The College World Series is getting closer to its climax, as the baseball tournament is down to its final four teams.
While this is a major accomplishment for Oregon State, Florida, TCU and LSU, it doesn't come with the notoriety of college basketball or college football. It also doesn't come with equality.
Oregon State and Florida are undefeated to this point in the tournament, and both of those teams will be on to the championship with wins on Friday. However, if TCU and LSU are going to play in the championship round, those teams will have to win on Friday and Saturday.
TCU meets Florida at 8 p.m. ET at TD Ameritrade Park, while LSU faces Oregon State at 3 p.m ET. Both games will be televised by ESPN.
TCU defeated the Louisville Cardinals 4-3 Thursday night to earn its matchup with the Gators. The Horned Frogs jumped out to a 4-0 lead and then held off the hard-hitting Cardinals as they attempted to rally and come from behind.
TCU received an excellent relief effort from pitcher Sean Wymer, who had 4.1 innings of shutout pitching to stop the Cardinals.
Wymer struck out national player of the year Brendan McKay twice during his stint on the mound, and that went a long way towards helping the Horned Frogs gain the victory.
McKay had blasted his 18th home run earlier in the game, but when he came up in both the fifth and eighth innings against Wymer, he was unable to solve the pitcher.
TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle knows Wymer can pitch in any role and will be a starter in the future.
"He's a guy that can pitch in any role," Schlossnagle said, per Carlos Mendez of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "We plan on him being a starting pitcher next year. To be able to throw three pitches for strikes, that's what a good starter looks like."
The Horned Frogs now face the difficult task of trying to beat the Gators two games in a row. Florida is 2-0 in the CWS to this point, and they are sending Jackson Kowar to the mound.
The right-hander has a 12-0 record this season, and if Kowar is not successful Friday, the Gators will have the option of starting Alex Faedo on the mound on Saturday. Faedo, who was drafted by the Detroit Tigers, blanked TCU earlier in the tournament.
Oregon State looks like an unstoppable juggernaut at this point, as the Beavers have won 24 games in a row.
Samuel McKewon @swmckewonOWH
Is Oregon State the best college baseball team ever? @tomshatelOWH talks to a former coach who weighs in. https://t.co/EtJn61ue0z https://t.co/h5GOYfYSrf2017-6-18 15:00:04
Their last victory was a 13-1 blowout win over the Tigers, and the biggest problem that Beavers coach Pat Casey may have in getting to the championship round of the CWS is overconfidence on the part of his players.
However, beating the Tigers may not be as easy this time around, because LSU is sending Alex Lange to the mound. Lange was the first-round draft choice of the Chicago Cubs last week, and he says he is prepared for the opportunity.
"I'm ready to go," Lange said, per Mitch Sherman of ESPN.com. "I'm excited for this opportunity. This is the team I've wanted to pitch against, them being No. 1 in the nation."
It will be difficult for either TCU or LSU to make it to the CWS title round.
Since the CWS has been using the two-bracket format since 1988, 42 teams that have started the tournament with consecutive victories have made it to the championship round. Only 16 teams that came from the loser's bracket have found a way to get there.
While LSU is sending an excellent pitcher in Lange to the mound, the Beavers have proved they can win under nearly any circumstance. This should be a much tighter game than the 13-1 defeat of the Tigers earlier in the week, but Oregon State will survive and advance.
Florida appears to have its pitching set up as well. TCU is determined to come through and find a way to overcome the tournament history, but the Horned Frogs are not going to beat Kowar and Faedo.
TCU might scratch out a win on Friday, but the Gators will not let the Horned Frogs beat them twice.
Look for Oregon State and Florida to make it to the championship round.