College Baseball Hopes Hinge on Cold Bats
By Bo Carter
OMAHA — There has not been a home run hit in the first eight games of the 2014 NCAA Division I World Series.
There was a crucial, ground-rule double to start the winning inning of Virginia’s 3-2 win in 15 innings over TCU – the Horned Frogs’ third contest of 15 innings or more this season. Previously, the Frogs downed Dallas Baptist 5-4 in 15 frames and Sam Houston State in 22 stanzas in the NCAA Fort Worth Regional.
Has pitching been dominant? You bet.
At the eight-game point pitching-replete Vanderbilt and Virginia, both looking for their first national titles in baseball, are 2-0. Unlucky Texas Tech, which allowed only eight runs in seven postseason NCAA outings and lost a 3-2 decision to TCU and 2-1 in walk-off fashion to Ole Miss Tuesday. The Red Raiders were the second team eliminated after Louisville lost a pair of one-run decisions.
Seven of the first eight games have been decided by one run, and Vandy’s 6-4 offensive “explosion” against UC Irvine was both the most runs scored by any team and the most combined markers (10) in the first four days.
Have the NCAA rules-makers taken the bats literally out of he competing teams’ hands? It appears so. But the suspense and coaching chess matches in the 2014 World Series make for great drama as the tussles head toward the climax.
Beware of Texas, sitting in an elimination position Wednesday against UC Irvine in a rematch of the Anteaters 3-1 win over UT in Game One of the CWS. Coach Augie Garrido’s crew has ample arms ready, even without the services of injured ace Dillon Peters (elbow) and just enough speed and hitting to force the dreaded “if necessary” games over the weekend in that bracket.
Again, this writer looks a little more offense than 3-2 and 2-1 nail-biters, but these airtight bouts do lead to great ratings and televised drama – along with a bottle or two of Maalox for each winning and losing coach.
Bo Carter, former sports information director of the Southwest Conference and Big 12, is a regular contributor and serves as secretary of the College Baseball Writers. For more from Bo Carter, follow him on Twitter at #bcarter52 and Facebook at Bo Carter (Carrollton, Texas).