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College World Series Quick Hitters: Facing Elimination

The Bruins will have to bounce back after a tough loss
The Bruins will have to bounce back after a tough loss

It's pretty simple for UCLA now - they have to be perfect for the next three games. Lose any of the next three and the Bruins' season is over. Odds are, obviously, that Arizona comes out of the bracket and goes onto the Championship Series, but it is hardly assured. UCLA should know this well considering the South Carolina team they lost to in the Championship Series two years ago came out of the loser's bracket. Difficult and impossible are two very different things.

But before the Bruins can think about getting out of the bracket, they have to beat Florida St. They take on the Seminoles tonight in an elimination game and it's a high stakes one at that. This isn't just "win or go home", it is a match between the two highest remaining seeded teams: #2 UCLA and #3 Florida St.

The good news for the Bruins is that they haven't been bad. They got beat by an outstanding pitching performance, but that's baseball. It happens sometimes. The question now is how they respond.

  • After taking a loss, the Bruins got back to work yesterday with a practice. John Savage and Pat Valaika talked afterwards about the team's attitude and what they have to do to come back out of the loser's bracket.
  • In looking forward to the rest of the tournament, John Savage says that the loss to Arizona is a blow, not a dagger. Today they are going up against a team that has lived in the loser's bracket. This is Florida St.'s 21st visit to Omaha and they are still searching for their first College World Series title.
  • Florida St. starter Scott Sitz hasn't pitched since the Regionals, but he feels pretty confident going into tonight. He says his big advantage is that he pitched in Omaha two years ago. The 'Noles' best player, James Ramsey, also emphasizes the importance of getting the first run and settling your pitcher down, which applies to the Bruins as well.
  • The Seminoles' designated hitter, John Holland, was arrested and has been suspended indefinitely. It doesn't look like he will play tonight.
  • UCLA will have to do a good job with two outs. 11 of Florida St.'s 15 runs at the College World Serie shave come with two out.
The Bruins haven't played in an elimination game yet this season so it will be interesting to see how they handle it. Zack Weiss, like Sitz, hasn't started since the Regionals so he will have to deal with some rust. He struggled in his last two starts, against Creighton and USC, but he was great in his postseason start last year, limiting Irvine to three runs in eight innings.

The game gets underway at 5 pm PT and will be televised on ESPN. The season is on the line.