Hours after getting Ronnie Prettyman to ground out in Cal State Fullerton’s last at-bat Sunday, Arizona State reliever Brett Bordes still struggled to comprehend the fact his team was on its way to the College World Series.
"Seriously, (Sunday’s win) didn’t hit me until a couple hours later," said Bordes, who earned a save in ASU’s super regional-clinching 9-8 win over the Titans. "Holy cow, we’re going to Omaha."
The 17th-ranked Sun Devils will indeed be heading to Omaha on Wednesday morning. They will likely be greeted as a true road team upon arrival since they will begin the CWS against the de facto home squad, No. 3 Nebraska.
When the teams meet at 4 p.m. Friday, the environment should be unlike any ASU has played in this season as 23,170-seat Rosenblatt Stadium is expected to be packed with a boisterous, pro-Husker crowd. The largest crowd to watch an ASU game this year was the 7,435 people who turned out for the Sun Devils’ loss at Tulane on Feb. 19.
"I can’t even imagine what’s going to happen this week when we play Nebraska in Nebraska," outfielder Travis Buck said. "Everybody’s going to be there in red, but that’s going to pump us up too. . . . This is the best atmosphere you can have until you get to the big leagues."
The format of the College World Series has changed some since ASU last played there in 1998.
The eight participating teams are still separated into two four-team, doubleelimination pools. But, unlike in 1998, the pool winners now play a best-of-three series for the national title.
ASU and Nebraska are joined by No. 10 Florida and No. 9 Tennessee in one pool with No. 1 Tulane, No. 6 Baylor, No. 2 Oregon State and No. 7 Texas occupying the other pool.
There will be two games per day Friday through June 22 with the two pools alternating days. ASU’s pool will play Friday, Sunday and June 21. If a seventh game is needed in either pool, it will be played on June 23.
The winners of each pool will advance to play one another in the championship series June 25-27.
The format should benefit ASU’s two-man starting rotation of left-handed junior Erik Averill and right-handed senior Jason Urquidez. If Averill and Urquidez start ASU’s first and second games, respectively, they should both be available to start on June 21.
That would be key if ASU loses one of its first two games and has to play a doubleheader on June 21.
Coming off a weekend in which they won two elimination games in as many days on the road to top No. 4 Fullerton, the Sun Devils seem far from daunted by their next week of baseball.
"For us to go over (to Fullerton) and compete and win the way we did, it was a true testament of what our team is made of," Buck said. "It was definitely our goal to get (to Omaha), but you don’t want to just get there. You want to win it. . . . As long as we’re there we might as well win it and not just go to go."
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