The improbable is finally here. After running through Georgia and LSU, on the road, Florida State’s run to Omaha starts this evening against a tough opponent in Arkansas. That underdog role will continue as the Razorbacks are arguably the best of the eight teams remaining and are tied for the best odds to win the CWS.
The College World Series is made up of two double-elimination brackets of four teams each. Winners of each bracket meet in a best-of-three final. Everything you need to know about the College World Series can be found at this site.
The Seminoles are on the left side of the bracket and will face the aforementioned Arkansas. The other two teams on their side of the bracket are Texas Tech, who is making their second straight CWS appearance and fourth in the past six years. The Raiders matchup with Michigan, who like FSU, was one of the last four teams in the tournament and defeated the number one overall team UCLA to advance to their first trip to Omaha since Barry Larkin led them in 1984.
After some deliberation this week Florida State will start Drew Parrish in game one just as they have done all season. Earlier today we wrote that this was the correct move for the Seminoles. The Razorbacks will counter with the 76th overall draft pick in last weeks MLB draft. Florida State hopes they can dispense with Isaiah Campbell, the junior right-hander, much like they did with Georgia’s talented prospects in the regional. If Arkansas does have a lead late in the game they feel extremely comfortable turning the ball over to their closer, Matt Cronin, who has not allowed a run in well over a month. The left-hander, also a 4th round draft pick, has a good mix of two pitches, a fastball that tops out at 95 mph and an over-the-top curveball in the mid-to-upper 70s.
It is pretty remarkable to think this Arkansas team is as productive as they when the starting lineup consists of 1 senior, 2 juniors, 4 sophomores and 2 freshmen. Of the three draft eligible players, two were taken in the first 8 rounds. Dominic Fletcher, the Hogs centerfielder and clean-up hitter was taken 75th overall and is second on the team in extra-base hits. Batters two through six in the Razorbacks lineup have combined to hit 60 homeruns this season, with 4 of the 5 batters in double digits.
An additional threat the the Seminoles need to be aware of is the base running prowess of Arkansas. With nearly 85% success the Razorbacks have stolen 80 bags this season, hopefully the left-handed Drew Parrish can neutralize that threat because freshman Mat Nelson has had his share of troubles behind the plate this year.
Florida State continues to silence the critics in route to their first CWS title in school history. If the FSU baseball team that showed up in Athens makes an appearance in Omaha tonight then you have to like their chances to pull out a win, if the Baton Rouge ’Noles come to play they might be fighting their way out of the loser’s bracket.
FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES | ACC At-Large | RPI: 33
FSU Overall: 41-21 // ACC: 17-13 // Home: 28-9 // Away: 11-10 // Neutral: 2-2 // Last 10: 7-3 CWS: 23rd Appearance (57-62-63-65-70-75-80-86-87-89-91-92-94-95-96-98-99-00-08-10-12-17-19)
#5 SEED ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS | SEC At-Large | RPI: 5
Arkansas Overall: 46-18 // SEC: 20-10 // Home: 33-7 // Away: 12-9 // Neutral: 1-2 // Last 10: 6-4 CWS: 10th Appearance (79-85-87-89-04-09-12-15-18)
LHP Drew Parrish - 8-5, 5.11 ERA, 86.1 IP, 116 K, 30 BB
RHP Isaiah Campbell - 12-1, 2.26 ERA, 111.1 IP, 115 K, 20 BB