Noles Begin College World Series Journey Tonight

It’s fitting that my blog’s 1000th “view” will come from my favorite sport and my school. The College World Series is underway in Omaha (with UCLA beating up on Stony Brook at the moment), but tonight is all about the Noles. FSU Baseball will take to the field of TD Ameritrade Park this evening at 9 EST (8 central) squaring off against the Arizona Wildcats to complete the first night of the CWS tournament.

The College World Series is a regional and a super-regional put together. To win the CWS and be crowned national champions, one team will win five games between now and June 26th. To begin with though, only two teams will make it out of their four team bracket, in a double elimination tournament set up exactly like the NCAA regionals. UCLA, Stony Brook, Arizona and Florida State are in Bracket One, while Arkansas, Kent State, Florida, and two-time defending champion South Carolina are in Bracket Two. The teams that survive each bracket will face each other in the Championship Series, a best of three on Sunday the 24th, Monday the 25th, and if necessary a national championship deciding game on Tuesday the 26th. If that doesn’t get you excited, nothing will.

TD Ameritrade Park is where one team’s dreams will become reality over the next couple weeks.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. There is plenty of baseball to be played between now and a championship and it all begins tonight. The Seminoles come in to tonight’s game with a 48-15 record and will send freshman pitcher Brandon Leibrandt to the mound in their first game of this trip. Leibrandt comes into the game with an 8-2 record in his rookie campaign, with a 2.58 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 94.1 innings. He has been spectacular so far in the postseason, throwing a gem against Samford in the regional and then returning to the mound and throwing a six-inning outing against a tough Stanford team where he allowed only six hits and just one first inning run while striking out 4 Cardinal batters. Leibrandt is having a special season, especially for a freshman, and he has a chance to solidify himself as a Seminole legend with another fantastic outing this evening.

The Arizona Wildcats will counter by sending their ace to the mound tonight, in the person of Kurt Heyer. Heyer is a junior who was selected in the sixth round by the St. Louis Cardinals and he comes into tonight with a 12-2 record and a 2.28 ERA. In true workhorse fashion he has 102 strikeouts in 138 innings, so the Noles hitters will try to get to the weaker bullpen of the Wildcats much the way they did to Stanford in Tallahassee last weekend. It won’t be easy for Heyer to be effective against the Noles top four hitters: Sherman Johnson (.274 average, 59 runs scored, 35 RBI), Devon Travis (.310 average, 7 HR, 59 runs, 40 RBI), James Ramsey (.382 average, 13 HR, 76 runs, 57 RBI), or Jayce Boyd (.389, 44 R, 59 RBI) all having spectacular seasons so we’ll see what Heyer can do.

James Ramsey and the Noles deserve this. #OneGoal

The Wildcats have a few tough hitters in their lineup as well. Everybody in their top 7 of their lineup has an average above .300, with left fielder Johnny Field leading the way at .383. The team doesn’t seem to have much power with Robert Refsnyder having more than 4 HR’s (he has 6 on the year), but the team does seem to spread the run production around. With the wind expected to blow out tonight, offense may be key, and I think that favors the Noles with the extra power that we have in our lineup.

The college baseball gods are a fickle bunch and there are no certainties whatsoever when it comes to the games and what could possibly happen tonight and throughout the next couple weeks. The only thing that is assured is that there will be drama and there will be excitement, and if you get the chance you should switch on the game tonight. Maybe you will like it. I hope you will, and you already know I’ll be enjoying it so much more with a Florida State win. The Noles are halfway to their “One Goal” mission and it’s time to finish it now. The journey begins tonight. Enjoy.

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