|2008 COLLEGE WORLD SERIES PREVIEW: PART I
June 10, 2008
Jason, SCS.com Staff Writer
This bracket of the College World Series has the potential to go to a seventh game. There are four coaches that have excellent resumes and have been to Omaha a few times now. The teams in this bracket are #1 Miami, #8 Georgia, #4 Florida State and Stanford. The team that comes through this bracket will be battle tested and might be out of pitchers to boot. Only Stanford swept their way through the Super Regional but the other three had strong performances in Game 3's at home. Look for some good baseball on this side of the bracket.
Hitting: There is not an "easy" out in the starting lineup. Even Yasmani Grandal has proven to be a tough out in the postseason despite his .235 average. Jemile Weeks is the table setter with 83 hits and 21 stolen bases. Yonder Alonso is the bomber with 23 homers.
Pitching: The team ERA is 3.93 but freshman Chris Hernandez is the ace at 11-0 and a 2.62 ERA. The starters usually pitch with a lead and generally throw strikes. Carlos Gutierrez has 13 saves on the season.
Coaching: Jim Morris has been there and done that, but most of the Hurricane fans have asked what have you done for us lately. The Hurricanes have not won it all since 2001 but have a real good shot this season.
Game-Changers: With Alonso and Weeks, the Hurricanes have two big game changers; however, do not count out Blake Tekotte's big hits. Eric Erickson and Enrique Garcia can hang zeroes on the opponent's linescore.
Hitting: This team is top heavy when it comes to hits in the lineup. This weekend in the Super Regional, the Bulldogs got some help from the bottom and will still need to do so. Gordon Beckham has been Mr. Do-It-All as he leads the Bulldogs in most offensive categories, including having 101 hits on the season. The team is hitting .309 on the season.
Pitching: The team still has a high ERA at 4.82, but the past two weekends, the Bulldogs have gotten timely pitching from Nick Montgomery (complete game shutout against GA Tech in Regional and a Game 3 victory in the Super Regional). The Bulldogs have also welcomed back Trevor Holder, 8-4 and 4.34 ERA, after an injury in the last regular season series against Alabama. Joshua Fields has 16 saves but has been touched for five runs in his last two outings.
Coaching: Dave Perno has now taken the Bulldogs to the College World Series in three of the past five seasons. His teams are 2-4 in the CWS and have a shot at winning a few after showing resiliance the past two weekends.
Game-Changers: Two words here: Gordon Beckham. For the most part the Dogs go when Beckham goes. When he doesn't go, the Dogs usually don't go anywhere. Lately, he's been on and so have the Dogs.
Hitting: The team is hitting .299 for the season. Jason Castro leads the way with 99 hits, 69 RBIs, and a .379 average. Sean Ratliff leads the team with 21 homeruns.
Pitching: The team has a 4.37 team ERA. Jeffery Inman and Erik Davis have seven wins but ERAs over 4.00. Drew Storen leads the team with 8 saves.
Coaching: Mark Marquess has been around the block a time or two and certainly knows the way to Omaha. In 32 years at the helm, this is his 14th apperance in the CWS and two of his teams have walked away with the trophy. This very well could be number three.
Game-Changers: Jason Castro has been the leader all season and this CWS will just be another stage for him to showcase his talent. Look for Storen to lock down games late.
Florida State Seminoles
Hitting: The team is hitting .354 and much like their counterparts from south Florida do not have many holes from top to bottom. Buster Posey leads the way for the Seminoles with a .460 average, 26 homeruns, and 92 RBIs. Dennis Guinn has 18 homeruns as well as a .324 average.
Pitching: If there was an achilles heel for the Seminoles, it certainly would be here. They are pretty vulnerable to giving up runs as they have a 4.10 team ERA and no starter has under a 3.62 ERA. Matt Fairel has a 12-2 record, while Ryan Strauss has gone 10-1. Buster Posey saves games too with 6 to his credit.
Coaching: Mike Martin has now lead the Seminoles to the CWS for a 13th time. He has also lead the Seminoles to the regionals every year under his tenure, 29 seasons. It is time for him to bring the trophy back to Tallahassee for the first time.
Game-Changers: Buster Posey has a flair for the dramatic. The CWS stage is the best place to be dramatic and Posey will be up to the task.
THE FIRST ROUND MATCHUPS
Miami vs Georgia
Georgia will have to find a way to shut down the Miami lineup. Maybe watching the first and third games of the Arizona games will help the Bulldogs as the Wildcats found something in shutting them down. Miami will get hits off the Bulldogs but limiting the big innings will be crucial to the Dogs success. The Hurricanes will have to shut down the top of the Bulldogs lineup -- Peisel, Olson, Beckham, Poythress, and Massanari -- because if they get hits the Dogs will put crooked numbers on the scoreboard. This should be a real interesting game because this could be a 24+ run total game or a 5 run total game.
Stanford vs Florida State
Stanford has pitched it well the past two weeks and will have to do so again with the powerful Seminole lineup. The Seminoles have been prone to giving up lots of runs and the Cardinal will have to put up runs off the Seminole pitching. If the Seminoles put up big numbers in their halfs of innings, look for the Cardinal to be in trouble. The Stanford lineup is not built to comeback from big deficits.
C: Buster Posey, FSU
1B: Yonder Alonso, Miami
2B: Jemile Weeks, Miami
SS: Gordon Beckham, Georgia
3B: Stuart Tapley, FSU
OF: Blake Tekotte, Miami
OF: Matt Olson, Georgia
OF: Sean Ratliff, Stanford
UTIL: Bryce Massanari, Georgia
SP: Chris Hernandez, Miami
SP: Trevor Holder, Georgia
SP: Matt Fairel, FSU
RP: Joshua Fields, Georgia
RP: Carlos Gutierrez, Miami
THREE KEYS TO VICTORY
1. Chris Hernandez will need to continue his great freshman year, but unfortunately he can only only pitch so much.
2. Yonder Alonso needs to keep doing what he does best. That would be knock the ball out of the park and drive in runs.
3. Carlos Gutierrez will need to close out games just as he has done all season. If he does this then the Hurricanes have a real shot at a title.
1. Continue the ACC gauntlet. They have taken out Georgia Tech and NC State. It appears that they are going to have to knock off Miami or Florida State.
2. Pitching, Pitching, and Pitching. Nick Montgomery has stepped into a big time role and will have to do it again if the Dogs want to go deep into the bracket.
3. Gordon Beckham needs to continue his big time play. He and the others in the top of the lineup will have to continue putting big numbers up.
1. Mark Marquess has gotten the most out of his team in the post season. This will have to be the case once again will be the order for his ball club.
2. Jason Castro will have to continue to lead the way for the Cardinal. Runs are going to be important in this bracket and he will have to drive in runs for them.
3. Pitching will be crucial to keeping the opponents off the scoreboard. The Cardinal will have to keep the potent lineups in check to come out of this bracket.
1. Buster Posey. He will need to keep putting up offense for the Seminoles. He has been all season and should do so in Omaha.
2. Pitching will just have to throw strikes as they have been all season because the offense should put up runs for them.
3. Keeping the 10 run pace is hard to do as was the case for the Seminoles in elimination games. They will need all the runs they can get or they will be in trouble.
WRAPPING IT UP
The ACC has not won a baseball title since 1955. By the way, that is the only baseball title the ACC has picked up. Miami and Florida State have real decent shots at making the championship game (as does North Carolina in the other bracket). Georgia will rely on timely hitting and pitching to make it out of this bracket, while Stanford will play small ball in the caverness of Rosenblatt Stadium. This bracket should go seven games and we should see eye popping numbers put up by all offenses. Whomever gets the timely pitching performance will emerge victorious and will be playing for the title.