Off The Top Of My Head: CWS Finals Edition

College World Series

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The College World Series championship best-of-three has officially been pushed back a day due to crazy-heavy rains on the Monday after bracket play. Thus it also gives a beleaguered Oregon State pitching staff an extra day to rest before starting the series vs. well-rested Arkansas, slightly squelching the advantage that the Razorbacks had going into this title series. 

So now, with the title series starting on Tuesday, here are a few notes and nick-knacks about the upcoming series and the history involved. Please enjoy.

Oregon State comes into the championship series looking for a third national championship.

– Oregon State will be playing for its third national title after having beaten North Carolina in both 2006 and 2007 for back-to-back national titles. 

– Arkansas will be playing in the title round for just the second time ever. In 1979 the Razorbacks lost the title game to Cal State Fullerton. Since then they have had two third-place finishes and one fourth-place finish to their credit. 

– Oregon State and Arkansas have met just three times in the history of their programs. In 1995 Arkansas beat OSU in a tournament played in San Jose, California 5-4. Prior to that in the Midwest Regionals in 1986, played in Stillwater, Oklahoma, the Razorbacks won their first-ever meeting 4-3 and the Beavers took their second game 1-0. 

– Since the advent of the best-of-three finals in 2003, nine times there has been a team that had to play five games in bracket play and then go up against a team that went 3-0 in bracket play. Five of those teams have beaten the 3-0 team in the CWS finals, including the last two instances where Virginia beat Vanderbilt in 2015 and Vanderbilt beat Virginia in 2014. 

– The five teams that had to play five games in bracket play and beat 3-0 teams were the aforementioned Virginia and Vanderbilt teams in ’15 and ’14 respectively, along with that magical 2008 Fresno State team and Oregon State’s first national title team in 2006 (the ones that lost to Miami in their opening round game 11-1). Also, Cal State Fullerton’s 2004 squad won the national title while playing the full amount of games in bracket play while Texas sat and rested at 3-0.

– Oregon State is seeking to become just the fourth team since 1980 to start the CWS with a loss and still win the national title. The other three teams to do that were 1998’s USC team, OSU’s 2006 team and South Carolina’s 2010 team. That 2006 team lost its opening game to Miami 11-1 before winning six of their next seven games. 

– With Monday’s rainout of the opening game of the CWS finals between OSU and Arkansas, there have now been five days in which rain or lightning occurrences have delayed the games being played. I have been told that there are no records for number of days in which Mother Nature has intervened in the College World Series, but I can’t imagine that is not a record. The only other CWS that I recall having so many games affected by rain was in 2008 when Fresno State went on its magical run. Although according to the Omaha World Herald’s Lee Barfknecht, the 1964 CWS – which in those days was played in six days – had five straight days of delays due to rain and also Rosenblatt Stadium not having a tarp at the time. 

– Despite the reputation of TD Ameritrade Park being pitcher-friendly, the Beavers and Razorbacks are the two most-offensive teams in this year’s CWS. Oregon State leads the field with a team batting average of .351 through five games and Arkansas is second, hitting .330 in three games. OSU is also first with six home runs and 26 walks, while the Hogs are second in homers with four hit in just three games.

The Arkansas defense has committed just three errors in the College World Series so far.

– Razorback teammates Casey Martin and Dominic Fletcher lead the CWS with identical .571 batting averages (among players with more than three at-bats), both going 8-for-14 at the plate. 

– Adley Rutschman, the Oregon State catcher, is not far behind, hitting .529 while also being issued a CWS-best seven walks. 

– Of all the three starts by Arkansas pitchers in this CWS, Blaine Knight, Kacey Murphy and Isaiah Campbell, none of them have pitched into the seventh inning. Campbell’s 5.2 innings is the longest start. 

– Of Oregon State’s two ace starters Luke Heimlich and Bryce Fehmel, neither has made it to the fifth inning in either of their four combined starts here in Omaha. Heimlich has gone just 2.1 innings and 2.2 innings in two starts vs. North Carolina. The only Beaver starter who has been effective here in Omaha has been freshman Kevin Abel, who threw seven innings in the second win over Mississippi State. 

– In Arkansas’ nine NCAA Tournament games the Razorback offense has collected double-digit hit totals in eight of them. Freshman Casey Martin has multi-hit games in eight of those contests as well. Keep an eye on the first inning in this championship series as the Razorbacks have scored in the first frame in four straight games and is 24-3 in games where they score in the first inning.

– Arkansas has outscored their opponents in the NCAA Tournament by a combined 75-33.

– Oregon State is 4-0 vs. SEC teams in this post-season, beating LSU twice in the Regionals and then beating Mississippi State twice to advance to the CWS finals. In those four games vs. SEC teams the Beavers have outscored them 42-5.

Have you guys ever seen a cooling unit for cleats? Florida apparently had tiny holes in the back of their cleats where they would get strapped up to hoses and had cool air blown into them. I’ve never seen this before in all my years of covering college baseball, so I was wondering if you guys have. Here are pics of them… 



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