Monday, June 15, 2009
Monday's pregame notes
Monday's College World Series slate features one losers' bracket matchup and one on the winners' side. Day 3 in Omaha starts in dramatic fashion, as Cal State Fullerton and Virginia play an elimination game at 2 p.m. ET (ESPN2HD/ESPN360).
The day's second game brings the 70th all-time meeting of LSU and Arkansas (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2HD/ESPN360), and both teams are looking to stay undefeated in the CWS. The Tigers have a 2-1 advantage over the Razorbacks this season.
Here are things to know heading into Monday's games:
Back against the wall
In the past 28 years, only two teams have lost their opening game at the CWS and bounced back to win the championship -- Oregon State in 2006 and USC in 1998. Those are the odds now facing Cal State Fullerton, Virginia, North Carolina and Southern Miss.
A must-win game?
Seventeen of the past 19 national titles have been won by a team that started 2-0 in Omaha (those Oregon State and USC teams being the only exceptions), which adds significance to Monday's and Tuesday's games between 1-0 teams -- LSU versus Arkansas and Texas versus Arizona State (Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET, ESPNHD/ESPN360.com).
Revenge is the best dish served in Omaha
Cal State Fullerton looks to end Virginia's season for the second straight year, as the Titans eliminated the Cavaliers from the Fullerton Regional in 2008. On the other side, Virginia looks to knock off its second national seed from the Big West; the Cavaliers defeated No. 6 national seed UC Irvine twice during this year's Irvine Regional.
The past five CWS titles have been won by a team that was not one of the tournament's eight national seeds. Three teams in Omaha fit that description, but only one of those won its opening game (Arkansas). Both Virginia (against Cal State Fullerton at 2 p.m. ET) and Southern Miss (against North Carolina on Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET, ESPN2HD/ESPN360.com) face elimination games.
Join the club
Virginia and Southern Miss became the ninth and 10th consecutive teams to lose their first College World Series game. Georgia Tech (1994) was the last team to win its Omaha debut. Since the Yellow Jackets reached the championship game in their debut, four teams have gone winless in their first trip to Omaha: Rice (1997), San Jose State (2000), Nebraska ('01) and Missouri State ('03).
On the run
CWS scoring the past five years
||Runs per game
> lowest in aluminum-bat era (since 1974)
Scoring was way down in this year's super regionals (11.1 runs per game versus 15.9 runs per game last year), but so far, the scoring in Omaha has been more similar to the past two years than to the pitching peak in 2005-06. This College World Series features six of the top nine teams in the country in ERA.
CAL STATE FULLERTON (47-15) vs. VIRGINIA (48-14-1)
2 p.m. ET | ESPN2HD, ESPN360
Series history: Cal State Fullerton won the teams' only previous meeting 4-1 in the Fullerton Regional in the 2008 NCAA tournament. The loss ended Virginia's season, while the Titans went on to win the regional by beating UCLA in consecutive games.
• Cal State Fullerton has outscored its opponents 199 to 81 in the first three innings this season. However, Arkansas outscored the Titans 4-2 in the first three innings Saturday.
• Virginia's bullpen was strong throughout the regional and super regional rounds, allowing just two earned runs in 22 2/3 innings. But the wheels came off against LSU, as Matt Packer and Tyler Wilson each allowed three earned runs in relief.
• Cal State Fullerton is partying like it's the 2007 CWS -- Titans batters have been hit by 124 pitches this season, tied for the third-highest total in NCAA history. The team is just six behind the 2005 Notre Dame squad for the record. Seven different players have been hit at least 10 times this season.
• The top half of Virginia's lineup didn't contribute much against LSU on Saturday. The 1 through 5 hitters were just 3-for-21 with six strikes and 11 left on base.
UVa bullpen in NCAA tourney
|First six games
LSU (52-16) vs. ARKANSAS (40-22)
Series history: LSU leads 47-22 and took two of three games in Fayetteville in early May. The teams met once before in the College World Series, but that came before Arkansas joined the SEC. On June 3, 1987, LSU topped Arkansas 5-2 in the losers' bracket in Omaha.
7 p.m. ET | ESPN2HD, ESPN360
• LSU senior Louis Coleman is expected to make his third career start against Arkansas on Monday. Coleman threw a two-hit shutout against the Razorbacks earlier this season. He allowed just two earned runs in 7 2/3 innings in his first start against Arkansas, in 2007.
• This matchup is a showcase for the SEC, which has had its fair share of success in Omaha. The conference won six of 11 national championships from 1990 to 2000; however, the league has come up empty since LSU won in 2000.
This marks the fifth time since 2000 that two SEC teams will meet in the College World Series. The intraleague meetings generally have been high-scoring affairs. But it may be a bad omen for the Tigers. Two of LSU's past three trips to Omaha were ended by an SEC foe -- South Carolina -- in 2003 and 2004.
• Arkansas' 3-4-5 hitters -- Scott Lyons, Andy Wilkins, and Zack Cox -- drove in all 10 of the Razorbacks' runs Saturday against Cal State Fullerton.
• Arkansas has a 31-3 record when scoring six or more runs but is just 9-19 when scoring five or fewer. That could prove to be a problem in Omaha, as the other teams on this side of the bracket are all in the top nine in the nation in ERA.
SEC matchups in the CWS since 2000
||Florida def. Tennessee
||S. Carolina def. LSU
||S. Carolina def. LSU
||Tennessee def. Georgia
>> Eliminated LSU