John is busy being Editor of Baseball America today, so it falls upon me to write the picks text for both of us. That should be easy enough: We're both taking Florida in the first game (against Kent State) and South Carolina in the second game (against Arkansas).
John thought Florida looked very out of character in Saturday's loss to South Carolina. He thought the Gators played and coached tight, and he expresses some concern about Florida's reliance upon the three-run home run to generate offense, because waiting for the long ball is not a winning strategy at TD Ameritrade Park. But he expects the Gators to return to character against the Golden Flashes, and I agree. Florida ace Hudson Randall is one of college baseball's premier big-game ptichers, and he has pitched very well in the second half of the season. I expect him to turn in a gem today, and I think the Florida offense will wake up against Ryan Bores. It's true that Florida leads the nation in home runs, but that lineup is stocked with experienced players who are plenty capable of stringing together line drives and playing small ball when necessary.
John has decided it is foolish to pick against the Gamecocks until they actually lose a game—something they haven't done in the postseason since their CWS opener in 2010. We were both very struck by how loose and confident South Carolina looked Saturday—as usual. The Gamecocks just have serious mojo, and they are playing at a very high level in all facets. Arkansas Ryne Stanek is capable of dominating anyone at any time (like he did in regionals against Rice, throwing seven scoreless), or getting yanked early if his command is off (like it was last week against Baylor, when he walked four and exited after four innings). South Carolina's Colby Holmes isn't nearly the prospect that Stanek is, and his stuff is far less electric, but he's steadier. We both expect him to get the job done today.
John: Florida, South Carolina.
Aaron: Florida, South Carolina.
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