OMAHA—For the first time in 60 years, Rosenblatt Stadium itself is facing an elimination game at the College World Series.
If South Carolina wins tonight, the venerable ballpark will never host another CWS game. If UCLA wins, Rosenblatt's fate will be postponed for one more day.
I'm expecting a huge crowd for the potential send-off tonight, and I'm prepared to savor every moment this evening in case this my last time setting foot in Rosenblatt. But who knows if it will be? I certainly don't.
On that note, let's get to Tuesday's picks:
John: I'm still picking UCLA to win tonight, and to win the championship. Bruins starter Rob Rasmussen has been my personal cheeseball for years, since his high school days, and I'm expecting a big game from him tonight. I loved Aaron's comparison yesterday between Blake Cooper and Jonah Nickerson; a lot of South Carolina fans compare Cooper to Kip Bouknight, the 2000 Golden Spikes Award winner (and one of two winners who never reached the majors). But Cooper has done something Bouknight never did: win in Omaha. His performance yesterday, taking a one-hitter into the ninth inning, was simply historic. That just doesn't happen in Omaha. But if Michael Roth throws back-to-back complete games at the CWS, I'll eat my hat. (Editor's note: John and Aaron each owe at least one hat-eating apiece from earlier in the Series. This has been a tough CWS to predict.)
John's Pick: UCLA.
Aaron's Pick: Honestly, I have no idea who is going to win this series. South Carolina is really starting to feel like the proverbial Team of Destiny, and I wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised if the Gamecocks wrap up their first national championship tonight. But the pitching matchup still favors UCLA. Not only was Rasmussen a second-round pick, but he's tough as nails and a proven big-game pitcher (see: Los Angeles Super Regional). UCLA's lineup is much more balanced with righties and lefties than Clemson's predominantly lefthanded-leaning lineup, so I don't see Roth carving up the Bruins like he did the Tigers. And I was very impressed with UCLA's ability to bounce back from a flat performance against Texas Christian on Friday. The Bruins looked like a completely different team on Saturday, playing with all kind of energy and dominating that game. South Carolina has the momentum right now, but momentum is only as good as the next day's starting pitcher, and I'm with John: Rasmussen has a chance to turn in a gem tonight. I'm waffling, though, on my national champion pick. I'll cross that bridge on Wednesday, should the Finals last that long.
Aaron's Pick: UCLA.
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