The World Series is this weekend, and I’m not taking about MLB. I’m referencing the bat flipping, punch-out celebrating, offensive showcase you and I both know and love, the Men’s College World Series. Eight teams, one winner. Find baseball boring? I’ll just go ahead and assume you’ve never tuned in to baseball in Omaha in late June. Let’s go ahead and check out what’s on Friday’s opening slate.
For what it’s worth, I’m hearing the wind will be blowing in this weekend, so expect less offense than usual with advantage going to the pitchers.
Oklahoma (+100) vs. Texas A&M (-130) O/U 11
Projected Starters: Jake Bennett vs. Nathan Dettmer
I was lucky enough to watch Okahoma’s last three games in their entirety, as they knocked out my Hokies in Blacksburg. This Sooners team can play. Led by Tanner Tredaway at the plate hitting near .400 this season, this team just never seems to go away. Tredaway aside, this team beats you with pitching, which will be huge on Friday as winds are expected to effect play. Jake Bennett, the 6’6″ lefty, has been dominant all season, and he turned it up a notch against Virginia Tech. He shoved for seven innings against one of the best offenses in the country in the Super Regional.
Nathan Dettmer has looked relatively shaky as of late, but I give the bullpen advantage to the Aggies. The last time a starting pitcher for Texas A&M went more than five innings was back in April’ to be fair, it was Dettmer who threw that gem. Their closer, Jacob Palisch, has been elite throughout the season and their journey to Omaha, and they will need some serious innings out of him to advance.
This is a battle of one of the best teams in the country facing off against debatably the hottest team in the country. We’ve seen this total slowly decrease throughout the week, probably because of weather concerns, leading me to back the team with the better starter on the bump Friday. If Bennett pitches anywhere close to how he did against the Hokies, expect the southpaw to dominate again. Oklahoma has insane depth in their lineup as well. Tredaway is a star, but everyone from top to bottom in that lineup can and will contribute. We saw Kendall Pettis make the catch of the year last weekend AND hit one over the fence, and he bats ninth for the Sooners. I do think runs will be at a premium in this one, giving game one of the CWS more of a big league feel, for better or worse. Back Bennett and the Sooners to shut down Jack Miss and the Aggies bats, taking game one of this best-of-three series.
The Pick: Oklahoma +100, Under 11
Notre Dame (-105) vs. Texas (-125) O/U 10
Projected starters: TBD vs. Pete Hansen
The best baseball player in the country, Ivan Melendez, resides in the middle of this stacked Longhorns roster. People forget Texas was the top-ranked team in the country coming into the season. They may not have performed like it all year, but hey, they’re in Omaha. As a Nationals fan, I would be ecstatic to draft Ivan fifth overall, but I don’t think he will fall that far; he’s that good. He led the nation with 32 home runs this year. I will say, the Longhorns have played like the preseason No. 1 overall team in the nation throughout the postseason. Pete Hansen has been huge for the Longhorns on the mound, eating up serious innings and giving his stacked offense a chance in both of his postseason starts. Even if Texas doesn’t get an elite outing from Hansen, their offense should be able to do enough to get the win on Friday anyway.
Notre Dame has yet to announce their game one starter, but I’m assuming they will save elite southpaw John Bertrand for game two. Expect Austin Temple, the graduate student, to get the rock in game one, which I think puts the Irish at a significant disadvantage; he barely made it through three innings against Tennessee in his last outing. I will say, this Irish team did knock out debatably the greatest college baseball team of all time, so anything is possible. Expect Notre Dame to go to their bullpen early and often in this one, doing anything they can to shut down this insanely overloaded Longhorns offense.
If history means anything, Texas has been here before, a lot. They’re 88-63 overall in the CWS with six national championships. The Irish sit at 3-4 overall, with no trophies. This truly is a battle of the best roster in the nation versus the cinderella story. Will the Irish have enough luck to get by Ivan and a Longhorns offense that is top-10 in home runs this year?
I see this series going three games, but the Longhorns taking game one. I can’t get myself to back Temple after what I saw in the super regionals, and the Longhorns will take advantage of any mistakes; the Irish will have to play perfectly on Friday to win. I was surprised to see the line shifting towards the Irish, I’m assuming they are a public play after knocking off #1 ranked Tennessee. Back the better offense by a mile, and take the Longhorns to get it done in game one.
The Pick: Texas -125, Under 10
College World Series Winner
You’re going to see a lot of people backing the Longhorns to win it all, or the highest ranked team remaining in Stanford. In Omaha, it’s better to go with one of the underdogs. Since the conception of the College World Series in Omaha, only one top-seeded team has ever taken home the trophy, and that was in its inaugural year. You won’t see me backing the trendy Irish, I’ve seen plenty of people on them already after knocking out No. 1 Tennessee.
I’m deploying my units on the Auburn Tigers, a team who nobody is talking about. They face off against a very familiar SEC foe, the Ole Miss Rebels, who’ve become a fan favorite after being the last team selected to the 64-team postseason. The narrative in this series will be that Ole Miss took the series earlier in the year, and that Auburn ace Trace Bright struggled against the Rebels. Expect him to flip the narrative, and push Auburn through to the next round. The Tigers will then presumably draw a Stanford team who I think is extremely beatable. They’ll go on to face the Longhorns in the Championship, and at that point, we just hope for Omaha magic, In a tournament where the least expected often occurs, I want to back the team that is being talked about the least. The Tigers have been counted out all season, projected to finish last in the SEC West. As most continue to doubt them, I will ride the true Cinderella Story of the tournament. War Eagle.