College World Series-2013: Who will take home the big trophy?
One month ago you could not have found 2 people in 100 who would have predicted these two teams in the final.
The top 8 seeds have all fallen by the wayside. Five of them didn’t make it to Omaha at all and only one made it to the final four.
Teams like Oregon State, LSU, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, Cal State Fullerton and others would have been safe bets to be in the finals this coming week. None of them played well enough to make the grade.
MSU and UCLA are both teams of destiny who are playing well.
The Bulldogs of State have a very balanced lineup led by Hunter Renfroe and Adam Frazier. They have these two stars, but they have a deep cast of solid performers like Wes Rea and others who just get the job done. Their pitching staff is like no other I have seen, and I have seen them in person four times when they played Vanderbilt both in Nashville and at the SEC tournament. State is the classic example that the sum of the parts is much, much greater than the individual parts. No offense intended, but this group functions well together, led by Ross Mitchell with 12 wins out of the bullpen. Fifty two percent of innings pitched are bullpen innings.
UCLA has an anemic offense that does just enough to score runs. With their pitching staff they have not needed many runs. They have tied a CWS record by scoring 8 runs total in three wins with no defeats to this point. Hard to believe they can win that way, but their pitching is that good. Adam Plutko and Nick Vander Tuig are a tough one-two punch as starters and David Berg has 23 saves this season and was named the stopper of the year in College Baseball.
This collision course starts on Monday night and will continue on Tuesday night. Wednesday night will be game three if the first two games are a split.
I am picking UCLA. I can make a case for either team, but the Bruins have been to the CWS three of the past four years and they have more experience at this level than State. My heart is with the Bulldogs, but they are going to have some tough sledding against Plutko and Vander Tuig.
I see three games maybe, but don’t be surprised if the Bruins sweep in two.
Enjoy the games.