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College World Series 2024: Bracket, schedule and history

college world series


Long before Peyton Manning adopted and popularized the word as part of his expansive football vocabulary, “Omaha” was synonymous with college baseball.

More specifically, the pinnacle of college baseball.

Omaha is home to the College World Series. One city. One goal. A town that lives year-round for 2 spectacular weeks of college baseball in June.

In 2023, record crowds turned out to watch LSU outlast Florida in the best-of-3 Finals, securing the Tigers’ 7th CWS crown.

Can the Tigers repeat in 2024? Stay tuned …

2024 College World Series Bracket

The NCAA Tournament Selection Show will be Monday, May 27. Sixty-four teams will begin play later that week in 16 regionals. Those 16 winners will meet in 8 Super Regionals. Those 8 winners advance to the College World Series. The CWS bracket features two pods, each with four teams. Each pod plays a double-elimination tournament. The winner of each bracket meet in a best-of-3 series to determine the College World Series champion.

College World Series Schedule

The 2024 CWS begins with an annual Celebration Day on Thursday, June 13.

The first games will be played Friday, June 14. The best-of-3 championship series between the two pod winners will begin Saturday June 22nd. Game 2 is Sunday June 23rd. Game 3, if necessary, will be Monday, June 24.

Below are the 2023 CWS results.

Bracket 1

Friday, June 16

Game 1: Oral Roberts 6, TCU 5
Game 2: Florida 6, Virginia 5

Sunday, June 18

Game 5 (Elimination Bracket): TCU 4, Virginia 3
Game 6 (Winners’ Bracket): Florida 5, Oral Roberts 4

Tuesday, June 20

Game 9 (Elimination Game): TCU 6, Oral Roberts 1

Wednesday, June 21

Game 11 (Bracket Final): Florida 3, TCU 2

Bracket 2

Saturday, June 17

Game 3: Wake Forest 3, Stanford 2
Game 4: LSU 6, Tennessee 3

Monday, June 19

Game 7 (Elimination Bracket): Tennesse 6, Stanford 4
Game 8 (Winners’ Bracket): Wake Forest 3, LSU 2

Tuesday, June 20

Game 10 (Elimination Bracket): LSU 5, Tennessee 0

Wednesday, June 21

Game 12 (Bracket Final): LSU 5, Wake Forest 2

Thursday, June 22

Bracket 2: Wake Forest vs. LSU | 7 pm, ESPN2

CWS Finals

Game 1: LSU 4, Florida 3 (11 innings)
Game 2: Florida 24, LSU 4
Game 3: LSU 18, Florida 4

NCAA Tournament/College World Series Expansion

Much like its basketball counterpart, college baseball’s NCAA Tournament format has changed dramatically over the years. There were just eight teams in the inaugural NCAA Tournament in 1947. In 1954, the tournament expanded to 23 teams. It eventually grew to 32 and then 48 in 1987.

In 1999, the tournament expanded to 64 teams and added the Super Regional round. Similar to the NCAA Basketball Tournament, the baseball tournament field features automatic qualifiers and at-large teams. The split is roughly even; 30 or 31 automatic qualifiers and 34 or 33 teams receiving an at-large invitation.

The best-of-3 championship series was adopted in 2003.

College World Series history

USC has won the most CWS crowns with 12. LSU is now alone in 2nd place with 7 CWS titles, followed by Texas with 6 titles. Not surprisingly, USC also holds the record for most consecutive CWS titles, winning 5 straight from 1970-74.

South Carolina (2010-11) is the most recent of 6 programs to win consecutive baseball national championships.

The SEC and ACC are the only conferences to send 4 teams to the same CWS. The SEC has achieved that feat 5 times, most recently in 2022. The ACC sent 4 teams to the 2006 College World Series.

Just getting to Omaha is an accomplishment. Only 8 programs have made it to the CWS for 5 consecutive years — and Stanford (1999-2003) is the only program whose streak stretched into the 2000s.

Notable College World Series records

College World Series Champions

College World Series Top Ten Moments

Typically, such lists are revealed in inverse order, building suspense as the reader creeps closer to No. 1.

Alas, there is no such drama or debate about the greatest moment in College World Series history.

From the top, let’s begin the countdown of some of the greatest moments with the blast heard ’round the globe.

1. Warren Morris’ walk-off blast gives LSU the 1996 title

Books have been written, documentaries filmed about college baseball’s version of Joe Carter’s home run that won the 1993 World Series.

There is an important difference, however, between Morris’ CWS and Carter’s MLB title-winning home runs. In 1996, the CWS final was a 1-game, winner-take-all showdown. The best-of-3 format debuted in 2003. Carter’s blast to win the 1993 World Series came in Game 6. Had Toronto lost that game to Philadelphia, there would have been a Game 7.

LSU had no such opportunity to atone. Trailing Miami by 1, with a runner on and down to their last out in the bottom of the 9th, Morris walked to the plate to face Canes closer Robbie Morrison.

The historic at-bat didn’t last long. Morris turned on a first-pitch curveball, lofting a 2-run home run down the line, into the right-field bleachers, into baseball history. As Morris circled the bases, several Canes lay on the turf, in disbelief.

It was Morris’ only home run of an injury-marred season that limited him to 22 games and called into question his ability to even play in the CWS.

1a. Pat Burrell’s almost grand slam …

Nobody remembers this, but Morris very likely never makes history if Burrell’s bases-loaded blast to centerfield in the 6th inning finds its way to the bleachers. Only a strong wind blowing kept Burrell’s towering drive it in the ballpark. A grand slam that would have extended Miami’s lead to 9-3 instead became a sacrifice fly and 6-3 advantage — one that LSU erased.

“When he hit it, he thought it was a grand slam,” teammate Alex Cora told ESPN. “That ball would’ve been out. We would have crushed them, you know? But it was just a sac fly.”

2. Miami shocks Wichita State speedster with hidden ball trick

You’ve seen the video. There’s even a documentary about “The Grand Illusion.” Here’s a bit of the backstory: Wichita State baserunner Phil Stephenson was college baseball’s version of Rickey Henderson — utterly unstoppable on the bases. In 1982, Stephenson stole 86 bases on 90 attempts. He remains college baseball’s all-time steals king with 202 swipes.

Throwing him out by traditional means was a wasted effort. So Miami devised the greatest hidden ball trick in college baseball.

As Stephenson took his lead off first base, Mike Kasprzak came to a set, peered over his left shoulder, quickly stepped off and appeared to fire a pickoff throw to first. Stephenson dived back to the bag. First baseman Steve Lusby lunged and then took off down the right field line, chasing a ball that had never been thrown. Miami’s bench pointed excitedly toward foul territory. Everybody was fooled, including the announcers.

Stephenson reacted to the faux overthrow by running to second, at which point Kasprzak threw the ball to shortstop Bill Wrona, who easily tagged out the shocked Stephenson.

Miami went on to beat the Shockers in that game and again in the championship game.

3. Coastal Carolina overpowers the Power 5

Power 5 conferences have dominated the CWS this century, winning 18 of the 22 available titles. The gap has been even more acute recently.

Power 5 programs won every CWS title from 2009-2022 — except 1.

In 2016, Cinderella Coastal Carolina crashed the party. The Chanticleers rallied out of the loser’s bracket to win the Regional, then swept host LSU in the Super Regional to reach Omaha for the first time.

After dropping their 2nd game of pool play, the Chants won 3 close games to reach the best-of-3 finals against historical power Arizona.

They split the first 2 games, setting up a decisive Game 3 that was decided in the most inconceivable way: Arizona made 2 errors on the same play, leading to 4 unearned runs. Coastal Carolina held on from there, winning 4-3 and becoming the first team since Minnesota in 1956 to win a CWS title in their first attempt.

4. Robin Ventura passes Joe DiMaggio

The No. 56 is etched in baseball history, one of the sport’s magic numbers. It represents Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, the longest in major league history.

Leave it to a college kid to upstage it. Oklahoma State star Robin Ventura entered the 1987 CWS riding a 56-game hitting streak.

Ventura “broke the record” in the Cowboys’ opening game and stretched it to 58 with a hit against LSU. That’s where the streak ended, but it remains the longest in college baseball history.

5. A football game in Omaha …

The 1990s belonged to hitters and bat companies, which competed to arm batters with the most explosive weaponry machinery could build.

No one game symbolized The Gorilla Ball era more than the 1998 CWS final.

USC outslugged Arizona State 21-14, the highest-scoring game in finals history and tied for the most runs in any CWS game.

They combined for 9 home runs — the most in a finals game and second-most in any CWS game. The record-holder? LSU and USC combined for a CWS-record 10 home runs earlier in pool play.

LSU and USC hit 17 home runs apiece in Omaha, sharing a CWS record.

6. None for you … or you!

We’ll lump them together because there have only been 2 no-hitters in CWS history.

Texas’ Jim Ehrler recorded the first, tossing a no-no in a 7-0 victory over Tufts in a 1950 losers’ bracket elimination game. Texas went on to win the 1950 CWS title, too.

A decade later, Oklahoma State’s Jim Wixson no-hit North Carolina, also winning 7-0 in a losers’ bracket elimination game. Alas, the Cowboys did not go on to win the title.

7. Mississippi State tosses 1-hit shutout to win 2021 crown

Mississippi State’s march to its first CWS title in 2021 was the stuff of legend. The Bulldogs rallied out of the losers’ bracket to reach the CWS championship series against 2019 champ Vanderbilt, which won their 3-game series in the regular season and featured one of the most dominant rotations in college baseball history with Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter.

Leiter overwhelmed MSU in Game 1 of the best-of-3 finals. MSU rebounded with a 13-2 win in Game 2 to even the series.

All they had to do was take down Rocker in a winner-take-all Game 3.

They did more than that.

MSU ace Will Bardner delivered the game of his life, combining with closer Landon Sims on a 1-hit shutout — the fewest hits allowed in a finals game.

Bardner pitched 6 hitless innings. Vandy broke up the no-hitter with a single off Sims in the 8th. No matter. Sims slammed the door on the ‘Dores and the Dogs were soon celebrating the program’s first national title in any sport.

8. Dave Winfield dominates the 1973 CWS

You know Dave Winfield as a Hall-of-Fame outfielder and frequent sparring partner with New York Yankees managers and owner.

What you might not know is that Winfield was more than just a powerful hitter.

As a true dual-threat in college, he led Minnesota to the 1973 College World Series, where he struck out 29 batters in 2 games. That’s tied for 3rd all-time in a single series.

9. Roger Clemens wins it for Texas

Dozens of players have won a College World Series title and a World Series ring.

Roger Clemens isn’t the first or last to accomplish the feat, but he’s among the most famous.

Before embarking on a Hall-of-Fame worthy professional career, Clemens was an ace for the Texas Longhorns.

In the 1983 CWS final against Alabama, Clemens struck out 9 in a complete-game effort to lead Texas to its 4th national title.

10. Blast off!

Long before he became a Major League All-Star Home Run Derby champion with the New York Mets, Pete Alonso was a slugging star at the University of Florida.

Alonso didn’t just hit home runs. He belted no-doubters.

In the 2015 College World Series, Alonso crushed the 2 longest home runs in Charles Schwab Field  history. His first shot was a 421-foot blast against Miami. A few nights later, he mashed a 429-foot homer against Virginia.

He wasn’t done. A year later, Alonso he hit a 425-foot homer against Texas Tech — giving him, at the time, the 3 longest home run in the ballpark’s history.

Alas, records are meant to be broken, and last year, Arkansas’ Brady Slavens hit a 436-foot homer against Ole Miss to set the new standard.

Still, Alonso has 3 of the 6 longest home runs in stadium history.

Chris Wright
An award-winning editor with previous stints at the Miami Herald, The Indianapolis Star and News & Observer, Executive Editor Chris Wright oversees editorial operations for Saturday Down South.

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