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Scouting the College World Series- UCLA, Florida, TCU & Florida St.

What will UCLA face in Rosenblatt Stadium's final year? (Photo Credit: <a href="" target="new"></a>)
What will UCLA face in Rosenblatt Stadium's final year? (Photo Credit:

In two days time, UCLA will make the first appearance at the College World Series since 1997. Not only are the Bruins going to take to the field in Omaha, but they'll be doing it in the final season at venerable Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium. Home to the College World Series since 1950, 2010 will mark the final time that the stadium hosts the national last eight college baseball teams remaining so whoever wins this year's College World Series will forever be the final team to make their stand at Rosenblatt Stadium. Can the Bruins be that last team standing at the most famous and loved stadium in all of college baseball, etching their name into annals of the sport?

At least on paper, there appears to be one bracket much stronger than the other at this year's College World Series. While Arizona St., South Carolina, Clemson and Oklahoma are all very good teams, from top to bottom, the UCLA, Florida, TCU and Florida St. bracket is a step up. The winners of each of the double elimination play in those two brackets will move on to the Championship Series, a best of three series for the national title.

So, what's to the four teams in UCLA's bracket? Let's take a look.

UCLA Bruins (48-14, 5-1 Postseason, #6 National Seed)

With a 22-game win streak to start the season, a second-place conference finish and school record 43 regular season wins, UCLA accomplished a lot during the regular season. They were rewarded with the right to host both a Regional and Super Regional and the number six national seed. In the Regionals, UCLA had to play Kent St., LSU and UC Irvine in what was widely regarded as the toughest Regional out there. The Bruins had no trouble with it though, sweeping through it in three game to set them up with the team that had their number, Cal St. Fullerton. After dropping the opening game of the Super Regionals, UCLA was down to their final out in the second game, but they came back for an extra inning win, then cruised 8-1 to clinch the school's first College World Series berth since 1997.

Why They Will Win the National Title

It may get tiresome, but boy can these guys pitch. Only once this postseason had UCLA allowed more than four runs and they haven't even had to turn to Garett Claypool, who many believe is the best fourth pitcher in the country. In games that the Bruins have scored six runs or more this season, the Bruins are an amazing 42-0. The entire pitching staff has struck out a total of 639 batters this season, the most in the history of the Pac-10. That is why the UCLA pitching staff is almost universally acknowledged as the best in the College World Series.

All three Bruin weekend starters have at least ten wins, led by Rob Rasmussen's 11. Gerrit Cole has a 3.25 ERA on the year, while holding opponents to a mere .195 batting average. Trevor Bauer has a 3.02 ERA on the year and 141 strike outs, the most on the team. Rasmussen has limited opponent's to a .208 batting average en route to a 2.73 ERA and was never better than he was in his complete game, two hit start last weekend in the Super Regionals. Once you get past the starting staff, you have a bullpen that has played a large part in the Bruins' perfect record when leading after seven innings and 41-1 record when leading after six innings. that bullpen is anchored by Dan Klein, who has nine saves to go along with a 6-0 record, .214 batting average against and 1.93 ERA.

Why They Won't Win the National Title

An already shaky offense was hurt even more by the loss of Tyler Rahmatulla, who suffered a broken wrist in the post-game pile up after the Bruins took down Cal St. Fullerton. Add Rahmatulla's injury to Cody Keefer's and the Bruins are missing a .328 hitter, .318 hitter, .450 on-base percentage, .434 on-base percentage, nine home runs, 76 RBI and 81 runs scored. This all for an offense that was tied for 124th in the nation in scoring with 7.1 runs per game.

Despite winning the Super Regional, UCLA left 24 runners on base and couldn't get the hit they needed with a runner in scoring position. Unfortunately for the Bruins, that isn't too uncommon for this year's UCLA team. They can leave runners on base time and time again, unable to cash in on their chances. It was the case versus poor pitching teams so when playing the best teams in the country, can they score enough to win?

Florida Gators (47-15, 5-0 Postseason, #3 National Seed)

Led by youth and coming to Omaha hot, Florida has been one of the most consistent teams all year. They haven't run off any ridiculous win streaks or gone into a deep funk, but they've consistently won series all year long. After going 42-15 during the regular season with an impressive 22-8 SEC mark, Florida rolled through the Regional that they hosted. By the time their 3-0 run was over, they had outscored Bethune-Cookman, Oregon St. and Florida Atlantic, 32-5. In the Super Regionals, they smacked Miami around to start things, then showed they could win a close game by clinching their College World Series spot in extra innings. Now, the Gators prepare for their first trip to Omaha since 2005.

Why They Will Win the National Title

There aren't many teams in the nation as talented as the Florida Gators. Future professionals litter the Florida roster on the mound, at the plate and in the field. From freshmen to seniors, the Gators have the talent to do just about anything. They're accomplished in all phases of the game and catch the ball very well, an underrated quality in the postseason. In their five postseason games, Florida has committed no errors in four of them.

With Matt den Dekker at the plate, Florida has a true leader who can do it all with a .358 batting average, 13 home runs and 23 stolen bases. Austin Maddux provides the power with 17 home runs and has a .333 batting average to boot. A starting pitcher in Hudson Randall, who has a 2.95 ERA gives the Gators someone to lean on to start games. At the back end, Florida has Kevin Chapman's 11 saves, 1.48 ERA and opponents are hitting just .183 off of him. A complete team indeed.

Why They Won't Win the National Title

Playing in the SEC, you play in pressure games before big crowds. You play in the Regionals and that spotlight is a little brighter. In the Super Regionals, you're on national TV. Playing in the College World Series is a completely different animal though. National TV, the most pressure the college game has to offer and 20,000+ in the stadium can make even the most experienced of teams flinch occasionally. If experienced teams can struggle with being in Omaha, how is a team filled with youngsters going to do?

Two of Florida's top three starters are freshmen. Big chunks of the Gators' lineup is made up of freshmen. These freshmen are talented. It's why their names litter the All-Freshmen teams. From a pure baseball player standpoint, they can match anyone out there, but can they be those same players at the College World Series? Can they handle the spotlight, the crowds and the pressure? With so many freshmen, you're never quite sure.

TCU Horned Frogs (51-12, 5-1 Postseason)

Playing in the Mountain West, TCU doesn't always get the toughest of conference challenges. To try and combat that, the Horned Frogs went on the road to play Cal St. Fullerton. They won the series. They went to the Houston College Classic, which has one of the best tournament fields every year. They took two of three. They went to Texas Tech. They swept. Then, TCU went 19-5 in the Mountain West and swept through the conference tournament to earn a Regional top seed. After averaging 12 runs per game in a perfect 3-0 Regional that they hosted, TCU went to #2 national seed Texas. After winning the first and losing the second, the Horned Frogs won the third game to exorcise their Longhorn demons in a similar situation to UCLA taking down Fullerton. The school's first College World Series appearance is their reward.

Why They Will Win the National Title

Pitchers beware, TCU brough their big boy bats. With a .340 batting average, TCU can pick up their fair share of hits. With 92 home runs, the 15th most in the country, the Horned Frogs can change the course of a ballgame with just about any swing of the bar. All of that adds up to 8.6 runs per game, good for 18th in the country. If any team is unlucky enough to match up with the Horned Frogs, their pitchers better beware. If the infamous winds kick up at Rosenblatt Stadium and start blowing out, they might as well give up.

Jason Coats leads the TCU offense with a .373 batting average, but his 13 home runs are nothing to sneeze at either. He's drive in 66 runs on the year, the most on the team, and his four triples shows he can move those legs when needed. The big power in the lineup comes from Matt Curry, who has 17 home runs on the season. Curry hits for that power while also hitting .346 and stealing 12 bases. Most impressive is Curry;s incredible .702 slugging percentage. With nine other Horned Frogs hitting at least .300, the offense can get the job done.

Why They Won't Win the National Title

For all of their offense, TCU had struggled when they have fallen behind in games. When trailing after six innings, TCU is just 3-11. They don't play well from behind and a big reason for it is that they let games get away from them when they fall behind. The Horned Frogs can score all the runs they want, but when the other team is scoring too, it's tough to come back.

After their starting pitchers, TCU has two reliable relievers. Get past those two and the Horned Frogs are a bit of a mess in the bullpen. ERA's approaching five aren't uncommong and you'll see your share of .300+ opponent's batting averages. If a team can get to the TCU bullpen with a lead and then pound away at it, the pressure shifts to the offense and it's a pressure that nobody wants to deal with because it becomes a game of chase the crooked numbers.

Florida St. Seminoles (47-18, 5-1 Postseason)

Rolling off win after win, Florida St. showed all regular season why they were a preseason top-ten team. The Seminoles looked very much like the Florida St. teams of old, staring down a trip to Omaha. That is until the Seminoles were swept in the final regular season series of the season by Clemson. Even though they bounced back by winning the ACC Conference Tournament, Florida St. didn't get the postseason draw they wanted. They felt disrespected when they were sent to play in Connecticut for the Regionals despite being a number one seed. All the Seminoles did was go a perfect 3-0 in the Regional so they could return home for a Super Regional date with Vanderbilt. Walk-off winners in game one and game two losers, the Seminoles eeked out a 7-6 win to punch their ticket to Omaha for the 10th time.

Why They Will Win the National Title

Journalists are supposed to be impartial, but don't be shocked if a few are rooting for Florida St. at the College World Series. The Seminoles' head coach, Mike Martin, has made Omaha his second home with all of the times he's made the trip, but he's still in search of his first national title. The Seminoles have brought a lot of very good teams to Omaha, but either by bad play or bad luck, they haven't been able to take home the title.

If journalists want to see Martin get his national title, what do you think the players want to do for him. Few teams will be as motivated as Florida St. will be and as we all know, little emotional things like that play big roles in college athletics. With their postseason excellence, starting in the ACC Tournament then moving to the Regionals and the Super Regionals, Florida St. knows how to play under pressure. Calm under pressure and amazing motivation can lead to great things, plus with all the times they've been there, Florida St. is due.

Why They Won't Win the National Title

With the heat letting the ball carry and the wind often blowing out, Rosenblatt Stadium is a hitter's park. Big numbers aren't too rare each June when teams take to the stadium for the College World Series. That puts an emphasis on the pitching staffs and unfortunately for Florida St., they don't have much of one, especially with regards to depth. If they end up in the loser's bracket, they'll struggle to find the arms necessary to make their way through and even in the winner's bracket, they still might not have the edge on the mound.

Coming into the season, Sean Gilmartin was supposed to lead the pitching staff, but he's just 9-7 with a 4.89 ERA. That's not exactly a surprise with opposing hitters batting .294 against him. Hardly impressive for the guy that was going to anchor the starting staff. Geoff Parker hasn't been too bad by Seminole pitching standards, but he has a 4.85 ERA and the coaching staff showed what kind of confidence they have in Parker last weekend when they pulled him after 3.1 innings, having allowed just one run. Brian Busch made a late move into the Florida St. rotation and has proved to be the best they have with a 3.97 ERA. That type of pitching won't exavtly put the fear of god in opposing hitters.