College World Series 2013: Biggest Surpises Thus Far in Omaha

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2013

Jun 21, 2013; Omaha, NE, USA; UCLA Bruins pitcher Grant Watson(12) throws against the North Carolina Tarheels during the College World Series game at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The Mississippi State Bulldogs and UCLA Bruins are the last two college baseball teams standing, and will face each other in a best-of-three series for the College World Series title.

Things rarely go according to plan in Omaha, but this year's proceedings have been particularly strange. UCLA and Mississippi State were both among those counted as underdogs to start out, but while favorites like North Carolina and Oregon State have bowed out—at UCLA and Mississippi State's hands, no less—they have managed to stay unbeaten.

Here's a look at the biggest surprises from a wildly entertaining run in Omaha.

Unranked and Undefeated?

Mississippi State vs. UCLA is an unlikely final, even in a vacuum. Neither team was a favorite coming into Omaha, so to see them both left standing is quite a feat.

But the Bruins and Bulldogs didn't just make their way to the CWS Finals—they swept their way to the CWS Finals.

West Coast UCLA took it to a triad of Southeastern teams in the double elimination tournament, scoring wins over North Carolina State, LSU and North Carolina. They rode the strength of some dominant pitching to make it this far, surrendering just one run in each of those three contests.

Now only one Southeastern school, Mississippi State, stands in the Bruins' way.

The Bulldogs of Mississippi State also swept their way to the finals, beating third-ranked Oregon State twice in the process. The Beavers won a school-record 52 games in 2013, but came up empty in two tries against Mississippi State in their untimely demise.

Whether UCLA and Mississippi State are the two best teams in college baseball...that part is still up for debate. Contrarians would certainly have the large sample size of this season on their side.

But they're certainly playing the best baseball right now, which is ultimately all that matters.

LSU Goes Out With a Whimper

The Tigers were on a mission of vengeance, seemingly hellbent to redeem themselves from last year's stunning upset at the hands of Stony Brook. Their bounceback campaign went according to plan, through the season and early parts of the postseason.

Then Omaha happened.

Instead of a roar, the Tigers went out with a whimper, dropping both of their games in the final stages of postseason play. LSU's bats fell silent at the worst possible time, scoring a combined three runs in two losses to UCLA and North Carolina.

As noted by Fox Sports, Alex Bregman, Raph Rhymes and Christian Ibarra—three of the LSU's most potent hitters—went a combined 0-for-24 in Omaha.


LSU came to Omaha as one of three seeded teams among the eight. With two consecutive losses, they lef as one of two teams to go winless among the eight.

Back to the drawing board in Baton Rogue...again.

Where Did All the Runs Go?

This year's CWS, for the most part, has been one, interconnected pitchers duel.

According to CBSSports, UCLA is the first team since Eastern Michigan to make the final with only eight runs in its previous three games. No team had ever made it this far with a lower three-game total.

But the drought extends far past UCLA. There have been 12 games in Omaha so far in this CWS, and only five teams have managed to score over four runs.

In other words, teams in Omaha have had a 79 percent chance of scoring four or less runs. They also have had a 54 percent chance of being held to two runs or less.

That begs a simple question: Where has all the pop gone?

These guys know they're playing with aluminum, not satin, right? College baseball is supposed to feature more hits, more runs and more action. That's part of the reason metal bats are allowed.

There is something to be appreciated about great pitching, sure, but it rarely keeps nonpartisan viewers intrigued. At some point, most fans need to see some scoring.


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