After four games in the opening round, just seven teams remain in the College World Series, with one more set to be eliminated on Tuesday night in Omaha.
Two of the top overall seeds in TCU and Virginia are set to square off in the late game, but not before the losers bracket matchup between Texas Tech and Ole Miss. With nearly every game in the early going being a low-scoring affair, TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha is once again playing as a pitcher's paradise.
Before the games officially get underway on Tuesday afternoon, here's a look at the schedule and predictions for both matchups.
|Visitor||Home||Time (ET)||TV||Live Stream|
|No. 2 Texas Tech||No. 1 Ole Miss||3 p.m.||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|No. 1 TCU||No. 1 Virginia||8 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss
The losers bracket is unforgiving. For both teams in the opening match on Tuesday afternoon, it's literally win or go home.
After both teams dropped their opening games, Texas Tech and Ole Miss are set to duel in Omaha for a chance to remain in the tournament. One of the biggest points of emphasis for both programs heading in will be finding something offensively.
Ole Miss came away with just one hit against Virginia, while Texas Tech has scored a combined four runs in its last three games. Aaron Fitt of Baseball America provides a breakdown of how the last game finished for the Red Raiders:
Pretty exciting 8th inning here at TDAP, as Texas Tech took lead with 2 in T8, and TCU answered with 2 in B8 to win 3-2. Fun game.— Aaron Fitt (@aaronfitt) June 15, 2014
Despite great pitching for Texas Tech in the early going, the bats haven't quite come around. Even on a field like TD Ameritrade Park, scoring less than two runs per game over the last three adds pressure to any starting staff.
For Ole Miss, offensive struggles have been slightly less abundant. While the Rebels wrapped up a super regional win with a 10-run explosion against Louisiana-Lafayette, they were only able to come away with one hit and one run against Virginia.
Coach Mike Bianco spoke about the decision to pitch to Mike Papi in the final frame, per Michael Bonner of The Clarion-Ledger:
I don't regret that. I don't think it was either or. I think it was a decision where we got beat. …
You guys think it's choose to pitch to him or we were going to go to (Joe) McCarthy. What we wanted to do is let's pitch him real tough. If we walk him, then we'll pitch to McCarthy real tough. If we walk him then we can go to Fisher. I thought Aaron pitched great against him and he was one pitch away from getting out of hit.
For Ole Miss, the team still clearly has the offense to get the job done. The last time the Rebels had their backs against the wall, they rattled off two straight victories over the national seed Ragin' Cajuns.
If the Rebels can find the same plate approach that helped them score 15 runs in the final two games of the super regional, this should be a win for Ole Miss, with a chance to avenge their loss later in Omaha.
Prediction: Ole Miss 6, Texas Tech 3
TCU vs. Virginia
Both programs came into the NCAA tournament as No. 1 seeds in their regional and have held suit at the College World Series thus far.
The hero in Game 1 for Virginia also happens to be a consistent force at the plate. Papi, who hit the walk-off double against Ole Miss, holds the team lead in average (.314), home runs (11), RBI (55) and on-base percentage (.456) among players with 10 or more plate appearances on the season.
Following the game-clinching hit, the No. 38 overall pick by the Cleveland Indians in the 2014 MLB draft spoke about his approach, per Andrew Ramspacher of The Daily Progress:
I was looking for a pitch in the middle of the plate, something I could cut in half and line to the outfield somewhere. … I was just hoping and praying it was going to fall somewhere out there in this cavernous park.
You don’t know what to say, but having done it in the College World Series makes it even that much better.
While the walk-off double in the opening game was good enough to earn the win for the Cavaliers, there was some outcry from college baseball fans about the hit. Some believe the hit should have been a walk-off homer for Papi, as Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game notes:
Talked to a few HCs via text. Two said “Papi’s ball should easily be out of every park, if something doesn’t change it’ll kill our game.”— Kendall Rogers (@KendallRogersPG) June 16, 2014
On the TCU side, the Horned Frogs secured yet another nail-biting win to narrowly edge out Texas Tech. After Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Preston Morrison was lifted after 7.1 innings, TCU lost the 1-0 lead but regained it in the bottom half of the eighth to secure the victory.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle, who coached the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team last summer, noted his team is comfortable with tight margins late in games, per CBSSports.com:
That's the kind of baseball we've played all year. I'm not telling you I'm comfortable with it, but these guys are. They don't panic a bit. It's just, hey, let's put together some good at-bats and see what happens. I just try to stay out of the way. …
Teams with really good starting pitching and a good closer can win baseball games. If that's destiny, I'll take it. If you get hot and you play the best, then you can be the national champion.
While the Horned Frogs have put together a spectacular tournament thus far, the Hoos simply have too much firepower offensively. Papi and Derek Fisher—who were both taken early in the MLB draft—will come up big again as the Cavs continue on toward a CWS final berth.
Prediction: Virginia 4, TCU 2
Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.