– This year's field of eight teams may not have offered a
Cinderella feel-good story as it has in recent years, most recently a
year ago when Stony Brook knocked off perennial powerhouse Louisiana
State in the Super Regionals a year ago advance to the College World
of the eight teams that advanced to Omaha this year were ranked among
the top 16 teams in Perfect
Game's initial 2013 preseason team rankings,
five of which were among the top 10:
eight teams hosted Regional sites, and four of the eight hosted Super
addition, eight of the 15 first-team Perfect Game College All-Americans
played or are still playing in the College World Series (17 of 45
players on all three teams played in Omaha).
of this illustrates a somewhat stable college baseball season from
beginning to end. For the most part, the best teams made it to
Omaha, as did the best players.
of those players are freshmen, North Carolina's Skye Bolt and LSU's
Alex Bregman. Bregman was named first-team shortstop on the
All-American list linked above, while Bolt was extremely productive
hitting in the middle of the Tar Heels batting order for most of the
year, a year that they opened the season, and spent most of it,
sitting atop the rankings.
players were Perfect Game All-Americans during the summer of 2011,
the ninth annual Classic that included the eventual No. 1 overall
pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, Carlos Correa. Bregman received
EvoShield's SWAG award as part of the Classic's annual dinner
banquet, getting the invitation to participate after a particularly
impressive performance at the 2011 National Showcase.
while their backgrounds suggest that it shouldn't be a complete
surprise that they performed at such a high level during their
introductory season to college baseball, such expectations need to be
tempered with young players in the college game.
that do contribute usually do so in a similar introductory role.
Position players often hit lower in the order and/or come off the
bench, while pitchers are often used as mid-week starters or even as
relievers that struggle to find consistent, significant innings until
they have earned their stripes.
two All-Americans proved to be the exception to this rule, playing
integral parts of their respective teams' impressive seasons.
served as North Carolina's cleanup hitter for much of the season,
batting behind the Division I leader in RBI (91) and the 2013 draft's
No. 6 overall pick by the Miami Marlins, third baseman Colin Moran.
switch-hitting outfielder hit .321/.418/.491 on the year with 22
extra-base hits, including six home runs in addition to 10 stolen
bases (in 13 attempts), 51 RBI and 48 runs scored.
the College World Series, Head Coach Mike Fox moved Bolt down a
couple of spots in the order, and Bolt responded by going 2-for-4
with a double and an RBI in North Carolina's win over Bregman and
Louisiana State earlier in the week, which eliminated the Tigers from
the College World Series.
kind of talked to Coach (Scott) Jackson a little bit, just felt we
needed to make a change,” Coach Fox said of moving Bolt down in the
order. “Really just for the sake of just change, nothing really
negative or positive, really. Just maybe just get Skye out of that
four hole and drop him down a little bit. It gave us some righties
back-to-back with all the lefties we knew that were coming at us
the scope and importance of playing in the College World Series, Bolt
was quick to embrace his new spot, and role, in the batting order.
just really reverted back to what got me here,” Bolt said after
North Carolina eliminated LSU. “That was staying tall and taking
what the pitcher was giving me instead of trying to drive some extra
base hits there in the four hole and try to move some guys around
with runners at either first or second in scoring position.
got a little pull happy, a little overexcited to hit the baseball,
and especially with an umpire back there that was giving us a lot off
the plate as far as balls and strikes there. So
the last two at-bats, (I) just shortened up a little bit. (I) had a
talk with Coach Jackson, just revert back to what got me here, that
was staying tall and using my hands and use what the pitcher's giving
me. And he gave me some pitches to hit.”
as impressive as Bolt's season was, Bregman's was even more
opened the season as the Tigers' starting shortstop, and exploded
from the very beginning of the season, finishing the year by hitting
.369/.417/.546 with 31 extra-base hits, including six home runs of
his own. Bregman also stole 16 bases (in 17 attempts) drove in 52
runners and scored 59 of his own.
Omaha, Bregman didn't fare as well, while going 0-for-8 in two games,
indicative of LSU's quick exit from the College World Series despite
being considered one of the favorites to win it all.
part of a young team that includes dynamic sophomore and Friday ace
Aaron Nola, LSU is expected to be just as strong, if not more so, a
year from now. Bregman will once again will be looked upon to carry
the team's offense as the team's three-hole hitter, and will have at
least two more opportunities to return to Omaha.
two freshmen aren't the only two former All-Americans that
participated in the College World Series. Right-hander Taylore
Cherry was Bolt's teammate for North Carolina, while outfielder and
right handed pitcher Dylan Davis (Oregon State), left-hander Hunter
Virant and right-hander Cody Poteet (both UCLA) also were in
attendance. Cherry and Virant played sparingly this past season,
while Poteet and Davis served larger roles for their respective
a two-way star with a potent bat at the plate and a powerful arm on
the mound, led Oregon State in hitting (.335), doubles (22), hits
(86), RBI (61) and slugging (502).
was a key member of the UCLA pitching staff for a team that advanced
to the CWS finals to face Mississippi State in a best-of-three series
that begins on Monday night. In 29 appearances, 11 of which were
starts, the freshman right-hander went 4-6 with a 4.84 ERA, working
70 2/3 innings in a versatile and important swing role.
and Bregman will continue to carry a consistent theme the rest of
this summer as they will join the Collegiate National Team within the
next week, joining fellow College World Series participants Nola,
Carlos Rodon, Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, Nick Burdi, David Berg and
Michael Conforto. Also joining Team USA will be two more former
All-Americans, Tyler Beede and Ryan Burr.
College World Series notes
the four teams that advanced to play on Friday, 92 of the 140 players
on the rosters had previously attended a Perfect Game event (66
State outfielder Michael Conforto made two spectacular defensive
plays against Mississippi State on Friday, both at the expense of
hulking Bulldogs slugger Wes Rea.
first of which occurred when Rea drove a ball to deep
left-centerfield that looked as though it could clear the fence for a
home run. Conforto robbed Rea of extra bases by colliding hard into
the outfield wall to make the catch, a feat that left a noticeable
impression in padding of the wall.
second of which came when Conforto made a catch in left field and
fired a strike to home plate to gun down Rea trying to score from
third on a sac fly.
Renfroe, the 13th overall pick in this year draft
(Padres), blasted a no-doubt home run in the same game, a three-run
shot that turned out to be the deciding blow in Mississippi State's
4-1 win over Oregon State. That win sent the Bulldogs to the
championship round with UCLA, and sent Oregon State home.
infield defense is as good as it comes. Bruins Head Coach John
Savage has always built his teams around pitching, and this year's
staff is particularly adept at inducing ground balls early in the
count. Second baseman Cody Regis, third baseman Kevin Kramer and
shortstop Pat Valaika each made several balls hit to them look easy,
turning double plays and making quick work of North Carolina in the
second game on Friday.