Texas vs. LSU: Breaking down the College World Series finale
Texas has six College World Series championships, LSU has five
The Longhorns will send sophomore right-hander Cole Green to the mound
LSU will counter with its own sophomore righty, 6-foot-7 Anthony Ranaudo
OMAHA, Neb. -- Wednesday night's finale of the College World Series pits two of the sport's most storied programs -- Texas has six championships, LSU has five -- against each other to cap an Omaha fortnight that has lived up to the hype as the "Greatest Show on Dirt."
Oh, and the schools can finally settle who truly deserves to be No. 1. Texas (50-15-1), which won Big 12 titles in the regular season and tournament, is the No. 1 national seed in the postseason, as determined by the NCAA baseball committee; LSU (55-17), the SEC regular-season and tournament champ, is the No. 1 team as voted by the national polls.
Recent history is inconclusive: In Texas's favor is that two of the last three national champs rallied from a 1-0 deficit in the CWS final; in LSU's favor is the fact that a No. 1 seed hasn't won the title since Miami in 1999.
The Longhorns will send 6-foot sophomore right-hander Cole Green to the mound, he of the 5-3 record, 3.07 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 108 1/3 innings. Thanks to Taylor Jungmann's complete game last night, the entire Longhorns relief corps has had at least one day of rest.
LSU hands the ball to its own sophomore right-hander, 6-7 power pitcher Anthony Ranaudo, an 11th-round pick of the Texas Rangers out of high school. This season Ranaudo, along with SEC Pitcher of the Year Louis Coleman, has been part of arguably the best 1-2 starting pitcher combo in the nation; Ranaudo is 11-3, with a 2.87 ERA and 155 strikeouts in 119 innings. The Tigers used three relievers for seven innings last night, but their top pitcher out of the bullpen, Matty Ott, last appeared Monday and should be ready to go.
To preview Wednesday night's highly anticipated final, SI.com asked a member of two coaching staffs who are familiar with both Texas and LSU to break down the matchup.
On LSU starter Anthony Ranaudo
Coach 1: "He's going to try to elevate the fastball, and Texas has to see the fastball down in the zone [to swing]. And you have to see the curveball up. He's a power guy, and Texas is going to have to see the fastball down and the curveball up. Texas has been doing that; they've been doing a good job of laying off those tough pitches to hit that are just out of the zone. If they can continue that approach, they'll have a shot."
Coach 2: "Ranaudo is a big-time arm, a big-time draft guy a year from now. He can be very overpowering. I think Texas is so disciplined, they'll make him get it in the strike zone. At this point in his career I think he relies on guys getting themselves out a little bit, chasing pitches out of the zone with the fastball up and the hard breaking ball down. Texas will be a challenge for him if he's not throwing strikes. His M.O. is that it takes him a little while to get into the game."
On the Texas offense and its power surge in Omaha
Coach 1: "With their quality at-bats they're laying off some borderline pitches that, even if they're strikes, they're not good hitters' pitches. They're really working the counts to get pitches they can drive. [Center fielder] Connor Rowe has some untapped power on the pull side. He's been able to get the bat head out on some pitches that were very hittable. [Designated hitter Russell] Moldenhauer is the same thing. If you watch Moldenhauer take [batting practice], he might hit 15 out [of the park]. He's got juice. In a game he just seems to be more of a line drive to left-center-field gap guy. But he's been getting pitches in."
Coach 2: "They're good two-strike hitters and have some pop in the lineup. [Catcher Cameron] Rupp and [right fielder Kevin] Keyes have big-time pop. Russell Moldenhauer was one of the best players they had a year ago. After that knee scope [surgery for a dislocated kneecap], if you've noticed, he's not running well. I think he's still troubled by that knee. He didn't get a lot of at-bats, but when he got the start in that first game in Omaha and in his first at-bat, he went out of the yard, opposite field -- I just thought that was one of the coolest things I've seen. Preston Clark is the same way. He's had some health issues, but he was the guy behind the plate for about three years. Both of those guys have been really good in Omaha."
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