Carolina Baseball’s quest for a national championship ended at the hands of a familiar foe, Oregon State, on Wednesday night.
The Heels defeated the Beavers in the first game of the College World Series on Saturday, but then lost to Mississippi State, setting up an elimination game rematch. In a game of twists and turns, the Beavers took an early lead off of two solo home runs. The Heels came back to tie it and then take the lead by one, before Kyle Datres opened things up with a two-run jack that just stayed fair to make it 6-3. But, as what has become inevitable for the Heels in Omaha, Oregon State came roaring back to tie and, eventually, take a 7-6 lead. The Beavers’ lead ballooned to 11-6 and that was all she wrote.
While I’m extremely proud of this Heels team – that started with a 7-7 record, mind you – I must say I’m beyond frustrated that Carolina has 11 trips to Omaha with no hardware to show for it. No championships. I understand that championships are hard to win in any sport but, after 11 trips to the College World Series, one would think something could be figured out to get the Diamond Heels to the winners circle. If you know me, I’m typically not one to be an armchair coach. However, it always seems to be one weird mistake that costs Carolina the game in Omaha. This go around, it was the decision to pull pitcher Caden O’Brien, who had a stellar performance in relief of starter Cooper Criswell, keeping Oregon State’s potent offense at bay. In my view, O’Brien had more left in him and was taken out prematurely. Carolina had a three-run lead and was just six outs away from winning the game but, once O’Brien left, the wheels came flying off.
I’ve followed Tar Heel Baseball since 2006. I remember the sting of losing before in the championship series in Omaha. I remember all the missed opportunities in seasons thereafter. Like I’ve said in the past with the Carolina Panthers, I’ll probably never see Carolina Baseball win a championship. But I’ll keep watching, in hopes that I’ll be proven wrong.