How awesome is it that we can even pose a question like that?
Oklahoma State is yet to lose a game in this postseason, going 5-0 against Nebraska, Clemson and South Carolina. They are also yet to trail in a game this postseason. For that reason, you (and I) have to like OSU’s chances to advance out of Bracket 2 and into the CWS Championship series. Let’s take a look at the teams in OSU’s bracket (other than the Pokes,) and look at how OSU could advance.
The Gauchos come into the CWS as the only team who could argue being as hot as the Cowboys right now. UCSB upset Vanderbilt in the Nashville regional, where DH Austin Bush hit four home runs. They are coming off a walk-off grand slam to knock off Louisville, the 2nd national seed in the tournament. Their presence in the CWS is no fluke.
That being said, the Gauchos don’t possess the level of talent that Oklahoma State does. That’s typical with the smaller coastal schools. It doesn’t mean, however, that OSU can take UCSB lightly. RHP Shane Bieber will more than likely be the starter in Game 1 against the Pokes. Bieber posted a 12-3 record with a 2.84 ERA in the regular season.
Oklahoma State’s pitching has been outstanding in the postseason, and they’ve received some timely hitting. If that continues, I’d expect OSU to move past UCSB in the first round.
The Wildcats are riding high coming into Omaha, having swept a national seed, Mississippi State, in Super Regionals. Arizona is a bit of a wild card, however. They posted a 16-14 record in the PAC-12, which isn’t exactly a stout baseball conference. This is the first season under new head coach Jay Johnson, and it is quite impressive that he has led them this far in their first postseason appearance under him.
Arizona does have a 3.42 team ERA, and if they want to get past Miami in the first round, that will need to show up.
That being said, you could argue that Arizona is on the same talent level as UCSB and Coastal Carolina. For this reason, I’d expect Miami to take care of business against Arizona on Saturday.
Miami comes into the CWS for the second straight year. Last year, they went 1-2 and were bounced in their bracket. They will come in with a chip on their shoulder, but they aren’t exactly riding high into Omaha. While they went 5-1 in tournament play to reach Omaha, they won regional games against Stetson by a score of 4-2, Long Beach St. 4-3 and 9-8. Then, in Super Regionals, Boston College pushed Miami to three games. Eventually, the ‘Canes would take care of business, but it wasn’t an easy road for them.
Their success will come on the arms of their pitching staff. The strength isn't in the starting rotation, but rather, the bullpen. Miami likes to get to the bullpen in late innings and slam the door. Look out for the ‘Canes catcher, Zack Collins. He hit 15 HR’s to go along with a .357 average in the regular season.
It would be unfair to assume Oklahoma State and Miami advance out of their first games, because the College World Series is anything but predictable. For the sake of #analysis, let’s assume the ‘Canes and Pokes win their games on Saturday.
If this were to happen, I actually really like OSU’s chances against Miami. High-powered offensive teams tend to lose confidence against shutdown pitching and stellar fielding, and OSU has both. OSU posted a .978 fielding percentage in the regular season, which is among the best in College Baseball. And about Miami’s offense... OSU has seen great offenses in this tournament. Clemson had a top-five offense, and South Carolina had posted 20+ runs in two consecutive games when OSU ran into them.
If there was a bracket that shaped up well for OSU to advance to the Championship series, it’s this one. With three national seeds in Bracket 1, OSU caught a break. Let’s see if they can capitalize on it.