The Rosenblog 2016: Time For A New Name? Hardly


Baseball America staffers past and present have made their College World Series picks on the Rosenblog for years.

Is it time to re-brand, considering the old ballpark hasn’t housed Series games since 2010 and no longer stands down by the Henry Doorly Zoo? Not as long as I’m around . . . and wearing my “I Still Call It Rosenblatt” shirt.

At least the picks portion of BA’s College World Series coverage will continue to pay homage to the ballpark that made the CWS what it is today. The Series remains a great event in its new park, even if it faces the wrong way and feels more like a TV studio than a ballpark.

Enough reminiscing; the new park has started to accumulate its own memories, and this is Teddy Cahill’s first trip to the Series, so it’s time for him to build up his own CWS muscle memory. He and Mike Lananna will take you through the Series for the next two weeks, and I’ll be here for the opening weekend to help set the stage and take you deeper inside the Series than TV allows.

With that said, here’s our picks for the games:

Wednesday, June 29

Arizona vs. Coastal Carolina, 7 p.m.

Teddy: This is what the 2016 season comes down to. One game between Arizona and Coastal Carolina with the national championship on the line. These two teams are a combined 11-0 during the NCAA Tournament when facing elimination, so something will have to give tonight in Omaha.

We don’t know either team’s pitching plan and both teams are scrapping the bottom of the barrel. Someone is going to have to step up, either on short rest or after not pitching much (if at all) during the CWS. With that being the situation, I think this really comes down to a gut pick. And I’ll take Arizona. One thing is certain, however, neither team is going to go down easy tonight. It’ll probably go right down to the end again.

Pick: Arizona

Michael: Like Game 2, I wanted to wait for starter announcements before I made my picks. It’s Bobby Dalbec for Arizona and Alex Cunningham for Coastal Carolina, both starting on short rest—they each pitched Saturday. Dalbec has been the better of the two in the postseason—one of the best postseason pitchers period, striking out an NCAA tournament-best 33 and a CWS-best 18. Both pitchers should have premium pitchers waiting in the wings behind them—Cameron Ming for Arizona and Andrew Beckwith for Coastal Carolina. Beckwith has been near-untouchable in the CWS, and Ming was until a rough outing last night.
Honestly, I might lean a little bit toward Dalbec and Arizona, but here’s my dilemma: If I pick Coastal, and Coastal wins, I tie with Teddy in the pick standings. And that’s all that really matters, right? The Chanticleers have been coming back all postseason, and now I’m going to pick them to help me come back. I do, obviously, think they have a legitimate chance, too, especially with Beckwith in their back pocket. I wouldn’t be surprised to see either win it. It’s an extremely tight matchup, but let’s go with Coastal.
Pick: Coastal Carolina

Standings After Day 10: Michael 6-10, Teddy 7-9.

Tuesday, June 28

Arizona vs. Coastal Carolina, 7 p.m.

Teddy: After nearly two weeks in Omaha, we are down to what could be the final game of the College World Series. If Arizona wins tonight, it goes home with the trophy. If Coastal wins, everyone comes back for a decisive Game 3 on Wednesday.

Both coaches are playing their pitching plans close to the vest, making it difficult to handicap this game. But, as I’ve mentioned before, Arizona is playing with incredible confidence and belief right now. So regardless of how the pitching sets up, I like them to close it out tonight. They’ve got the offense, enough fresh arms in the bullpen thanks to a day off and J.C. Cloney’s shutout last night and the right mentality to pull this off. As always, Coastal won’t be an easy out, but Arizona has what it takes to finish tonight.

Pick: Arizona

Michael: I wanted to wait for the announced starters before I made my picks, and now that we know that closer Mike Morrison is starting for Coastal Carolina and Kevin Ginkel for Arizona, well, it’s still a tough decision. But I’m leaning Coastal. I think the Chanticleers are too experienced and too talented offensively to go down quietly for a second straight night. While Ginkel has good stuff—up to 96 mph in this CWS—he’s also been hit around a bit, and the Chanticleers match up well against him with a lineup that leans lefthanded.
Meanwhile, of all of the available pitching options for Coastal—outside of Andrew Beckwith, who is unavailable—Morrison gives them the best chance to win. I imagine Bobby Holmes would likely come in behind him, and between the two of them, I think they can hold Arizona down. My guess: this game is a little more offensive than what we saw last night. I’m going with the Chants.
Pick: Coastal

Standings After Day Nine: Michael 5-10, Teddy 7-8.

Monday, June 27

Arizona vs. Coastal Carolina, 6 p.m.

Teddy: The improbable championship series between Arizona and Coastal begins tonight. As I wrote in the preview of the series, these two teams are remarkably similar in everything from their offensive style to their path through the NCAA Tournament to the amount of fun they have playing the game. Hopefully that makes for an entertaining series.

In tonight’s opener, I’ll go with Arizona. The Wildcats are throwing J.C. Cloney, who pitched very well in Arizona’s elimination game victory against UC Santa Barbara last week. The Chanticleers, meanwhile, will turn to Zack Hopeck, who faced one batter at the end of Coastal’s 6-1 loss to Texas Christian last Tuesday. Coastal’s offense has been hot over the last week, and is capable of giving Hopeck plenty of support. But the Wildcats have the hitters to match the Chanticleers. Confidence shouldn’t be a problem for either team, and we know that the Wildcats will be loose on the big stage.

Pick: Arizona

Michael: Here we are in the College World Series finals, with Arizona and Coastal Carolina going at it—as we all predicted (pay no attention to my previous picks. Let’s just ignore those, shall we?). OK, I’ll confess that I’ve picked against both teams all CWS and I’ll apologize to both coaching staffs in due time. Both of these teams making it to the finals is incredible story,with both teams beating the odds and taking two very difficult paths to get here. These finals, to me, are a toss-up. I do think Arizona has the edge tonight with the junior lefthander J.C. Cloney on the mound. He threw seven scoreless against UCSB on Wednesday and has been a steady arm all year for the Wildcats, going 7-4, 2.66. The Chanticleers lineup, while hot, leans lefthanded with Anthony Marks, Connor Owings and G.K. Young—all top-half-of-the-order hitters—batting from the left side.
Coastal Carolina, on the other hand, is starting sophomore righthander Zack Hopeck, who has only pitched once in this CWS in a relief role. He’s 3-3, 3.81 this year, and he’s certainly serviceable, but I’m not sure how much pitching the Chanticleers have behind him in the bullpen. The Arizona offense is very aggressive, starting at the top with Cody Ramer and Zach Gibbons. Those two have been getting on base early and getting Arizona on the board early—getting them out will be the big test for Hopeck.
Pick: Arizona

Standings After Day Eight: Michael 4-10, Teddy 6-8.

Saturday, June 25

Arizona vs. Oklahoma State, 2 p.m.

Coastal Carolina vs. Texas Christian, 7 p.m.

Teddy: Coming off its first loss since the Big 12 Conference Tournament, this game sets up well for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys will throw Thomas Hatch, their fully rested ace, while the Wildcats are left to piece together their pitching. And even if Arizona brings back righthander Bobby Dalbec on short rest, Oklahoma State has already seen and beaten him this week. It may been just been a 1-0 victory, but that could be a mental edge for the Cowboys. But, quite frankly, little has made sense throughout the NCAA Tournament. The national seeds are all at home. Omaha briefly turned into chOmaha. ESPN commissioned a few Arizona players to make a trailer for the CWS. So I can’t reasonably expect today to follow the script. I like the Wildcats in Super Bowl 70.

As well as the first game seems to set up for Oklahoma State, the nightcap may be set up even better for TCU. Because Bracket 2 played its second game on Tuesday, Coastal can’t really bring back Game 2 starter Alex Cunningham. It took a heavy dose of closer Mike Morrison on Thursday to extend its season. So, as coach Gary Gilmore said Friday night, the Chanticleers are going to need someone who has yet to pitch in Omaha to step up. Against this Horned Frogs’ offense, that’s a tough task. Coastal won’t make it easy, but I’ll take TCU here.

Picks: Arizona, TCU

Michael: Here we are again, with the same games from Friday being played again—except this time it’s do or die. I was wrong with both of my picks Friday, and I am not a happy camper. Let’s try to get it right today. Starting with Arizona and Oklahoma State, a matchup Friday that resulted in a 9-3 Wildcats win, I’m going to pick the Cowboys one more time. If I am wrong on this again, I should probably send Jay Johnson and the Arizona coaching staff a hand-written apology for continually picking against them (it’s nothing personal!). My logic behind this pick is simple: the Cowboys have Thomas Hatch, and the Wildcats have some questions marks. With Nathan Bannister leaving with an arm injury in the third inning Friday, the Wildcats had to use both Kevin Ginkel and Cameron Ming out of the bullpen—two pitchers that I’d imagine were significant factors in the game plan for today. Maybe Ginkel could still pitch today; I wouldn’t be terribly surprised. But Ming threw 79 pitches Friday and won’t be anywhere near a pitcher’s mound. My guess is Bobby Dalbec will get the ball for Arizona, but how effective will he be on four-day’s rest? He’s been excellent this postseason, but it’s hard to know how much he’ll have left in the tank today. Hatch, meanwhile, hasn’t allowed a run in his last 26 innings—23 in the NCAA tournament. I’m not saying that scoreless streak will continue, but obviously, Hatch isn’t easy to hit, and with a fresh Trey Cobb waiting in the wings behind him in the bullpen, I like the Cowboys’ chances on the mound. The question for Oklahoma State is will the Pokes hit enough? It’s been an offensive struggle for them so far. We will find out shortly. Arizona has been piecing things together all postseason and could very well piece it together again, but I’m going with the safer bet here.

As far as Coastal Carolina and Texas Christian, first of all, let’s just hope we’re able to get the game in. The forecast for tonight is dicey at best, and it’s already thundering as I type this. On Friday, Andrew Beckwith did his thing . . . again. He threw his second-straight one-run complete-game of the College World Series, throwing 137 pitches to shut down what had been the most impressive offense in Omaha. However, like Arizona, the Chanticleers come into today’s game with far less pitching depth than their well-rested opposition. The starters haven’t been announced yet, but I know the Horned Frogs have more toys to play with, and I think their potent offense will bounce back against a more conventional arm, as opposed to Beckwith’s sidearming ways. I hate to keep picking against the Chanticleers, they’re a nice story and they’ve proved me wrong all postseason. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong once again today. But I said it Friday, and I’ll say it again: I’m expecting a Big 12 championship series clash.
Picks: Oklahoma State, TCU

Standings After Day Seven: John 4-5, Michael 4-8, Teddy 5-7.

Friday, June 24

Arizona vs. Oklahoma State, 2 p.m.

Coastal Carolina vs. Texas Christian, 7 p.m.

Teddy: Oklahoma State hasn’t played since defeating Arizona, 1-0, on Monday night. So the Cowboys will be well rested for this afternoon’s rematch. That time off shouldn’t be too much of an advantage, however, as the Wildcats have played only once in the interim and only needed two innings out of closer Cameron Ming on Wednesday to finish off a victory against UC Santa Barbara. So with two reasonably well-rested pitching staffs, I’ll default to the team throwing its ace. That’s Arizona, which will turn to Nathan Bannister. In his first start of the CWS, he held Miami to one run in seven innings. Oklahoma State will throw freshman Jensen Elliott, its No. 3 starter, who was last seen holding Clemson to one run in six innings – way back on June 5. It’ll be interesting to see how he responds to that kind of layoff.

In the nightcap, TCU has the hot bats and the fresher bullpen. And Luken Baker has remained red hot in the CWS. Coastal is an incredibly tough out and has the offense to hang with TCU, but the Horned Frogs are rolling right now.

Picks: Arizona, TCU

Michael: We’re down to the final four teams. It’s hard to believe there could potentially be only four games left in the college season. The first of today’s two games—Arizona vs. Oklahoma State—will likely be a low-scoring one. The Cowboys haven’t yet allowed a run in the College World Series, but they’ve also only scored two runs. Can they generate enough offense today against Arizona ace Nathan Bannister? Though Jensen Elliott is a freshman, he hasn’t pitched like it. To me, he’s like a younger Thomas Hatch—Oklahoma State’s redshirt sophomore ace—and I see him providing a quality start today. Even if he doesn’t, the Cowboys haven’t played since Monday. Their bullpen is as fresh as can be, and I’d imagine closer Trey Cobb will get a few innings today. I could truly see this one going either way, but I’m going to keep picking the Cowboys until they prove me wrong.

In the second game, TCU against Coastal , we have the two offenses who have actually kind of figured out how to score here. There’s some temptation to pick the Chanticleers, with Andrew Beckwith likely getting the start. He shut down Florida with a complete-game, one-run start earlier in this Series. But he also allowed seven hits in that game, and Florida wasn’t exactly rolling offensively in Omaha. The Horned Frogs are a better hitting club than the Gators, are less righthanded, and I’d expect them to take better hacks against the sidearmer/multiple arm-slot righthander Beckwith. TCU righthander Mitchell Traver is a wild card for me. He missed the bulk of this season with injury, and while he’s experienced and has good stuff, I don’t know entirely what to expect from him. The good news for TCU, much like Oklahoma State, is the Horned Frogs bullpen should be fresh. That’s not the case for Coastal, whose closer Mike Morrison threw a whopping 83 pitches last night. I’m going with Oklahoma State-TCU—an all Big 12 finals.

Picks: Oklahoma State, TCU

Standings After Day Six: John 4-5, Michael 4-6, Teddy 4-6.

Thursday, June 23

Coastal Carolina vs. Texas Tech, 7 p.m.

Teddy: Tonight, when it plays Coastal Carolina, Texas Tech will be facing elimination for the fifth time during the NCAA Tournament. The first four times, Texas Tech came out victorious, defeating Dallas Baptist in the regional championship, East Carolina twice in super regionals and Florida on Tuesday in a CWS elimination game. I like the Red Raiders’ chances of extending that streak to five games. They have the pitching depth necessary to extend their stay in Omaha and are battle-tested in the tense atmosphere they will face tonight. Coastal Carolina won’t make things easy, but Texas Tech has the pieces necessary to setup a rematch with Texas Christian on Friday night.

Pick: Texas Tech

John: Back home again from Omaha … It’s always tougher to watch the games on TV than in person. I’ll miss TD Ameritrade Park with its Tachos, low scores and ever-constant wind blowing in.

This elimination game will be the end of the line for either Coastal Carolina or Texas Tech, and I’m picking the favorites, the Red Raiders. I wasn’t completely sold on the Chanticleers’ pitching coming into the CWS, mostly from a depth standpoint, and that may get exposed against Texas Tech, which can swing it and has had some confident swings even at TDAP, even as it has scored just six runs in two games.

Both these teams has what it takes to score in the ballpark; I just like Texas Tech’s pitching depth a bit better.

Pick: Texas Tech

Michael: Texas Tech, the last national seed standing (No. 5) in the College World Series, takes on Coastal Carolina tonight in an elimination game. The Red Raiders are coming off their first College World Series win in program history, and the Chanticleers are trying to extend their first-ever Omaha trip. I don’t like calling this Coastal Carolina group a Cinderella, only because I do think the Chanticleers had a legitimate hosting case, and their RPI has compared favorably to the other top teams in the tournament all season. With that said, their run has been an unlikely one, and I do think it comes to an end tonight. It’s going to be tough to piece together their pitching with both Andrew Beckwith and Alex Cunningham having already thrown. I think the Red Raiders are in better shape from that standpoint. The Raiders also had the better tournament showing so far, in my opinion. They’re coming off an elimination game win against Florida—whom the Chants also beat—and they led against Texas Christian in the ninth of their opening game before Luken Baker did Luken Baker things. The Red Raiders are the more balanced club and a national seed for a reason. I see them moving on to play TCU in a Big 12 clash.
Pick: Texas Tech

Standings After Day Five: John 4-4, Michael 4-5, Teddy 4-5.

Wednesday, June 22

UCSB vs. Arizona, 6 p.m.

Teddy: With two teams already sent home, we’re getting down to the business end of the tournament. By Friday morning, there will only be four college baseball teams still playing. Today, Arizona and UCSB are playing for a spot in that final four. And, for a third game in a row, I’m going to take the Wildcats. Their bullpen should be in a bit better shape than the Gauchos’, who had to use closer Kyle Nelson in a longer outing Monday against Miami to stave off elimination. UCSB played well that day and they aren’t going to be an easy out, but I think Arizona can put together a victory to set up a rematch with Oklahoma State.

Pick: Arizona

Mike: This is a very fascinating matchup for me, as both teams have taken very similar paths to get here. Both are discounted teams from the west, both were No. 2 seeds in regionals, both swept a national seed in super regionals, both have coaches and players that are in Omaha for the first time. Each team has surprised again and again throughout the postseason, and it’s a shame one will have to go home tonight. Last night in my Facebook Live chat with Teddy, I said I’d give Arizona the edge in this game because the Wildcats’ pitching staff is fresher, and I don’t necessarily trust the pitching depth UC Santa Barbara has behind Shane Bieber, Noah Davis and Kyle Nelson, all of whom have already pitched. That said, I think this is one of those games, and one of those tournaments, where the most logical result on paper is a rarely the actual result. I’m going on a pure hunch here, but I’m going to pick the Gauchos. I think chOmaha continues for at least another couple of days.

Pick: UC Santa Barbara

Standings After Day Four: John 4-4, Michael 4-4, Teddy 3-5.

Tuesday, June 21
Texas Tech vs. Florida, 4 p.m.
Coastal Carolina vs. TCU, 8 p.m.

Mike: Given the underdog narrative that has permeated these playoffs, I’d be foolish to not pick both underdogs today, right? Probably. I’m still going with the favorites, though.

No. 1 seed Florida’s 2-1 loss to Coastal Carolina was alarming, especially the Gators’ offensive ineptitude, but I think that had more to do with the ingenuity of Coastal righthander Andrew Beckwith and his multiple arm angles. I see them bouncing back against the more conventional Texas Tech freshman righthander Davis Martin, and I see hard-throwing righthander Alex Faedo matching up well with the Red Raiders lineup. Even if he doesn’t, Florida has plenty of bullpen arms waiting in the wings behind him.

In the night game, I’m taking TCU—although the plucky Chanticleers once again are tempting. I just like the veteran poise in the Horned Frogs lineup, the heroics of freshman Luken Baker and the leadership of Evan Skoug. I believe they’ll find a way to get it done, and bullpen arms Brian Trieglaff—if he’s available—and closer Durbin Feltman are electric in the back of the ‘pen. The Chants are tough, though. That batting order with Michael Paez, Connor Owings, Zach Remillard in the middle has some legitimate pop, and they have a fresh bullpen after Beckwith’s complete game. It could be a close game, but I give the Frogs the edge.

Picks: Florida, TCU.

John: That’s what I get for bragging Monday—I went 0-for-2, as both Miami and Arizona took losses. Monday was a good day to be at the ballpark, as it wasn’t exceedingly hot, and even with two rain delays, the quality of play was high. Oklahoma State and Arizona pitched well, defended well and played with a lot of energy. That was a fun game.

And anytime you see back-to-back squeezes in Omaha, (a) you know a West Coast team is around, and (b) crazy stuff can happen. UC Santa Barbara pulled that off in its first-ever win in the Series. I can’t think of a better way for a Big West team to win its first game in CWS history.

On to Tuesday, my last full day of games here before Teddy & Mike take you home. I’m going with Florida in the opener, which I kind of hate to do because I’m somewhat taken with Texas Tech’s team and program. Tim Tadlock has brought the Red Raiders to Omaha twice and is 0-3 so far; a win would mean a ton to his program. I just can’t pick the talented Gators to go 0-2 as they did in 2012. Anything could happen, I’m just not picking it.

In the winner’s bracket, I’m going with a favorite again in TCU over insurgent Coastal Carolina. I’ll go ahead and put the Ziggy on them, as Dick Vitale used to say, and pick the Horned Frogs to win the whole thing. All the teams have talent; I’m picking TCU for having the best offensive approach. TCU is last in the country with seven sacrifice bunts; I think that aggression on offense will win the day here. Coastal’s hitters probably rank next in offensive approach, though, so those teams may provide some fireworks, even at TD Ameritrade Park.

 Picks: Florida, TCU

Teddy: Florida and Texas Tech find themselves in today’s elimination game after surprising losses Sunday—Florida was upset by Coastal Carolina, while Texas Tech was two outs away from advancing in the winner’s bracket before Luken Baker’s home run gave Texas Christian the win. They’re both talented teams that have experience in elimination games, but the Red Raiders have a lineup heavy on righthanded hitters who will have to face righthander Alex Faedo and his sharp slider. He didn’t have his best start in super regionals, but he’s difficult to pick against.

Both Coastal and TCU have been hot all postseason, winning their conference tournaments and then getting through tough tests the first two weekends of the NCAA Tournament to reach the CWS. One of these teams will be one win away from the CWS finals by the end of the night. And it’s hard to pick against TCU right now. The Horned Frogs are playing their best baseball of the season and are riding high after Baker’s game-changing blast.

Teddy Picks: Florida, TCU

Standings After Day Three: John 3-3, Michael 3-3, Teddy 2-4.

Monday, June 20
UC Santa Barbara vs. Miami, 2 p.m.
Oklahoma State vs. Arizona, 7 p.m.

John: My Father’s Day gift was taking the lead on the Rosenblog’s picks race.

As usual, a little knowledge can be dangerous, and more knowledge can be deadly. Mike and Teddy are on the college beat; I just have institutional knowledge and ego, but that’s enough at this point to lead the picks at a 3-1 start. Only Andrew Beckwith, @CaptnDap himself, has foiled me from a perfect start.

I just play my (generous) gut when it comes to picks and almost always pick against talent at TD Ameritrade Park. The park just negates talent; it rewards grit, toughness, aggressiveness and luck more. I’m not knocking the teams that win, because they did enough things right. TCU definitely earned its win with two home runs as well as better bullpen work than Texas Tech got, and Arizona’s offense out-executed Miami on Saturday.

That gives me confidence in picking Arizona over Oklahoma State in the showdown tonight in the late game. Both teams are red-hot, and the Cowboys look like the favorite on that side of the bracket, but the Wildcats are playing with such looseness and confidence. Plus, this pick goes back to ego; watch a West Coast team win it all after I wrote how down the West was back in April. The Karma Police are out to get me …

In the opener, Miami plays UC Santa Barbara, and I think I pegged it wrong and should have had the Gauchos as the “happy to be here” team instead of Coastal Carolina. At some point, Miami’s offense has to show up a bit, even in this park. Nothing would surprise me but the ‘Canes are the more talented, more athletic team, and if they can get a lead to their bullpen, I like Jim Morris’ handling of his relievers. He just needs a lead for Bryan Garcia; I think that will happen.

John Picks: Miami, Arizona.

Mike: I don’t see the Hurricanes going two-and-Q. I just don’t see it. The team is too experienced, too confident and the offense is too potent to go quietly. They’ll have a steady veteran going today on the mound in lefthander Danny Garcia, who I’d expect to provide a quality start—especially against a Gauchos lineup whose top bats are lefthanded. I like UC Santa Barbara freshman righthander Noah Davis. I think he has the chance to develop into a premier starter on the west coast with his low-90s fastball and a curveball that shows potential. But he’s been inconsistent in his freshman year, doesn’t always maintain his stuff, and I see him being on a short leash today. Lefthander Kyle Nelson, who I’d expect to come out of the bullpen at some point, perhaps very early, could cause matchup problems for Miami with lefties Zack Collins and Willie Abreu in the middle of the lineup. Even still, I expect the Hurricanes to figure it out and stay alive at least another day.

As for Arizona vs. Oklahoma State, this is a battle between Spider-Man and Utropolis—dugout super hero vs. dugout toy dinosaur. More importantly, it should be a great matchup between two teams who came into the tournament as No. 2 seeds and have since surged into the winners bracket in Omaha. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this game go either way, but Oklahoma State hasn’t lost yet in the NCAA tournament, and I think that will continue. The Cowboys will starter Tyler Buffett, a veteran with a four-pitch mix and great feel for pitching. He’s thrown nearly just as well as ace Thomas Hatch—who threw a complete-game shutout on Saturday—and he’ll have a fresh and rested bullpen behind him. As of this moment, Arizona hasn’t announced a starter. I have hunch Bobby Dalbec might get the call, but I could see it being J.C. Cloney, as well. Either way, I expect the game to be tight, but I give the deeper-pitching Cowboys the edge.

Mike Picks: Miami, Oklahoma State.

Teddy: The first team will be eliminated from the CWS today, with either upstart UC Santa Barbara or No. 3 national seed Miami going home this afternoon. UCSB hasn’t faced elimination this season, while Miami had to win Game 3 of the Coral Gables Super Regional to advance to Omaha for the 25th time in program history. That experience will probably be at least somewhat helpful for the Hurricanes. But, more importantly, Miami has a superior offense that should carry the day now that both teams have already used their top pitcher.

The nightcap features Arizona and Oklahoma State, two of the hottest teams in the CWS. The Wildcats still haven’t announced a starter, but regardless of who they settle on, the pitching likely favors the Cowboys. Still, I’ll go with the Wildcats. As I said when I picked Arizona to beat Miami, the Wildcats have been the underdogs throughout the postseason, but they keep winning. There’s just something about the way they’re playing and the way coach Jay Johnson has them thinking about the game that’s working for them. So, again, I will take them to continue the magic.

Teddy Picks: Miami, Arizona

Standings After Day Two: John 3-1, Teddy 2-2, Michael 2-2

Sunday, June 19
TCU vs. Texas Tech
Coastal Carolina vs. Florida

John: Day Two of the College World Series includes the bracket we consider the tougher bracket. It has No. 1 national see Florida and Coastal Carolina, the national leader with 94 home runs, in the nightcap after Texas Tech—seeded fifth nationally—and Texas Christian tussle in a Big 12 showdown.

I’m intrigued by both games but especially by the TCU/Tech tilt. The two teams played three times in the regular season, in Fort Worth, with Texas Tech winning the series en route to the Big 12 regular-season championship. Both clubs have Omaha experience in their coaching staffs, and some among their players, so that shouldn’t be a differentiator.

While the Horned Frogs have the reputation as the pitch-and-defense team, they actually hit .304 as a team this season. I won’t say they revolve around their offense, but this is a bit more balanced team making its third straight trip to Omaha. Meanwhile, I like everything about Texas Tech—the blend of experience and freshmen, the offensive balance, the toughness of fighting off East Carolina in the super regional after being down a game, to being constantly over-looked nationally.

Picking between them is literally a coin flip for me. It came up TCU (I gave the Horned Frogs tails, since they have tails and Red Raiders do not.)

In the nightcap, I’m all in with the Chanticleers being dangerous here, because even though they hit a ton of homers, they also can and do play the speed game. I also respect their decision to ditch their Dockers-style stripeless pants; Tyler Chadwick told me the seniors got together and persuaded the coaches to not have the Chants wears those gray slacks anymore “when all the games are on TV.” That’s savvy. I don’t think Coastal will be overwhelmed by Omaha; they’re too good for that.

But they’re running into Logan Shore and the Gators. In the end, I’m picking our preseason No. 1 until I can’t anymore.

John Picks: TCU, Florida.

Teddy: In the regular season, Texas Tech won the three-game Big 12 series against TCU, taking two of three games at Lupton Stadium. It was a very tight series that ended with the Horned Frogs having the tying run on second base in the rubber game, but the Red Raiders were able to pull it out. Sunday should be another great game between the two conference rivals. I’ll give Texas Tech the edge, but I think we could be treated to the best game of the opening round.

Coastal Carolina went into Alex Box Stadium and beat Louisiana State twice last weekend, giving it confidence it can truly play with anyone. It will need that confidence Sunday, as it takes on Florida, the No. 1 national seed, and All-American righthander Logan Shore. The Gators have lost only one game started by Shore this season, and that was interrupted by a rain delay in the third inning at LSU, knocking the 47th overall pick out of the game. Florida is incredibly tough to beat with its ace on the mound, and while its hitters will have their hands full against righthander Andrew Beckwith, Shore is impossible to pick against.

Teddy Picks: Texas Tech, Florida

Michael: I’m learning not to bet against TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle. I thought—and I don’t think I was alone—that Texas A&M was the clear favorite in the College Station Super Regional, and yet here the Horned Frogs are in Omaha for the third straight year. It’s impressive what Schlossnagle has done with what is essentially a new team from last year. This club is a little more offensive than the one that came to Omaha a year ago, especially with freshman phenom Luken Baker in the middle of things. And while the starting staff doesn’t have the experience of last year’s group—Preston Morrison, Alex Young and Tyler Alexander, what a trio!—redshirt freshman Jared Janczak has had a solid year on the mound, and I expect him to at least be serviceable tonight. All of that said, Texas Tech is clearly a very good team, and the Big 12 champions did actually take a close series from the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth. The Red Raiders have plenty of power in that lineup, with three players with double-digit home runs. I’m anticipating a close game—though not necessarily a low-scoring one. I give TCU an edge, but that’s more on gut feeling than anything else.

There’s always some temptation to pick the scrappy underdog with nothing to lose, the team that’s “playing with house money,” as Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore said Friday. But I have to go with the Gators here, especially with junior Logan Shore on the mound. I mean, the guy just doesn’t lose! Andrew Beckwith’s numbers (12-1, 2.12) stand out, and he’s a crafty righthander who could give Florida some fits with his funky arm angle. But I think Peter Alonso and the gang figure him out or at least find a way to scrape a few runs off of him, and then you leave the rest to Shore and the deepest, most talented pitching staff in the country. To me, and to many others, this is Florida’s College World Series to lose, and I’m going to keep picking the Gators until they show me otherwise.
Michael Picks: TCU, Florida
Standings After Day One: John 2-0, Teddy 2-0, Michael 1-1

Saturday, June 18
Oklahoma State vs. UC Santa Barbara
Miami vs. Arizona

John: Teddy and Mike have a much better feel for Oklahoma State after seeing them each of the previous two weeks, beating Clemson and then South Carolina on the road. I’m hoping the Cowboys bust out some old-school, Brad Beanblossom-era orange uniforms for the Series, which I know they are wont to do from time to time. They’re going to have to be at their best to beat Shane Beiber and a very stout Gauchos team that showed a lot of quiet confidence at yesterday’s open practice. They should be confident after beating Louisville on the road, but they have to face another ace in Thomas Hatch, who has been at the top of his game for Oklahoma State. On paper, this one looks like a low-scoring affair, the type both teams prefer. Seems like it will turn on a mistake; I like the Cowboys in a close one.

In the nightcap, Miami should be the prohibitive favorite in the bracket with 50 wins and as the only national seed. But I’m picking Arizona. It’s hard to find a looser bunch in some ways, and I’m tremendously impressed with how the Wildcats got to Omaha, going through hostile crowds at Louisiana-Lafayette and Mississippi State. Arizona also relies less on home runs than Miami does; if the ball isn’t traveling at TD Ameritrade Park, the ‘Canes may struggle to manufacture offense against the Wildcats’ pitching.

John Picks: Oklahoma State, Arizona

Michael: Having gotten a good look at both Oklahoma State and UC Santa Barbara in person, I see these two teams matching up well, especially with aces Thomas Hatch, of Oklahoma State, and Shane Bieber, of UCSB, going at it. On paper, it should be a low-scoring game, and both of these teams are conditioned for playing that sort of game. Hatch is in a groove right now, as the Big 12 Conference pitcher of the year threw scoreless seven-inning starts in each of his two NCAA tournament games. Bieber, meanwhile, just shut down an incredibly deep Louisville lineup on the road. Both pitchers tend to pitch to contact and allow their defenses to play behind them, with Hatch using a 90-94 mph sinker and Bieber peppering the zone and working quickly with excellent command of his 88-92 mph fastball. This game comes down to who can manufacture runs. While I think UCSB has a little more pop in the middle, especially with the way Austin Bush has been swinging it, the Cowboys, to me, are the more complete team and have been excelling in all phases of late. I’ll take the Cowboys to win this—make that my official pick—but I wouldn’t be shocked if Bieber carries the Gauchos to victory, either.

As I type this, Arizona hasn’t yet announced a starter for today. Maybe they’re grappling with the decision, or maybe it’s just some good old-fashioned gamesmanship. Either way, I’m picking Miami to win. This Hurricanes team is loose, confident and has a little “Miami spice,” as closer Bryan Garcia told me Friday. They’re treating this Omaha visit more like a business trip, compared to last year when they were somewhat overwhelmed by the experience. I like the veteran depth on this Miami team—there isn’t a freshman in the starting lineup. I don’t care about the dimensions of the ballpark, the Hurricanes offense is potent from top to bottom with Zack Collins powering the middle. I think they’ll find ways to score. And while the starting pitching isn’t overpowering, lefthander Michael Mediavilla should do enough to keep the Hurricanes in the game today, and obviously, they’ll have a proven closer in Garcia waiting in the wings. Even though this is the first Omaha trip for this group of Wildcats, I don’t think they’ll be intimidated. They certainly weren’t intimidated by the atmosphere in Starkville in their super regional sweep of Mississippi State, and there’s no denying Arizona’s run through the tournament under first-year head coach Jay Johnson has been impressive. But I’m still going with Miami.

Michael Picks: Oklahoma State, Miami

Teddy: UCSB has been the darling of the tournament, especially after their walk-off grand slam to eliminate Louisville last week. But Oklahoma State is playing its best baseball of the year and will be throwing righthander Thomas Hatch, who has excelled in his first two starts of the NCAA Tournament. It should be a good matchup with UCSB righthander Shane Bieber, but the Cowboys are looking good in their first trip back to the CWS since 1999.

The sheer impossibility of picking a winner of one game of baseball is certainly exacerbated when you don’t even know who one of the starting pitchers will be. But we solider on despite Arizona coach Jay Johnson not naming a starter Friday for the opening game against Miami. And, while I don’t know exactly who will pitch for the Wildcats, I think I like their chances. Miami should be the favorite, but so too were Louisiana-Lafayette and Mississippi State when they faced Arizona the last two weeks. So I’ll take Arizona to continue its magic on opening night.

Teddy Picks: Oklahoma State, Arizona

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