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College World Series preview: Arizona and UC-Santa Barbara meet in elimination game

The Wildcats and Gauchos finally meet in Omaha

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Miami vs UC Santa Barbara Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

After both teams beat the Miami Hurricanes and were shutout by the Oklahoma State Cowboys, the Arizona Wildcats and UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos will meet in a College World Series elimination game on Wednesday.






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Throughout the year, Joe Record has been UCSB’s third starter, so I would expect him to get the ball against Arizona after both Shane Bieber and Noah Davis have already been used in the CWS. Record has a 6-5 record, 3.91 ERA, and has given up just 91 hits in 89 2/3 innings, good for an opponents’ batting average of .264.

Record does not typically pitch deep into games, having not lasted longer than six innings in an appearance since April 3rd at Long Beach State. This bodes well for Arizona, who will need to attack a team’s bullpen after failing to do that on Monday against Oklahoma State.

The Wildcats will probably start Kevin Ginkel if recent trends keep up. He currently possesses a 4-1 record, 2.82 ERA, and an opponents’ batting average of .221.

In the national rankings, UCSB isn’t particularly great at anything except getting hit by pitches, sac bunts, and sac flies, because of course they are, this is a West Coast team we’re talking about here.

None of their regular players are hitting above .300. Second baseman JJ Muno is the closest, checking in with a .298 mark right now. First baseman Austin Bush is still their biggest offensive threat, hitting 11 home runs and driving in 49 runs, both by far are the most on the team.

The biggest storyline of this game is UCSB’s Andrew Checketts coaching against Arizona’s Jay Johnson. You could argue that these are the two best young coaches not only in the west, but all of college baseball. Checketts was on Arizona’s short list of candidates to replace Andy Lopez, but obviously Greg Byrne went with Johnson. The things that Checketts has done at UCSB are nothing short of remarkable, considering that school does not even have lights for its baseball stadium. His coaching style and ability are not things that should be overlooked in this game.

I like this overall matchup for Arizona, particularly if Ginkel is able to control his offspeed stuff. This is their chance to possibly have a breakout offensive game if such a thing exists in Omaha anymore. The Wildcats will also be the home team.

The winner of this game will play Oklahoma State on Friday at Noon PT. They would need to win that game to force the if necessary game on Saturday to advance to the CWS Finals.