Before this year, Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) had never even qualified for the College World Series. But after beating second-ranked Sonoma State (Calif.) for the second time in as many days, the Tigers made sure to get the most out of their first trip to the national tournament. The 2-1 victory secured the upstart Tigers a berth to Saturday’s championship game, where they will face a Mount Olive (N.C.) that dealt them their only loss in the tournament. The game will be shown live on CBS College Sports at 1 p.m. Saturday.
No. 4 Ouachita Baptist (51-15) earned the right to the rematch with Friday’s win, which featured a solid outing by Chase Baran. He threw 6 1/3 shutout innings, allowing just three hits and fanning six Seawolves in the winning effort. Alex Smith came in to record the save, his third of the year. A solo home run in the ninth by Sonoma State’s Travis Babin brought the Seawolves within a run, but that was as close as they would come, finishing their season at 52-15.
Saturday’s championship game is a rematch that the Tigers must have been longing for. They led No. 1 Mount Olive entering the bottom of the ninth inning by a 5-2 margin in Sunday’s first-round matchup before giving up four runs on three hits in the decisive final frame. The loss sent the Tigers into the loser’s bracket and made their path to the title game that much more difficult. But Ouachita Baptist, which also lost in the first game of its conference tournament before rallying to win four straight and take the crown, has shown the resilience necessary to bounce back once again.
Also, Ouachita Baptist will try to send coach Scott Norwood (no, not the former Bills kicker) out on top; he’ll succeed Jim Lawler as head coach at Arkansas-Little Rock next season. The title game starts at noon at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Ill.