It's time for the 2014 College World Series finals. After a grueling road to the concluding series of the tournament, Vanderbilt and Virginia will square off at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska, to determine which of the two teams is the best from the past year of college baseball.
The sport often takes a back seat to college football and basketball, but during the College World Series, all eyes are on the nation's pastime. Omaha is home to some of the best baseball played during the season. The atmosphere and pressures associated with playing in the mecca of college baseball propel players to perform at higher levels.
This is going to be an exciting three-game series. Don't miss a pitch of the action. Luckily, the table below ensures that you'll have all the information you need to watch.
Schedule, TV Info
Note: All games can be watched via the WatchESPN app.
A matchup of the Cavaliers and Commodores is going to come down to one thing, and one thing only—pitching. Both of these teams have incredible arms at their disposals, and it will be up to both coaches to handle their staffs correctly.
For Virginia, the pitching discussion begins with Nathan Kirby and ends with Nick Howard. Kirby, a left-handed starter, is perhaps one of the top prospects for next year's draft class. That's what Jim Callis of MLB.com thinks, anyway:
|2014 CWS Finals Schedule|
|Game||Date||Time (ET)||Result||TV Info|
|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|
|NCAA.com, * denotes if necessary|
Kirby has 15 strikeouts through 19.2 innings this postseason, and his "bloated" ERA of 2.75 is likely the result of six free passes.
Howard often closes the door for the Cavaliers. The hard-throwing righty was drafted with the No. 19 selection in Round 1 of the 2014 MLB draft by the Cincinnati Reds. His dominance this year might give him the opportunity to pitch out of the bullpen in Cincinnati this summer, but he projects as a starter down the road.
His fastball might lose some zip in the rotation, but he has good stuff and a command of his pitches.
Howard is a very capable strikeout pitcher, meaning it will be difficult for Vandy to advance runners and play small ball in this final.
On the other side, the Commodores rely on a bevy of arms to get the job done. Walker Buehler is just one of the many guys that head coach Tim Corbin can go to with the game on the line. Buehler stepped up in a big way against UC Irvine, going 5.1 innings in relief without allowing a hit:
Corbin acknowledged that Buehler changed the momentum in that game, via Cash Kruth of MLB.com:
"The game turned around when Walker came in. There was a momentum change, and he pounded the strike zone from the minute he got in there until the minute the game finished."
With reliable arms that like, Corbin and Vanderbilt will be difficult for the Cavaliers to handle.
While anything can happen in Omaha, Virginia—the preseason No. 1 team—should be prepared to face some of the best pitching of this tournament. A few good at-bats might change the outcome of the series, but it won't be easy.