Today, we continue our preview of the 2008 College World Series by taking a look at two teams who each look to knock off the ACC Big Three and restore their own baseball legacy in Georgia and Stanford.
(41-23-1, No. 8 National Seed, 6th CWS Appearance, third in the last five seasons, 1990 National Champions)
The Hurricanes won't have any easy task in their opening round game versus these Bulldogs, who are rolling over (and NOT playing dead) their opponents en route to their third trip to Omaha in the last five seasons.
The Dawgs are sparked offensively by SS and first-round pick Gordon Beckham (.401 BA, 26 HR, 72 RBI, 17-19 SB), who can do it all both with the stick and with his glove. If you want to avoid having that Dawg sic' you, then you have to deal with 1B Rich Poythress (.370/15/67), C Bryce Massanari (.343/11/65), and 3B Ryan Peisel (.335/10/49), who all can do damage at the plate for Georgia.
While the talk of the town as of late has been their offense, you can't sleep on their staff, which has improved over the season under coach David Perno. SP Steven Dodson (5-4, 4.25 era) and Trevor Holder (8-4, 4.34) head up the Dawgs' staff, with Nathan Moreau and Alex McRee rounding it out.
Their bullpen begins and ends with closer Joshua Fields (16 saves, 2.76 ERA), who has the goods to be a closer in the majors early in his career (Seattle picked him 20th overall). If Georgia wants to bring home the title, they have to prove they can do more than just hit the long ball and get the ball into Fields' hands A.S.A.P when they lead late in the game.
No matter what, rest assured that about half of Athens will make the trip north to root on the Dawgs.
(39-22-2, defeated No. 5 Fullerton in Super Regional, 16th CWS Appearance, '87 & '88 National Champions)
Heading into the 2008 season, the Cardinal were looking regroup from two things that haven't happened in a while—2007's team became the first to miss the NCAA Tournament since 1993, and their senior class became the first to not make it to Omaha during their four years since the class of 1981.
That all came to an end once they finished their sweep of No. 5 national seed Cal-State Fullerton in the Super Regional and clinched their first trip to Rosenblatt since 2003.
What makes this trip more amazing is that they did it just getting back ace SP Jeremy Bleich (3-2, 0.92 ERA in seven appearances), who missed half the season with elbow issues. That has allowed coach...ERRR Clark and Elizabeth Nelson Director of Baseball (I'm not making it up, go to the Stanford Web site and see) Mark Marquess to develop a deep and effective pitching staff.
Erik Davis, Jeffrey Inman, and Austin Yount will all be asked to step up against the Noles and in bracket play if they want to bring Stanford their third national championship.
Offensively, Stanford will bring their own set of boppers, headed up by C Jason Castro (.379/13/69/99 Hits) who has started every game behind the plate for the Cardinal this season. Cord Phillips (13 HR, 53 RBI), Brent Milleville (10 HR, 52 RBI), and Sean Ratliff (21 HR, 66 RBI) all provide protection for Castro and the rest of the Stanford lineup.
Their bats better be able to match up with FSU swing-for-swing, or else it will be 2-n-BBQ (or for those Cali people, grilling) for the Cardinal.
Tomorrow—North Carolina and Rice
(And for you Erin Andrews fans, patience, your time will come)