Since the College World Series moved to a best-of-three format in 2003, the title’s been decided by a Game 3 seven times.
After Oregon State rallied in Game 2, Thursday night’s Game 3 between the Beavers and Arkansas will become the eighth such moment.
Here’s a look back at some of the biggest highlights from each Game 3.
2003: Rice def. Stanford, 14-2
The first Game 3 in College World Series title series history was a show of force from the Rice. The Owls scored 14 runs on 14 hits, including seven in the bottom of the sixth, to win the school’s first national championship in any sport.
2006: Oregon State def. UNC, 3-2
Our first one-run Game 3, Oregon State staved off elimination in Game 2 (sound familiar?) and then OSU’s Bill Rowe capitalized on a throwing error in Game 3 to score what would prove to be the title-winning run.
2008: Fresno State def. Georgia, 6-1
March Madness may have created the Cinderella Run, but Fresno’s magical championship in 2008 went down in history with the best college underdog stories. Fresno out-dueled Georgia, 19-10, in an outrageous Game 2 before taking Game 3, setting the record for most losses by a national champion (31) by refusing to quit when it mattered most.
2009: LSU def. Texas, 11-4
The Longhorns forced Game 3, but in the end the Tigers’ potent offense was too much for Texas to handle. LSU’s national title was the first of head coach Paul Mainieri’s career.
2014: Vanderbilt def. Virginia, 3-2
John Norwood was the man of the evening for the Commodores when he blasted a solo home run past the left field fence in the bottom of the eighth, breaking up a 2-2 tie and providing the championship-winning run. It was Vanderbilt’s first-ever baseball national title.
2015: Virginia def. Vanderbilt, 4-2
Rubber match! That’s right: after four seasons without a Game 3, we were treated to two in a row — featuring the same two teams! The second time around Virginia got its revenge against Vanderbilt, topping the ‘Dores 4-2 for the Cavaliers’ first national title.
2016: Coastal Carolina def. Arizona, 4-3
Three straight years, three straight first-time champs. This time, Coastal Carolina took an unorthodox route to Game 3 success, scoring four unearned runs on a pair of fielding errors to take home a dramatic 4-3 victory over Arizona. What a world.
A few extra notes about these Game 3s:
- Teams which forced Game 3 by winning Game 2 are 4-3 in the decisive final game, including Oregon State in 2006. Can the Beavers repeat their magic this year?
- Average margin of victory for Game 3 winners is pretty sizable: 4.14 runs. This is, of course, thanks in large part to Rice’s 12-run victory in 2003.
- Three of seven, or 42.8 percent, of Game 3s have decided by one run. That’s nearly a coin-flip. These are games you simply can’t miss.
- The last three Game 3s have been decided by one run, two runs, and one run. Some things just get better with age…