It's that time of the year again with the College World Series taking place in Omaha, Neb. The upstart No. 4 seed Stony Brook Seawolves and the No. 2 national seed UCLA Bruins kick off the second year of the tournament at TD Ameritrade Park on Thursday afternoon for the first game in what can reach a total of 17 contests.
The Seawolves (52-13) are looking to become just the second No. 4 regional seed to win the College World Series. The Fresno St. Bulldogs accomplished that feat in 2008. Coming from the America East contest, the Seawolves are not a hot topic of conversation in the usual baseball circles, but that all changed when they won the Coral Gables, Fla., Regional and then reached new heights with a huge upset over the No. 7 national seed LSU Tigers in the Baton Rouge, La., Super Regional. Alex Box Stadium is one of the toughest places to play at on the road and after a heart-breaking 5-4 12-innings loss in Game 1, the Seawolves came back to win the final two games of the best-of-three series.
Stony Brook received strong pitching from all three of its starters in the Super Regional round: Brandon McNitt, Tyler Johnson and Frankie Vanderka. Johnson (12-1, 1.94 ERA) starts Game 1 of the College World Series after throwing a complete game three-hitter for a 3-1 win over LSU. Offensively, look for OF Travis Jankowski (.422 BA, 36 SB, 44th overall draft pick) and Willie Carmona (.399 BA, 12 HR, 72 RBI, 11th round draft pick) to lead the team.
The Bruins (47-14) have won five straight postseason games as they enter the College World Series, sweeping the Los Angeles Regional and Super Regional. The Bruins will have Adam Plutko (11-3, 2.56 ERA). He allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings and struck out seven in a 6-2 victory over TCU to open the Super Regional series. Reliever David Berg (47 G, 1.58 ERA) threw five shutout innings of relief in that series.
Look for OF Jeff Gelalich (57th overall draft pick) to lead the Bruins offense. He hit .365/.458/.558 with 11 home runs, 15 stolen bases and 46 RBI in 61 games.
Game time/date: 3:00 p.m. MT, Friday, June 15, 2012
Location: TD Ameritrade Park, Omaha, Neb.
For updates, stay tuned to SB Nation Denver. For a complete bracket, visit NCAA.com.