Notable College World Series Games
Greatness is an element in the sporting world that is often talked about, but rarely defined. While any baseball fan can check statistics - batting averages, homeruns, earned run averages, wins - to get a sense of the sport's top players, the elusive quality of greatness can't seem to be properly quantified.
Box scores neatly arrange the excitement of baseball into a series of columns and numerals, but nobody remembers their elation at reviewing this statistical summary of an otherwise memorable game. Rather, it's the crack of the bat, the collective anticipation, and the palpable antagonism of a rivalry that make attending great baseball games so unforgettable.
For years, baseball fans have been packing the stands of Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska, for the NCAA College World Series, with the expectation of coming for a few games, and leaving with many memories.
Since 1947, the tournament has been giving fans access to electrifying games that have made their way into College World Series lore - even from the very beginning.
College World Series: A stimulating start
The first College World Series was played in a small park in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Among the players in the best-of-three series for the national title between the University of California, Berkeley and Yale, was a golden-gloved first baseman named George Herbert Walker Bush, who would go on to be President of the United States.
Speckled by raindrops, Yale took a 4-2 lead into the seventh inning before making a managerial error. The club's skipper decided to walk the eighth batter to bring up the supposedly weak-hitting pitcher, Jackie Jensen. Jensen pelted a homerun to tie the game, before California scored 11 runs in the ninth inning to seal the game. The irony: that weak-hitting pitcher went on to be a Major League outfielder, 1958 MVP and three-time all-star.
In the second game of the series, Yale trailed 7-2 before rallying, locking the two teams in a tie in the late innings, and setting the stage for a memorable ending. Late in the game, Yale's catcher tried to throw out a runner at second base, but the ball sailed past the shortstop, allowing Cal's John Ramos to score from third base. The costly error was the deciding factor in an 8-7 defeat for Yale, and California's title as the first ever College World Series Championship.
Steve Arlin Stuns Oklahoma State
The drama didn't stop there, and some electrifying pitchers have made names for themselves by dominating the tournament. Ohio State's Steve Arlin commanded the tournament in 1965 and 1966, finishing with a College World Series record 0.96 ERA and four wins.
In his first appearance in 1965, Arlin pitched just one third of an inning, but came back with a 15-inning 1-0 victory over Washington State. In 1966, Arlin finished all of OSU's five wins, and pitched two complete games to dominate Oklahoma State, bring home a World Series title, and win the tournament's MVP award.
In 1991, the Wichita State Shockers took the Creighton Bluejays into the bottom of the 12th inning, up 3-2. With one out, the Shocker's centerfielder Jim Audley threw out Creighton's pinch runner, Steve Burns, at home plate, sealing the victory for Wichita State, which would go on to play in the title game.
A hit wins it
Perhaps the most memorable College World Series game came in 1996, when LSU faced Miami for the national championship. In the 9th inning, with 2 outs and a runner on third, LSU needed a hit to tie the game. Instead, Warren Morris, who had been injured for most of the year, sized up Miami's pitcher, and belted his first home run of the year to bring his team a College World Series Title and cement his place in the tournament's amazing history.