The College World Series is set with a burgeoning dynasty accompanied by a bevy of national seeds and two Cinderella’s. Omaha, Nebraska in the summer remains a bucket list item for any baseball fan and the matchups in 2012 reflect that. Except for the whole imminent death part.
South Carolina, the two-time defending national champion dispatched Oklahoma to secure a first round game with SEC East rival Florida. As hot as the Gamecocks get every June, the Gators entered the season and closed it in the top spot of the rankings according to Baseball America. I’m not sure if Steve Spurrier can rearrange a couple of tee times but his attendance in Omaha for that clash seems apropos.
The Pac 12 sends two squads to the midwest — Arizona and UCLA — with the Bruins a legitimate threat to unseat South Carolina. On the revenge scale, the Gamecocks defeated UCLA in 2010 in the championship series for their first title, so the Pac 12 champions have all the motive they need.
Florida State, fresh off annihilating Stanford in their Super Regional, catches the Wildcats in the opening round of their 21st College World Series appearance. Should the past few weeks be any indication, the Seminoles are just as likely to Gorilla Ball, a la 1990′s LSU, their way to a trophy as they are insult ACC commissioner John Swofford.
This rendition of Omaha though is about the newcomers. Two first-time clubs travel from the Great White North to partake in college baseball’s signature event. Kent State eliminated Oregon, saving the baseball populace from the Ducks placing a mirror and wings in the batter’s box. It’s the first MAC team in the College World Series since 1976. A three-seed in the regional round, they were one-upped by Stony Brook, a four-seed that happened to waltz into Baton Rouge and best LSU. While surprising on paper, the Seawolves had seven players drafted last week while their Bayou Bengal opponents had just five. So yeah, New York college baseball is apparently a thing now.
And added just moments ago, the final team in the field is Arkansas. That makes three SEC clubs and another reason for the conference to let you know how much better they are than your geographic affiliation. Enjoy the hot dogs fellas, we’re all back home in Omaha.