That’s all that can really be said after another absolutely magnificent College World Series. And I was one who thought the 2016 Coastal Carolina comeback couldn’t be topped, but man did the 2017 tournament showcase so many amazing aspects about college baseball on and off the field.
Personally, I think one of the most moving moments was even before the final 8 teams secured their spots in Omaha. 64 teams played in 16 different regionals with the winner of each regional squaring off in a 3 game series dubbed the “super regional”. One of these super regional matchups that caught the attention of some baseball fans was the Florida State – Sam Houston State super regional. Like many of you, I had never heard a peep about Sam Houston State previous to this year, and the games and line scores isn’t exactly what made this matchup memorable. Sam Houston lost the series in two games. Game 1’s score was 7-6 and then in game two they got their doors blown off 19-0. The press conference following game 2… in a word… chilling. It gave a sense of what it means to be a team and a family, what the sacrifice of such a team is like, and what it takes to be a true winner. What may be shocking to many is that all of this was spoken by the losing teams coach. And if you haven’t already and you’re a sports fan (which you should be if you are on this blog… if you’re not a sports fan and you have read this much gtfo of my article) this stuff is must watch (and conveniently right below).
Then, right before the 8 team tournament was about to begin the 1-seed, Oregon State, suffered a pretty big blow off the field. A Beavers’ top pitcher who was leading the 54-4 team had sex crime charges reach the public. After a couple of days of speculation before the tournament kicked off, the team and pitcher decided it was best for him not to participate in the College World Series.
When the tournament kicked off the play didn’t let the fans down either. Teams like Florida State, Cal State Fullerton, and Texas A&M who weren’t even ranked on certain polls were some of the final 8 teams left to fight for a national championship. A few of the most intriguing matchups were Oregon State against LSU and Florida against TCU. Both matchups had 3 games apiece and both matchups also ended in a double elimination game. Oregon State won the first matchup between them and LSU sending LSU to the loser’s bracket. LSU then had to complete the impossible… defeat Oregon St. 2 games in a row to make it to the CWS Final. A feat that seemed highly unlikely considering Oregon hadn’t lost 2 consecutive games all season. In 2 games that featured some wild defense, a few sick dingers, and some controversial calls LSU came advanced. A lot of the same could be said about the Florida TCU matchup. The main difference was that that Florida jumped to the 1-0 series lead before TCU answered back in a game that many thought would carry over into game 3. TCU put together a 9-2 win in game 2 and their whole team effort stood out. However, Florida punched their ticket into the Final with a 3-0 win in game 3.
The Florida v. LSU Final was set, and all that the fans had to do was sit back, relax, and enjoy the excellence that was about to come. Actually, if you are an LSU fan you also probably threw some garbage on the field, remotes at your television, and tantrums to your mother at some point during the series because you are uneducated about the rules of the game and thought you were getting screwed on every close play. Game one was and down to the wire with Florida eventually pulling away with the 4-3 win. Florida’s Brady Singer fired 7 solid innings, always pitching with a lead. Singer’s performance was one of my favorite of the tournament throwing 112 pitches and truly emptying the tank. It wasn’t a perfect outing, Singer gave up 8 hits and 3 runs, but his 12 strikeouts were dominating and you could tell that he left all that he had on the field.
Game 2 may have ended with a 6-1 score, giving Florida their first National Championship in school history, but the craziness to get to that point started in the 7th inning. With runners on first and third, no outs, and down by one LSU hit a chopper to the right side which was fielded, tossed to second, and thrown to first completing the double play – but also tying the game. Immediately after the slide at second, the second base umpire CORRECTLY called a dead ball caused by a reckless slide into second base, called the runner out at first, and sent the runner who originally scored back to third. And the game remained 2-1 with two outs. The next batter lined out squashing the LSU rally. In the bottom of 8th LSU rallied again. The leadoff runner reached base, got to second on a wild pitch, and was bunted to third and Florida unable to catch the speedy bunter was left to defend another situation with runners on first and third and no outs. Again, they found a way to do so. With LSU’s 3,4, and 5 hitters up the 3rd batter struck out, the 4th batter failed a hit and run and hit a ground ball that Florida’s first baseman snagged and threw home to get the runner on third, and the 5th hitter lined out to end another rally. Florida tacked on 4 in the top of the 9th and dogpiled after 3 quick outs in the bottom of the 9th.
You know… It’s watching games like the ones we constantly see in the CWS that give me the most excitement as a fan. I give ESPN a lot of shit, but I gotta give them props for giving an amazing level of the world’s greatest sport national airtime. To me, this tournament is slowly creeping its way up my list of annul sports tournaments that are must watch, and if you haven’t already, you need to give these guys a shot to get your attention. I guarantee after watching a few innings of one of these games you won’t want to change the channel.