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Virginia’s path to a College World Series title runs through Florida, TCU, Oral Roberts

Chris Graham
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Everybody in a College World Series has had to win either five or six games against top competition to get there.

Virginia and Florida have numbers beside their names denoting national seeds – Virginia a #7, Florida a #2. Neither TCU nor Oral Roberts has a number beside their name.

Doesn’t matter.

One of the four will be one of the two playing at Charles Schwab Field Omaha on June 24 in Game 1 of the national championship series.

And it could be any of the four.

Oral Roberts

Let’s start with Oral Roberts (51-12), the Summit League champ, which has lost once – once! – since April 22, upsetting #11 national seed Oklahoma State in the regional round, then winning two of three at Oregon.

Centerfielder Jonah Cox (.420/.480/.668, 11 HR, 67 RBI, 28 SB) is the player to watch. Cox heads into Omaha with an active 47-game hitting streak, which ties for the third-longest in D1 history.

Cox is one of five Golden Eagles in double digits in homers. The leader is rightfielder Matt Hogan (.329/.473/.671, 18 HR, 70 RBI).

The starting rotation goes four deep, led by workhorse Jakob Hall (8-3, 3.56 ERA, 91K/15BB in 93.2 IP).

Hall is a likely Game 1 starter on Friday. If Virginia meets Oral Roberts on Sunday, they’d likely see #2 starter Harley Gollert (10-1, 4.30 ERA, 88K/31BB in 88 IP).

The closer, Cade Denton, has solid numbers (2-1, 1.85 ERA, 15 saves, 78K/11BB in 58.1 IP).

TCU

Oral Roberts faces TCU (42-22) in the opening game in Omaha on Friday at 2 p.m. ET.

The Horned Frogs sat at 23-20 after a 3-2 loss to Texas on April 30, so they’re 19-2 since, including beating #6 national seed Arkansas twice in Fayetteville and #14 national seed Indiana State twice in Fort Worth to get to the CWS.

TCU will run – six guys have 10 or more stolen bases – and the middle of the order is anchored by third basemen Brayden Taylor (.314/.439/.657, 23 HR, 69 RBI, 13 SB), a projected late first-round 2023 MLB Draft pick.

If Virginia gets TCU on Sunday, the likely starter is Sam Stoutenborough (5-0, 4.52 ERA, 55K/16BB in 65.2 IP), who got the win in the Super Regional clincher this past weekend.

Florida

Finally, to Florida (50-15), which beat Texas Tech twice in Gainesville and South Carolina twice in the Super Regionals to get to Omaha.

Four Gators are on Athletic baseball writer Keith Law’s “15 MLB Draft prospects in the College World Series and what scouts are watching” list, led by leftfielder Wyatt Lankford (.373/.498/.769, 18 HR, 48 RBI), a projected top-five 2023 draft pick, and righthander Hurston Waldrep (7-3, 4.15 ERA, 142K/48BB in 93.1 IP).

Virginia likely gets righthander Brandon Sproat (8-3, 4.69 ERA, 120K/40BB in 96 IP), a projected third-round 2023 pick, in Friday’s opener.

Sproat, per Law, has a fastball that sits 94, can touch 99, with a changeup that is just short of plus, a so-so slider and not much of a breaking ball.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].