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The 2017 College World Series is underway in Omaha, Nebraska, and two teams have already moved closer to their dream of a dogpile near the pitcher’s mound.
Oregon State, the No. 1 seed in the nation, recovered from a 5-1 deficit to clip Cal State Fullerton 6-5 in the CWS opener. During the nightcap, LSU edged Florida State in a 5-4 thriller.
But the excitement has only just started, since Bracket 2 play begins Sunday. Texas A&M will challenge Louisville in the early afternoon before TCU takes on Florida at night.
Although it’s a double-elimination tournament, starting off with a victory is critical for the championship hopefuls.
College World Series Sunday Schedule
Texas A&M vs. Louisville: 2 p.m. ET on ESPN
TCU vs. Florida: 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Texas A&M Aggies vs. Louisville Cardinals
Sam Craft/Associated Press
The surprise qualifier in the field, Texas A&M enters the College World Series at 5-0 in the NCAA tournament. Continuing that hot streak against Louisville will be a massive task.
Brendan McKay, a two-way superstar the Tampa Bay Rays selected No. 4 overall in the 2017 draft, will take the mound for the Cardinals. He sports a 10-3 record with a 2.34 ERA over 16 starts this season, striking out a joint-nation-best 140 batters.
Getting hits off McKay will be challenging enough, but the Aggies must also contain the left-hander in the batter’s box. He’s hitting .343 with 17 home runs and 56 RBI—yet those impressive numbers aren’t even Louisville’s best at the plate.
Third baseman Drew Ellis boasts a .367 average along with his 20 homers and 61 RBI. He leads the Cardinals with 81 hits, 55 runs and 18 doubles too.
Texas A&M needs a complete effort to upend the ACC power, so the pressure is on starting pitcher Corbin Martin to keep Louisville in check. The southpaw is 7-3 on the year with a 3.35 ERA.
Second baseman Braden Shewmake highlights the Aggies’ offensive attack, evidenced by team-high marks in several major categories. However, while A&M has a quality lineup, it lacks pop other than Shewmake. Timely hitting is key for Rob Childress’ club.
TCU Horned Frogs vs. Florida Gators
Sam Craft/Associated Press
Sunday night’s showdown is a clash between programs that are familiar with the College World Series.
TCU has punched a ticket for the fourth straight year, while Florida is enjoying its third consecutive trip to Omaha and sixth in the past eight years. Both schools are still looking for their first national championship, though.
Pitching hasn’t been a collective strength for the Horned Frogs, but they have supreme confidence in Sunday’s starter. Jared Janczak has dominated the competition this year, posting a 9-0 record with a 1.97 ERA while striking out 91 batters and surrendering just 19 walks.
That might be bad news for Florida, which has mustered a .262 batting average. The mark is 205th in Division I.
But if the Gators get a strong start from ace Alex Faedo, they probably won’t require more than a few runs anyway. While JJ Schwarz struggled at times in 2017, the catcher is heating up at the perfect time. He launched three homers in the Super Regionals.
It might be a low-scoring affair, but the matchup should be exciting late. What more could we ask for during the opening weekend of the College World Series?
Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.