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  • Eric Martinez

College World Series 2023: Who will hoist the championship

The stage is set in Omaha, Nebraska for the 2023 NCAA Men’s College World Series. After a weekend of fireworks and walk-off surprises, eight teams have qualified in a field that is up for grabs. The tournament starts Friday afternoon with two double-elimination games.

Oral Roberts University qualified after a walk-off victory against Oregon in game two of the Eugene Super Regional before a game three victory sending ORU to the College World Series and winning the team’s 51st game of the season. Lead off hitter, Jake McMurray, went 4 for 5 with 2 RBIs and scoring 3 runs in the qualifying game three. The Horned Frogs from TCU have been on a consistent streak the entire postseason including winning the Big 12 tournament championship, and qualifying to the Fort Worth Super Regional. Not only did TCU beat the number 14 ranked Indiana St. in game one, 4 to 1, but the Horned Frogs followed that dominant performance by blanking the Sycamores in game two, 6 to 4, and qualifying for the College World Series before Indiana St. could even get in a rhythm. Batting clean up, Cole Fontenelle went 3 of 4 with 1 RBI and scored 2 runs for the Horned Frogs and TCU bullpen (Ben Abeldt and Garrett Wright) pitched 3.2 innings only allowing 1 run on 5 hits. Both teams will face off in game one of the 2023 College World Series on Friday afternoon.

Number 7th ranked Virginia Cavaliers had to endure an opening loss against Duke in the Charlottesville Super Regional. The Cavaliers bounced back on Saturday with a 14 to 4 win, followed by a dominant game three-qualifier winning 12 to 2. Virginia looks to play the underdog role as they plan to try and catch teams by surprise. The Cavaliers will face a 50-win team in the Florida Gators of the SEC. Not only did the Gators defeat South Carolina in the Gainesville Super Regional, two games to 0, but also they come into the College World Series ranked number 2 in the country. The Gators have a balanced lineup with 5 of their starters hitting over .300. Expect to see a tightly contested game when the Gators and Cavaliers play on Friday.

Saturday afternoon will showcase two teams that have been in the top 10 all year long, Wake Forest University (52-10) and ranked number 1 in the country against number 8 ranked Stanford Cardinal (44-18). Wake Forest eliminated Alabama in the Winston-Salem Super Regional with a 22 to 5 victory statement on Sunday afternoon. Keep an eye out for the Demon Deacons to make a deep run in this tournament as this team has pitching, batting, and experience to show why they are number 1 in the country right now. Stanford University won a crucial game two against Texas University after losing game one. The Cardinal qualified from the Stanford Super Regional with a walk-off pop-up that Longhorns lost in the lights. Stanford Cardinal is a team that will benefit from playing Wake Forest early in the tournament to see how they measure against a heavy favorite.

The SEC has three representatives in the College World Series and two will face-off in the Saturday evening clash featuring the 5th ranked LSU Tigers against the surging Tennessee Volunteers. LSU blanked Kentucky in the Super Regional scoring 22 runs and only allowing 3 in two games to sweep the Wildcats. LSU Tigers have been a top 5 team most of the year and are poised to compete by getting to the winner’s bracket and not looking back. After dropping game one to Southern Mississippi, Tennessee Volunteers returned the favor evening the series 1 to 1 winning game two 8 to 4. The Vols dominated the clinching game three 5 to 0 in the Hattiesburg Super Regional and are a dark horse to get to the finals, however the Vols have played good competition, with season wins over South Carolina, Kentucky that both qualified to the Super Regional’s in their respected brackets.

With a buzz in the air, Omaha will play out what many believe to be an incredible tournament and with some walk-off magic sure to come. Who will win this year’s championship? It has been a very long time since people around Omaha have answered that question with, “Any of those teams can win it.”

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