The Texas Longhorns are back in the College World Series. It wasn't an easy road for the Longhorns, who faced elimination in both the regional and super regional rounds, but, the Longhorns are back in Omaha. The Longhorns, though, face a tough task tonight as they look to avoid headed back to the losers bracket: they face the No. 2 seeded Florida Gators in the opening round.
The Gators should be a much more capable opponent than any of Texas' foes in the past couple of weeks. The good folks over at Burnt Orange Nation have posted a preview of the Gators and what the Gators' strengths and weaknesses are.
That's what Florida does; they hit homeruns, and they hit a lot of them. Along with Pigott, the Gators have gotten fantastic production at the plate this postseason from left fielder Tyler Thompson, first baseman Vickash Ramjit, and third baseman Cody Dent. Dent's success is particularly troubling, as he hit below .200 during the regular season but is over .280 during the postseason. He is the best evidence you can find that Florida's offense is hitting on all cylinders coming into the CWS. And we haven't even mentioned their two best hitters yet: all season, the Florida attack has been paced by right fielder Preston Tucker (.314 BA, 14 HR, 68 RBI, .553 Slg) and catcher Mike Zunino (.376, 18, 66, .686).
Oh, and they also pitch. Thanks to some statistical compilation work by TXStampede, we can give you some good news about the UF pitching staff: they have the second-highest team ERA in the tournament. The bad news? They still have a 2.97 team ERA. This College World Series, more than any in recent memory, is going to be all about pitching. That's due to the combination of great talent on the hill and, of course, the new bats reducing overall production.
... the one Achilles heel on this Gator squad may be the bullpen. It's not exactly problematic, but they do lack a shut-down reliever. If Taylor Jungmann can keep it close long enough for the offense to chase Randall, they'll have a chance to get on the board against Florida's backup arms.
Nobody ever said that winning the College World Series is a walk in the park, so it's not shocking that the Longhorns are running into an excellent squad. Turning into Captain Obvious or Captain Hindsight for a moment, Taylor Jungmann will have to keep Florida's bats quiet and turn the game into a pitchers duel as Texas' offense will have to eek out their runs.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. CDT.