Vanderbilt made bunt defense a focal point of their preparation for UC Irvine. Commodores third baseman Xavier Turner will be a big part of their defensive success against UC Irvine, and he was well aware of the Anteater's propensity to bunt.
"I know the West Coast teams like to bunt a lot," said Turner, per Cole's report. "If they get a runner on first, they are going to try and bunt him over to second."
This could very well be a pitcher's duel broken up by key hits on Monday afternoon. UC Irvine and Vanderbilt are neck-and-neck in team pitching this year with 2.76 and 2.75 ERAs on the season, respectively.
Of the four teams playing on Day 3, which has the best chance of reaching the CWS Final?
Vanderbilt will rely on Bryan Reynolds and Dansby Swanson to power their offense; the two players have combined for 49 doubles and 87 RBI on the season. Swanson has played particularly well as of late—he knocked in a key two-run double in Vanderbilt's victory over Louisville on Day 1.
The cavernous TD Ameritrade Ball Park might not play any favorites in this one. It's tailor-made for teams ready to play small ball, but the UC Irvine outfield will have to be wary of line drives to the gap in the wide expanse of outfield grass.
Look for UC Irvine to utilize its speed on the base paths and in defense to stymie Vanderbilt and squeak by with a one-run victory.
Prediction: UC Irvine 3-2 Vanderbilt
Texas vs. Louisville
A double-elimination tournament offers every team a second chance, but only one of the teams in this matchup will make good on its lifeline and stay in the tournament.
Louisville's star slugger, Jeff Gardner, offered up two distinct phrases to describe his team's attitude toward the mistake-ridden loss to the Commodores.
"Just flush it," Gardner told Jeff Greer of The Courier-Journal. "Just turn the page and forget about it."
Louisville had the talent to hang with the Commodores but allowed Vanderbilt to score early on two separate two-out rallies while Commodores starter Carson Fulmer shut them down for four innings.
Vanderbilt jumped out to a 4-0 lead they would never relinquish, even though the Cardinals made things interesting by scoring two runs in the fifth and one run in the top of the seventh inning to pull the game close.
Gardner will be key to the Cardinals putting up runs on the scoreboard Monday; he leads the team with nine home runs and 68 RBI.
Gardner sounds mentally ready to take care of things at the plate, but the bigger question for Louisville is who will take care of business on the mound. According to Greer, Anthony Kidston will start against the Longhorns on Monday:
No surprise: #UofL will start RHP Anthony Kidston (9-0, 3.54 era) against Texas tomorrow in the CWS losers' bracket elimination game.— Jeff Greer (@jeffgreer_cj) June 15, 2014
Kidston is undefeated but not necessarily dominant on the mound. He will be glad Texas' offense looked stagnant against the Anteaters; the Longhorns notched just 21 home runs on the season and have a combined .267 average as a team. Kidston isn't quite the ace you want in an elimination game, but he should have a solid performance on Monday.
Texas may lack punch on offense, but they are unparalleled when it comes to postseason experience as a program. The Longhorns have six national titles and 35 College World Series appearances. These particular players may not have contributed to that success, but legendary coach Augie Garrido certainly has. He seems to have an unwavering belief in his squad, as per ESPN.com's Mitch Sherman:
After Irvine struck for three runs in the eighth inning to beat Garrido's Longhorns 3-1, the coach stopped short -- though just barely -- of predicting that Texas would romp through the bracket and leave Omaha with a national championship 11 days from now.
He reminded a reporter of the 1979 Cal State Fullerton team that lost its first game in Omaha en route to the crown and how nobody gave that group of Garrido-coached kids a shot after its opener.
Which team will be eliminated from the 2014 College World Series on Monday?
The Longhorns will do their best to be complete nuisances on the base paths against Louisville. Ben Johnson and Mark Payton have combined for 40 steals this season. Their aggressive nature makes up for the team's lack of power.
Louisville will be happy to have made it this far but won't be able to outsmart Garrido and his young ballplayers on Monday. Garrido will guide his talented squad to victory and keep Texas baseball in the College World Series.
Prediction: Texas 4-2 Louisville