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The 2-0’s face the teams with everything to play for today: who forces a Game 3 and who goes home? There are so many questions, but so little time. This is down to the nitty-gritty of College Baseball: three SEC teams, and one who will join the conference (Oklahoma) next year. The SEC is no longer just a “football” conference. Let’s gear up for two big time plays today, ladies and gentlemen.
Quick piece of advice for any type of bets for College Baseball: shop around. A lot of different books are hanging mispriced numbers, so you can take advantage of them.
*Each play will be labeled (1 through number “X”) to determine how I rank my plays on a daily basis.
Arkansas Razorbacks (+100) @ Ole Miss Rebels (-130) | Over/Under 12.5 (1)
The Razorbacks got completely mopped by the Rebels the other day in the 1-0 matchup. After throwing a vicious beating to an overwhelmed Auburn last night, Arkansas is looking for a little payback on their SEC rivals. This matchup is a little brother-esque, though I'm not sure if it’s a little more Cain and Abel than a regular sibling relationship. It seems Ole Miss is turning back the clocks and starting southpaw John Gaddis, while Ark is likely either handing the ball to ace Connor Noland or freshman lefty Hagen Smith. Regardless, I'm really looking forward to this one.
Arkansas is now tied at two in the four games against Ole Miss this season, so tonight is the rubber match, temporarily. The distressing thing to me about head coach Dave Van Horn, as usual, is that he loves to make it the world’s greatest mystery on who will have the ball. Since his team needs to win the next two to advance to the finals, there is a bit more strategy to deploy his pitching. Personally, I think it’s going to be ace Connor Noland, who has been outstanding since I berated him for looking like Patrick Corbin heading down the stretch (three earned runs in last three starts; 21.1 IP). With Noland on the bump -- and the way he is going -- and the offense putting on the show they have for most of the postseason, it really looks like a spot for Arkansas to get even. Lefty freshman, Peyton Stovall, will look to build off a 5-6 night and if Hagen Smith goes, I still think his electric arsenal is enough to keep this squad in the game.
John Gaddis has had a weird season. He began the year as the de-facto ace for this Rebels team, and actually was pretty good for the most part. However, after the vicious beating he took from Tennessee at the end of March (six runs in 1.1 IP), he became mainly a reliever. Though he has had some ups and downs this year, he is still a solid lefty that can string together some outs. The problem is, this is the first time he has pitched since the game against Arizona in the regionals. I’m a little concerned that he has only had five appearances since May started, so it becomes more of a rust than a rest factor in my opinion. The good news is that Ole Miss’s pen has been outrageously good. Additionally, the offense can also rake, which was never the problem this year. If he can continue to receive support from the captain Tim Elko, Jacob Gonzalez, Kemp Alderman, and Justin Bench, then I think the Rebels will be there in the end if Gaddis can limit damage from a potent Arkansas offense.
Let me tell you how I think this goes: Arkansas takes this one regardless of who is pitching, especially if it’s Noland. I cannot bet against Arkansas's ace with the way he is shoving, even if it’s only on three days rest. Then Ole Miss will throw their streaking Friday guy, Dylan DeLucia to shut the door en route to a College World Series Finals berth. I expect this to be under 12.5 as well, but I won’t officially put that one out there.
PREDICTION: Arkansas ML (+100)
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Texas A&M Aggies (+115) @ Oklahoma Sooners (-135) | Over/Under 14.5 (2)
In case you missed my rants over the last month or so, let me fill you in. I touted TAMU as my first darkhorse in the middle of May with an absurd +7000 price on PointsBet when they were +3000 on DraftKings. Then, before the tournament started, I went on Bet the Edge and said grab Oklahoma at +6000 to win it all. My two dark horses will meet today and possibly tomorrow to determine who represents this side of the bracket. It looks like OU will throw their number two guy in David Sandlin, while the Aggies could trot out either Ryan Prager or Wyatt Tucker.
If you forgot what I said about the Aggies a month ago, allow me to sum it up for you; if their pitching meets the offense even halfway, they will be an extremely tough out. That has come to fruition thus far. Despite dropping the first game to the Sooners the other day, they still plated an eight-spot on the scoreboard. Now, they will have to rely on stringing together enough outs to continue to a winner-take-all game tomorrow. The offense is loaded with stallions like Jack Moss, Austin Bost, Ryan Targac, and, my favorite, Dylan Rock. Although they have been stranding a small army on the base paths lately, this offense can compete with anybody. Neither Tucker or Prager have been great lately, which is a bit concerning. Therefore, any starter will need to keep the game close and let the strong bullpen finish the job since I expect the Aggies to drive in at least five or six runs today. This same offense threw Sandlin a beating the other day, not allowing him to complete even one inning of work in relief, while giving up four runs.
Oklahoma is one win away. Though Sandlin had strung together several strong outings against Texas Tech, Kansas State, and Florida, he got rocked by Virginia Tech before getting hit hard by this same Aggie squad. Sandlin will need to round back into form and deliver at least five innings of three runs or fewer today for his team to have a chance. Thanks to a solid bullpen with a lock-down closer in Trevin Michael, they shouldn’t need him to shoulder seven innings. Offensively, you know the story by now, this team steals bases like nobody’s business. With 145 swiped bags on the season (fourth-most in NCAA), their offense puts tremendous pressure on opposing defenses and pitchers. Facing a TAMU defense that has by far the most errors in the postseason (16), adding traffic on the bases is a huge advantage in favor of the Sooners. Horses like Peyton Graham, John Spikerman, Tanner Treadaway, Jimmy Crooks, and Blake Robertson need to stay hot and keep applying that pressure. This lineup, as we have seen, is capable of dropping 10 runs on any given day.
JV is sitting pretty with futures tickets on both of these teams, though I stand to win a more considerable amount of bread if the Sooners win. I believe the Aggies are better set up for success with Sandlin on the mound, so if they manage to pull off the upset, I’m going right back to the well tomorrow with ace Jake Bennett on the mound for Oklahoma. Although I am not a fan of the late money on OU, I think the more rested Sooners take care of business today in a higher scoring affair to move on to the next round.
PREDICTION: Oklahoma ML (-135)
Enjoy the taste, kid
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