Fresno State Wins 2008 College Baseball National Championship
June 25, 2008
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -Fresno State was smashing in its final performance as college baseball's team of destiny, winning a championship that would have been impossible to predict.
With Steve Detwiler providing all the offense Justin Wilson needed, the Bulldogs captured their first national championship in a men's sport with a 6-1 victory over Georgia in Game 3 of the College World Series finals Wednesday night.
Detwiler homered twice and drove in all six runs, and Wilson allowed five hits in eight innings to cap Fresno State's wild ride to a title.
Fresno State was forecast to be a Top 25 team coming into the season, but the Bulldogs lost 12 of their first 20 games. They needed to win the Western Athletic Conference tournament just to make the NCAA field of 64, fought off elimination in regionals and super regionals, and became the first No. 4 regional seed to reach the CWS since the tournament expanded in 1999.
The Bulldogs (47-31) from California not only showed they belonged, they showed they were the best, even though no previous national champion had more losses. The national title was the second in school history. Fresno State won the 1998 women's softball title.
Fresno State third baseman Tommy Mendonca won CWS most outstanding player. He hit four home runs and had 11 RBIs and also made a number of spectacular plays in the field.
But in the finale, Detwiler was the star.
Playing with a torn ligament in his left thumb, he hit a two-run homer on Nathan Moreau's 3-2 pitch in the second inning barely cleared the right-field fence, just getting over the glove of Matt Olson.
There was no doubt about Detwiler's second blast, a high drive that landed three-quarters of the way up the stands in left field. That three-run shot off Dean Weaver was Detwiler's third homer of the CWS and 12th of the season. It also marked the fourth time a player went deep twice in a championship game.
Detwiler, who also had an RBI double in the fourth, said he didn't let his thumb injury hinder him.
"It's mind over matter," he said. "It's just a little pain. The pain is temporary. Pride is forever."
Seven players accounted for Fresno State's 14 homers in seven CWS games, the most since LSU and Southern California jacked a record 17 in 1998. No other CWS team had more than six homers.
Wilson (5-5) turned in the best performance of any starter in this year's CWS. The junior left-hander struck out nine, walked one and held Georgia to three singles and a triple in seven shutout innings.
Gordon Beckham ended Wilson's shutout bid when he homered leading off the eighth. His 28th homer tied him with LSU's Matt Clark for the national lead.
"When you've got a wonderful defense behind you and your offense is outstanding, it can't get better than that," Wilson said.
Wilson, after throwing 127 pitches, gave way to Clayton Allison to start the ninth. Joey Lewis singled leading off and Lyle Allen walked for Georgia (45-25-1).
Burke walked Ryan Peisel to put runners at the corner, and then Olson lined out to Detwiler in right to end the game. Detwiler tucked the ball into his back pocket and sprinted to join his teammates in a wild celebration.
A year after Oregon State won its second consecutive CWS title with a surprising late-season run, Fresno State pulled off an even bigger surprise and became the seventh straight champion from west of the Mississippi River.
"It was pretty awesome," Wilson said as the party was still raging on the field. "I can't believe it out here."
Moreau (4-4) took the loss, giving up five hits and three runs, two earned, in five innings.
2008 MEN'S COLLEGE WORLD SERIES ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER