Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Road to Omaha goes through Fresno

Honest confession time: I wrote my blog for today on Monday afternoon around 2:30 p.m. That was an hour-and-a-half before the first pitch was thrown in Tempe, Arizona. My blog had a sad, sentimental feel to it because I assumed that the hometown Sun Devils would wrap up a trip to Omaha.

After all, they'd only lost three times at home all season before Sunday.
And they'd never lost in post-season play at home since 2003 before Sunday.

But on Monday evening, the Fresno State Bulldogs did the unthinkable, defeating the 3rd-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils 12-9 to win the Tempe Super Regional and a trip to Omaha for the College World Series.

The Bulldogs are the first team in the 64-team era of postseason play to win a Super Regional as a regional #4 seed entering the tournament. In fact, they are only the second #4 seed ever to advance to Super Regional play.

For comparison sake, one of ESPN's talking heads equated the Bulldogs Cinderella run to Omaha with a 13-seed team advancing to the Final Four in the NCAA Basketball tournament.

Granted, the Bulldogs did begin the season ranked in the Top-25. But a mediocre season fraught with injuries to key players -- including pitching ace Tanner Scheppers, a second round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Pirates who has been shelved through the postseason run -- has turned on a dime.

The Bulldogs will arrive in Omaha the media darling.

Al Michaels once asked, "Do you believe in miracles?" Tonight on the heels of an amazing victory, the echo through the San Joaquin Valley is a resolute, "Yes!"


One of the nice benefits of living in Fresno is the proximity of the university and the ease it affords in supporting its atheltic programs. The 2007-8 season has been one of great accomplishment for Fresno State's mid-major athletic program. The Bulldog football team went to a bowl game and defeated a BCS-school (Georgia Tech). The women's basketball team won the WAC Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The baseball team won the WAC Tournament and now has advanced to the College World Series (knocking off the Pac-10 champ on their homefield).
The athletic program as a whole won the All-Sports trophy for the most successful athletic program in the Western Athletic Conference.

Not bad.
Not bad at all.