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Houston Sports Blog - Real sports cities have TWO Conference USA teams

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Tar Heels and Beavers? Are you kidding me?

While tragic that a national champion will be crowned this year not wearing Burnt Orange, the match up this year is intriguing pitting two programs fighting for their first College World Series crown.

The University of North Carolina (53-13) while highly regarded throughout the course of the season, finished the regular season with “two and BBQ” performance at the ACC Tournament. However, since the NCAA Tournament began, the Tar Heels have been on a tear going 8-0 and ultimately dispatching perennial power Cal-State Fullerton to earn a championship series birth.

NCAA Baseball National Player of Year Andrew Miller (LHP, 13-2, 2.36 ERA), Daniel Bard (RHP, 9-3, 3.84 ERA), and Robert Woodard (RHP, 7-1, 3.18) lead the formidable Tar Heel pitching staff. Miller and Bard were drafted in the first round (6th to the Detroit Tigers and 28th to the Boston Red Sox, respectively) of the MLB draft while Woodward was drafted on the second day (46th Round, St. Louis Cardinals). The offensive lineup led by Jay Cox (OF, .386 BA, 14 HRs) and Mike Cavasinni (with a nifty .439 on-base percentage in the Tournament) has averaged nearly 10 runs a game in the NCAA Tournament.

Oregon State University (48-15) took a different path into the College World Series championship game suffering an embarrassing 11-1 opening loss to the University of Miami (42-24). However, since the loss, the Beavers have won four grueling games ultimately blanking Rice University (57-13) 5-0 and 2-0 to secure a spot in the championship series.

Going into the College World Series, the Beavers were the only team of the eight participants to be ranked in the top 15 nationally in batting average and earned-run-average. Dallas Buck (RHP, 12-3, 3.43 ERA) leads the weary Beaver pitching staff that has been quite taxed by fighting out of the loser’s bracket. While Cole Gillespie (OF, .377 BA, 12 HRs) and Bill Rowe (1B, going 8-for-17 in the CWS to lead all CWS hitters) have powered the lineup and will lead it against the well-rested Tar Heel pitching staff.

Beaver fans are confident that the team is not overmatched from a talent perspective (the squad had nine players selected in the two days of the MLB draft including Buck and Gillespie). However, it remains to be seen how much gas is left in the tank of the Beaver pitching staff after playing four games in four days and using a variety of the members of their starting rotation and bullpen to claw back from the loser’s bracket. The pitching staff for the Tar Heels, in comparison, is set up nicely and will probably throw Miller and Woodard in the initial two games and hold Bard for a decisive third game if the situation presents itself.

While I have much appreciation for the Beavers knocking the Rice Owls out of the CWS, I have to think that their pitching staff is running on empty. I am inclined to pull for the Tar Heels (many thanks North Carolina for generously provided our football team with Mack Brown), but would not be surprised if the Beavers gut through a few more games to pull off a stunning reversal from the 11-1 debacle to a National Championship. It should be a great match-up and it beats watching the World Cup or JJ Reddick promotional videos from the Rockets.


Blogger Tim said...

Congratulation to Oregon State for winning the first annual asterisked College World Series. Why the asterisk? Because they didn't go through Texas to get it.

Tue Jun 27, 09:18:00 AM  

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