Only four teams remain in the College World Series, and none of them are what we expected heading into the NCAA tournament.
Not only are all of the eight seeded teams officially eliminated, but only TCU remains among teams that hosted a regional. Arizona, Oklahoma State and Coastal Carolina were all No. 2 seeds that have somehow kept their momentum from the first round until this point, where they are on the brink of a CWS final.
Of course, things only get more intense from here, as the players are so close to a national championship they can taste it. Here is what you need to know about the last few games of the college baseball season, as four teams vie for the title.
|Remaining College World Series Schedule|
|11||June 24||Arizona vs. Oklahoma State||3 p.m.||ESPN2|
|12||June 24||Coastal Carolina vs. TCU||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|13||June 25||Game 11 Rematch (If Necessary)||TBD||TBD|
|14||June 25||Game 12 Rematch (If Necessary)||TBD||TBD|
|15||June 27||CWS Finals Game 1||7 p.m.||ESPN|
|16||June 28||CWS Finals Game 2||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|17||June 29||CWS Finals Game 3 (If Necessary)||8 p.m.||ESPN|
College World Series bracket available at NCAA.com.
Everyone is playing well to reach this stage, but no one has been better than Oklahoma State. The squad is one win away from reaching the finals thanks to an almost flawless run through the NCAA tournament.
The Cowboys are still undefeated in seven postseason games, allowing just six (!) total runs in this stretch. The pitching staff hasn't allowed more than two runs in a single contest and posted two 1-0 shutouts in Omaha, Nebraska. All told, Oklahoma State has outscored the opposition 37-6 in the seven wins.
While this has required a team effort, the real star has been ace pitcher Thomas Hatch. The sophomore threw a complete-game shutout against UC Santa Barbara in the first game of the CWS, lifting his postseason to near Clayton Kershaw numbers in the process, per Kendall Rogers of D1Baseball:
The problem for the rest of the field is he is not done.
Arizona has had its own great pitching in this tournament and especially over the past week, allowing just two runs in three games. However, the lineup has struggled with consistency this year, and you don't know what you will get outside of top players Zach Gibbons and Ryan Aguilar. Considering this group will have to beat Hatch to advance, its chances don't look good.
In the other side of the bracket, TCU has been the better team, but Coastal Carolina simply won't quit. Throughout the tournament, the team has shown the ability to win wild, high-scoring battles just as easily as low-scoring pitching duels. Different players have stepped up at different times, and it has led to plenty of success.
No. 9 hitter David Parrett led the Chanticleers to victory last game by going 2-for-4 with three RBI. He explained his mindset after the game:
"Why not us?" Parrett added, per ESPN.com's Ryan McGee. "On Friday night [versus TCU] some folks will be expecting us to lose and go home, again. And that's cool. People not expecting us to win has worked out pretty well for us so far."
TCU has plenty of talent, a deeper lineup, a true ace in Jared Janczak and more rest going into its rematch against Coastal Carolina. However, the underdogs haven't backed down from a fight yet, beating Texas Tech, Florida, North Carolina State and LSU, among others, in this tournament. Sometimes, it just takes the will to stay alive no matter the odds.
If Coastal Carolina does force an extra game, Andrew Beckwith will likely pitch the deciding battle after his gem against Florida to kick off the CWS. With his talent and the Chanticleers' scrappiness, they can find themselves in the final.
Although it might not be enough to beat red-hot Oklahoma State, it would still be an incredible accomplishment for the Big South squad.
Predicted Final: Oklahoma State over Coastal Carolina
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