You know how they say there's nothing better than a Game Seven? Well in college baseball, there's nothing better than a game three in a super regional with a trip to college baseball's mecca on the line. This afternoon from Jim Patterson Stadium in Louisville, it will be the Louisville Cardinals hosting the Oklahoma State Cowboys in a one game decide it all. Let's get down and dirty.
Each team still has a ton of options, which makes trying to predict who's going to start this one for each side that much more tough. Both skippers were very mum about who they would toss. The only thing we do know is that each team's primary closer is basically rendered useless today. Oklahoma State's Justin Friend started yesterday's game and pitched a great eight innings, while Louisville's Trystan Magnuson went a season-long five innings while picking up the blown save and loss.
Let's put it this way, most of the time in a game with such magnitude as this one, the starter in this one usually doesn't figure into the equation at the end of the game. We're bound to see about 13 pitchers total in this one, so who knows, but let's take a look at who could be handed the ball at the start of this one.
The Cards probably will start either Colby Wark (3-3) or James Belanger (1-4). McDonnell said Skylar Meade (8-4) is another option and noted that top relievers Gavin Logsdon and Kyle Hollander are ready.
Here's a look at what those guys have done this year and recently:
Colby Wark is a junior righty and is in his first year in Louisville from Scottsdale C.C. In 23 games, eight starts, he's 3-3 with a 3.53 ERA with one save. Opponents are hitting only .211 against him in 58.2 innings. Wark got the start a week ago against Missouri going three innings giving up two runs on two hits while walking three and striking out three in Louisville's 4-3 victory. Eight of his last nine appearances have been starts, so he's certainly one of the favorites to take the ball today from McDonnell.
Belanger is a fellow junior righty from Long Island, N.Y. He's also in his first year with the Crdinals, coming over from Cecil C.C. This year in 18 games, 10 starts, he's 1-4 witha 4.15 ERA. He's not a power guy with 29 K's in 56.1 IP, and he's gotten roughed up of late. Against Miami a week ago in a start, he went four innings giving up four runs and four hits, with two homers. The next day he came back to throw 0.1 innings of relief against Mizzou, giving up two hits and a run while walking one.
Skylar Meade is a fourth year senior lefty with seven starts under his belt this year, and 14 in his career. He has appeared in 14 other games, and is 8-4 with a 4.64 ERA. In 42.2 IP, he's struck out 24 and allowed 39 hits. He started last Monday's 16-6 win agaisnt Mizzou and went 1.1 innings, giving up four hits and four runs while hitting a batter, yikes. But that was after he went against Mizzou on the 2nd and went three innings in relief giving up a hit and a run while striking o ut two. I'd bet we'd see Meade out of relief.
For Oklahoma State, coach Anderson could give the ball to a couple guys as well. The leading candidate would have to be Joe Kent who I suspected was going to the starter yesterday. He's a sophomore lefty with 11 starts this season, and is 4-2 witha 3.42 ERA. His last start came last Saturday against Arkansas and he went four innings, giving up 3 hits and three runs (2 earned) with two walks and a strikeout in what would be OSU's 14-3 win over the Hogs.
Andrew Oliver is another option. Oliver threw last in Friday's opening game when he came into the game to record one out. The lefty freshman in 11 starts, is 6-1 with an ERA right at about 5.00. His last start came against Missouri back on May 20, when he went just 1.1 innings giving up two hits, walking four, and allowing three runs. His longest outing came against Western Illinois, when he went six innings allowing only one run.
Tyler Blandford is probably the other guy we could see start. He's the only righty of that trio, and has started two games this year and appeared in ten games overall. The freshman started against Hartford on March 17 and picked up his first collegiate win, and started again on April 18 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, going five innings striking out seven. He's thrown only 22 innings, giving up seven earned runs, but is 2-0 with a 2.86 ERA with 21 K's.
Anderson also said that we could see yesterday's starter, Odle, at some point.
The point of all this nonsense? It doesn't really matter who starts. We'll see everyone and the kitchen sink. If I still had eligibility left, they might be asking me to come down to join the roster for a day.
The bottomline is that Louisville can't come out stiff. They could easily come out and lay an egg in front of their home crowd, trying to please them. After all, they were three outs from their first trip to Omaha in school history.
One thing's for sure, these fans are ready. Driving around town this morning and early this afternoon, everyone's got their Louisville shirts on, and is ready for baseball. Especially the guy in the Walgreens buying sunscreen like me (albeit, a day too late for me as I'm as red as a tomato thanks to my seat outdoors).
That'll do it for now. Off to the ballpark, and remember, Touching the Bases will return at the end of the game with complete analysis and a wrapup of today's game. To follow the action with live pitch-by-pitch information, head to Gametracker.