OMAHA—The national No. 1 curse continues.
Arizona State’s abrupt ouster from the College World Series with Tuesday's 11-4 loss to South Carolina means we will go another year without the national No. 1 seed living up to the expectations of the NCAA selection committee. And, in fact, the Sun Devils became the first No. 1 to go 0-2 here under the new format.
Miami was seeded No. 1 in 1999—the first year of the current 64-team format—and defeated Florida State to win the national champion, but only two other top seeds have even made it to the finals. The biggest upset came in 2007, when Vanderbilt lost to Michigan in its regional finals.
Here’s how the No. 1s have fared:
1999 — Miami – won national championship
2000 — South Carolina – lost in Super Regional (to Louisiana-Lafayette)
2001 — CS Fullerton – went 2-2 in CWS
2002 — Florida State – lost in Super Regional (Notre Dame)
2003 — Florida State – lost in Super Regional (Texas)
2004 — Texas – lost to Cal State Fullerton in championship series
2005 — Tulane – went 1-2 in CWS
2006 — Clemson – went 1-2 in CWS
2007 — Vanderbilt – lost in regional final
2008 — Miami – went 1-2 in CWS
2009 — Texas – lost to LSU in championship series
2010 — Arizona State – went 0-2 in CWS
Your usual Rosenblog hosts, Aaron and John, say they aren't totally surprised by ASU’s departure, pointing out that Clemson and South Carolina both had pitchers who could more than match up with the Sun Devils.
It has to be shocking for ASU fans, however, whose expectations were fueled by a 24-0 start to the season and sweep through the NCAA regionals and super regionals. Sun Devils fans are accustomed to success here. In 22 appearances, ASU has won five national championships — only USC (12), Texas (6) and LSU (6) have won more — and finished runnerup on five other occasions. This is the school's third 0-2 exit (the others were in 1987 and 1993), and likely the most painful.
"Obviously, I'm very disappointed in the outcome today," said ASU coach Tim Esmay, who added, "The expectation at Arizona State is to play deep into this tournament. They know that and they battle that day in and day out. They answered the bell all year long.
"This is not the way we wanted to end this tournament, but there's nobody that feels as bad or upset as the 35 guys in that clubhouse."
ASU starter Seth Blair pitched poorly and the Sun Devils offense appeared uninspired in Monday's 6-3 loss to Clemson. Against South Carolina, ASU fell behind 10-0 after just three innings. One reporter used the word "imposters" while posing a postgame question.
"I wouldn't necessarily call them imposters," said Esmay. "They had a heck of a year and were playing very good baseball . . . I'm not going to say that this isn't the Sun Devil team that I saw all year because it was. It was a team that showed up to play, they were ready to play and they were confident enough to play."
Regardless, it's not the way ASU senior captain Kole Calhoun wanted, or expected, his college career to conclude.
"For me, this is heartbreaking," said Calhoun. "We had all the pieces and just didn't play well."
With the departure of Florida and now Arizona State, UCLA is the lone remaining national seed. That's the fewest national seeds still playing with the field trimmed to six teams. In 2006, Rice and Clemson were the only two remaining national seeds at this juncture.
South Carolina coach Ray Tanner was asked if he thought the committee missed the mark this season. He didn't.
"It's too hard," said Tanner. "I'm not sure they got anything wrong with the national seeds, but there's a lot of good teams."