COLLEGE WORLD SERIES : Top-Seeded Stanford Seeking Its Third Title in Four Years

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The College World Series begins today without a team from Florida, Texas or Arizona--only the second time in the past 41 years that all of these states have not been represented in Omaha.

But there will be no shortage of traditional collegiate baseball powers at Rosenblatt Stadium, with Stanford, Louisiana State, Oklahoma State and Cal State Fullerton highlighting the eight-team field.

Top-seeded Stanford (56-10), making its sixth Series appearance in the past nine years and the national champion in 1987 and '88, will play eighth-seeded Georgia Southern (50-17) today at 1:10 p.m., PDT. Fourth-seeded Georgia (48-18) meets fifth-seeded Mississippi State (49-19) at 5:10.

The first round continues Saturday when second-seeded Louisiana State (52-17), which has reached the Series four times in the past five years, faces seventh-seeded The Citadel (45-12) at 1:10 p.m., and third-seeded Oklahoma State (53-16) plays sixth-seeded Cal State Fullerton (36-21) at 5:10.

The Cowboys are making their eighth trip to Omaha in the past 10 years, and the Titans, who won NCAA titles in 1979 and '84, are making their sixth Series appearance.

The tournament is split into two four-team, double-elimination brackets, the first consisting of today's participants and the second of Saturday's. The winners of each bracket will meet in the national championship game on June 9.

ESPN will televise at least eight games live, including Fullerton's contests on Saturday and Monday, and four on a tape-delayed basis. CBS will televise the championship game.

Fullerton Coach Larry Cochell said Thursday that Stanford, ranked No. 1 in the nation, is the tournament favorite for obvious reasons: The Cardinal has two outstanding pitchers, Stan Spencer (14-1) and Mike Mussina (14-3), and a potent offense led by Ty Griffin, who has 21 home runs and 75 runs batted in, and Paul Carey, who has 15 homers and 49 RBIs.

But the way the NCAA Regionals have gone, don't count out the underdogs or the various Bulldogs--Georgia, Mississippi State and The Citadel all have that nickname.

The Citadel, a military school in Charleston, S.C., upset Miami twice in the Atlantic Regional to earn its first Series berth. Georgia Southern, making its second Series appearance, upset defending champion Wichita State on the way to the Midwest Regional title.

Oklahoma State went to Tempe, Ariz., and beat Arizona State twice in the Sun Devils' home stadium, and Fullerton beat host Texas twice at Austin, Tex.

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