Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Tuesday's pregame notes
One more team will go home after Tuesday's first College World Series game, as North Carolina and Southern Miss (ESPN2/ESPN360, 2 p.m. ET) go head-to-head in the second elimination game of the week. They precede a matchup of the 1-0s, when Texas and Arizona State (ESPN/ESPN360, 7 p.m. ET) attempt to stay undefeated in Omaha.
Here are some things to know heading into the games:
Omaha vets renew rivalry
While North Carolina and Southern Miss are meeting for the very first time, Tuesday's late game features two CWS vets with plenty of history. Texas and Arizona State have combined for 54 CWS appearances, 139 CWS wins and 11 titles.
Texas owns the 25-18 series advantage, but the Sun Devils are 5-4 against the Longhorns in the NCAA tournament and 4-2 in Omaha. They last met in Omaha in 1984, when Texas prevailed 8-4 in the third round.
ACC holding on
After opening-round losses by Virginia and North Carolina, the ACC looked poised to continue its half-century drought at the College World Series. But with the Cavaliers' win over Cal State Fullerton on Monday and a favorable matchup for the Tar Heels against Southern Miss on Tuesday, the conference could be right back in the thick of it by day's end.
Remember, the ACC owns only one CWS title, and that came in 1955 (Wake Forest).
Corky's swan song?
A loss to North Carolina would end not only Southern Miss' season but also the celebrated career of coach Corky Palmer. But recent history favors the Golden Eagles.
Including Virginia, the last three teams to make their CWS debuts rebounded from opening-round losses to win their second game. Louisville and UC Irvine both did it in 2007, while Virginia remained alive with a win over Cal State Fullerton on Monday.
Importance of starting 2-0
Sure, the College World Series is a double-elimination tournament, but don't underestimate the importance of opening the event with two wins. Since the event expanded to a four-team, double-elimination format in 1949, 41 of the 60 champions started 2-0 (including 17 of the past 19).
Ten teams have won the title after losing their first game, most recently Oregon State in 2006. Only nine teams have won the title after losing their second game, and none since Wichita State in 1989.
Bonus: LSU in driver's seat
On Monday, we saw not only the first eviction from Omaha (Cal State Fullerton), but also the emergence of a tournament favorite. LSU defeated Arkansas 9-1 to move within one win of the championship series. It's the first time LSU has won multiple games in Omaha since its most recent national title, in 2000.
The Tigers are off until Friday, when they will meet the winner of Wednesday's elimination game between Arkansas and Virginia, the two teams LSU has defeated in Omaha.
NORTH CAROLINA (47-17) vs. SOUTHERN MISS (40-25)
2 p.m. ET | ESPN2HD, ESPN360
Series history: This is the first meeting between the two schools. North Carolina eliminated Conference USA regular-season champion East Carolina in the Chapel Hill Super Regional, while Southern Miss knocked ACC member Georgia Tech out of the Atlanta Regional.
• Neither team got much production from the top of the order during Sunday's opening round. Tar Heels leadoff hitter Ben Bunting was 0-for-5 with four strikeouts, while Southern Miss catalyst Ben Davis was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts.
• Both teams also struggled with runners in scoring position. North Carolina went 1-8 with two strikeouts and one double play, while Southern Miss was 2-10 with four strikeouts in the nightcap.
• Southern Miss shortstop Brian Dozier made his first appearance for the Golden Eagles since his injury against Jackson State on April 14. He pinch-hit in the eighth inning and reached base on the first catcher's interference in the College World Series since 1981.
• North Carolina is one loss away from becoming the second team in the Super Regional era to appear in four straight College World Series without taking home a national title.
• The Golden Eagles' loss Sunday was the fifth straight by a Conference USA team in the College World Series. After starting the 2007 CWS 2-0, Rice lost its last two games before going 0-2 last season.
Most consecutive CWS appearances since field expanded to 64 (1999)
>> 0 titles during stretch
• With two hits in Sunday's opener, Dustin Ackley moved into the top 3 in career CWS hits with 22. In three trips to Omaha, he is hitting .386 (22-57).
• Southern Miss became the tenth straight team to lose its Omaha debut. Since Georgia Tech reached the championship game in its debut in 1994, four teams have gone winless in their first trip to Omaha (Missouri '03, Nebraska '01, San Jose State '00, Rice '97). Southern Miss looks to avoid joining this group.
• Including Virginia's win Monday, each of the past three teams to make their Omaha debuts rebounded from opening-round losses to win their second game (Virginia '09, Louisville '07, UC Irvine '07). Will the Golden Eagles continue the trend?
Most hits in CWS career
|24: Sam Fuld
|34: Keith Moreland
|22: Dustin Ackley
|22: Chad Flack
|22: John Gall
> Through Sunday's game
TEXAS (47-14-1) vs. ARIZONA STATE (50-12)
7 p.m. ET | ESPNHD, ESPN360
Series history: Texas leads the all-time series 25-18, but Arizona State is 5-4 in the NCAA tournament and 4-2 in Omaha.
What's at stake this time around? Since the event expanded to a 4-team, double-elimination format in 1949, 41 of the 60 champions started 2-0.
• Texas and Arizona State rank in top three in nearly every category when it comes to CWS experience. They have combined for 54 appearances, 139 wins, and 11 titles.
• Both teams defied traditional logic by not starting their ace in their first CWS game, but it worked out for the best as they each won their opener (Arizona State started Josh Spence and Texas started Cole Green). That sets up a matchup between Mike Leake and Chance Ruffin on Tuesday evening.
• Arizona State has been great in tight games all season. With Sunday's win, they improved to 14-4 in games decided by one or two runs. They are also 46-0 when leading after seven innings.
• Despite blowing leads in the top of the eighth and ninth innings Sunday, the Longhorns remain perfect when leading late in games. They are 40-0-1 when leading after six innings, 39-0-1 when leading after seven and 38-0 when leading after eight.
Texas, Arizona State
CWS history (ranks)
• Arizona State's rotation has the best numbers of any of the eight staffs in this year's College World Series. When the Sun Devil starter goes at least 7 innings, the team is 28-1 this season.
• Texas continues to score early and often. With two runs in the first inning Sunday, the Longhorns have outscored their opponents 48-11 in the first inning and 104-26 over the first two innings. That's a lethal combination when combined with their 38-4 record when scoring first.
ASU starters vs. bullpen
> Best among CWS teams in all four categories