NCAA Division I Men’s College World Series Preview

NCAA Division I Men’s College World Series Preview

by June 15, 2022 1 comment

Over the weekend, eight teams punched their tickets to Omaha for the 2022 College World Series. There were walk-offs, long rain delays, upsets, and surprises leading to the pandemonium that is the College World Series. No. 2 Stanford, No. 5 Texas A&M, No. 9 Texas, No. 14 Auburn, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame will battle it out on the diamond for a national championship. Stanford and Texas A&M were the only host teams to defend their turf in the Super Regionals as six road teams took down their opponents. The College World Series will begin on Friday, June 17, and go through Monday, June 27 at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska. It is a double-elimination format up until the championship series, which will be a best-of-three round. Let’s take a deep dive into each team in the field and the top players to watch for.

No. 2 Stanford (47-16)

Betting Odds: +450 (Fanduel), +500 (DraftKings)
All-Time CWS Appearances: 18 (Last in 2021)
All-Time CWS Record: 41-31
National Titles: 1987 and 1988

The Cardinal won the Pac-12 regular season and tournament to earn the number two national seed. To get to their 18th College World Series appearance, Stanford won both their Regional and Super Regional after bouncing back from early losses. In the regional, they took down Texas State two games in a row after losing to the Bobcats in the second game. Then in the super regional, they bounced back from their Game 1 loss to UConn with two straight wins to take the series. Head coach David Esquer is in his fifth season at Stanford, in which he holds a 181-68 record. Last season, the Cardinal lost to Vanderbilt in the second round, 6-5, after being one out away from advancing to the semifinals. This season, they are hitting .310 while mashing 118 homers.

Players to Watch For

CF Brock Jones

After starting out the season cold, Jones got hot midseason to raise his draft stock back to the first round. The junior finished slashing .327/.455/.665 with 20 HR and 56 RBI. In the Super Regional against UConn, he smashed three homers in Game 1, showing off his excellent power to center field. Jones will be a key bat for the Cardinal to come out of Omaha on top.

C Kody Huff

The Stanford catcher was key in their Super Regional clinching win on Monday. Huff went 3-for-4 and bashed a grand slam to cap a six-run fourth inning as the rout was on. The junior has slashed .325/.421/.584 with 13 homers, 21 doubles, 51 RBI, and 52 runs scored on the season.

RHP Alex Williams

Williams was named the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year after leading the conference with a 1.67 ERA and holding opponents to a .192 batting average. The senior has struggled over his last three starts, surrendering four, five, and six runs, respectively, as his average rose to 2.88. Stanford needs him to get right, as he was one of their top arms in the regular season.

1B Carter Graham (.333, 22 HR, 78 RBI)
3B Drew Bowser (.297, 18 HR, 50 RBI)

No. 5 Texas A&M (42-18)

Betting Odds: +550 (FanDuel) +800 (DraftKings)
All-Time CWS Appearances: 6 (Last in 2017)
All-Time CWS Record: 2-12
National Titles: 0

Texas A&M was a big surprise this season with head coach Jim Schlossnagle quickly revamping them in just one season. Their team is made up of 11 transfers, including a number of their best players. The Aggies finished just 29-27 last season before bringing in Schlossnagle from rival TCU and claiming the SEC West title. They then went undefeated through the regional and super regional rounds to get to their first College World Series since 2017. They were the first team to clinch a spot in the eight-team field.

Players to Watch For

LF Dylan Rock 

Rock was the difference for the Aggies in making them the first team to clinch a spot in the World Series. He drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh to put Texas A&M up 4-3 over Louisville. The All-SEC Second Team honoree has a great combination of power and speed, hitting 18 homers and stealing 16 bases on the season. He also has more walks (50) than strikeouts (46) on the season.

DH Austin Bost

Bost has been a big bat for the Aggies, as he is slashing .359/.452/.559 on the season with nine homers, 43 RBI, and 51 runs. He was the key to them reaching the Regional final as he launched a go-ahead two-run in the eighth inning of the penultimate game.

1B Jack Moss

Hitting nearly .400 on the season at .391, Moss was named to the SEC All-Tournament Team. He hit .500 at the conference tournament while recording two hits in each of the three games.

LHP Jacob Palisch

Despite not being a flamethrower, Palisch is one of the Aggies’ most reliable arms in the bullpen. In 27 appearances, the southpaw has struck out 60 while walking just nine over 52 innings, despite his fastball riding at 87 to 89 mph.

INF Ryan Targac (.298/.436/.591, 15 HR, 57 RBI)

No. 9 Texas (47-20)

After hitting some bumps in the road during the season, the preseason number one team has hit their stride and is back in the CWS. Texas comes in with a top-five offense in the country and needed a dramatic five-run comeback in Game 2 of the Super Regionals against East Carolina to stay alive. They stomped on the Pirates in the winner-take-all Game 3 as they won 11-1.

Betting Odds: +450 (FanDuel), +425 (DraftKings)
All-Time CWS Appearances: 37 (Last in 2021)
All-Time CWS Record: 88-63
National Titles: 1949, 1950, 1975, 1983, 2002, 2005

Players to Watch For

1B Ivan Melendez

The front-runner for the Golden Spikes Award, Melendez leads Texas in runs (73), home runs (32), RBI (94), walks (51), slugging percentage (.886), and total bases (209). He was a unanimous All-Big 12 First-Team selection and also won the Big 12 Player of the Year award. The first baseman is the motor that gets the Longhorn lineup running and hit a three-run homer in the Game 3 win.

LHP Pete Hansen

Like Melendez, Hansen was a unanimous All-Big 12 First-Team selection and is the top weapon on the pitching side of things. The left-hander has gone 11-2 and struck out 115 while walking just 19 in 103 1/3 innings over 16 starts.

3B Skyler Messinger

In the clinching game for the Longhorns, Messinger went 3-for-4 with two RBI, while also making a terrific defensive play in the ninth inning. On the season, the Kansas transfer hit .372 while bashing 11 homers. He was named to Big 12 All-Tournament Team.

2B Murphy Stehly (.375/.434/.680, 19 HR, 61 RBI)

LHP Lucas Gordon (2.68 ERA, 84 IP, .218 BAA, 76 K, 25 BB)

No. 14 Auburn (42-20)

Betting Odds: +700 (FanDuel), +700 (DraftKings)
All-Time CWS Appearances: 5 (Last in 2019)
All-Time CWS Record: 3-10
National Titles: 0

The Tigers fought out a tough series against Oregon State to make their second College World Series trip in three years. Over seven postseason games, they have scored 65 runs with their potent lineup. Auburn found experienced transfers after losing key hitters from last year’s team.

Players to Watch For

1B Sonny DiChiara

Sonny D helped Auburn snag the final spot in Omaha, hitting his 22nd homer in the third inning in the clinching game. The SEC Co-Player of the Year is hitting .392 with 22 home runs, 59 RBI, 53 runs scored, and 68 walks this season. The Italian Stallion is one homer away from tying Hunter Morris’ single-season record of 23.

OF Bobby Peirce

RHP Joseph Gonzalez

RHP Chase Allsup

3B Blake Rambusch

Arkansas (43-19)

Betting Odds: +550 (FanDuel), +550 (DraftKings)
All-Time CWS Appearances: 10 (Last in 2019)
All-Time CWS Record: 15-20
National Titles: 0

Players to Watch For

SS Jalen Battles

Battles is third on the team in homers with 10 and in RBI with 65. He smashed a grand slam in the regionals which was one of seven Razorback homers in a 20-12 win. Battles is a key bat in the lineup that will need to score runs against Stanford in the opener.

3B Cayden Wallace

Another piece of a stacked infield, Wallace has flexed his muscle in the NCAA Tournament. He has mashed six home runs with 11 RBI over his last nine games. Wallace also plays good defense at third base as he has a strong arm.

1B Peyton Stovall (.286/.375/.411, 5 HR, 21 RBI)

RHP Connor Noland (3.86 ERA, 105 K, 33 BB, 100 1/3 IP)

LHP Hagen Smith (4.85 ERA, 72 1/3 IP, 82 K, 42 BB)

Oklahoma (42-22)

Betting Odds: +1000 (FanDuel), +700 (DraftKings)
All-Time CWS Appearances: 10 (Last in 2010)
All-Time CWS Record: 15-16
National Titles: 1951, 1994

The Sooners have been one of the hottest teams down the stretch in their first run to Omaha in 12 years. The team has won their last five Big 12 series along with the conference tournament title before taking down Liberty and Florida in the Regionals and Virginia Tech in the Super Regionals. Oklahoma knocked off the Hokies 11-2 in the winner-take-all Game 3.

Players to Watch For

SS Peyton Graham

Graham has been the best hitter on the Sooners as he leads them in runs (71), home runs (20), RBI (71), stolen bases (32), slugging percentage (.660), and total bases (171). In Game 3 against Virginia Tech, the shortstop got things going with a homer with one out in the first inning.

CF Tanner Tredaway

Tredaway was a big part of the Game 3 win as well, hitting two homers and two doubles. His second homer was a go-ahead shot in the fourth inning. After the terrific performance, the redshirt senior was named Player of the Game and leads the team with 98 hits on the season.

RHP Cade Horton

After undergoing Tommy John surgery and missing his entire freshman season in 2021, Horton worked his way back to being a stud pitcher for the Sooners this season. The right-hander struck out nine in 5 1/3 innings to lead the Sooners to an 8-1 win over Texas in the Big 12 Championship game. Then in the elimination game against Virginia Tech, Horton delivered eight strikeouts while allowing just two hits over six innings.

LHP Jake Bennett

Bennett has been a solid ace and holds a 9-3 record and 3.53 ERA to go with 120 strikeouts. In Game 2 in the Super Regionals, the southpaw went seven strong innings while allowing just one earned run (three unearned). He put the Sooners in a great position to win the game and the series.

LF Kendall Pettis (.279/.458/.434, 5 HR, 26 RBI)

Notre Dame (40-15)

Betting Odds: +550 (FanDuel), +500 (DraftKings)
All-Time CWS Appearances: 2 (Last in 2002)
All-Time CWS Record: 3-4
National Titles: 0

In the biggest upset of the year, Notre Dame took down Tennessee after many fans and experts were picking the Vols against the field. In the Super Regionals, the Irish relied on their tremendous pitching staff that has been nails of late. They took out Tennessee, 7-3, in Game 3 to eliminate the number one team in the country and the best overall college baseball team in a while.

Players to Watch For

3B Jack Brannigan 

Despite going just 3-for-12 in the super regionals, Brannigan had a big part in Notre Dame taking out the number one seed in the country. Two of his hits were homers, one of which put the Irish up in the seventh of the clinching game – a lead they would hold. He is a pretty strong defensive third baseman as well. Entering the College World Series, Brannigan is hitting .296/.361/.557 with 12 HR and 46 RBI.

LHP John Michael Bertrand

The ace of the Irish pitching staff, Bertrand leads them in most statistical categories, including ERA (2.69), strikeouts (107), total wins (9), and innings pitched (103.2). Austin Temple might be lined up to start the World Series opener, but Bertrand will be a big key to the Irish keeping their magical run alive.

LF Ryan Cole

After Cole stated that the Vols “should be a little scared” of the Irish coming into the Super Regionals, the squad backed it up. While Cole didn’t have a great series, he still has an average over .300 on the season and has a near 1.000 OPS.

LHP Jack Findlay 

In Game 3 of the Super Regionals, Findlay needed just 58 pitches to close out the final five innings. The southpaw gave up just one hit and two walks in the five shutout innings to help clinch Notre Dame’s first trip to Omaha in 20 years.

DH Jack Zyska (.317/.406/.676, 13 HR, 38 RBI)

Ole Miss (37-22)

Odds: +1000 (FanDuel), +650 (DraftKings)
All-Time CWS Appearances: 5 (Last in 2014)
All-Time CWS Record: 5-10
National Titles: 0

Ole Miss has been the cinderella of the 2022 NCAA Tournament, as they were likely the last team in the 64-team field. The Rebels went undefeated in the regionals and super regionals and outscored Southern Mississippi 15-0 in the two-game Super Regional sweep. A top team coming into the season, Ole Miss faltered throughout the year before making their first College World Series since 2014. Don’t let the Rebels get hot.

Players to Watch For

1B Tim Elko

Elko has been a huge fan favorite throughout the postseason and has gone 9-for-18 at the plate in the five games. The captain tore his ACL midseason in 2021 but defied all odds and hit seven home runs and recorded 19 RBI while still injured. This season, the senior has hit .302  with 71 RBI, 57 runs scored, and 22 home runs while growing into an Ole Miss and college baseball legend.

SS Jacob Gonzalez

The D1Baseball National Freshman of the Year in 2021, Gonzalez has had another great season in 2022. In 59 games, he has posted a .998 OPS with 17 homers and 49 RBI. The sophomore shortstop was named to All-SEC First Team and has walked almost as twice as he struck out.

RHP Dylan DeLucia

The ace of the Rebels pitching staff, DeLucia was dominant in their 10-0 win over Southern Mississippi last week. The right-hander twirled 5 1/3 shutout innings while striking out nine and allowing just four hits. The junior college transfer has been a workhorse for Ole Miss as he has pitched 78 2/3 innings in 19 appearances.

LF Kevin Graham (.331/.363/.562, 10 HR, 46 RBI)
RHP John Mallitz (1.30 ERA, 27 2/3 IP, 41/10 K/BB rate, .170 batting average against)

College World Series Prediction: Texas A&M

College World Series Schedule

Game 1: Oklahoma vs. #5 Texas A&M, Friday, June 17, 2:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 2: Notre Dame vs. #9 Texas, Friday, June 17, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 3: Arkansas vs. #2 Stanford, Saturday, June 18, 2:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Game 4: Ole Miss vs. #14 Auburn, Saturday, June 18, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
Game 5: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, Sunday, June 19, 2:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 6: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, Sunday, June 19, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
Game 7: Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, Monday, June 20, 2:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 8: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, Monday, June 20, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2)


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