After my 6-0 start to our annual College World Series picks competition, I stumbled with two misses Tuesday but rebounded Wednesday by correctly picking Vanderbilt to beat North Carolina, keeping me unbeaten in that bracket. John Manuel is also 7-2, and now the action shifts back to the left bracket, where California and Virginia meet in an elimination game today.
The Golden Bears will start junior righthander Dixon Anderson, who has power stuff but has had an up-and-down season thanks to inconsistent command. Virginia eats up pitchers who are not fine with their location, so Anderson needs to be sharp Thursday. I like how loose Cal has been out here—coach David Esquer has done a great job setting the tone for his team, which is playing with house money as the biggest underdog of the CWS. But Virginia senior righthander Tyler Wilson (today's starter) is a proven big-game pitcher with outstanding command, and I expect the Cavaliers to rebound from Tuesday's loss to South Carolina with a victory against Cal. John is also taking the Cavaliers.
One other note: Florida announced today that it will start junior lefthander Alex Panteliodis against Vanderbilt and Sonny Gray on Friday. Panteliodis was outstanding over 5 1/3 shutout innings against Vandy in the SEC title game, but I'm still a bit surprised the Gators opted not to bring back ace Hudson Randall on five days' rest against an opponent of Vanderbilt's caliber, especially with Gray on the mound. Randall will be the choice if Vandy forces a rematch Saturday; otherwise he'll be plenty rested to start the opener of the CWS Finals next week.
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