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Looking For An Underdog?

June 15, 2012 - Al Stephenson
The College World Series begins this weekend in Omaha, Nebraska. The usual cast of characters, otherwise known as baseball powerhouses, will be present. Perennial participants Arizona, UCLA, Florida, Florida State and South Carolina will be there. Arkansas makes three SEC schools at the event making one wonder about the wisdom of calling the conference a football power.

Two other schools make up the field at Omaha and if you are looking for an underdog to root for, I give you not one but two schools. Kent State will be making its first appearance as will Stony Brook. Yes, you heard me right. Stony Brook!

Kent State will be making the first appearance for a Mid American Conference school since Eastern Michigan did so in 1974, I believe. It will be the first school from the state of Ohio since Ohio University made it in 1970. The Golden Flashes had to go to Eugene and take two out of three from the Oregon Ducks in the Super Regional to advance. Each game was a one run affair with the winning run in game three scoring on what Ken Harrelson would call a duck snort. A bloop hit fell just inside the left field foul line and Kent State was Omaha-bound.

I have an affinity for MAC schools as my wife graduated from Bowling Green and my daughter got a degree from Ohio University. I attended college just twenty miles from Kent State and was on campus May 4, 1970. For those of you who are old enough to remember, that is the date that four college students were shot to death by National Guardsman as protests of the Vietnam War took place on college campuses across the nation. It would be nice to see Kent State remembered for something more positive and a national championship in baseball would go a long way towards that goal.

If you want another reason to root for the Flashes, look up the article on about Kent State player Nick Hamilton. The son of Indians broadcaster Tom Hamilton, Nick has had hearing issues for his entire life. It's a feel good story and I would like to give a tip of the cap to the Umpire for bringing it to my attention.

As for Stony Brook, it is a member of the SUNY (State University of New York) system and is located on Long Island. If you know that their nickname is the Seawolves then you are a true college sports fan. A member of the American East Conference, all Stony Brook did was go into Baton Rouge and take down another baseball power in LSU. The defeat of the Tigers prevented the College World Series from turning into an SEC conference tournament.

Stony Brook had seven players taken in the major league draft, so they have talent. Will either of the underdogs be able to make an impression in Omaha? Time will tell, but they have already made a big impression on this baseball fan.

The view from my seat suggests that one of the Goliaths is likely to emerge as the national champion. I would not take these two Davids lightly though. These small schools can play!


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