|It's a celebration, bitches.|
The Hoos are now 2-0 in the CWS. 30 of the last 33 national champions started 2-0 to float along in the winner's bracket, so if you use your maths to extrapolate, it means that Virginia and Vanderbilt combined (call it "Virginanderbilt") now have a 91% chance at winning a natty in Omaha. I'll take our half of that 91% - 45.5% - and run.
TCU faces Ole Miss tomorrow (Thursday) night at 8:00 PM. The winner advances to play us on Friday at 8:00 PM. The loser is eliminated.
UC Irvine and Texas are playing the same loser's bracket elimination game tonight at 8:00. So the loser of that game and the loser of TCU/Ole Miss will join Louisville and Texas Tech as teams expelled from Omaha. Which means, in essence, the next time the Hoos take the field, we'll be one of the last four teams alive. We are [un]officially in the College Baseball Final Four!
I don't have a good plan for the structure of this post, so I'll now just awkwardly ask myself a few questions, and answer them.
Who are we pulling for in that TCU / Ole Miss game?
Well, the good news is that these teams will be playing an extra game, one more than we'll have to. So arms will be that much more taxed when the winner advances to Friday. Ole Miss has the better offense, so I'm pulling for TCU to survive the elimination game. Facing a pitching-reliant team after they've played one more game during the week than you have is a pretty good situation. So... go Frogs!
|Except for this big, dumb redneck. He can pound sand.|
Who will we pitch on Friday?
I think it's obvious that Josh Sborz will take the mound as the starter on Friday. Great spot for the young man -- riding high on the wave of confidence from his excellent start in the clincher against Maryland, and enjoying the safety net of a Saturday game if we lose on Friday. He'll be able to just reach back and let it rip.
Can you give an inventory of the pitching staff when Friday rolls around?
Here is who we've seen so far...
Nathan Kirby -- 84 pitches
Artie Lewicki -- 22 pitches
Brandon Waddell -- 101 pitches
Nick Howard -- 60 pitches
Whit Mayberry -- 28 pitches
Artie Lewicki -- 24 pitches (46 total)
|Lewicki has two wins in two games in the CWS. Artie party.|
At this point, I'd say the only arm off the table is Waddell. But I'm sure Oak will want to save Kirby for an elimination game OR the first game of the championship series. I'm also not sure how quickly Nick Howard can bounce back from that extended outing, or how well Artie will respond to so many multi-inning outings in a row. My guess is that Artie and Whit are available, but only for 25-30 pitches, each. That leaves some other arms in our bullpen that we have not seen in a while: Austin Young (2.01 ERA, but a rocky appearance in game 2 against Maryland), Connor Jones (3.13 ERA, talented freshman fireballer who has been all sorts of shaky late in the season), David Rosenberger (2.82 ERA, pitched very well in the 2013 postseason), and potentially our secret weapon out of the bullpen, Alec Bettinger (1.23 ERA, a perfect 6-0 in games started this season). Bottom line, we need Sborz to pitch well in this start, or we'll be forced to delve into some uncharted territory with some of these other guys. Bettinger could be the key if we need looooong relief.
Again, the good news is that the Ole Miss / TCU winner will be waaaaay worse off, having burned pitchers on Thursday night while our guys are resting and mowing down on chicken fingers and cheese fries.
What is up with our offense??? Why aren't we scoring more runs, dammit?
Well, we hit .308 against Ole Miss, we just had bad cluster luck. Against TCU, we hit a pretty dismal .234, including an agonizing coldsnap in the last half of the game. Of course, Mississippi's Chris Ellis and TCU's Brandon Finnegan and Riley Ferrell are elite pitchers in college baseball, so they had some things to say about how our offense performed. I'm not especially concerned at this point, especially considering the fact that Branden Cogswell, Kenny Towns, and [most surprisingly] Nate Irving are hitting so well. Mike Papi swings a big stick to match his massive dick, and you know he's got another few key hits in him this postseason. We really need Joe Mac and Derek Fisher to get going, however. Once they do, we'll be unstoppable. I think we'll see a lot more runs scored this weekend, now that we're into the softer parts of these pitching staffs.
|Stone cold killer.|
National Championship or bust?
Nope. Win one more game, and it'll be our most productive trip to the College World Series. As a college baseball fan, you have to be happy with just making it to Omaha. That being said, I'll take our 45.5% chances to win the whole damn thing.