Then there were eight.
But to get to eight we started with 16 before the Thanos snap that is the NCAA baseball super regionals. But like the Mad Titan, those teams had to work for it. We had a weekend full of walk-offs, web gems and lightning delays. So. Many. Lightning delays.
Before we pack our steak sauce and Father's Day cards and head out to Omaha for the Men's College World Series, let's take a look back at the slightly smaller shindig that was the supers, games full of heroes. Superheroes. Sorry, Thanos, too soon?
Worst Omaha-related curse tied to a guy who yells "Omaha!": Peyton Manning
That angry typing you hear is from my Knoxville in-laws and former Tennessee roommates for having the audacity to even mention the Vols' fall from No. 1 overall seed to watching the CWS on TV ... not to mention speaking No. 18 blasphemy. But in my defense, Manning was in attendance at the supers and our mutual alma mater lost again. It happens a lot. And I'm far from the first Big Orange alum to point that out.
Tennessee Athletics is 0-47 with Peyton Manning attending games as a spectator.— Tennessee Williams (@TN_Williams) June 11, 2022
But please, tell me how silly superstitions and curses are.
Most mind-blowing super regional statistic: No. 1 has fallen
When Tennessee lost, it marked the third straight NCAA baseball tournament in which the No. 1 overall seed has failed to make it to Omaha. Even further, the top-ranked team hasn't won the CWS title since Miami ... in 1999! Next year the team that seems to be lined up as the No. 1 seed might want to "accidentally" become lost on the bus ride to its conference tournament and try to drop a slot or two. Just in case.
Best Joe Namath impersonation: Ole Miss DH Tim Elko
Elko got off to a ridiculous start to the season, boosting the Rebels to a No. 1 ranking, but suffered an ACL tear just as SEC play was beginning. For normal humans, that would mean a six-month recovery. He was back in less than a month, and his bat picked up right where it left off in early spring. Now unseeded Ole Miss is bound for Omaha after sweeping super regional host Southern Miss by a combined score of 15-0. So, what does any of this have to do with Broadway Joe? Because Elko said this to College Baseball Nation back in the preseason: "If we get to Omaha, we will be national champions."
Best Dr. Strange time stone trick: S-E-C! S-E-C!
If you're wondering what the SEC baseball tourney will look like in 2023 (or 2024, whenever the current realignment Rubik's Cube finally stops spinning), just look at this Omaha bracket. Half the teams in the field are current SEC members and two more will be joining the conference as soon as the paperwork can be processed. You can hate the "S-E-C!" chant all you want, and plenty of people do, but to quote the great philosopher (and Georgia Bulldogs fan) Richard Morgan Flair, "Whether you like it or not, learn to love it. Because it's the best thing going today. Wooooo!"
Best teammates: Stanford rooting for Texas A&M
It's no secret that coach Jim Schlossnagle supercharged his inaugural Aggies roster by working the transfer portal like John Williams with a baton in front of the philharmonic. Among his biggest signings was pitcher Jacob Palisch, who pitched in two CWS games one year ago with Stanford and now is back with Texas A&M after being on the mound for the final out that clinched the Omaha berth against Louisville. And where was his biggest cheering section outside of College Station? The Farm, where his former Cardinal teammates were finishing up their pregame meal before going to work toward earning their own return ticket to the big show.
Congrats to @jpalisch11 on getting the final out and punching @AggieBaseball's ticket to Omaha!— Stanford Baseball (@StanfordBSB) June 11, 2022
Your Stanford brothers were locked in on The Farm and couldn't be happier for you! pic.twitter.com/w8zqaokWbG
Best "Ridiculousness" audition tape: Oklahoma OF Kendall Pettis
Someone phone my man Rob Dyrdek because Pettis went full scorpion after going over the bullpen wall in left to snag a foul ball for a big out at Virginia Tech. Then he sent a homer over the wall to break the game open just a few yards from where he nearly broke his neck.
Best geography lesson: Texas at East Carolina
I am an eastern North Carolina native, and my father played college baseball at East Carolina, so I grew up proudly knowing the name of every city and hamlet between Raleigh and the Outer Banks. But I never assumed that everyone outside of the area knew all those towns. However, all my friends from Texas 100 percent grew up believing that every American was raised learning about places like Dripping Springs, Marfa and Kilgore as if they are Detroit, Atlanta and Seattle. That's why, as the Longhorns sat out Sunday's endless weather delays in Greenville, North Carolina, this was the perfect tweet.
texas fans 5 hours ago: what state is east carolina again— Burnt Orange Nation (@BON_SBNation) June 13, 2022
texas fans now: if this storm cell moves from rocky mount towards new bern it could go west towards grimesland or washington and circumvent greenville entirely
Worst distinction to own: ECU
A week ago, we told you that ECU was the best college baseball program to never make a trip to Omaha. Sadly, for Pirates fans, that "honor" has not changed, even after their team held a 7-2 lead in the seventh inning of a game that would have clinched the best-of-three against the Longhorns on Saturday. That's now 32 NCAA postseason appearances, 17 this century and seven super regionals since 2001, including hosting two at raucous Clark-LeClair Stadium. Yet the road to Omaha remains blocked to pirate ships. The breakthrough is coming. It has to. Right?
Best North Carolina name: UNC OF Vance Honeycutt
Again, I'm from North Carolina, so I know that this dude from the baseball-crazy towns of Shelby and Salisbury has the most Carolina name ever, Robert Vance Honeycutt IV. (His dad, by the way, played for the Tar Heels team that made it to Omaha in 1989.) Trust me, this is like giving a kid from New York the name Vinny Greenwich Broadway Jr. Or naming a Texas-born kid Tex. OK, yeah, that happens all the time.
Best walk-off: The Omahogs
After a month packed with final-out drama from the very jump of the 64-team tourney, it felt inevitable that we'd have at least one walk-off to clinch a CWS slot. It came in the bottom of the ninth at Chapel Hill, when Arkansas designated hitter Brady Slavens slapped a grounder-with-eyes through the infield that drove in the winning run and birthed an instantaneous dogpile, er, hogpile. That hit was almost as impressive as this camera work by and of the Hogs reacting to it.
THIS TEAM ⚡ pic.twitter.com/MLDeyqpZcs— Arkansas Baseball (@RazorbackBSB) June 13, 2022