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Five baseball teams punched their tickets to the 2013 College World Series over the weekend after winning two games in the super regional round.
Sunday was a day for the history books for several college baseball programs that are new to the CWS.
After advancing to the super regional round for the first time in school history, Indiana made the College World Series after defeating the No. 7 national seed Florida State on the road in Tallahassee, Fla.
The Louisville Cardinals defeated the No. 2 national seed Vanderbilt to advance to theCWS for only the second time in school history.
North Carolina State will play in Omaha for the second time ever, with the Wolfpack’s last appearance coming in 1968.
So we’ll have a maximum of 3 national seeds in Omaha, but this is not some Cinderella field. Every CWS team will have been a regional host.
— Aaron Fitt (@aaronfitt) June 10, 2013
As the eight-team championship field takes shape, college baseball fans should be aware of LSU, Indiana and North Carolina State–three teams that will be especially dangerous in Omaha.
Only the University of Southern California has won more College World Series titles than LSU’s six championships. The Tigers won their first CWS in 1991 with their most recent coming in 2009. No other school has won more than two during that stretch, which means LSU has built its own modern-day dynasty in college baseball.
On an annual basis, LSU expects to make it to Omaha and the Tigers expect nothing short of a championship once they’re there.
By playing in the SEC, the Tigers have more experience against NCAA tournament teams than most of the other Omaha-bound teams. The SEC led the country with nine teams in the 64-team tournament.
LSU is one of the most dangerous teams in the College World Series because it has a strong pitching staff and defense to go along with its depth in its batting order.
The Tigers’ top three starting pitchers are 27-3 this season, which means that they can have an ace on the mound in each game of a three-game series.
Aaron Nola will take the mound against UCLA in Omaha. – Coach Paul Mainieri #CWS
— LSU Baseball (@LSUbaseball) June 10, 2013
Through 66 games this season, LSU has committed only 51 errors compared to its opponents’ 96. The Tigers field the ball cleanly and limit costly mistakes in the field that can come back to bite them.
On offense, five LSU starters are batting .315 or higher. Eight starters have 30 or more RBI and on average, the Tigers strike out fewer than six times per game, which means they put the ball in play and give themselves more opportunities to score.
LSU’s success in the 2013 MLB Draft sums up why the Tigers are a title contender in Omaha. Nine current LSU players were drafted, five of which were selected in the first 10 rounds.
While the SEC is considered a powerhouse conference in college baseball, the Big Ten’s glory days were in the 1960s. Ohio State was the last Big Ten team to win the College World Series when the Buckeyes won in 1966. The last Big Ten team to advance to Omaha was Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin’s Michigan squad in 1984.
#IU baseball is 1st Big 10 team since 1984 to make the CWS – guess there are no zone defenses in baseball
— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) June 9, 2013
The Indiana Hoosiers are breaking stereotypes this year. IU had an 18-game winning streak this season and is currently undefeated in the NCAA tournament.
The Hoosiers are even more dangerous because they won their season series against Louisville, who they play in the first round in Omaha. Overall, Indiana is 12-4 against teams who made the NCAA tournament.
So now we know — IU will face Louisville in the College World Series. Hoosiers won 2 of 3 meetings this season.
— Pete DiPrimio (@pdiprimio) June 9, 2013
Collegiate Baseball Newspaper recognized three IU players–sophomore catcher Kyle Schwarber, redshirt sophomore pitcher Aaron Slegers and junior infielder DustinDeMuth–as All-Americans.
The Hoosiers hit for both average and power, which makes them so dangerous. They have a team batting average of .305 and have hit 53 home runs, 18 of which have come off the bat of Schwarber.
IU has a team ERA of 2.67. Opposing batters are hitting only .249 against Indiana with 18 home runs.
In a season of firsts–the first year of Indiana’s multi-million dollar Bart Kaufman Field, the first time hosting a regional as well as the first time to advance to a super regional and the College World Series–the Hoosiers are a threat to win the NCAA title this season.
This is in the IU Baseball locker room. You can now cross off No. 2. IU beats FSU 11-6. twitter.com/indystar_hutch…
— Terry Hutchens (@indystar_hutch) June 9, 2013
The North Carolina State Wolfpack is entering the CWS as one of the hottest teams in college baseball. In its last 117 innings, North Carolina State has lost only once when it lost 2-1 to No. 1 North Carolina in 18 innings.
The Wolfpack also rattled off a 15-game win streak in April so when they get on a roll, as they are now, they are hard to beat.
North Carolina State is led by sophomore pitcher Carlos Rodon, who leads the country in strikeouts with 170. Rodon is 9-2 this season and opposing hitters have a .201 batting average against him.
Carlos Rodon’s insane pitching line through 6 career postseason starts: 45.2 IP – 23 H – 11 BB – 7 R – 6 ER – 54 K #KingKarlos
— Ryan Tice (@RyanTice) June 9, 2013
The Wolfpack also has a pair of shutdown closers in its bullpen. Chris Overman and Grant Sasser, who have a 0.34 and 1.10 ERA, respectively, have combined for 14 saves this season.
Trea Turner is a five-tool player for North Carolina State and he is their most productive offensive player. He is hitting .378 this season with seven home runs, 41 RBI, a .460 OBP and 27 stolen bases. Turner is a terror on the base paths, stealing 57 bases in 61 attempts last season, and he has scored a team-high 65 runs this year.
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) May 30, 2013
When the eight teams begin College World Series play in Omaha, will the experience of a college baseball juggernaut, such as LSU, North Carolina, South Carolina or Oregon State, prevail? Or, will there be a changing of the guard as one of the new teams to Omaha makes a title run?
Unfortunately, LSU and UCLA are matched up in the first round as well as Indiana and Louisville, which means there will be limited opportunities for a Midwest vs. South/West Coast match up.
Wichita State advanced to the finals in the 1993 College World Series but since then, every team to do so was from a warm weather climate.
The programs with the appropriate weather to play baseball year round and the history of success in Omaha are more likely to be successful, which is why I think either LSU, the winner of North Carolina vs. South Carolina or Oregon State (if the Beavers beat Kansas State) will win the College World Series.
However, Indiana has proven that it is a different breed of a Big Ten team compared to the conference’s reputation over the past forty years, which is why I expect the Hoosiers to be among the final four teams in Omaha.