Eight tickets have been punched, and eight college baseball teams are on their way to Omaha for the NCAA Baseball Championships. The last two weekends have been filled with great games, wacky weather, and true baseball drama.
The number one overall seed North Carolina Tar Heels have been in the middle of a lot of the drama as they are one of the eight teams still playing. They have been apart of the final deciding game in both the Regional round and Super Regional round. The Heels have arguably been apart of one of the best games played on any diamond this year, battled through several rain delays, and knocked off the team that has played in each of the last three championship series.
In the Regional round they competed against Florida Atlantic in a winner take all game. After a long delay even starting the game, Carolina led for much of the game going into the ninth inning. They proceeded to give up six runs in the top of the ninth to trail 8-6. Nearly becoming just the second number one overall seed not to advance, they scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings. It did not stop there as in the 12th, FAU scored three runs to go up three. North Carolina rallied again like a cat with nine lives to force a 13th inning. In the 13th, the Heels finally tallied the winning run well after midnight on a ball that hit more chalk then grass and won 12-11.
In the Super Regional round they again danced with drama and defeated South Carolina in a best of three series to advance again. South Carolina the last three seasons was one of the final two teams playing for a championship.
Also joining North Carolina in Omaha is Mississippi St, Oregon St, Louisville, UCLA, LSU, and first timers Indiana and North Carolina St. Of the final eight teams only Oregon St and LSU have won a Baseball National Championship.
All eight team obviously have their strengths and weaknesses. A key opening match up will be Louisville versus Indiana as both teams are under the radar and can make a run to the finals. Also one thing to keep an eye out for is will there be a third final between North Carolina and Oregon St? In 2006 and 2007 Oregon St won back to back championships defeating UNC both times. Will 2013 be different?
Still a bold prediction for Omaha: A team will win their first ever championship this year. Granted the odds are favored in that direction, but that was the prediction as well before the start of the tournament.
Either way, the two weeks in Omaha always bring great play on the field and fantastic memories. Baseball lovers can always appreciate the College World Series.