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In what has now stretched into a three-week event, the NCAA tournament has boiled down to the College World Series and nine past and present Anglers are gearing up to take the field in Omaha, Neb.
Connor Spencer and Chris Rabago, who were each slated to come to Chatham on temporary contracts this summer, are playing into the College World Series with U.C. Irvine ands will not join the Anglers at the end of their tournament run. They were also each drafted in the 2014 MLB Draft.
Here’s a look at how the nine Anglers are matching up in the first round of games in anticipation for first pitch at 3 p.m. Saturday.
U.C. Irvine vs. Texas — Saturday 3 p.m.
Three former Anglers pitchers dot the rosters of these two teams, including Texas’s Lukas Schiraldi (2013) and U.C. Irvine’s (Jimmy Litchfield (2012, 2013) and Mitch Merten (2013). Merten was the only one of the three to take the mound in Super Regionals, struggling in his lone relief appearance. Schiraldi made a start for Texas in the Regionals, and could be factored into the team’s College World Series rotation with the round’s demanding schedule.
Louisville vs. Vanderbilt — Saturday 8 p.m.
A host of Anglers have helped Louisville reach the final eight-team field as the only team that hasn't lost in the entire tournament. Kyle Funkhouser (2013, 2014) and Nick Burdi (2014) have anchored the Cardinals' rotation and bullpen, respectively, and Alex Chittenden (2013) has continually collected hits in the middle of the order. Zack Burdi (2014), Nick’s younger brother, hasn’t taken the mound in the tournament. Funkhouser — who will start for Louisville against Vanderbilt Saturday — made a start in each of the first two rounds, grabbing a winning decision with eight shutout innings in Regionals before setting up his team for a late comeback in its first game against Kennesaw State in the Supers.
Texas Tech vs. Texas Christian — Sunday 3 p.m.
Hunter Redman (2013) and Dominic Moreno (2013) have each had a hand in Texas Tech’s run to Omaha, Redman starting most games behind the plate and Moreno making cameos on the mound. Texas Tech lost one game in the Regional before sweeping College of Charleston in the Supers, and that lone blemish came with Redman not in the starting lineup.