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Not only did the cinderella team, the Fresno State Bulldogs, defeat the favorites, the Georgia Bulldogs, but they destroyed Georgia's pitching staff in the process. The unlikely champions, who happened to be the lowest seeded team to win any College Championship, tied USC's record for most runs scored in a single College World Series (62). Fresno State went 4-0 in the WAC tournament, and defeated Nevada 6-4 for the championship on May 25th. The Bulldogs went 5-0 in elimination games throughout the NCAA tournament, and was actually the fourth, and final seed in the Long Beach Regional Tournament. In order to win the Region and advance to the Super Regionals, the Bulldogs had to knock off the number one team in Long Beach State. In the opening game of the tourney the Bulldogs did, they handed Long Beach State their first loss with a 7-3 victory. First baseman Alan Ahmady led the Bulldogs to the victory by going 2 for 3, and hitting two baserunners in. Fresno State starter Justin Wilson had a career outing, surviving through seven innings while allowing just two earned runs, and striking out eleven batters.
The biggest loss of the tournament came in their third game in the Regionals. San Diego pitchers dominated Fresno State's batters, and the Toreros delivered the big 15-1 win. But, all Fresno State had to do was beat the Toreros once to give them their second loss, and the following night they pulled off a 5-1 win, eliminating San Diego, and allowing the Bulldogs to advance to the Super Regionals against the Arizona State Sun Devils. After a game one loss, 12-4, Fresno State faced yet another elimination game, and came through once again with a 8-6 win. Gavin Hedstrom led the surge with a grand slam in the fourth inning, he went 2 for 4 with 5 RBI's in the game. The NCAA Tournament's Most Outstanding Player, Tommy Mendonca--the Bulldogs third baseman--went 2 for 4 with 4 RBI's in the Bulldogs 12-9 game three victory to clinch eighth and final spot in Omaha.
Fresno State certainly did remember to grab their bats before arriving to Omaha. In their first game against the fifth seeded Rice Owls, the Fresno State Bulldogs hit a season-high four homeruns. Of those four homeruns was Tommy Mendonca's 16th of the season, and Danny Muno's third. Muno, surprisingly, came up big in this tourney (just like the rest of the Fresno State lineup). Again, Justin Miller pitched seven innings, and allowed just two runs, while striking out five. Miller was awarded the win, his 8th of the season. So, after defeating the Owls 17-5, the Bulldogs got the chance to stick in the winner's bracket, earning a crucial game matched up against the second best team in the Nation, the North Carolina Tar Heels.
The 'Heels were my pick to win it all, but the Bulldogs proved that they are a force to be reckoned with by sending the Tar Heels to the loser's bracket. The Bulldogs tied the game up at three in the fifth inning, and took the lead a few batters later. After getting an insurance run in the 8th inning, Fresno State closer, Brandon Burke, finished off the 'Heels by allowing just one hit in 1.1 innings pitched. The Bulldogs got four days rest, facing the winner of UNC/LSU elimination game, which got suspended due to rain on Thursday June 19th, and was finished the following day. The Tar Heels pitching knocked off the Tigers, 7-3, and the Tar Heels needed to wins over the 2-0 Bulldogs in order to advance to the finals.
Facing elimination, the Tar Heels came through the first day, winning in a narrow 4-3 game. The game was pretty evenly matched, but the Tar Heels' bullpen was flawless, allowing just two hits, and zero runs in four innings. The two teams came back out the next day for the win-or-go-home game. The pitching was the key to the Bulldog win. North Carolina used seven pitchers, not a single UNC pitcher pitched two or more innings. Their bullpen allowed five earned runs, and walked four guys...that's no way to win a championship. Fresno State starting pitcher Allison Clayton (no, this is not softball, that is actually his name) allowed just one run in six innings pitched, and the Bulldogs bullpen went three innings, and gave up just four hits, and no runs. Burke finished the Tar Heels off in the eighth, and ninth but did not get awarded a save. The 6-1 win clinched bracket two for the Bulldogs, and allowed them to advance to the CWS Championship against, hey, the Bulldogs (of Georgia).
Georgia was actually really close to being eliminated in the Regionals, after losing to the fourth seeded Lipscomb Bison in the opening game, 10-7. In the elimination game the Bulldogs of Georgia narrowly edged off the Louisville Cardinals 9-8. They went on to defeat Georgia Tech twice, and clinching the Region in the process. Led by future MLBer, Gordon Beckham, who was drafted fifth overall in this year's amateur draft by the Chicago White Sox. The Junior shortstop is an All-American, and is a big threat everytime he steps into the batter's box. Georgia went on to defeat the North Carolina State Wolfpack in three games in the Super Regionals, becoming the sixth team in the CWS. Up until game two of the Championship Series, the Georgia Bulldogs were undefeated in the CWS (3-0, 4-0 including the 7-6 game one victory over Fresno State).
Going into this Championship Series, many, including me, thought Beckham and the Georgia Bulldogs would tear Tommy Mendonca, and the Fresno State Bulldogs apart. But, they quickly proved us wrong, putting up quite a fight in their game one, one-run loss. Well, they are, as I said earlier, perfect when in elimination games. They showed up with their bats the following day, Tuesday. And after a five-run deficit in the third inning, Tommy Mendonca blew the game open with his three-run homer in the bottom of the third. Their six-run third inning was just the begining of their 19-run game. Right fielder, Steve Detwiler was the hero of Fresno State's game three, and clinching win. Detwiler drove in all six of Fresno State's runs, and he even caught the final out in right field. Justin Wilson once again dominated in his outing, pitching eight innings, allowing just five hits, and one run, he also struck out a miraculous nine of Georgia's batters. Beckham went 2 for 4 with an RBI, but that wasn't enough to defeat the surging Bulldogs of Fresno State. They captured their first Baseball Championship.
Congratulations to Fresno State!!