Five things to know for CWS finale

June, 25, 2008

It all comes down to this. With one of the most exciting College World Series finals set to be decided tonight, ESPN Research has identified five things you need to know entering tonight's game.

Bat Happy

Fresno State has a good chance of scoring the most runs ever in a CWS:

Team Year # of Runs
USC 1998 62
Fresno State 2008 56
USC 1995 54
Arizona State 1981 54

1. This is the sixth year that the College World Series has been decided by a best-of-3 Finals, and it's the third time a Game 3 has been necessary. The winner of Game 2 is 1-1 in the previous Game 3s, but this year is eerily similar to 2006, when Oregon State lost Game 1 and fell behind 5-0 to North Carolina in Game 2 before rallying to win consecutive games and its second NCAA championship in school history. Fresno State lost Game 1 of this series and fell behind 5-0 in Game 2 before rallying to force a third game. Fresno State is now one win away from its second NCAA title.

2. Fresno State is not only the lowest-seeded team ever to reach the College World Series, but it's also the lowest-seeded team ever to reach the championship round (final two teams) of an NCAA tournament for any sport. The Bulldogs were a regional No. 4 seed to start the tourney, the equivalent of being seeded in the 13-16 range in basketball. In other words, there aren't many adjectives to describe how improbable their run to within one game of a CWS title has been.

3. No team that had a losing record the previous seasonhas ever won the College World Series. Georgia finished 23-33 in 2007, the worst overall mark in the SEC. Neither UGA nor Fresno State was ranked in the coaches' preseason top 25.

4. If Fresno State wins, it will be the fifth straight year that the CWS champion was not one of the tournament's 8 national seeds. Fresno State would also be the seventh straight national champ from west of the Mississippi River.

5. Whichever team wins Game 3 will set the record for most losses by a CWS champ.

Loss-Happy Winners

Whichever teams wins tonight will have the most losses of any CWS winner (Ga. has 24, FSU 31).

Team Year Losses
Stanford 1988 23
Cal St. Fullerton 2004 22
Arizona 1980 21
Cal St. Fullerton 1984 20
USC 1974 20

Final Nuggets

• Since 2003, the NCAA baseball tournament has consisted of four separate double-elimination stages, meaning it's possible to lose as many as four times in the tourney and still win the national title. Fresno State can be the first champion to use all four losses. The Bulldogs lost to San Diego in the regional, Arizona State in the super regional, North Carolina in CWS bracket play and Georgia in the CWS Finals. In addition to having the maximum number of losses, Fresno would also have the minimum number of wins possible for a champion in the current tournament format (10).

• Both teams have won five elimination games in the tournament, but this will be the first for Georgia in the CWS. It's Fresno State's third elimination game in the last four days.

• Late-inning heroics have been the theme of this year's CWS. Six teams (in 15 games) have captured victory in their final at-bat, and a couple of others rallied in the ninth to fall just short. Winning in dramatic fashion is about the only thing Fresno State hasn't done in Omaha, but in both of the Bulldogs' CWS losses, they surrendered the lead in their opponent's final at-bat.

• Over the last couple of weeks, we've frequently used the 13-seed analogy to try to explain how amazing Fresno State's run has been. Here's one final basketball-related item that helps give perspective.

The NCAA's official RPI entering the tournament: Fresno State was 89th!



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