When the College World Series kicks off this weekend. Eight teams are left standing, two of the eight are from the Atlantic Coast Conference. They are the Florida State Seminoles and the Louisville Cardinals. Both programs will be looking for their first national championship in baseball.
For the Cardinals, this is their fourth trip to the CWS. They were there last year as well. Louisville was 3-0 in regional play then swept the Kentucky Wildcats in the super regional to get to Omaha. This group is led by a couple of terrific players. First, there is Brandon McKay the ACC player of the year, and the John Olerud Award winner. This week he was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays with the fourth pick in this year draft. A player that has two-way skills both as a pitcher and everyday player. In 16 starts his record is 10-3 with an ERA of 2.34 and he went 6.2 innings in the series-clinching win over the Wildcats. In doing so he broke two records. McKay now has 385 career strikeouts to his credit, which includes 140 for this year.
On offense McKay put up good numbers playing first base and is getting help. Infielder, Drew Ellis, had an impressive weekend against Kentucky. In game two he went 3-4 on the day with two of those hits being long home runs. For the season Ellis is hitting .367 with 20 dingers hitting in the middle of the lineup. He has forced opposing pitchers think twice about pitching around McKay.
The team heads to the CWS with a team batting average of .289 and has a team ERA of 2.85, third best in the nation.
Louisville’s first round opponent will be the Texas A&M Aggies who also went 5-0 combined in both regionals to get here. It has been six years since the Aggies have been to the College World Series with the last time being in 2011. Their top hitter is a freshman infielder Braden Shemake. He started all 62 games this year for A&M and led the team with a .335 batting average that included 28 extra- base hits. He also drove in 68 runs which are more than twice as many as anyone else in the lineup. In the five games played so far in the tournament, he is hitting 6-24 with three runs batted in.
On the mound for the Aggies Junior Brigham Hill should be the game one starter. He is 2-0 in the tournament with six runs given up in 11.1 innings pitched. For the season he is 8-3, 3.18 ERA, in a team high 96.1 innings pitched. He is the only pitcher to record triple digits in strikeouts with 107.
Heading to Omaha is nothing new for the Florida State Seminoles, after all this will be their 22nd trip to the CWS. For Head Coach Mike Martin he is still looking for that first National Championship. He brings a team to Omaha that finished the ACC year with a .500 record at 14-14. Dylan Busby is his best player and he leads the team in HR with 14, doubles with 20 and has a team best slugging percentages at .596. On the hill look for Tyler Holton to get the ball to start things for FSU. A 10-2 record in 17 starts and an ERA of 2.25 in 112 innings pitched. He has been a big game pitcher for the Seminoles and he will have to be for FSU to have a chance this year.
They will meet a program that is also no stranger to this stage in LSU as the Tigers are here for the 18th time and have won it all six time. The last one was in 2009. OF Greg Deichmann has 19 home runs and 78 runs batted in to his credit so far and he has hit in nine of his last ten games with five runs driven in. However, in five post season games he has only one extra base hit to his name.
Alex Lange has become the go to starter in the second half of the season for the Tigers. His ERA is 2.92 for the year despite giving up 13 earned runs in March. He has 134 K’S to his credit and pitched well in game one of the super regionals VS Mississippi State going 7.2 innings with 10 punch outs.