NCAA: A 2023 College World Series Bracket 2 Preview

Rhett Lowder of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons throws a pitch against the Pittsburgh Panthers in the fifth inning during the ACC Baseball Championship at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on May 25, 2023 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

OMAHA, Neb. – For the eight teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament, all roads lead to Omaha, Nebraska for the 2023 NCAA Division I College World Series at Charles Schwab Field. The double elimination bracket rounds will be played from June 16-22, and the College World Series Finals will start June 24 and continue through 26 if the series goes to a third game. All double elimination bracket round games will start at 2 p.m. EDT and 7 p.m. EDT.

The final eight teams that remain left for the 2023 NCAA Division I season are No. 7 Virginia, No. 2 Florida, Texas Christian, Oral Roberts University, No.8 Stanford, No.1 Wake Forest, Tennessee, and No. 5 Louisiana State University. Bracket 1 will begin on Friday, June 16 and Bracket 2 on Saturday will have all games televised on ESPN.

Every game in the College World Series will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2.

Bracket 1: Friday, June 16
TCU vs. Oral Roberts University 2 p.m. EDT
No. 2 Florida vs. No. 7 Virginia 7 p.m. EDT

Bracket 2: Saturday, June 17
No. 1 Wake Forest vs. No. 8 Stanford 2 p.m. EDT
No. 5 LSU vs. Tennessee 7 p.m. EDT 

No. 1 Wake Forest University (52-10)
Head Coach: Tom Walter (14th Season)
National Championships: 1 (1955)

The Wake Forest University Demon Deacons are playing in their third College World Series and making their first appearance since the 1955 season, which was their last national title. Wake Forest lost to No. 4 University of Miami 7-2 in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, but kept swinging and made it to Omaha by sweeping the University of Alabama in the Winston-Salem Regional.

The Demon Deacons are leading the country in ERA at 2.84 and are second with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.45, strikeouts with 738, a WHIP of 1.04, a winning percentage of .839, and have a +59 run differential – the highest of any program going into the College World Series.

First baseman Nick Kurtz is batting .370 and started in 53 games, where in 181 at-bats, he recorded 67 hits, 10 doubles, 24 home runs, walked 59 times and had 69 RBI.

Demon Deacons third baseman Brock Wilken broke the ACC career home run record with 70 and hit three home runs during the final game of the Super Regional. Wilken is hitting .357 through 62 games, with 80 hits, 15 doubles, 80 RBI, 30 home runs, and his 65 walks tie him for third in the nation with LSU outfielder Dylan Crews.

Starting pitcher and projected first round draft pick Rhett Lowder has made impressive improvements during the 2023 season. Lowder is leading the country in wins with a 15-0 record, having made 17 starts and throwing 108 innings with a 1.92 ERA, allowing 80 hits, 16 doubles, walking 11, and striking out 131, tied for fifth in the country with his teammate Josh Hartle.

No. 8 Stanford University (44-18)
Head Coach: David Esquer (Sixth Season)
National Champions: 2 (1987, 1988)

The Stanford University Cardinal are appearing in their 19th College World Series in program history and the fourth under head coach David Esquer after reaching Omaha for third consecutive year.

Stanford took down the University of Texas on Monday 7-6 after second baseman Drew Bowser sent a game-ending single to center field that scored Alberto Rios to send the program to Omaha. 

Stanford senior starting pitcher Quin Mathews is second in the country with 152 strikeouts and first in innings pitched with 120, and in his 17 starts, he’s posted a 3.60 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP, allowing 106 hits, and walking 39.

Cardinal third baseman Tommy Tory is hitting .397 in 56 games, smacking 96 hits, 17 doubles, 17 home runs, 33 walks, and driving in 58 RBI. Left fielder Alberto Rios is hitting .387 with a 1.206 OPS through 60 games, with 91 hits, 23 doubles, 18 home runs, 71 RBI, and 38 walks.

No. 5 Louisiana State University (48-15)
Head Coach: Jay Johnson (Second Season)
National Championships: 6 (1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2009)

The LSU Tigers are playing in their 19th College World Series after sweeping their Southeastern Conference rival Kentucky during the Baton Rouge Super Regional last weekend.

LSU is leading the nation in home runs at 133, on-base plus slugging at 1.007, and third in strikeouts at 695.

The Bayou Bengals have two players that are the finalists for the 2023 Golden Spikes Award – junior center fielder Dylan Crews and junior starting pitcher Paul Skenes, both of whom are projected to be selected in the first round of the 2023 Major League Baseball Draft in July.

Crews was named in SEC Player of the Year for the second straight season and is third in the nation with a .434 batting average. This year, Crews has 98 hits, 14 doubles, 17 home runs, and is tied for third in the nation with Wake Forest’s Brock Wilken in walks, with 65.

Skenes is in a five-way tie for wins during the 2023 season. His record is 12-2 in 17 starts, throwing 107 innings, an ERA at 1.77 that is good for second in the country, and he leads the nation in strikeouts with188.

Tigers third baseman Tommy White is hitting .377 with a 1.189 OPS, with 89 hits, 14 doubles, 17 home runs, walking 21 times, and he’s tied for second in the nation with 97 RBI.

University of Tennessee (43-20)
Head Coach: Tony Vitello (Sixth Season)
National Championships: None

The Tennessee Volunteers are playing in their sixth College World Series in program history and making their second appearance under head coach Tony Vitello. Tennessee got to the College World Series by beating the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles on Monday 5-0 in game three of the Hattiesburg, Mississippi Super Regional.

Volunteers left fielder Jake Dickey is batting .325 with 75 hits, 12 home runs, 20 walks, and 51 RBI. Designated hitter Griffin Merritt is hitting .315 with 57 hits, 11 doubles, 18 home runs, 48 RBI, and walking 17 times.

Volunteers starting pitcher Drew Beam will be a crucial arm in Tennessee’s pitching rotation. Beam started 16 games, throwing one complete game this season and pitching 78.2 innings with a 3.78 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP and allowing 82 hits, walking 21 and striking out 79. Starting pitcher Chase Dollander can be effective, having thrown one complete game with a 4.50 ERA and 1.24 WHIP through 86 innings this season, allowing 79 hits, walking 28 batters, and striking out 118.

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