On average, there are roughly two every three years but there’s only been one in the last seven seasons, so we’re overdue. We’re talking about grand slams at the College World Series – arguably the most exciting play in baseball at the highest level of the college game.
Here’s a brief history of the grand salami – 48 in total – at the CWS.
The first College World Series grand slam
That one came in 1950, in the fourth year of the tournament. Texas’ Kal Segrist went deep in the bottom of the third inning against Washington State in the Longhorns’ 12-1 win. Texas won its second consecutive national championship that season.
The only pinch-hit grand slam (so far)
Five years later came perhaps the most unlikely grand slam in College World Series history. Western Michigan’s Freed Messner hit a pinch-hit grand slam in the top of the eighth (the only pinch-hit grand slam ever in the CWS), but it wasn’t enough as the Broncos fell to Wake Forest 10-7. Messner finished the CWS 1-for-12.
Additionally, there’s only been one pinch-hit grand slam in CWS history. That came in 1955 by Western Michigan’s Freed Messner vs. Wake.
— Rob Anderson (@_robanderson) June 12, 2016
Years with multiple grand slams
On 11 occasions, there have been multiple grand slams in a single College World Series, with a record four grand slams in 1998.
There have been two games in CWS history where both teams have gone yard with the bases loaded and Arizona State was involved in both games. Arizona State and Oral Roberts traded grand slams in the first three innings of their CWS matchup in 1978 and then the Sun Devils and Southern California both hit grand slams in a high-scoring, title-clinching 21-14 victory for the Trojans in 1998.
Coincidentally, USC also beat Arizona State in the finals in 1978. Southern California is the last national champion to hit a grand slam in the CWS.
Walk-off CWS grand slam
One of the most exciting hits in college baseball history came in 1987, when Stanford right fielder Paul Carey hit the only walk-off grand slam in College World Series history against LSU in the bottom of the 10th inning. Carey stepped to the plate batting .154 (2-for-13 with two singles and one RBI) in the CWS with the Cardinal trailing 5-2, so Stanford needed all four runs in order to win. The Cardinal advanced to win its first-ever national championship over Oklahoma State in the finals.
Cal State Fullerton, Stanford own the grand slam
Players named Paul and Mark are responsible for three grand slams each – the most of any first name. Cal State Fullerton outfielder Mark Kotsay is the only player to hit two grand slams in his college career as he did so against Florida State in 1994 and Tennessee in 1995.
Cal State Fullerton and Stanford are both responsible for six grand slams apiece in the College World Series. Of the 48 grand slams at the CWS, both schools have had a streak of three grand slams without another school hitting one in between. Kotsay’s pair of grand slams were followed by his teammate Brian Loyd hitting one against Tennessee in 1995. Stanford hit three grand slams combined in the 1999 and 2000 College World Series.
There have been two occasions where a grand slam resulted in a team’s only runs in an entire College World Series game. Ithaca’s Don Fazio’s bases-loaded home run wasn’t quite enough in a 5-4 loss to Florida State in 1962, while Texas’ Mike Brumley went yard with the bases juiced in 1983 that proved to be enough offense in a 4-2 win against Michigan.
On two occasions, a team that hit a grand slam in the College World Series won by exactly four runs, most recently accomplished by TCU in 2010.
There have been three grand slams in the top of the first inning at the College World Series but ironically, two of those teams lost and both to Arizona State – Oral Roberts in ’78 and Miami (Fla.) in 1984. Five grand slams have occurred in the ninth inning, most recently one off the bat of North Carolina’s Tim Federowicz, who gave the Tar Heels a 7-3 victory on Friday, June 20, 2008, after a game against LSU that started on the day before was suspended due to rain.
Federowicz’s home run broke open a tie game in the final frame.
Three of the top 12 home-run-hitting teams in the country (Arkansas, Florida and Texas Tech) advanced to Omaha for the 2018 College World Series so don’t be surprised if the list of grand slams at the CWS grows in the coming weeks.