OMAHA, Neb. -- In 24 trips to the College World Series before this season, Miami had finished winless in the CWS just once, in 1979, when it was eliminated by Pepperdine, an obscure program from out West making its CWS first appearance.
So we've come full circle, after the Hurricanes fell flat Monday against UC Santa Barbara, a Big West upstart with exactly one CWS win to its credit after this 5-3 defeat of Miami.
Don't kid yourself. Everything is different today. Look around.
National seeds in Omaha this year are 0-4. Top-seeded Florida and No. 5 Texas Tech fight on the undercard Tuesday in an elimination game after falling in the first round Sunday to unseeded Coastal Carolina and TCU.
UCSB knocked out No. 2-seeded Louisville last week at the super regional as freshman Sam Cohen unloaded a pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam against ace reliever Zack Burdi. On Tuesday, junior Ryan Cumberland, with three RBIs in 21 at-bats this season, laced a two-run, pinch-hit single after a 62-minute rain delay to unlock a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning.
"I'm buying five more lottery tickets," Santa Barbara coach Andrew Checketts said. "Just keep picking numbers."
There's more to the Cumberland story. He got sick on Saturday -- victimized, he believes, by a roast beef sandwich he ate in the clubhouse before the Gauchos' opening-game loss to Oklahoma State.
Cohen and student manager Ryan Bobb suffered the same fate. Cumberland said he vomited Sunday morning and felt even worse as UCSB practiced on its off day at Bellevue East High School.
The illness continued into Monday, but Cumberland got a nice rest during the rain delay and felt good in the cool air when play resumed.
"It speaks to his level of competitiveness and toughness to be able to go up there and take that at-bat after being violently ill all morning," Checketts said.
Checketts fosters that toughness in the Gauchos. They've been on the road since June 1, winning the Nashville regional at Vanderbilt before the surprising sweep at Louisville.
"I think we all knew we could complete," second baseman JJ Muno said. "No one said we could. No one gave us any shot against these guys, so we kind of had that quiet confidence."
Checketts said he's tempted to tell his players they can't do anymore. Because whatever he expects, they exceed it.
"It's baseball and it's crazy," the coach said, "and you just don't know what to expect. All the teams that are here are here for a reason, because they're good. It's timing. If we were playing [Miami] a month ago, we'd get swept."
Baseball is unpredictable by nature. Momentum is no stronger than the next day's starting pitcher. But there's something on the menu this postseason -- not the roast beef -- that has jumbled the field more than usual.
In addition to Louisville, national seeds Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Clemson and LSU did not make it the CWS. Neither did Virginia and Vanderbilt, the two schools that played in the championship series the past two seasons.
Upon the Memorial Day selection of the tournament, experts expected the SEC, awarded a record seven regional sites, to dominate the field in Omaha. One more loss by Florida would leave the league without a team in the running.
Meanwhile, the ACC, with its three national seeds, is done. The Big 12 placed only three teams in the 64-team tournament; all three remain alive in Omaha. And the Pac-12, left for dead midseason, is still standing with first-round CWS winner Arizona.
Checketts can't offer a new explanation.
Miami coach Jim Morris, in his 13th trip to Omaha with the Hurricanes since 1994, was at a loss, too.
Fifteen years ago, Morris said, he'd never heard of UCSB. Three weeks ago, few outside of Santa Barbara and the Big West knew the Gauchos had a solid program.
Leave it to Cumberland, still shaken Monday afternoon from the bad sandwich, to place in perspective the latest eye-opener of a result in this upside-down CWS.
"Miami is a special program," he said. "They're deserving of everything they've gotten, but we're a ragtag group of guys.
"And a hot team beats a good team."