In one of the best College World Series I have ever seen, the Fresno State Bulldogs shocked the No. 8 Georgia Bulldogs in the rubber match of the best-of-three series Wednesday night, 6-1.
Fresno State was a four-seed in the Regionals, which is the equivalent of a 13-16 seed in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
They started out in a very tough Regional in which they had to beat Long Beach State and San Diego, two teams that were nationally ranked, along with a Pac-10 team in Cal.
After facing their first elimination game they advanced to the Super Regional in Tempe, Arizona against the Sun Devils of Arizona State. ASU was a favorite not only to get the College World Series, but to win the National Championship.
After losing their first game, the Bulldogs rallied to win Game Two of the three-game series. Then after the Sun Devils faked a fight before the third game between their two top draft picks, Fresno went on to win their second game while facing elimination to become the lowest seed to ever advance to the CWS.
Their first CWS game was against a national powerhouse in Rice. Rice has always been known for their pitching, but the Bulldogs put up 17 runs on the Owls to win their first game. Their next game featured the No. 2-ranked UNC Tar Heels and their 55 wins. The Dogs beat the Heels in their first meeting 5-3, and they seemed to be in the driver's seat in this double-elimination tournament.
The Tar Heels advanced and now had to beat the red-hot Bulldogs twice to reach the finals. An eighth-inning homerun gave UNC a 4-3 win over the Bulldogs, and everyone thought was that this would be the end to this Cinderella story.
But no, Fresno came back with yet another win while facing elimination. They outscored the Tar Heels 6-1, ending their season, and put themselves just two wins away from winning the National Championship.
The CWS final was set. It was Bulldogs vs Bulldogs. The No. 8 team in the country against the Cinderella story.
In Game One, Fresno threw almost every arm they had left in the pen, and every pitcher who threw had an ERA over 6.00. The whole staff for Fresno threw very well, and they had the lead going into the late innings. Then Fresno put in their closer, who had an ERA below 3.00. Georgia came back on Cinderella, 7-6, and it looked like the clock was about to strike 12:00 in Fresno.
In Game Two, Georgia jumped out to an early five-run lead, and it appeared this miracle run was about to come to an end. Then the Bulldogs put on one of the most impressive hitting displays in CWS history, scoring 19 runs on Georgia and winning by a football score of 19-10, once again winning while facing elimination.
In Game Three, it seemed as though Fresno was meant to win this game. They got a great outing from their starting pitcher, Justin Wilson, who pitched eight very strong innings and allowed only one run.
But the two big time heroes for this Cinderella were their third baseman, Tommy Mendonca, who made some outstanding plays in the field in the series while playing with dislocated fingers, and their right fielder, Steve Detwiler, who drove in all six of their runs with two home runs and a double. This gave Fresno a 6-1 victory to win the National Championship.
Being a college baseball player, I really did enjoy watching the whole tournament play out. I still think that it might be time to think about maybe switching all college baseball to wood bats instead of metal. High-scoring games are great for some people to watch, but really, 19-10? I don't think the Georgia Bulldogs Football team's defense gave up 19 PPG.
All in all, the Fresno State Bulldogs' Cinderella season should go down as one of the biggest upsets in college sports, but saying that it was the greatest of all time is going a little too far. You still have the Villanova Wildcats beating the Georgetown Hoyas in basketball to win the National Championship.
But take nothing away from these guys—facing six elimination games and winning all of them is truly special, and they have reserved their seat in not just College Sports, but American Sports history.
Congrats to all the teams on another great season, and maybe this CWS will convince ESPN to start broadcasting the regular season on TV as well. Maybe.