Arkansas and Oregon State will play in the 2018 College World Series National Championship series
And Then There Were Two
College baseball season is coming to a close. Six teams’ seasons already ended in Omaha. The national championship series of the College World Series takes place this week at TD Ameritrade Park between No. 3 seed Oregon State and No. 5 seed Arkansas. College baseball between the two best teams in the country. Could you ask for anything more?
The Beavers dominated the runs column in their last four games, winning by a total of 42 runs to 15. In its last two games against Mississippi State, Oregon State knocked in a combined 17 runs to Mississippi State’s four runs, winning 12-2 and 5-2.
And while that 5-2 may look like a margin of victory on paper, the missing information is that the bases were actually loaded with the tying run at the plate before Oregon State closer Jake Mulholland clinched the victory with a fielder’s choice.
Arkansas didn’t win by as large of a margin against all its recent opponents, but the Razorbacks did go 3-0 on their side of the draw and sealed their spot in the finals after defeating the defending champion Florida Gators, 5-2.
The best-of-three game series will begin with Oregon State being the home team in Game 1, and Game 3 if necessary.
The Road Ends in Omaha
Oregon State is back to the finals for the first time since its back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007.
Arkansas is making its second championship appearance in search of its first College World Series title. The Razorbacks lost the 1979 championship to Cal State Fullerton and Augie Garrido.
A pair of Arkansas freshman and their hot bats have helped the Razorbacks this postseason. Left fielder Heston Kjerstad and third baseman Casey Martin are in the Top 3 of several single-season Arkansas records. Did you catch that they’re freshmen?
They rank third and second, respectively, in batting average. Martin with a .357 and Kjerstad with a .337 BA. They’re tied with each other for first place in hits with 85. Kjerstad holds the records for home runs with 14, while Martin is close behind with 13. And Kjerstad also ranks first with total bases (142) to Martin’s second (138).
But the Beavers’ offense has also churned out some big numbers. In fact, their CWS-total 48 runs are the most runs per game in 17 years. They’re averaging 9.6 runs per game.
Calling All Future Major Leaguers
The CWS will boast 17 players selected in the 2018 Major League Baseball draft, including a program-record 11 Arkansas players.
While Oregon State may have hauled in the runs as of late, they started this CWS on shaky ground, losing to North Carolina. In the 71-year history of NCAA Division I baseball championship, only 10 national champs have won it all after losing their CWS opener.
And while South Carolina was the last team to do so in 2010, Oregon State hoisted their first trophy after losing their opener in 2006.
But if anything, this matchup will be a showdown of talent, as the CWS will boast 17 players selected in the 2018 Major League Baseball draft, including a program-record 11 Arkansas players. Six players were drafted out of Oregon State, including three in the first round. That’s also a program record. Those three are: Nick Madrigal, a second baseman, with the fourth pick to the Chicago White Sox, Trevor Larnach, an outfielder, with the 20th pick by the Minnesota Twins and Cadyn Grenier, a shortstop, with the 37th pick by the Baltimore Orioles.
Keep an eye out for Arkansas starting pitcher Blaine Knight, who was also selected by the Orioles. He was taken in the third round with the 87th pick.
Root Root Root for the …
The two best teams in the country are about to showdown for the national championship. We’d say you can expect a lot of long balls leaving the yard at the hitter-friendly park. This year alone 14 or more runs were scored in seven games.
And both of these squads hit .300 or better this season.
While we like the center of Oregon State’s lineup with Madrigal, Larnach and catcher Adley Rutschman, Oregon State’s pitching hasn’t been what you think will win a national title.
Plus Arkansas State seems to be the Energizer Bunny of college baseball, with no end in sight but the end of the schedule.
So grab your peanuts and cracker jacks. And let’s watch some baseball.