The College World Series starts this Saturday. While several teams have had impressive runs through the tournament, not all that remain will prove up to the task of playing with the best teams in the country. Mississippi State and UCLA have both steamrolled opponents thus far in the tournament, but neither has the firepower to keep up with their opponent in the first round of the World Series. Each will be sent home early.
Of all the teams remaining in the tournament, Mississippi State finished the season as the lowest ranked team on Baseball America's top 25 list.
The Bulldogs are led on offense by outfielder Hunter Renfroe and shortstop Adam Frazier. Renfroe hit .360 this year with 15 big flies, while Frazier finished fourth in the nation with 102 hits. Behind these two, the team is less talented, and the lack of depth shows in the overall team batting average of .297, good enough for just 38th in the country this year.
The team's starting pitching leaves a lot to be desired. No. 1 starter Kendall Graveman would be no more than a No. 2 or No. 3 on a team with a talented starting rotation. The Bulldogs did manage to finish 10th in the nation in ERA this year, but much of that has to do with a strong bullpen.
Unfortunately for them, the bullpen won't do much for them if their weak starting pitchers give up early runs and the team is forced to play from behind.
With a matchup against an Oregon State team with an exceptionally talented pitching staff, the Mississippi State Bulldogs look primed for an early exit.
The UCLA Bruins finished the season ranked eighth on Baseball America's top 25 list, mostly thanks to a pitching staff whose ERA ranked ninth in the country.
That staff has carried the Bruins to this point and helped them sweep Cal State Fullerton in the Super Regional round. In a matchup with an LSU Tigers team whose own staff is every bit as good if not better, however, the Bruins may be overmatched.
While the Bruins staff is one of the best, their offense is one of the worst remaining in the tournament. They did not place in the top 50 in batting average in the country, hitting just .251. The leading hitter on the team, Kevin Kramer, hit only .279, and the entire team’s 19 home runs on the year were 12 less than San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant hit all by himself.
Against an LSU team that finished 15th in the nation in batting average, the Bruins staff will have to be near perfect given the team's offensive deficiencies.
This is a lot to ask for, and a quick departure at the hands of the Tigers seems far more likely.
I'm not exactly going out on a limb in saying that Mississippi State will lose to Oregon State in the first round of the CWS. The same goes for UCLA losing to a talented LSU team.
This is not to say that Mississippi State and UCLA aren't supremely talented teams, but in the College World Series the boys are separated from the men.
Oregon State and LSU are simply the better teams in these matchups.