By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
The first six games of the College World Series all were decided by two runs or less.
On the opening day of the tournament, Florida State stunned Arkansas, 1-0, while Michigan continued its magical run with a 5-3 win over Texas Tech in Bracket 1.
In the elimination bracket, the Red Raiders snuck past the Razorbacks, 5-4, to eliminate the Hogs. In the winners’ bracket, the Wolverines knocked off the Seminoles 2-0, and Texas Tech defeated Florida State, 4-1, to make it to the final four.
On the other side of the bracket, Vanderbilt beat Louisville, 3-1, in its opening game. Auburn took on Mississippi State in the other matchup in Bracket 2, and the Tigers led for eight innings and two outs. Auburn built a 4-1 lead entering the bottom of the ninth but the Bulldogs battled back and shocked the Tigers with a 5-4 win on a walk-off single. Auburn followed that performance up with a 5-3 loss to Louisville. Nevertheless, it was a tremendous season for the Tigers, as they reached the College World Series for the first time in 22 years.
Vanderbilt defeated Mississippi State, 6-3, to advance to the final four. The Commodores will have two chances to beat their next opponent and reach the College World Series championship series. Vandy is certainly the favorite of all the remaining teams but every team left in the tournament is playing excellent baseball right now. The Commodores won their only national title in school history in 2014. They were the runner-up in 2015.
Michigan has won two national titles in baseball, but the last one came in 1962. The last time the Wolverines made the College World Series was in 1984, but UM is one win away from returning the championship series.
Texas Tech has never won a national title in baseball but has made it to Omaha four times under current head coach Tim Tadlock. In fact, those four trips are the only ones in school history.
Similarly, Louisville made the College World Series five times in school history, with four of those trips under current head coach Dan McConnell. Despite their recent success, the Cardinals have never made it to the championship series.
Mississippi State has made it to Omaha 11 different times but has never won a national title. The Bulldogs have one of the best baseball programs in the SEC and in the country but they’ve only made the championship series once, where they lost to UCLA in 2013.
The Commodores, Red Raiders and Bulldogs each had one player selected in the first round of the MLB draft. Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday went fourth overall to the Miami Marlins, while Texas Tech third baseman Josh Jung was drafted by the Texas Rangers. Mississippi State pitcher Ethan Small was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers at the end of the first round.
Vanderbilt had 13 players selected overall, while Mississippi State had 11. Louisville had eight, Arkansas and Texas Tech had seven apiece, Auburn and Michigan had five and Florida State had four.
College World Series Prediction: Vanderbilt over Michigan