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College Baseball Division I World Series Takes The Field

First pitch scheduled for Saturday afternoon as the College Baseball Division I World Series takes the field for the 71st time, 68th at Omaha, Neb.

The opener matches top-seeded Oregon State with Cal-State Fullerton, the closer pairs 4th seed LSU with FSU 

Arnie Leshin

By Arnie Leshin

The field is set for the 71st annual Division I college baseball World Series that begins Saturday at Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.

The last to crash the Elite Eight was national 3rd seeded Florida following two days of heavy rain in Gainesville in the best-of-three Super Regional against Wake Forest.

For game one on Saturday, the skies were clear. For the next two days, they emptied, forced numerous delays, and after the Demon Deacons evened the series at 1-1 Monday morning, back came the rain in the deciding game an hour later.

The Gators led 1-0 after three innings and when completed in late afternoon, they won 3-0, to advance to the final stop of the quest for national honors. They have played in several World Series, were in one final, but have never won it all.

Same with state-rival Florida State of the ACC. It will be appearing in its 40th World Series, yet has never got to hoist the championship trophy.

They are in separate brackets, Florida (48-19) in Bracket 1 and the Seminoles (45-21) in Bracket 2.

FSU will open on Saturday in a scheduled 7 p.m. (CT) against 4th seeded Louisiana State (48-17) of the SEC. In the opener the same day, it will be the team-to-beat, top-seeded Oregon State (54-4) of the Pac 12 versus Cal-State Fullerton (39-22) in a 2 p.m. start (CT).

Sunday, 7th seeded Louisville (52-10) of the Big East meets up with the SEC’s Texas A & M (41-21) at 1 p.m. (CT), and Florida of the SEC follows versus 6th seed Texas Christian (47-16), the Big 12 entry, in the final contest of the first-round best-of-three.

The losers of Saturday’s two games will match-up on Monday at 1 p.m., with the winners facing off at 6 p.m. The losers of Sunday’s two games will try to avoid elimination at 1 p.m. Tuesday, the winners later that day at 6 o’clock.

All games will be televised on the ESPN network.

That’s three schools from the SEC, one each from the ACC, Big East, Big 12 and Pac 12, and Cal-Sate Fullerton of the Big West.

The Ducks, who won back-to-back titles in 2006-07 for their only championships, come in with an impressive 54-4 record, one of the best ever brought to the World Series. More schools have won more games, but only two others, Missouri (22-4) in 1954 and USC (26-4) in 1948, have lost four times.

But unseeded Cal-State Fullerton is a quality opponent with four national titles won at Omaha, the last in 2004. It claimed the region hosted by 8th seeded Stanford, and then made its way to state-rival and conference rival Long Beach State to win two-of-three after losing game one.

LSU has carried off the trophy six times, the last in 2004. This time it hosted and won its region, and followed by winning 2-straight over Missouri State in the Super Regional in Baton Rouge.

FSU is trying to win 73-year-old head coach Mike Martin’s first title. It won four in a row after losing game one of the Tallahassee Region to Louisiana Tech, knocking off Mississippi State twice in the Super Region at the same site. Martin, who said he has no retirement plans, is in his 38th season with the Seminoles.

Texas A & M is unseeded, but got past host Houston in the Region, and then had to go some to hold off the challenge of tournament first-timer Davidson in the Super Region it hosted. The Aggies will take on Louisville, which is the 7th seed and which won its region before taking two-straight over state-rival Kentucky in Louisville.

Then there’s Florida meeting up with TCU. Seeded 6th, the Horned Frogs won their own region and then got past a tough Missouri State club.

This puts two Lone Star State schools into the World Series, matched by the Sunshine State’s Gatos and Seminoles, and Louisville’s LSU and the Louisville Cardinals.

As far as the brackets go, the 1 and 4th seeds are in Bracket I, the 3rd, 6th and 7th seeds landed in Bracket 2. But prior to the first pitches, all are 0-0.

There will be a new champion after Carolina Coastal, which won in three over Arizona last season, didn’t qualify this time.

There have been 28 champions in all. Of those not in this current field, Southern California’s dozen titles are the most. Texas has won it all six times, Arizona State five and Miami four. Except that the Trojans haven’t won since 1998 and Arizona State since 1981.

This field includes star power, hitting, pitching and fielding, and all eight  are experienced programs that have been on the big stage before.

It is the 68th time they have played in Omaha, with the first three playing once in Wichita, Kan., and twice in Kalamazoo, Mich. The first champion  was California over Yale in 1947, and the Ivy League school returned again the next year and lost to USC.

It was won-and-done before best-of-three came into play. The lone extra-inning final occurred in 2010 when South Carolina edged UCLA, 2-1, in 11 innings. When Texas won in 1975, its 59 victories were the most and still are. It lost six times. There has been one “football” score when Southern Cal outscored Arizona State, 21-14, in 1998.

From a starting field of 64 schools, it’s now down to the nitty gritty for eight schools out to hoist the championship trophy.

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