CWS: Day 12 In PicturesFeatured
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As Bill Murray’s character in Meatballs said over and over, it just doesn’t matter.
That’s the mantra that Oregon State seemed to have acquired as well. They lost their first game of the College World Series. It just doesn’t matter. They lost the first game of the championship finals. It just doesn’t matter. They were down to their final strike in game two. It just doesn’t matter. Their fans were outnumbered by a 90-to-10 ratio in Omaha. It just doesn’t matter. Hell, they are a Northern program playing against a team from the mighty SEC. It just doesn’t matter.
They didn’t care. The Black and Orange just seemed dead set on winning their third national title, Razorbacks be damned… or in the case of the Beavers, “be dammed.” They were going to continue their two-year dominance as the best team in college baseball over the last 730 days and this time put an exclamation point on that with a national title. Done and done.
And that big crowd of Hogs fans? The Beavers must’ve figured out that the best way to play in front of a raucous opposing crowd is to simply give them nothing to cheer about. And other than a pair of hits in the third inning where they left the bases loaded, there was little else to cheer about. In other words, this was a Hog Whallop.
Yes, this game was also one big YAAAAWWWWWNN. And that sounded like sweet music to the ears of the very vocal Beaver Believers. No real action. No drama. Nothing to cheer about.
Freshman Kevin Abel, who came to Omaha with a meager 4-1 record, picked up his CWS-record fourth win of the Series by retiring 20 straight batters to end the game and left zero hope for the throngs of fans from the Natural State, who drove here in hordes hoping to see their Piggies win their first national title in baseball. In the process, Abel also struck out 10 UofA batters and walked just two opposing hitters. Did I mention he tossed a complete-game, two-hitter? Yes TWO.
Not since LSU’s Brett Laxton in 1993 have we seen a freshman pitcher come in and toss a complete game shutout in the championship game. Abel’s name will forever go down in the lore of great Beaver performances, without a doubt.
The Beavers also become the third straight Pac 12 program to face an SEC team with nearly 90% of the fans in the stadium pulling against them, and winning the national title anyway. They followed the lead of the 2012 Arizona Wildcats, who beat South Carolina in two straight games, and the 2013 UCLA Bruins, who beat Mississippi State in two straight.
Felt bad for Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn, who was at Nebraska when he took the Cornhuskers to the College World Series for the first time in 2001. He is a beloved figure for those in the state of Nebraska who have not forgotten his contribution to college baseball around these parts. But I did like what he said in the press conference after the game, “We’ll be back and one of these days we’ll win a national championship. I’m confident of that.”
You know what? He’s right.
But until that day, he’ll have to be happy with being runner up to Pat Casey and Oregon State in 2018. After 13 days, eight games, six elimination games, dozens of pitching changes, five game day double-digit heat indexes and 45 rain delays, the Beavers were finally crowned national champions again.
All those other factors piled against them? It just doesn’t matter.
Here is how tonight looked through the lens…