College World Series 2021: TV, Live-Stream Schedule and Game Times for SaturdayJune 19, 2021
After a two-year wait, the Vanderbilt Commodores have a chance to defend the College World Series title they won in 2019.
Vanderbilt will start off the 2021 CWS with Kumar Rocker taking on the fifth-seeded Arizona Wildcats in the second of two games at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.
Rocker was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2019 tournament. He started that run off with six strong innings in Vanderbilt's second game. The likely top-10 pick in the 2021 MLB draft faces a tough test in the form of Arizona's lineup. The Wildcats produced 27 runs in their two victories over the Ole Miss Rebels to clinch a spot in Omaha.
The NC State Wolfpack and Stanford Cardinal open up the two-game slate Saturday afternoon. Stanford is making its 17th CWS appearance in program history, while NC State is back in Omaha for only the third time.
Saturday College World Series Schedule
NC State vs. No. 9 Stanford (2 p.m. ET, ESPN)
No. 5 Arizona vs. No. 4 Vanderbilt (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Games can be live-streamed on ESPN app or ESPN.com.
NC State vs. No. 9 Stanford
NC State and Stanford both ousted nationally ranked seeds on the road to reach Omaha.
The former pulled off the biggest upset of the super regional round, as it eliminated the No. 1 overall seed Arkansas Razorbacks. That three-game series victory was even more impressive since the Wolfpack rebounded from a 21-2 defeat in Game 1.
NC State's pitching staff performed better as the Fayetteville super regional went on, most notably allowing just two runs in the series-clinching game.
Reid Johnston should be the Game 1 starter for the Wolfpack, but that had yet to be announced as of the early hours of Saturday. Johnston was lit up for seven earned runs on six hits in Game 1 against Arkansas, but that was just the third loss he suffered this season.
The ideal strategy for NC State is for its starters to go six or seven innings and then let Evan Justice take over. Justice did not allow an earned run over 4.2 innings in Games 2 and 3 versus Arkansas.
Stanford should try to score runs in the first five innings to either force NC State to go Justice earlier than expected or to avoid him completely.
The Cardinal have one of the hottest lineups entering Omaha, as they put up 26 runs in two wins over the Texas Tech Red Raiders at the Lubbock super regional. Prior to their trip to Texas, Stanford earned 32 runs in three victories on home soil at the Stanford regional.
Stanford ace Brendan Beck is 10th in Division I in strikeouts. He has the fourth-best total of any pitcher in Omaha. Only Rocker, his Vanderbilt teammate Jack Leiter and the Virginia Cavaliers' Andrew Abbott have more.
The Stanford pitching staff was even more effective than its bats, as it conceded three runs over 18 innings against Texas Tech.
If the Stanford bats get going early on, Beck could shut down the NC State lineup and propel the Pac-12 side to a victory.
No. 5 Arizona vs. No. 4 Vanderbilt
The main draw of Saturday's nightcap is Rocker.
Rocker has 155 strikeouts in 106 innings and could be set to repeat as College World Series MVP.
He dominated the East Carolina Pirates in Game 1 of the Nashville super regional. He fanned 11 batters and gave up three hits over 7.2 innings. Arizona's offense poses a tougher test, but Rocker is more than capable of shutting down the Wildcats and putting the Commodores in the winners' bracket.
The Wildcats had some trouble dealing with the top aces they faced this season. They struck out eight times and earned three runs off Beck on May 7 and suffered 10 strikeouts in a loss to Ole Miss' Doug Nikhazy in Game 2 of the Tucson super regional.
If Arizona has trouble with Rocker, it could be in do-or-die mode off the bat in the losers' bracket.
Garrett Irvin was Arizona's best pitcher in the regional round, but he lasted 1.1 innings in Game 2 of the super regional. Chase Silseth opened the three-game series with Ole Miss. Whichever pitcher counters Rocker needs to be at his best to try to dethrone the champion.
Arizona has the power bats needed to pull off an upset, but it does not appear likely against Vanderbilt's ace.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90. Statistics obtained from D1Baseball.com.