OMAHA—The first College World Series tripleheader in 30 years was a success Monday, as the stormy weather held off until after midnight when all the games were completed, helping us get back on schedule. On top of that, we were treated to a terrific game in the nightcap between UCLA and Texas Christian. I have a feeling I'll remember Gerrit Cole's 13-strikeout gem against that tough TCU club for a long time.
Sadly, UCLA's victory capped off an 0-3 day for me in the picks, spoiling my solid start from the weekend. Now I find myself in familiar territory: below .500. Let's get to the Tuesday picks.
John: It would be amazing hubris to keep picking if I were 1-5. I have the fig leaf of being 2-4, though I believe the only two games I've picked correctly so far involved UCLA. I picked the Bruins to win the bracket and I probably would have jumped ship had I known at the time I made the prediction that second baseman Tyler Rahmatulla was hurt. Lucky for me, I made the pick early and I've stuck with it, because I'm 0-for-the-rest-of-Omaha.
Undeterred, I'll make two more picks today. I'm taking South Carolina in a mild upset to beat Arizona State. The pitching matchup seems to favor the Gamecocks, with Sam Dyson on the mound versus Merrill Kelly for ASU. It should be another tight one, because neither team seems capable right now of putting up enough runs to blow out an opponent.
In the winner's bracket matchup, Oklahoma and Bobby Shore are the pick to advance against Clemson. I was impressed with Clemson in its victory over Arizona State in the opener, but the Tigers' defense still is a worry. The Sooners are 24-6 over their last 30 games and appear to be a complete club. They also look dangerous against righthanded pitching after what they did to Virginia in Super Regionals, and Scott Weismann of Clemson is no Blake Cooper, the South Carolina ace who fairly handcuffed the Sooners on a rainy Sunday night. Oklahoma is playing confident, competent baseball and look tough to beat in the bracket.
John's Picks: South Carolina, Oklahoma
Aaron: John is right—South Carolina has the pitching edge today against Arizona State, and I could see Sam Dyson shutting down the Sun Devils today. But something Gerrit Cole said last night struck me and renewed my faith in the Sun Devils' offense: "For the most part, I can't remember (the Sun Devils) not playing perfect baseball," Cole said of ASU's series sweep at UCLA earlier this season. "They were unbelievable the way they really played nine-on-one and really smothered you at the plate. We tried to really replicate that."
Arizona State is a resilient bunch, and I think its team offense will bounce back today against the Gamecocks. Merrill Kelly might not throw 98 like Dyson does, but he has quietly had a very good year, and stalwarts Jake Barrett and Jordan Swagerty have yet to pitch in Omaha so they're fresh for today.
The other game is just as tough to pick. Both teams have played with so much confidence down the stretch, but I was more impessed with Clemson's offense against that stellar ASU pitching staff than I was with Oklahoma's offense against South Carolina. Bobby Shore is on a roll, for sure, but I'm not convinced he can keep it up today against that deep, locked-in Clemson lineup. And Weismann kept potent lineups from Southern Mississippi and Alabama in check in his last two starts; I think he'll turn in another solid six- or seven-inning outing today, and Clemson will support him with seven or more runs.
Aaron's Picks: Arizona State, Clemson
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