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2023 College World Series Bracket 1 Preview: Can the Cinderella Story Continue?

While Florida might seem like the easy favorite in bracket one, the other three teams in that bracket are as hot as anyone, including Oral Roberts.


The Golden Eagles of Oral Roberts have been the biggest storyline of the college baseball postseason so far after sweeping through the Stillwater Regional as a 4-seed and then taking down the Pac-12 Tournament champs in Oregon at Eugene.


You could debate whether or not they should have been a four-seed to begin with, but that’s what the committee decided, and as a result, they became just the third 4-seed in this tournament format to reach the College World Series.


To continue their run, they'll have a tough task in bracket one as they first have to face a TCU team that might be the hottest team in the country right now after sweeping through the Big 12 Tournament, Fayetteville Regional, and then Super Regional.


Also, at the top of the bracket, you have the regular season SEC champion Florida Gators and one of the best teams from the ACC in Virginia to get through.

Florida (50-15, 20-10 SEC)

The Gators won 20 games in the SEC to win the regular season championship. In the Gainesville Regional, they lost a 5-4 game to Texas Tech and had to come through the loser’s bracket and force a game 7 to advance.


In those five Regional games, the Florida pitching staff allowed a total of 8 runs. That theme continued in the Super Regionals where they allowed just 4 runs to a very potent South Carolina lineup.


Brandon Sproat, Hurston Waldrep, and Jac Caglianone form one of the more dominant starting rotations in baseball with 343 combined strikeouts in 258.1 innings.


Waldrep might have the best stuff in this year’s MLB Draft behind Paul Skenes and he’s starting to put it all together. In his Regional and Super Regional starts he combined to strike out 25 batters in 15 innings while allowing just 1 run on 8 hits and 4 walks.


Brandon Neely has become one of the best closers in college baseball with 64 strikeouts in 46.2 innings to go along with 13 saves.


Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan will lean heavily on those four arms in Omaha.


And oh, by the way, this team can hit as well.


Outfielder Wyatt Langford seems like a lock to go in the top 5 of this year’s MLB Draft after posting a 1.267 OPS with 18 home runs in 2023.


He headlines a powerful offense that includes shortstop Josh Rivera, Caglianone, Cade Kurland, and BT Riopelle.

Virginia (50-13, 19-11 ACC)

The Cavaliers hit a bit of a lull in the middle of the season where they lost series to Virginia Tech, Pitt, and Notre Dame. But they won their last nine regular season games to carry some good momentum into the NCAA Tournament.


A lot of people thought they might lose their own Regional, which included a good Army team and East Carolina. However, they jumped all over Army in their first game, won a close one against East Carolina, and then rallied late to finish off the Pirates in the Regional final.


They faced a little adversity in the Super Regionals dropping a 5-4 game to Duke. But then the offense woke up as they smashed the Blue Devils in the next two games to advance.


Kyle Teel, a potential top 10 pick in this year’s MLB Draft, leads that potent offense with a .418 average. Batting in front of him in the lineup are Griff O’Ferrall, Ethan O’Donnell, and Jake Gelof.


They have a team batting average of .335 and four players with at least 13 home runs, including Gelof who leads the team with 23 long balls.


In the rotation, they have three guys with an ERA under 4.0 in Nick Parker, Connelly Early, and Brian Edgintgton. Early and Edgington both had over 90 strikeouts this year, and Edgington threw a complete game in the clincher of the Super Regionals.


Jay Woolfolk, Jake Berry, and Jack O’Connor are arms they’ll rely on out of the bullpen – and possibly as starters if needed – during the College World Series.


Oral Roberts (51-12, 23-1 Summit League)

It was a surprise to many when Oral Roberts was selected as a 4-seed after going 23-1 in the Summit League, sweeping through their conference tournament, and winning 46 games.


Their only quality wins in the regular season came against Oklahoma State, so, naturally, the committee sent them to the Stillwater Regional where they beat the one-seed for the third time in 2023.


They erased an 8-0 deficit against Washington to comeback and win the second game of that Regional, and then held off Dallas Baptist 6-5 in the Regional final.


To start the Supers it was Oral Roberts who blew an 8-0 lead, dropping game one to Oregon 9-8. That also put an end to their 21-game win streak.


They scored 4 runs in the final three innings of game two, including 2 runs in the bottom of the ninth to walk it off.


And then they cruised to Omaha with a 11-6 win in the final.


Cade Denton is a real weapon for them out of the bullpen with a 1.85 ERA and 0.94 WHIP with 15 saves in 58.1 innings pitched with 78 strikeouts.


Jonah Cox leads the offense with a .420 average and 1.148 OPS to go along with 11 home runs and 28 stolen bases. Matt Hogan leads the team with 18 long balls and a 1.155 OPS.


We’ll have more on them in a feature article to come soon.

TCU (42-22, 13-11 Big 12)

The Horned Frogs were the talk of college baseball after week one when they scored 29 runs in wins over Vanderbilt and Arkansas. They followed that up with losing a series at home against Florida State and four of their first six Big 12 series.


Then they won their last three regular season series and then won four straight games in the Big 12 Tournament.


Their bats remained on fire in the Fayetteville Regional where they scored 44 runs in three games, including two blowout wins over host and number three overall seed Arkansas.


They lucked into getting to host the Super Regionals where they took down Indiana State in two games thanks to some good pitching.


With all the offense in the Regionals, their pitching may have been overlooked as they haven’t allowed more than 4 runs in any NCAA Tournament game.


Kole Klecker was fantastic in the Super Regionals tossing 7 scoreless innings allowing just 3 hits and 1 walk with 9 strikeouts.


They don’t have a lot of dominant arms that get a lot of strikeouts, but there are several guys they trust coming out of the bullpen like Luke Savage, Garrett Wright, and Ben Abeldt.


Abeldt has had two big appearances in the NCAA Tournament already, and he’s allowed just 1 earned run in his last 12 outings. He’s gone multiple outings in a lot of those appearances.


If the Horned Frogs are going to keep this hot streak going, their offense will likely need to carry them.


Brayden Taylor is likely a top pick in this year’s draft and leads his team with 23 home runs. Tre Richardson went off in the Fayetteville Regional with 9 hits, 14 RBI, and 2 grand slams – but he cooled off in the Supers.


Cole Fontenelle led the offense against Indiana State with 5 hits, including 2 home runs.



This bracket figures to be a highly competitive one with a couple of blue bloods, a Cinderella story, and a team on a big hot streak. Action will get underway in Omaha on Friday.

 

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