OMAHA—We've enjoyed two straight days of perfect weather in Omaha—mild, low humidity, lots of sunshine. In short, Irvine weather.
The wind is howling today—straight in from center field, of course. It hasn't stopped the tailgaters from packing Lot D across the street, but it blew a bunch of hats off their heads and food off their tables as Jim Shonerd and I arrived at the ballpark. The wind is a portend of nasty weather to come this evening, according to the meteorologists. Severe storms are expected tonight, but there looks like a decent chance the first game between UC Irvine and Texas will proceed as scheduled.
Let's get to our Day One picks. This year, we are making it a three-man contest between Jim, John Manuel and me. I believe John is the defending champion, but my memory is conveniently hazy on that point.
Aaron Fitt's Picks:Texas, Vanderbilt
Jim Shonerd's Picks: Texas, Louisville
John Manuel's Picks: UC Irvine, Vanderbilt
I love these two matchups, and it's hard to find a clear favorite in either game, given the quality of the four pitchers slated to start. Nathan Thornhill and Andrew Morales are unflappable seniors who can be counted upon to throw strikes in the first game. Both have been stellar in the postseason, and I expect both to work deep into the game today. This game is a toss-up for me; my gut says Texas, so that's who I'll pick.
Louisville's Kyle Funkhouser impressed me so much at the Louisville Regional for his ability to command his fastball to both sides of the plate, but he has been prone to occasional control lapses even this season, and if that happens today, I think Vanderbilt will cash in. I love Vandy's decision to start Carson Fulmer today; he has electrifying stuff and a fearless mound demeanor, and I expect he'll put on a show for a national audience today. Another very tough game to peg, but I'll take the Commodores.