OMAHA—The last song I heard on the radio as Kirk Kenney and I pulled into the Rosenblatt Stadium parking lot today was Bruce Springsteen’s "Working On A Dream." It seemed like an appropriate anthem for today, when Louisiana State will try to put the finishing touches on its championship dream and Texas will try to keep its dream alive for another day.
My dream is over, as John Manuel clinched his second straight BA picks title yesterday. Congratulations to John, who utterly wiped the floor with me this year and has earned himself a free lunch at a Durham restaurant of his choice. But we’re still going to offer our picks for today (and, if necessary, tomorrow). It looks like there’s a storm on the horizon, and the grounds crew is getting ready to cover the infield with a tarp, but let’s hope we still start on time. To the picks:
Texas vs. Louisiana State
Aaron: LSU coach Paul Mainieri has opted to start sophomore righthander Austin Ross today, rather than bring back ace Anthony Ranaudo on three days’ rest for the first time all season. I love this move for multiple reason. Not only is Mainieri once again demonstrating proper regard for the health of his arms, but he’s giving the Tigers a stop-gap. Ranaudo might have dealt today (after all, he threw just 77 pitches over six innings in his last outing), but he’s a safer bet to be effective tomorrow, and LSU will also have closer Matty Ott available tomorrow. He threw 49 pitches yesterday, and I doubt we’ll see him today. Plus, Ross has pitched well down the stretch, most notably in his last start in the Baton Rouge Regional against Southern (6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K). He’s a sinker/slider pitcher who should be able to keep the suddenly homer-happy Texas offense in the ballpark. I also just feel like the Longhorns had their chance to take control of this CWS Finals yesterday, and they blew it. Maybe freshman righty Taylor Jungmann will bounce back from his six-straight-balls outing in relief yesterday and throw a gem today, but I don’t have a great feeling about it.
Aaron’s Pick: LSU.
John: I’m picking the Tigers, and I’m picking them because they’re using their pitchers the way they’ve used them all year. Obviously when you have extenuating circumstances like a 25-inning game or an 11-inning game, some pitchers are going to be extended. But LSU didn’t bring Matty Ott in until the ninth inning last night, and Texas brought in Austin Wood in the sixth. If Brandon Workman and Keith Shinaberry aren’t good enough to get some guys out in the middle innings, why are they even on the roster? LSU has not constricted its pitching staff. They’re using Paul Bertuccini, they’re using Austin Ross. That’s as big a vote of confidence as Austin Ross can get. I like LSU for those reasons. Their offense is also contributing one through nine, and they’re defending at an elite level, which helps Ross also. If you hit five home runs in a game and you’re Texas and you still don’t win, that’s not a good sign.
John’s Pick: LSU.
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