June 14, 2012- Still adjusting to this summer schedule; I've gone from calling 3 to 4 games a week to none. Hosting SportsNite & College Football Fix...writing some blogs...even went out and covered the Atlanta Falcons one day. The rest is nice but I'm already looking ahead to football season.
Let's go back and review my College World Series predictions that I made two weeks ago. First of all, my national Finals prognostication of Florida vs. Arizona is still in play and I'm sticking with it & the Gators to win the National Championship. Nothing has happened to change my mind on Florida. Since I first saw them in March versus South Carolina, I felt they were the most talent team in the nation andthey still are. Of course they have toplay the Gamecocks in the first round Saturday in a rematch of last year's Finals. South Carolina has won 21straight NCAA post-season games dating back to the 2010 CWS. How can I pick against that? Actually even the most ardent SC fan knows that's going to end sometime...I'm guessing it's this weekend although the Gators will have to beat the Roth Price combo to do it and the only game SC beat UF this season (out of four) was with those two guys on the mound.
Arizona is my surprise national finalist but you'll remember (and if you don't reference my blog dated 531) I picked the Wildcats to play the Gators, even before we knew that they would be hosting St. John's in the Supers. I called Andy Lopez's team back in March in a two-game series at Rice. They are not a spectacular team but I like the way they play and they are playing with a ton of momentum right now (but isn't everybody come to think of it).
Florida State is certainly a legitimate candidate to blow-up that prediction and reach the Finals to play the Gators. The Seminoles have been to 20 College World Series and never won one. If you knew Coach Mike Martin you'd probably be pulling for the Noles; one of the true gentlemen of college baseball. FSU is led by CF James Ramsey who came back for his senior season when he could have gone ahead and started his pro career. Noles have a tremendous defensive infield and a young pitching staff (that has been the surprise of the team).
I called UCLA too early in the season and knew right away this was going to be a team to be reckoned with and here the Bruins are in the CWS. Coach John Savage told me back then that his team had a "chip on its shoulder." You'll remember the Bruins made the Finals in 2010 but then with 1 MLB pick Gerrit Cole and 3 pick Trevor Bauer on the mound last season didn't even get out of the Regionals. Savage said this year's team was determined to prove they could be even better without those two pitching stars...and they have. Not the same star power but RHP Adam Plutko and Nick Vander Tuig are really good and OF Jeff Gelalich can do a lot of damage.
Unfortunately for Arkansas (and the SEC), the Razorbacks are in the same bracket with SC & UF. If the Razorbacks pitchers can keep throwing shutouts they might hang around Omaha for a while but the Hogs can have severe offensive droughts. In fact Arky scored only 7 runs in their Supers series win at Baylor and two of those came on bases loaded hit-by-pitches...but they won and that's what counts. I just think that offensive inconsistency is going to catch up with them.
The other two teams are true Cinderellas...Stony Brook the first team from the northeast to reach the CWS since 1986 and Kent State the first team from the MAC to get there since 1976. Neither team is a fluke. Stony Brook got to Omaha by winning the Miami Regional (beat the Hurricanes10-2 in the opening game to set the stage for the U's embarrassing early exit)and then won the Supers at LSU (and probably should have swept in 2games). Kent came out of the Purdue Regional (beating Kentucky in the final) and then won the Super at Oregon. The CWS is actually an easier format than the Regionals and Supers if you can get in the winner's bracket. If the Seawolves (vs. UCLA) and Golden Flashes (vs. Arkansas) can win their first game...and they are certainly capable...who knows? I wouldn't bet against them.
Now back to my summer...