By Brad Greer
It seems every year there is team that comes out of nowhere and takes college baseball world by storm. Two years ago little known Coastal Carolina caught fire at the end of the season and rode that wave of momentum all the way to a National Championship. This year’s Cinderella team looks to be Tennessee Tech.
The Golden Eagles of Cookeville,Tenn. with their enrollment of 9,300 rolled into Oxford and defeated the No. 4 nationally-ranked Rebels twice to advance to the school’s first ever super regional appearance by taking on the Texas Longhorns in Austin.
Tennessee Tech fought its way through the losers’ bracket after dropping a 9-8 verdict to Ole Miss Saturday by edging Missouri State 2-1 Sunday then pounded the Rebels 15-5 Monday to set up a winner-take-all rubber match in which the Golden Eagles came away with a 3-2 victory that left the Rebel nation staring into its empty red solo cups.
Another team that found its groove is the Mississippi State Bulldogs. With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Diamond Dawgs post-season hopes looked to be dim but a sweep of then No.1 ranked Florida secured the Bulldogs a spot in the SEC tournament.
After losing to LSU in the opening round, Mississippi State was sent to the Tallahassee regional where they lost a 20-10 slugfest to Oklahoma in an opening round game. The Bulldogs faced elimination the following day against the host Seminoles before Elijah MacNamee played hero by hitting a walk-off three run home run in the bottom of the ninth for a 3-2 State victory. Former Magnolia Heights standout Jacob Billingsley pitched a career high seven innings as State ousted Samford 9-8 Sunday.
Mississippi went on to defeat Oklahoma 13-5 and 8-1 to advance into the super regional round where they will take on Vanderbilt in Nashville with the winner of the best-of-three series heading to Omaha for College World Series that starts next week.
The SEC yet again will make is presence felt as six teams head into super regional play with three guaranteed to advance to the World Series. In addition to the Mississippi State-Vanderbilt clash, Florida hosts Auburn while South Carolina visits Arkansas.
On the subject of college baseball, scholarship limitations come to mind as a Division I baseball program is given 11.7 scholarships per year while swimming and diving along with women’s soccer gives 14 per year.
In 2016, the LSU and Texas A&M baseball programs alone made over three million dollars. I’m just wondering how much revenue soccer pulled in that year. Now you see why Ron Polk and Skip Berkman have been fighting the NCAA over this for a number of years.
In my eyes, something doesn’t add up.