The 2014 College World Series is entering its home stretch, as after Thursday's action, there will be just four teams remaining in pursuit of the title in Omaha.
It has been a long road to Omaha. Teams have made it past regionals and super regionals to get this far, and now they have braved the rigors of the double-elimination portion of the tournament. With so much baseball in a one-month stretch, the most well-prepared teams are the ones that move on.
An updated bracket for the tournament can be found here, courtesy of NCAA.com, and an updated schedule for the remainder of the tournament can be found below. Don't miss another pitch of this tournament.
|Game||Date||Time (ET)||Result||TV Info|
|UC Irvine vs. Texas||June 14||3 p.m.||UCI 3-1 Texas||ESPN 2|
|Louisville vs. Vanderbilt||June 14||8 p.m.||Vanderbilt 5-2 Louisville||ESPN 2|
|Texas Tech vs. TCU||June 15||3 p.m.||TCU 3-2 Texas Tech||ESPN 2|
|Virginia vs. Ole Miss||June 15||8 p.m.||Virginia 2-1 Ole Miss||ESPN 2|
|Texas vs. Louisville||June 16||3 p.m.||Texas 4-1 Louisville||ESPN 2|
|Vanderbilt vs. UC Irvine||June 16||8 p.m.||Vanderbilt 6-4 UC Irvine||ESPN 2|
|Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss||June 17||3 p.m.||Ole Miss 2-1 Texas Tech||ESPN 2|
|TCU vs. Virginia||June 17||8 p.m.||Virginia 3-2 TCU||ESPN|
|Texas vs. UC Irvine||June 18||8 p.m.||Texas 1-0 UC Irvine||ESPN|
|Ole Miss vs. TCU||June 19||8 p.m.||TBD||ESPN|
|Vanderbilt vs. Texas||June 20||3 p.m.||TBD||ESPNU|
|Virginia vs. TCU/Ole Miss||June 20||8 p.m.||TBD||ESPN|
|Game 13*||June 21||3 p.m.||TBD||ESPN2|
|Game 14*||June 21||8 p.m.||TBD||ESPN|
|CWS Finals: Game 1||June 23||8 p.m.||TBD||ESPN|
|CWS Finals: Game 2||June 24||8 p.m.||TBD||ESPN|
|CWS Finals: Game 3*||June 25||8 p.m.||TBD||ESPN|
Vanderbilt, Texas and Virginia have already punched their tickets to the semifinals. Vanderbilt and Texas will square off on Friday, while Virginia must first wait for the winner of Ole Miss and TCU on Thursday.
The Longhorns have scored just six runs in their last three games, including a 1-0 win over UC Irvine to advance. That has been enough, however, as their pitching has been fantastic. Against Vanderbilt, they'll likely have their ace on the bump. Nick Cole of The Tennessean broke down Nathan Thornhill's credentials:
The Longhorns likely will bring their No. 1 pitcher to Friday's matchup with six days of rest from this past Saturday's appearance.
Texas starter Nathan Thornhill cruised through seven shutout innings before allowing two runs in the eighth as he took a 3-1 loss in the opener to UC Irvine. The right-hander is 8-3 with a 1.63 ERA.
Should the Commodores take care of business against a tough pitcher in Thornhill, the going will be no easier in the finals.
TCU or Ole Miss will have difficulties defeating Virginia, especially considering that the Cavaliers will likely have their top pitchers rested for the matchup. Nathan Kirby and Nick Howard—a first-round draft choice of the Cincinnati Reds—will likely be the duo called upon to close the door on either the Horned Frogs or the Rebels.
#Reds 1st round pick Nick Howard pitched season high 4 innings/60 pitches for Virginia tonight. He'd thrown 30.2 IN 28 games all season.— Lance McAlister (@LanceMcAlister) June 18, 2014
TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle spoke about how dominant those arms can be, via David Teel of the Daily Press: "Yeah, premium arms. It’s hard to get upset at your offense when you’re facing that kind of pitching."
Which ace would win in potential Texas vs. Virginia final?
For now, let's say that Texas and Virginia both advance into the College World Series final. While it is a three-game series, both aces (Thornhill and Kirby) might be unavailable given their workload in the semifinals.
Unless the coaches are willing to throw either of them on shorter rest, the earliest they would be able to throw is Game 3 of the series. If that game is necessary, it would make for one of the better CWS-deciding games in recent memory.
Anything can happen from now until then, however, so we shouldn't jump ahead of ourselves too quickly. While Texas vs. Virginia might be the most compelling matchup, there are still several games to be played before the finals.
Don't miss a single pitch of the action. All it takes is one pitch to dictate the outcome of the entire tournament.