2011 College World Series
Saturday, June 18 – Wednesday, June 29, 2011, TV: ESPN, ESPN2
TD Ameritrade Park, Omaha, Nebraska
Defending Champion: South Carolina
In Part One of my CWS betting preview, I discussed the top 4 seeds. However the other 4 teams are dangerous as well and are capable of pulling off an upset or two.
Here is a look at the other 4 teams in the field in Omaha, and their odds courtesy of Bodog.
#6 Vanderbilt Commodores (Bracket #1 odds +180, CWS odds 15/4)
Vanderbilt is making their first ever appearance in the CWS, but are one of the favorites to win it. Vanderbilt is a very balanced team who led the SEC in batting average, scoring, and ERA. No team making their first appearance in Omaha has ever won it. Georgia Tech did make it to the Championship gmae in 1994, but that is the closest any team has come.
The Commodores crushed Oregon St in the Super regional winning 11-1 and 9-1 in the two games. Vandy is undefeated in the postseason.
Vanderbilt’s entire pitching staff has been almost unhittable in the postseason with a 5-0 record and a 1.20 ERA. They have 47 K’s and only 11 BB’s in 45 innings pitched. Vanderbilt had 12 players drafted last week to the Majors. The starters and bullpen are among the best in the country. Juniors Sonny Gray and Grayson Garvin were both first round picks as starters. Number 3 starter Taylor Hill would be the ace of many staffs. Vandy’s bullpen is so deep that LH Corey Williams and RH Mark Lamm were 3rd and 6th rounds picks but were relegated to middle relief for Vanderbilt. RH Navary Moore is one of the best closers in the country.
Vanderbilt’s offense is led junior 3B Jason Esposito and junior 1B Aaron Westlake who were both second team All-Americans. The offense is overshadowed by the pitching staff, but 8 hitters in the line-up are hitting over .300 and 5 are hitting over .340. They also score over 7 runs a game.
Vanderbilt has the talent to win the bracket, especially if Florida isn’t healthy. Vanderbilt will play North Carolina in the first round Saturday.
#7 Texas Longhorns (Bracket #1 odds +425, CWS odds 17/2)
Both Texas and in-state rival Texas A&M made it to Omaha from the Big 12 conference.
Texas had a tough super regional match-up with Arizona St that went the full three games. Arizona St won the first game 3-1. Texas then came back to win games 2 and 3 5-1 and 4-2.Texas has won 5 straight elimination games to get here, so they are a tough and gritty team that wins with pitching and defense.
The Longhorns had 9 players drafted. Right handed pitcher Taylor Jungman was undefeated in the regular season with an ERA below 1. He was the number 12 overall pick by the Brewers last week. However, he is 0-2 in the postseason with an ERA of 5.14. If he doesn’t find his dominant regular season form, this will be a short stay in Omaha for the Longhorns. Junior Sam Stafford and senior Cole Green are the other two pitchers in the rotation and have pitched better than Jungman in the postseason. Texas has a deep bullpen led by 2nd team All-American closer Corey Knebel. Knebel has 3 saves, a win and hasn’t given up a run in 7 post season innings.
Texas has a team batting average of only .272 and scores just over 5 runs a game. Texas leads the nation in sacrifice bunts and situational hitting. Texas only has two players with more than 2 home runs. Senior 1B Tant Shepherd is batting .305 with 5 homers, and Erich Weiss is batting .358 with 4 home runs.
Texas simply doesn’t have the offense to match up with Florida, Vanderbilt or North Carolina. Texas will be the first team eliminated as they will go 2 and out.
Texas A&M Aggies (Bracket #2 odds +350, CWS odds 11/1)
Though Texas A&M is unseeded, they are a very dangerous team. They tied with Texas for the Big 12 regular season title and won the conference tournament. The only reason they weren’t given a national seed was because ace John Stilson suffered a season ending shoulder injury before the postseason.
The Aggies pulled off the mild upset over Florida St in the super regional. A&M won the first game 6-2, and was destroyed 23-9 in the second game. The Aggies stormed back in the 3rd game 11-2 to advance to Omaha for the first time since 1999.
The Aggies had 8 players drafted last week. Pitchers Michael Wacha and Ross Stripling have picked up the slack in Stilson’s absence. Wacha is 2-0 with a 0.89 ERA in the post season, and Stripling is also 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA. The weak link is Derrick Hadley who was promoted to third starter after Stilson was injured. He got bombed by Florida St in their 23 run outburst. The Bullpen has struggled this postseason with 4 players with and ERA of 13.50 or higher, including normally reliable closer Joaquin Hinojosa. Nick Fleece has been the only reliable arm for the Aggies bullpen in the postseason.
Sophomore outfielder Tyler Naquin was the Big 12 player of the year. He is batting .483 in the post season with an OPB of .759 in 29 AB. Junior 1B Jacob House is batting .375 with 9 RBI’s in the postseason. Junior DH Matt Juengel is batting .360 with 2 home runs and 8 RBI’s.
Texas A&M will play South Carolina in the first round. The Aggies have the talent to pull off the upset and go deep into this tournament.
California Golden Bears (Bracket #2 odds +450, CWS odds 12/1)
It is a great story that California even made it to Omaha. Last September, Cal’s administration cut the program effective next season, in a cost cutting measure. Supporters of the team fought until April to save the program when the administration finally relented and reinstated the program. California is by far the worst team in the field of 8, but they are just happy to be here.
Cal was seeded #3 in their regional and upset Rice and Baylor to advance to the super regional against fellow Cinderella Dallas Baptist. The Bears won both games against DBU 7-0 and 6-2 to advance to Omaha for the first time since 1992.
Cal is 11th in the country in team ERA with 2.86. The Bears had 7 players drafted last week including 2 round pick Erik Johnson who is the ace of the staff. Second starter Justin Jones is 2-0 in the postseason and hasn’t allowed a run. Unfortunately he left his last start against Dallas Baptist after 6 inning and was in a sling the next day. He is questionable for the CWS with bicep soreness. Dixon Anderson and Kevin Miller will have to pick up the slack if Jones can’t go. The bullpen is the strength of the team including left hander Kyle Porter who hasn’t allowed a run in 8 postseason innings.
Cal is batting .288 as a team. They mostly hit line drives. Pac 10 player of the year is battling a pulled quad and was limited to playing DH during the super regional. catcher Chad Krist has 25 doubles on the season.
California will be like Texas and be one of the first teams out. However, as stated earlier even if they get smoked in 2 games, they have already won jsut by getting here.
It should be an entertaining tournament over the next 2 weeks. The College World Series is one of the best traditions in sports and is always a fun time.