OMAHA—The 2010 College World Series is a little more than an hour away, and in between I've got to head down the hall to interview some members of the CWS Legends Team that are on hand, so let's get right to our day one picks.
Aaron: I stopped by the College Baseball Foundation and Dick Howser Trophy announcements this morning, where Texas Christian coach Jim Schlossnagle was receiving the NCBWA national coach of the year award (along with finalists being named for five other awards). Schlossnagle spoke for a few moments, and he told a neat story about senior catcher Bryan Holaday reaming out the rest of the team after TCU's 14-1 loss to Texas in the second game of the super regional. Holaday is one of those special players with rare leadership skills, and I have a feeling he'll carve out his own CWS legacy like a Mitch Canham or Darwin Barney for Oregon State did a few years ago. I picked TCU to win the CWS earlier this week, and the Holaday factor is a big reason why. So, naturally, I'm taking the Horned Frogs to beat Florida State today behind ace lefty Matt Purke. It helps that Florida State is countering with its own lefthander, Sean Gilmartin, against this very righthanded-heavy TCU lineup.
I'm very conflicted about the second game between Florida and UCLA. The Bruins get the slight edge on the mound, but I feel like Florida's power hitters (Preston Tucker in particular, but also Austin Maddox and Brian Johnson) are going to enjoy hitting in this ballpark, and I'm going with the Gators because of their more powerful offense. And it's not like UCLA will be able to out-small ball the Gators, who excel at that style as well.
John: I'm picking UCLA and Florida State. Picking the Seminoles seems like a lark, especially considering that Purke hasn't lost to anybody all year. It's got to happen though, and and the Seminoles are a good candidate to do it. They're patient, they draw a lot of walks and they are veteran hitters, so they should be the kind of team that can either scratch and claw for a run or two against him, or get him out of the game early and get into the TCU bullpen. For Florida State to pull off the upset, though, it will have to get better pitching than it has been getting. I'm banking this pick on Sean Gilmartin being close to his best today, and Florida State's experience being a factor. TCU is the better team, but upsets happen, and I'm taking the upset.
With UCLA, I just can't wait to see Trevor Bauer, a long-toss fiend. I can't pick against a long-toss guy, though I do feel quite bad picking against a fellow Greek-American in Florida's Alex Panteliodis. Signomi, Alex (Signomi=I'm sorry), but I have to go with the long-toss guy. I also picked the Bruins to win the bracket (making that pick before Tyler Rahmatulla's injury was revealed) and can't go back on that yet. It would be poor form.
Let's get to the games! I'm very excited for this last CWS in Rosenblatt to begin.
Aaron's Picks: TCU, Florida
John's Picks: Florida State, UCLA
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