College World Series 2021: Bracket Predictions, Times for Wednesday’s Schedule
Rebecca S. Gratz/Associated Press
The action never stops in Omaha.
The College World Series is back with a bang after losing last year’s event to the COVID-19 pandemic. Arizona and its high-powered offense has already been bounced from the tournament. One of Texas and Tennessee will be sent packing on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, NC State continues giving off serious team-of-destiny vibes. The Wolfpack, who opened the season 4-9 overall and 1-8 in the ACC, have toppled some of college baseball’s best their last few times out. Their three most recent wins—one to escape their super regional, two in Omaha—came against SEC Pitcher of the Year Kevin Kopps of Arkanas, Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year Brendan Beck of Stanford and potential top-five MLB draft pick Jack Leiter of Vanderbilt.
“I’m really at a loss for words, honestly,” Terrell Tatum, who hit a fifth-inning home run off Leiter in Monday’s 1-0 win, told reporters. “From the start that we had and where we’ve been, I would say, like, this is—we’re really on top of the world right now.”
With an elimination game on the docket Wednesday, this thrill ride should continue.
Wednesday’s CWS Schedule
Who: No. 9 Stanford vs. No. 4 Vanderbilt
When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in Omaha, Neb.
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Stanford vs. Vanderbilt Preview
It’s win-or-go-home time for the Cardinal and Commodores, who were both pushed to the brink of elimination by NC State.
Stanford at least could see its fate early. The Cardinal trailed 2-0 after the first inning and 6-0 midway through the fourth of their 10-4 loss on Saturday.
Vandy, on the other hand, probably spent the duration of Monday’s 1-0 defeat on pins and needles. Putting any kind of crooked number on the scoreboard would’ve been enough, but ultimately they couldn’t capitalize on a 15-strikeout gem by Leiter.
The Commodores have already played their aces in Leiter and Kumar Rocker, so the most special aspect of this team won’t matter on Wednesday. What might is that, Monday’s showing aside, this offense packs a punch up and down the lineup. Vanderbilt sits 33rd nationally with a .294 batting average, 48th with a .385 on-base percentage and 11th with a .496 slugging percentage.
Speaking of lineup punch, Stanford has flashed its power throughout its first two contests.
While the Cardinal dropped their opener, they still had eight hits, four runs and three homers in the outing. That was nothing compared to what they did to the Wildcats, as they pounded out 20 hits, 14 runs and two more round-trippers. That included the 17th home run of the season for sophomore outfielder Brock Jones, who has four homers in his last three games.
Stanford won’t go down without a fight and has enough offense to hit its way to victory. But Vanderbilt, CWS champs in 2014 and 2019, has a history of rising to the occasion in Omaha.
Wednesday’s game has instant-classic potential, but our crystal ball likes Vanderbilt to advance.
That would set up a Friday rematch with NC State, who will be well-rested and fueled by the knowledge that one more victory would propel it to the CWS Final.
But if Vandy gets to the first game, it could set up the Rocker-Leiter duo for two must-win tilts. It’s a tricky situation to be in, but if you have to be there, you want pitchers of this ilk.
That may well not be enough to topple NC State. No one is flying higher than the Wolfpack, who just keep finding ways to beat great teams with great pitchers.
Objectively, they should be the pick to escape this side of the bracket just because the two other teams already have a loss in this double-elimination tournament.
Subjectively, though, it’s hard not to remember what Rocker and Leiter have done so far and what they could do over the weekend. If Vandy gets there, we’ll boldly predict this club goes beyond there, too.
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