The College World Series can bring the best in teams out on a national stage, but it can also have the reverse effect.
Some teams shine when they get to Omaha. In 2008, Fresno State came out of nowhere and thrived with the spotlight on them, winning the first national championship in school history.
Other teams are not as fortunate and struggle when they reach the College World Series. In 2010, Arizona State was the No. 1 seed nationally. When play began in Omaha, the Sun Devils fell hard, losing two games immediately and leaving for home empty handed.
Each season has its teams that struggle on the biggest stage in the sport, and the 2012 edition has been no different.
The Florida Gators were the No. 1 national seed entering the tournament after a 45-18 regular season.
The Gators tore through the Gainesville Regional and Super-Regional without a hiccup. In those games, Flordia outscored their opponents 41-14.
In Omaha however, Florida drew a team they knew and have played all season, in South Carolina. The two SEC powers squared off with the Gamecocks coming out on top 7-3.
The two teams met the previous season in the College World Series final, which South Carolina won. Florida, however, was 3-1 against this year's Gamecocks.
Florida had a chance to prove their doubters wrong by starting strong in Omaha against a team they have handled well this season. Instead, they face an elimination game Monday against Kent State.
A win today will keep their season alive, but a loss would put Florida on the list of biggest collapses in college baseball history.
Stony Brook Seawolves
The Stony Brook run is one of those feel good stories that everyone likes to see. But unfortunately it ended before it could get started on a truly national level.
It's pretty uncommon to see a State University of New York (SUNY) school in a major sports final.
Many states have a state school system with a central campus and smaller satellite campuses. Texas has the University of Texas at Austin, but also has smaller campuses in cities such as Dallas, Arlington, El Paso and San Antonio.
The SUNY system lacks that one major campus that dominates in athletics in the way Texas or Alabama does. Instead, the talent is spread between schools throughout the state such as Binghamton, Buffalo and even Stony Brook.
So when Stony Brook began receiving national attention for baseball, a sport dominated by large campuses in the South and West, it was a big surprise to those who know the school as a lacrosse power.
Still, the Seawolves came into Omaha as the hot team. A sweep in the Coral Gables Regional sent them to Baton Rouge for a three-game showdown with perennial power LSU.
LSU won a rain-interrupted extra-inning thriller in the opener, but Stony Brook fought back to earn a trip to their first College World Series.
Once arriving, however, the clock struck midnight for the Seawolves. An opening 9-1 blowout against UCLA set the stage for an elimination game against No. 3 seed Florida State.
The Seminoles proved too powerful and knocked Stony Brook out in a 12-2 game that made New Yorkers everywhere shudder.
Stony Brook probably shouldn't have been expected to succeed in Omaha, but the situation set them up to be the next great story. Instead, we'll have to wait and see if they can translate this incredible season into lasting success for years to come.
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