As a longtime viewer of the site, I feel like it is finally time to officially become a member—the Noles are back in Omaha. Their previous visit two summers ago only leaves me memories of the LSAT I took that weekend and a record number of errors from our shortstop (no, it wasn’t Cardullo, but rather an ex-coaches kid if I remember correctly). Furthermore, being the last year of the CWS at historic Rosenblatt stadium, it is a special year for both me and the teams involved.
As you might have guessed from my screen name, I am from Omaha and have attended nearly every CWS game for the past 15 years. So, I want to extend an offer to any Nole fans traveling to Omaha for the CWS to contact me with any questions or plans. I will be tailgating outside the stadium all day Saturday, Sunday, and Monday and would love to have a few fellow Noles to enjoy a cold beer with (and lament over our bunting strategies).
But enough with the background, for a preview of this years CWS, follow after the jump:
On the Florida State side of the bracket, the pairings did not do FSU any favors. Our opening round matchup , TCU, has one of the better pitching staffs in the country and was able to knock out one of the consensus title favorites (Texas). In the first game, expect to see their ace, Matt Purke, a true Freshman lefty who was drafted #14 overall in the draft last year as a high school pitcher by the Texas Rangers. The best chance for FSU is to get a big time performance from Gilmartin and hope for a 4-3 type of game that our bullpen doesn’t blow. Gilmartin looked in command of the first 4 innings of game 1 on Friday before he started to lose control in the 5th and he pitched effectively in relief in game 3—our only hope lies in him regaining his ace form from last year. The TCU bats can be held in check, as they only scored 3, 1, and 4 runs in their games (but keep in mind that UT had the best pitching staff in the nation this year, a far cry from our arms). This is TCU’s first ever CWS appearance—despite the fact that they our the Noles’ first round competition, congrats are in order for this team for finally overcoming UT in the superregional.
The other two teams on our side of the bracket, UCLA and Florida will be pretty evenly matched.
Florida will be throwing their ace in the first game, Alex Panteliodis (11-2), who threw a complete game 3-hitter. While FSU beat Florida 3 out of 4 this year, most of those games were earlier in the year (before both these teams got hot) and involved non-weekend starters. Expect Florida to be much improved since then.
Their opponent, UCLA, is stacked in terms of starting pitching with a trio of aces: Gerrit Cole (10-3, 3.25), Trevor Bauer (10-3, 3.02), and Rob Rasmussen (11-2, 2.73). Hell, any team would kill to have their 4th starter: Garett Claypool (8-3, 2.05). This is a team that has the makeup to make a deep run in the tournament. When other teams are running out of pitchers later in the week, UCLA will be trotting out a fresh ace.
I will of course be picking the Bruins to make quick work of the Gators. And please remind any Gator fan that this is only their 6th CWS appearance compared to the 20th for FSU.
On the other side, I won’t go into much detail other than to say that ASU will be the overwhelming favorite. The other main challenger from that side, Virginia, was wiped out by a mediocre Oklahoma team.
Although the Noles will not be favored to win their first championship this year in the CWS, keep in mind that at Rosenblatt anything can happen. When the wind is blowing out and the pop of the aluminum bats is strong, any team can get on a roll and make a run. Good luck to the Noles this weekend and here’s hoping that Mike Martin can bring home his first championship and retire in peace. In Sherman we Trust. (And props my favorite player Mike McGee, I am always a fan of a collegiate athlete who can close games out and also win them from the batter’s box).
For any of you travelling to Omaha, look me up and I will fill you in on the hot spots for the CWS.
For the rest of you readers, let me know if you would like a daily update after each game of the CWS. I plan on being at each game, so it wouldn't be too much work.