The 10 Best College World Series Games/Series of the Last 25 years

Todd Boldizsar@@toddboldizsarAnalyst IJune 22, 2010

The 10 Best College World Series Games/Series of the Last 25 years

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    There have certainly been some epic matchups in College World Series history.

    Although Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska isn't the original location of the CWS, it certainly has seen it's share of thrillers. It's a shame some of them have to be left out, and I'm sure there will be suggestions for write-ins.

    There is something to be said about the exciting nature of the three-game series format in college baseball, and the ability and heart with which these players, and future Major League stars, play the game.

    In this slideshow are series which I felt were exciting to watch, sensational in their time frame, or just well played.

    Feel free to suggest your own.

No. 10—Oregon State Wins Back-To-Back Titles, 2007

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    In 2006, Oregon State University surprised everyone by winning the national title, its first baseball championship in school history. The Beavers had been ranked high all season, and made good on their quest for Rosenblatt immortality.

    But they weren't done. With several seniors graduating and others being drafted, the Beavers were considered a long shot to repeat, but they never lost in the tournament. In a rematch with the University of North Carolina, OSU wouldn't need a timely error to defeat the Tar Heels this time around, as they easily cruised to a 11-4 win while the Tar Heels could muster just three hits.

    The 2007 championship marked the first time a team had won back-to-back championships in the new three-game series format. The last team to win it all two years in a row was in 1996-97.

No. 9—UCLA defeats CS-Fullerton with one out to spare, 2010

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    This series was a Super Regional, and occurred just days ago, but it was an instant classic.

    Cal State Fullerton is no stranger to the CWS, having won the championship four times in 16 appearances, with the latest being in 2004.

    The Titans won a close Game One to set the stage to advance to yet another CWS in Omaha. CSUF was an out away from returning to the CWS in a high-scoring Game Two when a two-run homer from Tyler Rahmatulla put UCLA in front.

    The Titans would tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, but four runs from the Bruins in the bottom of the 10th warranted a Game Three.

    Game Three was all Bruins, as they poured on the offense with 18 hits and 11 runs, cruising to their third CWS appearance.

No. 8—Rice and Stanford slug it out, 2003

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    The 64-team, best-of-three-style bracket began in 2003.

    Rice went on to defeat Stanford in three games to win its first ever national title in any sport.

    Game One was a strategic pitching thriller, as Rice edged Stanford 4-3 in 10 innings. However, the script was flipped and fans were treated to an offense barrage by Stanford in an 8-3 victory.

    The rout set the stage for Game Three, which was all Rice, who was playing with so much determination and heart to finally bring a championship to the school from Houston, Texas.

    Rice blew out Stanford in the final game, 14-2 and rightfully claimed their trophy.

No. 7—Pepperdine knocks off CSU-Fullerton Juggernaut,1992

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    In 1992, there was no bigger David vs. Goliath story than Pepperdine vs. Cal State Fullerton in the title game for the CWS.

    Cal State Fullerton was already a mainstay in the tournament, then led by first baseman and future Major Leaguer Phil Nevin.

    It was Pepperdine's first appearance in the tournament since 1979 and they had never won a national title. However, timely hitting and just enough pitching gave the little school from Malibu a 3-2 win, solidifying the unlikely story.

No. 6—USC shows dominance in rout of Arizona State, 1998

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    1998 was the year of the long ball in the College World Series, as several high-scoring games were played throughout the tournament bracket.

    The term "Gorilla Ball" was coined by the media in order to describe the over-abundance of offense. USC, the eventual champion, was routed in their opening game by LSU, who hit eight home runs off the Trojans.

    However, LSU lost twice-in-a-row to USC, who went on to rout fellow Pac-10 force Arizona State, 21-14.

    Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated

No. 5—Miami defeats in-state rival Florida State, 1999

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    Miami had defeated Alabama twice on its undefeated run to the title in 1999.

    Florida State had battled back from a second-round loss to Stanford after Stanford had poured it on against Cal State Fullerton in the opening round.

    Florida State then defeated Cal State Fullerton, knocking the Titans out of the tournament while earning the right for a "do-over" against Stanford. This time, the Seminoles came out on top 8-6 and advanced to the championship with their backs against the wall.

    However, the unlikely run came to an end as Miami jumped out in front with five runs in the fifth inning. Florida State came back with three runs in the final two innings but came up a run short as Miami held on for the school's third title. It would add another in 2001.

    Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated

No. 4—LSU dominates Wichita State, 1993

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    This game was a one-sided affair, but makes the list as a tribute to the rise of power for LSU teams in the early 90s.

    The 1993 team was led by Todd Walker, who was named Most Outstanding Player and would go on to have a solid career as a Major League second baseman and utility player.

    LSU proved it had built a program that would remain in the elite for the better part of the decade, and the school has recently resurfaced, claiming the title in 2009.

No. 3—LSU clips Stanford, 2000

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    Just in case you thought Louisiana State University was going away after they took a couple years off following back-to-back national championships, they decided to win it again in 2000. This time, over Stanford, a school that hasn't won the championship since the late 80s.

    What made the 2000 LSU team so special was the number of players still currently in the spotlight at the top of the Major League level. The roster featured current stars Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot of the Chicago Cubs and Brad Hawpe of the Colorado Rockies.

    LSU didn't lose once they entered the bracket, and held off a Stanford team that was coming off a 19-9 win over Louisiana-Lafayette, stifling the media frenzy over the possibility of a Louisiana in-state rivalry.

No. 2—Oregon State defeats UNC in three games, 2006

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    The Beavers of Oregon State were officially on the college baseball map in 2006, led by coach Pat Casey.

    The Beavs had won six straight elimination games to reach the title, but were considered underdogs against the powerhouse known as University of North Carolina.

    The Beavers were without Jacoby Ellsbury, who began his professional career in 2005.

    The 2006 UNC team featured future Major League pitchers Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard.

    Oregon State had been ranked high all season, but was scrambling to rebound from an early loss in the tournament.

    After a 4-3 loss in an opening game sweat factory, the Beavers rebounded in an exciting offense affair, winning 11-7.

    Game Three was no slouch. A costly throwing error in the bottom of the eighth inning by UNC second baseman Bryan Steed provided the game-winning run for the Beavers.

    OSU would go on to win it all again in 2007, and the term "underdog" no longer applied to the boys from the Pacific Northwest.

No. 1—LSU defeats University of Miami, 1996

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    The Series featured one of the most memorable homers in college baseball history. LSU was down by a run with two outs and a man on in the bottom of the ninth of the final game when Warren Morris hit a walk-off home run off Miami closer Robbie Morrison to win it all in a high scoring affair, 9-8.

    Pat Burrell, now with the San Fransisco Giants, was named The Most Outstanding Player for the University of Miami.

    LSU clearly dominates this list due to their flair for the dramatic, along with their flair for being a mainstay in the CWS and collecting championships.