College World Series 2019: Bracket Picks, Start Times for Friday's Schedule

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2019

Karl Kauffmann is Michigan's probable starter Friday against Texas Tech in the CWS semifinal round.
Karl Kauffmann is Michigan's probable starter Friday against Texas Tech in the CWS semifinal round.Nati Harnik/Associated Press

The College World Series is getting close to its most crucial stage.

Michigan and Vanderbilt have won their first two games of the double-elimination tournament, and have reached Friday's semifinal round.

The Wolverines can advance to the championship series if they can beat Texas Tech at 2 p.m. ET at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. Even if Michigan loses that game, the Wolverines can advance to the title round by beating the Red Raiders in a return match Saturday. Texas Tech must win both games to advance.

Vanderbilt will be in the same situation as Michigan when they face either Louisville or Mississippi State at 7 p.m. The Cardinals and Bulldogs are playing an elimination game Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET, and the winner gets the top-seeded Commodores Friday night.


Friday's College World Series Schedule

Game 11: Michigan vs. Texas Tech, 2 p.m., ESPN
Game 12: Vanderbilt vs. Louisville-Mississippi State winner, 7 p.m., ESPN


Michigan vs. Texas Tech

The Wolverines (48-20) have already picked up a pair of victories in the CWS, and one of them was a 5-3 victory over the Red Raiders (46-19).

Michigan's other victory in the tournament came over Florida State.

While the Wolverines can feel good about their CWS, they know they have a serious battle against Texas Tech because they were swept in a three-game series by the Red Raiders this season.

Junior right-hander Karl Kauffmann is likely to get the start for the Wolverines. He was the winning pitcher in the earlier CWS win over Texas Tech, giving up three runs.

U-M's offense is led by right fielder Jordan Brewer and designated hitter Jordan Nwogu. Brewer is hitting a robust .336 with 12 homers and 56 runs batted in, while Nwogu is hitting .328 with 12 home runs and 43 RBI.

Texas Tech has won 22 of its last 27 games, and the Red Raiders are led by the slugging of first baseman Cameron Warren (18 HRs, 79 RBI), and shortstop Josh Jung (.343, 15 HRs, 58 RBI).

Prediction: Texas Tech 4, Michigan 2. The Wolverines are on an impressive roll at the CWS, but the Red Raiders are not going down without a fight. Texas Tech wins this semifinal game and forces a Saturday showdown for a spot in the CWS championship round.


Vanderbilt vs. Louisville-Mississippi State winner

The Commodores (56-11) have been the best team in college baseball throughout the season, and there has been no downturn since their arrival in Omaha, Nebraska. They have won a pair of games on the big stage, and they will be prepared for their semifinal.

Vanderbilt can overpower any opponent when it is at its best. Austin Martin, JJ Bleday and Stephen Scott are a formidable trio that can put runs on the board quickly.

Martin is probably the best igniter in the tournament as he is hitting .409 with 10 home runs, 45 RBI and 18 stolen bases in 23 attempts. Bleday is a dominant hitter with a .358 average, 26 home runs and 70 RBI, while Scott is hitting .335 with 14 long balls and 59 RBI.

Bleday may be feeling some pressure to contribute with the long ball since Martin and Scott have both hit two home runs in Omaha, while he has yet to hit one over the fence.

The pitching is also impressive with Drake Fellows, Kumar Rocker, Patrick Raby and Mason Hickman.

Louisville (50-17) is a tough and feisty all-around team, but the Cardinals can't match Vanderbilt in power or pitching. Third baseman Alex Binelas has 14 home runs and 59 RBI, but he is the only Cardinal in double figures in home runs. Shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald (.322, 8 HRs, 65 RBI) can be a difference-maker.

Mississippi State (52-14) may be somewhat better equipped to take on Vanderbilt, although the Bulldogs would still need to raise their game to beat the Commodores.

Catcher Dustin Skelton has hammered 10 home runs and driven in 55 runs, while second baseman Justin Foscue looks like a game-changing hitter with a .332 batting average, 14 homers and 60 RBI.

Prediction: Vanderbilt defeats the Louisville-Mississippi State winner. The Commodores have too much power and pitching for either opponent, although the Bulldogs will make it somewhat closer than the Cardinals.