After watching the Michigan Wolverines and Florida State Seminoles earn victories on the opening day of the 2019 College World Series, the four programs in Bracket 2 are ready to take the field Sunday.
In the first game, the Louisville Cardinals will challenge the Vanderbilt Commodores. The nightcap features a pair of SEC schools in the Auburn Tigers and Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Looking ahead, elimination games Tuesday afternoon await the losers of Sunday’s games. Later that night, Sunday’s winners will clash for a chance to remain on the advantageous side of the double-elimination bracket.
But it all starts with a victory Sunday.
2019 CWS Sunday Schedule
Louisville vs. Vanderbilt, 2 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Auburn vs. Mississippi State, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Two players recently selected in the first round of the 2019 MLB draft will hit the diamond Sunday, and the first is JJ Bleday.
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The Miami Marlins chose the Vanderbilt outfielder at No. 4 overall. Entering the CWS, Bleday has mashed 26 homers and driven in a team-high 69 runs. His .464 on-base percentage is also the second-best mark for the Commodores.
Bleday and his teammates must be ready for a major challenge, though.
Reid Detmers, the ACC Pitcher of the Year, will start for Louisville, The southpaw owns a 12-4 record with a 2.85 ERA, boasting 162 strikeouts to just 27 walks and a 0.89 WHIP. Opponents are hitting a meager .178 against the sophomore star.
Vanderbilt will counter with Drake Fellows (12-1, 4.15 ERA), a junior right-hander who’s looking to shake a poor performance in the Super Regional. He allowed seven runs―five earned―in a loss to Duke.
The other first-round pick is Mississippi State ace Ethan Small, the SEC Pitcher of the Year. While his 10-2 record and 1.76 ERA are impressive enough, the left-hander has tossed five-plus innings and surrendered no more than three runs in all 17 appearances.
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Ethan Small currently has the most strikeouts by an SEC pitcher in a single season since David Price’s 194 in 2007. His 168 Ks are now sixth in SEC history. Six away from a school record.
Auburn, which will start sophomore southpaw Jack Owen (4-2, 2.83), cannot afford to waste scoring chances.
Fortunately for the Tigers, they’re coming off a super regional in which they plated 14 and 11 runs in two victories. However, the Game 2 loss at North Carolina was a 2-0 shutout.
Small spun threw six frames in his regular-season matchup against Auburn, ceding two runs on three hits while striking out seven. The Tigers won that contest, though they required a late-inning comeback after Small exited the game.
Mississippi State bounced back to win the series, but a first-game loss would be far more detrimental Sunday.
Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.