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Bo's Baseball Bites 06/14/23

Updated: Jun 21, 2023




*Special Bo-maha guest column by Doug Kyle*


While Bo Carter fulfills his duties this week as Executive Director of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), including coordinating the Dick Howser Trophy presentation and press conference on Friday in Omaha, College Baseball Central is bringing a special Bo-maha guest edition of Bo's Baseball Bites to you, a little earlier than usual, and with a preview of the field for the 2023 Men's College World Series. And, we're pleased to be right back here with a second Bo-maha column June 16, just following the 10:00 am presentation of the recipient of the 2023 Dick Howser Trophy. That's just a couple hours before Game 1 begins, around 1:00 pm CDT, both events at Charles Schwab Field (aka Charlie's Cabana) in Omaha. See links to interactive and printable brackets at the bottom of this article.


Charles Schwab & The Eight: Meet the merry band of baseballers, here to entertain you, and win a national championship


Following up on the book by the same name, the popular online movie Daisy Jones & The Six debuted earlier this year, a semi-fictional drama-filled story about a rock and roll band, interestingly with the granddaughter of Elvis Presley playing the lead singer.


We're not sure if any descendants of "The King" played baseball (he was more into martial arts and riding horses) or are on their way to Omaha as we write, but the 10-11 day event booked into a more compact and conducive schedule this year (June 16-25/26) could very easily and similarly be called Charles Schwab & The Eight. And, have no doubt, there'll be plenty of (real) drama, and performance art with balls, bats, and gloves, for the growing throngs that love college baseball tender and dance to the clubhouse rock.


And now, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the greatest stage on dirt and grass, Charles Schwab & The Eight!


The 1 seed, hailing from Winston-Salem, NC, Wake Forest, making their third trip to the MCWS, first since 1955. While Wake has but two prior appearances, the Demon Deacons have made the most of them, finishing second in 1949 and winning the national championship in 1955, leaving Omaha #1 and returning to the city 68 years later in the same spot. Speaking of, Wake Forest is looking to break the oft-reported streak that in the 2000s, no team that has even managed to get to Omaha seeded #1 has been able to leave that way. Head Coach Tom Walter is intent on both upholding a tradition and breaking a trend at the same time.


The 2 seed, hailing from Gainesville, FL, Florida, making their 13th appearance in the MCWS, their first since 2018 and dating back to 1988. Like Wake Forest, the Gators have a national championship, in 2017, as well as a second place finish, two actually, in 2005 and 2011. After making the NCAA tournament for the first time in 1958, it took Florida 10 times in the tournament field, 7 of those as SEC Champions, to break through to Omaha, but the Gators have appeared with regularity since then, in large part with Head Coach Kevin O'Sullivan at the helm.


The 3 seed spot, originally slotted to Arkansas, is occupied by TCU, who hails from Fort Worth, TX, and ousted the Razorbacks in their regional before hosting and winning the Super Regional round over Indiana State. The Horned Frogs are making their 6th appearance in Omaha, the first since 2017 and dating back to 2010. TCU's best all-time finish is 3rd, but they've accomplished that four of the five previous times in the MCWS, including 2010 and 2017. When former Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle (who guided his next team, Texas A&M, to Omaha just last year) left TCU, the Frogs faced a possible crossroads for their future, but Head Coach Kirk Saarloos stepped in and kept the tradition going, and he seeks to match or better the quartet of past high water marks.


The 4 seed spot, originally slotted to Clemson, is occupied by Tennessee, hailing from Knoxville, TN, who not only ousted the Tigers in their regional, they then went on the road to a Super Regional in Hattiesburg, MS, fell behind a game to Southern Miss, and then rallied from a 4-0 deficit in Game 2 to shut out the Golden Eagles from that point on, 8-4 and 5-0. Like TCU, the Volunteers are making their 6th appearance in Omaha, having been there last just two years ago in 2021, and dating back to 1951, when they finished second to Oklahoma, their best all-time mark in the MCWS. Head Coach Tony Vitello will also be looking to match or better the UT past records, particularly when his team was last year the most recent #1 overall victim to fall short, to Notre Dame in the Super Regional.


The 5 seed, hailing from Baton Rouge, LA, LSU, is making its 19th appearance in the MCWS, the first time since 2017, and dating back to 1986. The Tigers have finished first six times, between 1991 and 2009, and finished second once, to Florida in 2017. LSU hosted both its regional, beating cross-state rival Tulane and defeating Oregon State twice, as well as the Super Regional, a two-game sweep of fellow SEC member Kentucky. LSU fought a plethora of weather delays, some six-seven hours long, in both events. Head Coach Jay Johnson, whose team was a consensus #1 for much of the season, will be seeking the rare achievement of being the third coach to win a national title at the same school (Skip Bertman, Paul Mainieri), matching the Texas Longhorns (Bibb Faulk, Cliff Gustafson, and Augie Garrido, who also won three at Cal State Fullerton).


The 6 seed spot, originally slotted to Vanderbilt, is occupied by Oral Roberts, hailing from Tulsa, OK, making their second ever appearance in the MCWS, after first arriving in Omaha in 1978. The Golden Eagles not only had to beat their regional host, Oklahoma State, they then had to go on the road and win the Super Regional at Oregon, the team who ousted Vanderbilt. If that wasn't challenge enough, they lost an 8-0 lead over Oregon on the way to a walkoff 9-8 loss in Game 1, the first time in nearly 100 games all-time a team had done that, then gained a walkoff win themselves the following night as the designated home team, before sealing the bid back toward home with a seemingly less dramatic 11-6 win in Game 3. Geographically closest to Nebraska, the team led by Head Coach Ryan Folmar might superficially be considered the tourney Cinderella, but trailing the 52 wins of #1 Wake Forest by just one, this is a team that doesn't appear close to losing its slipper or turning into a pumpkin without a fight.


The 7 seed, hailing from Charlottesville, VA, Virginia, is the third team making its 6th appearance in Omaha, the last time in 2021, and dating back to 2009, all under Head Coach Brian O' Connor. The Cavaliers are the fourth of five schools in the MCWS field to have won a National Championship before. Virginia won it all in 2015, the year after finishing second to Vanderbilt, when the same two teams faced off in the Finals both years and beat each other once. Similar to Florida, the Cavaliers battled a long time in the NCAA tournament, eight trips between 1972 and 2008, before finally breaking through to Omaha the next year.


The 8 seed, hailing from Palo Alto, CA, Stanford, matches the 19 appearances in Omaha of LSU, dating back to 1953 and including the last three MCWS. The Cardinal have won two national championships, back to back 1987-88, and while tied with LSU in appearances, they have a slight lead in MCWS games played and won, 41-33 to 40-27. While there were many exciting finishes that propelled teams to Omaha, the end to Stanford's Super Regional may have been the most unexpected, when a two-out fly ball in the bottom of the 9th dropped between Texas defenders and sent the winning run home rather than sending the game to extra innings. Head Coach David Esquer has a team that is comfortable and confident under the lights and inside the lines at Charles Schwab Field.


The format of two brackets sending winners to a finals series remains, but the schedule has been compacted in 2023, beginning on Friday and finishing the first phase (barring weather issues) by the next Thursday, with the Finals set to start on Saturday and go through Sunday or Monday, if necessary. The only day off in the new itinerary is Friday, although a second could occur on Thursday, depending on whether one or both ”If Necessary" games on the schedule are played. On days when two games are played, start times are 1:00 pm and 6:00 pm, both essentially daylight games due to the late sunsets in Omaha, in the western portion of the Central time zone.


*****


Trivia Questions taken from the COLLEGE BASEBALL CENTRAL LIBRARY (answers below):

  1. The #1 seed in 2023, Wake Forest, is making its first appearance in the Men’s College World Series since 1955, when it won the tournament and national championship. It wasn’t Wake’s very first time in the CWS (as it was called then), however, as they played in the first, and last, one in Wichita, KS, a year before the move to Omaha. There were some other 1949 firsts besides WF and Wichita, though: a three-tiered NCAA tournament field, consisting of 18 "District" level (equivalent to Regional now) teams, leading to 8 two-team "Regional" playoffs (equivalent to Super Regional now) and a CWS of just 4 teams; a Most Outstanding Player being named for the first time, and one other historically significant one. Can you name what that first was?

  2. Oral Roberts is making just its second trip to both Omaha and the MCWS, the first since 1978. Fellow attendee Wake Forest emerged from an NCAA field of 18 in 1949, how many teams were invited to the NCAA tournament in 1978, the year Oral Roberts first made Omaha?

  3. Virginia is a familiar face in Omaha, having last appeared in the MCWS just two years ago, when Mississippi State overcame a 4-0 Cavalier lead on its way to the 2021 National Championship. Will Bednar was named the Most Outstanding Player, joined by five other Bulldogs on the All-CWS team, along with two players from Stanford, and one each from Vanderbilt, Texas, and Virginia. Who was the Virginia player who made All-CWS in 2021?

Bo Carter is the Executive Director of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and is a long time professional in sports media and information. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and has plied his trade in the Southeastern Conference, the Southwest Conference, and the Big 12 Conference. In addition to his NCBWA duties, he also serves as a consultant and columnist for the National Football Foundation. Follow the NCBWA, which produces ranking polls for D1, D2, and D3, as well as naming All America teams at both the D1 and D2 levels and the Dick Howser Trophy (presented each year in Omaha at the Men’s College World Series) at @NCBWA. And, if you’re a college baseball fan, you don’t have to be media to be a member, check them out at ncbwa.com and join today!

Trivia Answers


1. The 1949 College World Series was the first national championship for Head Coach Bibb Faulk’s Texas Longhorns, who beat Wake Forest 10-3 for the title.

2. A field of 34 teams made up the 1978 NCAA baseball tournament, the third year of expansion from 32. Of the eight regionals, seven were four-team and the other was a six-team, a practice that was expanded through the years as tournament fields increased to 36, 38, and 40, eventually reaching a uniform field of eight six-team regionals (48) 1987-98.

3. Zack Gelof, older brother of current Virginia star Jake Gelof.







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