College World Series 2014: Predicting Which Teams Will Advance to Finals

David DanielsSenior Writer IJune 21, 2014

Jun 20, 2014; Omaha, NE, USA; Texas Longhorns pitcher John Curtiss (43) pitches in relief against the Vanderbilt Commodores during game eleven of the 2014 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. Texas defeated Vanderbilt 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
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One game separates three teams from the 2014 College World Series final.

The fourth team still alive is Mississippi, which needs to beat Virginia twice to advance.

Here are predictions for each win-or-go-home showdown in Omaha, Nebraska.

 

Jun 20, 2014; Omaha, NE, USA; Fans wait out a rain delay during game twelve of the 2014 College World Series between the Mississippi Rebels and the Virginia Cavaliers at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
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Virginia vs. Mississippi

This matchup could've already been decided if it wasn't for a rain delay. Virginia and Ole Miss will resume play on Saturday in the second inning tied at 0-0. And it's sure to go down to the wire.

These two teams faced off in their Omaha opener, and it was a nail-biter. The score remained knotted at 1-1 into the bottom of the ninth inning. But then Cavaliers outfielder Mike Papi put them ahead with a walk-off hit that sent pinch runner Thomas Woodruff home.

Virginia went on to win its next game and Ole Miss its next two, and now they're head-to-head again. The Rebels plan on forcing a third game, but a second consecutive Cavaliers victory is more likely.

Jun 17, 2014; Omaha, NE, USA; Virginia Cavaliers pitcher Brandon Waddell (20) pitches against the TCU Horned Frogs during game eight of the 2014 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. Virginia defeated TCU 3-2 in 15 innings. Mandatory Credit: S
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Virginia's pitching has only allowed three runs in Omaha. Ole Miss allowed four to TCU alone. Assuming they let finish who started on Friday, the Cavaliers will have a significant edge on the mound.

They started Josh Sborz, who started 13 games this season and struck out 67 batters in 71.0 innings. He only needed seven pitches to get out of the first inning on Friday. 

Rebels' pitcher Jeremy Massie isn't nearly as experienced. He only started seven games this season and pitched 42.2 innings. Prior to the rain delay, he had already faced seven batters and allowed three to get on base via two hits and a base on balls.

Both of these teams are extremely talented. They had a combined 17 players hear their names called in the 2014 MLB Draft. But right now, Virginia is playing better baseball.

Prediction: Virginia by one

 

Jun 20, 2014; Omaha, NE, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores pitcher Brian Miller (33) throws against the Texas Longhorns Vanderbilt Commodores during game eleven of the 2014 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TOD
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Vanderbilt vs. Texas

Vanderbilt could've clinched a College World Series Finals berth on Friday. It got delayed, though, not by rain, but by Texas' dominant pitching. The Commodores' once explosive offense didn't score a run in their 4-0 defeat.

The Longhorns' Nathan Thornhill allowed just six hits in 8.0 innings and struck out five batters. According to ESPN, Texas is only batting .198 in the College World Series, but all that matters is that it's still scoring more than its opponents.

Jun 20, 2014; Omaha, NE, USA; Texas Longhorns infielder Brooks Marlow (8) throws to first base against the Vanderbilt Commodores during game eleven of the 2014 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. Texas defeated Vanderbilt 4-0. Mandatory Cred
USA TODAY Sports

Texas will have another strong arm on the mound on Saturday. It'll start Parker French, who has a 2.37 ERA in 16 starts this season. He allows an opposing batting average of just .233. 

This is a horrible matchup for Vanderbilt. Its hitting has carried the team in Omaha, scoring 11 runs in two games—no ballclub had nearly as many runs per game.

But at the same time, the Commodores' pitching was surrendering 3.5 runs per game. Texas' four runs on Friday were just par for the course. And against a Longhorns pitching staff that has allowed only one run in its last three games, that's a problem.

Prediction: Texas by two

 

David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.