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Card Chronicle CWS Preview (Part 2)

The second part of the Card Chronicle CWS Preview is dedicated to providing you with the essential information on the four teams in the bottom half (the less cool half, sorry Anteaters) of the bracket.

ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS (48-13)

Brief Overview

The obvious favorites to come out of the bottom half of the bracket, ASU is considered by many to be the best offensive team in the country. The Sun Devils sport a spectacular team batting average of .350, and have seven starters who hit above or barely below that mark. For the season they averaged 9.5 runs per game, which is the best of the eight teams in the field.  

Nine hitter CJ Retherferd has been the hottest of the hot for the Devils, bashing three home runs and eight RBIs in just nine at-bats this postseason.

Although the offense garners much of the attention, the ASU starting trio of Josh Satow (13-3, 2.41 ERA), Mike Leake (13-1, 3.59 ERA), and Brian Flores (11-1, 3.74 ERA) is 37-3 on the year. Also overlooked is the Sun Devil defense, which led the nation in fielding percentage at .978.

Arizona State swept its way to Omaha by outscoring its opponents 44-16 in five NCAA Tournament games.

Coach

Pat Murphy (528-255-1, 13th season)

How They Got Here

Record: 5-0

Tempe Regional

Arizona State 5, Monmouth 3
Arizona State 9, UC Riverside 2
Arizona State 19, Nebraska 7

Super Regional

Arizona State 4, Ole Miss 3
Arizona State 7, Ole Miss 1

Starting Lineup

  1. Andrew Romine (SS), .300
  2. Brett Wallace (1B), .423
  3. Eric Sogard (2B), .394
  4. Kiel Roling (DH), .373
  5. Petey Paramore (C), .379
  6. Ike Davis (RF), .346
  7. Matt Spencer (CF), .378
  8. Tim Smith (LF), .345
  9. CJ Retherford (3B), .333
Standout

Though players like Eric Sogard and Kiel Roling came into the season with more hype, it's been Brett Wallace who's been the offensive star for the Sun Devils this season. The First-Team All-American and Pac-10 Player of the Year leads the team in average (.423), home runs (16) and RBI (79).

Game One Starter

Freshman right-hander Mike Leake (13-1, 3.59 ERA) will get the call over junior lefty Josh Satow (13-3, 2.41 ERA) in game one against UC Irvine. Leake limited UC Riverside to two runs on four hits in a 9-2 complete-game regional win two weeks ago, and then gave up three runs on 13 hits in seven innings in a 4-3 super regional win over Ole Miss.

Team Offensive Statistics

Average: .350
Home Runs: 75
Slugging %: .537
On Base %: .436
Stolen Bases: 87

Team Pitching Statistics

ERA: .406
Walks: 230
Strikeouts: 433
Home Runs: 41
Opponents Average: .261
Shutouts: 2

CWS Appearance

20th (58-32 all-time, five-time national champion)

Record Against '07 CWS Teams

3-1 (All vs. Oregon State)

Quotable

"This is unbelievable. At the beginning of the year, our goal was to get to Omaha and make a run at the national championship. As soon as it happened I was just speechless." (Brett Wallace)

Card Chronicle Odds To Win It All

5-1

UC IRVINE ANTEATERS (45-15-1)

Brief Overview

In just its sixth year of fielding a baseball team after nixing down the program in 1992 because of state budget cuts, the UC Irvine Anteaters are making their first appearance in the College World Series. Irvine got by two of the biggest names in college baseball, Texas and Wichita State, on their home fields to get to Omaha.

As was the case in the regular season, the Anteaters have won with pitching and defense thus far in the NCAA Tournament. The staff ERA is 3.69, and the entire infield earned all-conference honors. The Irvine pitchers have allowed more than two runs just once in the postseason behind the two-headed monster of Scott Gorgen (12-2, 2.68 ERA) and Wes Etheridge (12-4, 2.49), and they are backed by NCAA career saves leader Blair Erickson (53 all-time, 13 this season).

Irvine wins games the old fashioned way: beating you to death with small ball. They bunt (114 sacrifices), run (137 steals) have quality at-bats (they've hit into just 26 double plays), and play solid defense (.976 fielding percentage)

Coach

Dave Serrano (112-64-1, 3rd season)

How They Got Here

Record: 5-0

Austin Regional

UC Irvine 13, Wake Forest 0
UC Irvine 3, Texas 1
UC Irvine 9, Texas 6

Super Regional

UC Irvine 1, Wichita State 0
UC Irvine 3, Wichita State 2

Starting Lineup

  1. Taylor Holiday (1B), .353
  2. Ben Orloff (SS), .341
  3. Cody Cipriano (2B), .338
  4. Matt Morris (LF), .336
  5. Bryan Petersen (RF), .308
  6. Jeff Cusick (DH), .333
  7. Ollie Linton (CF), .356
  8. Aaron Lowensteain (C), .303
  9. Tyler Vaughn (3B), .324
Standout

The rare leadoff man who plays first base, Taylor Holiday has really emerged as Irvine's leader in the postseason. Holiday is second on the team in hitting at .353, but his biggest contribution may have come in October in what assistant Norman Choate called the defining moment for this team.

"It was a 7 a.m. running and conditioning session in October," Choate recalls. "And Coach Bergeron was trying to get all the players to finish [a wind sprint] on the line, on the same step and, in unison, say 'Team.'

"I think it took around 10 or 15 times before it clicked in that this wasn't really working," Choate said. "Finally Taylor Holiday took some leadership and they all locked arms and they counted together as they took steps. And when they finally finished, they said 'Team.'

"That's one little thing, way back on October, that sticks out in my mind. And the bond that this team has formed has been tough to break."

Game One Starter

Serrano will hand the ball to sophomore righty Scott Gorgen (12-2, 2.65 ERA) who just might be the best pitcher in the tournament. Gorgen has struck out 106 batters this season, has an ERA under 1.00 in the last month and a half, and hasn't allowed a run in his last 37 innings.

Team Offensive Statistics

Average: .321
Home Runs: 35
Slugging %: .451
On Base %: .395
Stolen Bases: 137

Team Pitching Statistics

ERA: 3.69
Walks: 174
Strikeouts: 462
Home Runs: .265
Opponents Average: 34
Shutouts: 9

CWS Appearance

First

Record Against '07 CWS Teams

2-1 (Took two of three from conference foe Cal State Fullerton)

Quotable

"My team wanted me to come up and say we are not Cal Irvine. We're UC Irvine. We do have a Division I baseball team. We're located in south Orange County, south side of Newport Beach." (Dave Serrano)

Card Chronicle Odds To Win It All

15-1

CAL STATE FULLERTON TITANS (38-23)

Brief Overview

This is the 15th trip to Omaha for the Titans, but this isn't the superstar-laden Fullerton that college baseball fans have become accustomed to. The Titans hit just .280 as a team, but rely on timely hits as well as good pitching and excellent fundamental baseball to win games.

All-American pitcher Wes Roemer (11-6, 3.24 ERA), who was the co-National Player of the Year a season ago, is the team's star and leader. Though his junior season may have been a bit of a disappointment, Roemer still has a career record of 31-11 and a remarkable ratio of 359 strikeouts to just 44 walks. He was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the 50th overall selection last week.

Like most of the teams in Omaha, Fullerton comes to Rosenblatt unbeaten thus far in the NCAA Tournament. The Titans ran through the San Diego regional and then swept UCLA by a combined score of 14-3.

Coach

George Horton (490-210-1, 11th season)

How They Got Here

Record: 5-0

San Diego Regional

Cal State Fullerton 7, Minnesota 1
Cal State Fullerton 6, Fresno State 4
Cal State Fullerton 13, Fresno State 2

Super Regional

Cal State Fullerton 12, UCLA 2
Cal State Fullerton 2, UCLA 1

Starting Lineup

  1. Clark Hardman (CF), .391
  2. Josh Fellhauer (LF), .320
  3. Nick Mahin (RF), .287
  4. John Curtis (C), .284
  5. Chris Jones (DH), .284
  6. Matt Wallach (1B), .254
  7. Evan McArthur (3B), .253
  8. Corey Jones (2B), .281
  9. Joe Scott (SS), .240
Standout

Junior centerfielder Clark Hardman (hehe) has lead the team in hitting all season and comes to Omaha with a sparkling .391 average. He's been red hot in the postseason, going 12-for-23 (.522) with two homers.

Game One Starter

Junior all-everything Wes Roemer (11-6, 3.24 ERA) will be the guy for CSF in the opener. He's thrown two complete games thus far in the tournament, allowing one run to Minnesota in the Regional and two to UCLA in the Super.

Team Offensive Statistics

Average: .280
Home Runs: 38
Slugging %: .401
On Base %: .366
Stolen Bases: 52

Team Pitching Statistics

ERA: 3.76
Walks: 169
Strikeouts: 442
Home Runs: 27
Opponents Average: .257
Shutouts: 2

CWS Appearance

15th (34-23 all-time, four-time national champion)

Record Against '07 CWS Teams

3-3 (1-2 vs. UC Irvine, 2-1 vs. Rice)

Quotable

"A lot of people questioned whether we should be in the thing and now we are one of eight playing for a national championship. We're real excited about the opportunity to go to Nebraska one more time. We have a way of making it back there." (George Horton)

Card Chronicle Odds To Win It All

10-1

OREGON STATE BEAVERS (44-18)

Brief Overview

The defending national champions return to Omaha looking to become just the fourth team ever and the first since LSU in 1997 to take home the trophy two years in a row.

The Beavers finished sixth in the Pac-10, but have relied on solid pitching to get them back to Rosenblatt. The starting trio of Mike Stutes (10-4, 3.94 ERA), Daniel Turpen (9-1, 3.65 ERA), and Jorge Reyes (5-3, 2.84 ERA) is solid, but closer Eddie Kunz (3-1, 3.00 ERA) is the star of the staff. Kunz has notched 11 saves in part because of a fastball that can reach as high as 97 mph. He was selected by the New York Mets last week with the 42nd selection in the Amateur Draft.

The offense hits just .282 collectively, but like Fullerton they rely on timely hits and productive at-bats. In the first game of the Super Regional against Michigan, the Beavs scratched just one hit, and won the game. In a bracket that includes Arizona State, the heart of the lineup is going to have to produce if they want to get back to the championship series.

Coach

Pat Casey (435-271-4, 13th season)

How They Got Here

Record: 6-1

Charlottesville Regional

Oregon State 5, Rutgers 1
Virginia 7, Oregon State 4
Oregon State 5, Rutgers 2
Oregon State 5, Virginia 3
Oregon State 7, Virginia 3  

Super Regional

Oregon State 1, Michigan 0
Oregon State 8, Michigan 2

Starting Lineup

  1. Chris Hopkins (CF), .260
  2. Joey Wong (2B), .284
  3. Darwin Barney (SS), .292
  4. Mike Lissman (LF), .323
  5. Jason Ogata (DH), .291
  6. Braden Wells (RF), .279
  7. Mitch Canham (C), .317
  8. Jordan Lennerton (1B), .320
  9. Lonnie Lechelt (3B), .235
Standout

Senior left fielder Mike Lissman is leading his team to Omaha for the third time in his four years on the team. He leads the team in average (.323) and is also tops in RBI with 56.

Game One Starter

Despite a staff chock full of experienced arms, Casey is going with the hot hand and freshman Jorge Reyes (5-3, 2.84 ERA).

In the clinching game of the Super Regional, Reyes scattered three hits over seven innings. On the season, opponents are hitting just .238 off of Reyes, and the freshman has a solid strikeout to walk ratio of 58 to 15.

Team Offensive Statistics

Average: .282
Home Runs: 38
Slugging %: .405
On Base %: .383
Stolen Bases: 64

Team Pitching Statistics

ERA: .354
Walks: 176
Strikeouts: 434
Home Runs: 29
Opponents Average: .245
Shutouts: 6

CWS Appearance

Fourth (6-6 all-time, 2006 national champion)

Record Against '07 CWS Teams

1-3 (All vs. Arizona State)

Quotable

"It doesn't matter to me if they think we're the big dogs in there or if we're at the bottom of the trail. Either way, we're going to go out there and play the same way we've been playing recently and do what we can do to finish with that big dog pile at the end." (Mitch Canham)

Card Chronicle Odds To Win It All

8-1