CWS Top Teams Bracket, Round Two: 2005 Texas vs. 2019 VanderbiltCollege World Series
Today would have been the day eight of the 2020 College World Series. Since we don’t have live baseball to watch, we’re taking a look back at the greatest CWS teams of the modern 64-team NCAA tournament era. In conjunction with NCAA.com, we’ve made our picks for the 32 best Omaha teams since 1999 and seeded them into a bracket.
Now it’s your turn. Each day, we’ll present a few matchups for fans to vote on, as we work our way through the bracket to determine the greatest College World Series team of the super regional era.
2019 Vanderbilt Commodores (59-12; CWS champion)
No. 1 seed
In a bracket chock full of champions, the 2019 Commodores earn our top seed because of their sheer dominance and overwhelming talent. This team entered 2019 saddled with the highest expectations as the consensus preseason No. 1 team in the nation. Very often, the consensus preseason No. 1 team proves to be the most talented squad in the country, but as the adage goes — it’s usually the hottest team that wins the national title, seldom the best team. The 2019 Commodores were the first consensus preseason No. 1 in the 64-team era to actually win it all. Along the way, the Commodores checked all the boxes, going 23-7 in the SEC to win the nation’s most rugged conference by two games, and then coupling it with an unbeaten run to the SEC tournament championship. The Commodores rode their elite offense to a 3-0 run through the Nashville Regional, then bounced back from a blowout loss to Duke in the super regional opener. Freshman sensation Kumar Rocker delivered one of the greatest pitching performances in college baseball history with Vandy’s season on the line in Game Two of the super, striking out 19 Blue Devils in a no-hitter. Then the Commodores cruised a 13-2 victory in Game Three to reach Omaha, where their bats went rather quiet but their arms proved more than capable of doing the heavy lifting.
Facing powerhouse national seeds Louisville and Mississippi State in bracket play, Vandy’s pitching allowed just six runs in a 3-0 run to the Finals, setting up a showdown between Vandy coach Tim Corbin and his one-time assistant, Michigan coach Erik Bakich. The Wolverines took the opener 7-4, but once again Vandy proved its mettle with its back to the wall, as Rocker and Mason Hickman came through with standout performances to lead the Commodores to 4-1 and 8-2 victories, and their second national title. Rocker earned CWS Most Outstanding Player honors, going 2-0, 1.46 with 17 strikeouts against three walks in 12.1 CWS innings. Hickman (1-0, 0.75 in 12 innings) also had a worthy case for the honor, as did shutdown closer Tyler Brown (0.00 ERA and three saves in four appearances and 7.2 innings).
Vandy’s staff posted a 2.50 ERA in Omaha, picking up the slack for an offense that hit just .221 in Omaha, despite ranking eighth in the nation in batting and scoring, first in home runs, fifth in slugging, and second in walks and doubles over the course of the season. Given the level of competition Vandy faced in the SEC, those numbers are even more impressive, and its offense was widely regarded as the nation’s best in 2019, led by first-round pick JJ Bleday and future first-rounder Austin Martin, along with senior stars Ethan Paul and Stephen Scott plus dangerous sophomores Philip Clarke and Pat DeMarco.
2005 Texas Longhorns (56-16 overall; CWS champion)
No. 17 seed
A year after the 2004 Longhorns earned the No. 1 national seed but fell in the CWS Finals against Cal State Fullerton, Texas found redemption with a team that had less star power, but plenty of guts. The ‘Horns finished the regular season 43-12 but finished third in the Big 12 (16-10), earning them a home regional but not a national seed. After surviving a battle with Arkansas in the Austin Regional, Texas went on the road to face a loaded Ole Miss squad in super regionals, and bounced back from a series-opening loss to take the series.
Texas would not lose again in 2005. The Longhorns allowed just eight runs during a 5-0 run through the CWS, including two victories against No. 4 national seed Baylor and one against No. 1 national seed Tulane. The Horns then swept Florida in the CWS Finals. Their pitching staff finished with a sparkling 1.40 ERA in a fairly offensive era at a very offensive park. Righties Kyle McCulloch (2-0, 1.32 in 13.2 IP) and Adrian Alaniz (2-0, 1.93) turned in two stellar starts apiece, and closer J. Brent Cox was untouchable, working 10.1 scoreless innings and finishing out all five Texas victories.
But Texas also led the CWS field with seven home runs (tied with Florida) and a .438 slugging percentage in Omaha spearheaded by red-hot CWS Most Outstanding Player David Maroul (who hit .500 with two homers and eight RBIs in five games). The lineup also included a pair of future major leaguers in outfielder Drew Stubbs and catcher Taylor Teagarden.
This championship was the second in four years for Texas, as well as the fifth and final title for legendary coach Augie Garrido.
How They Match Up: Vanderbilt and Texas have some history in the postseason, both in a Super Regional in Austin way back in the early 2000s and in Omaha in recent history. This matchup features a pair of national champions with destiny on their side. The Commodores had a loaded lineup with Austin Martin and JJ Bleday leading the way, while Stephen Scott and others rose to the occasion. Meanwhile, the Longhorns had a solid rotation with a red-hot David Maroul in the CWS.
Vanderbilt and Texas have some history in the postseason, both in a Super Regional in Austin way back in the early 2000s and in Omaha in recent history.
Who takes the W?
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