The Miracle at Rosenblatt: How Fresno State Won the 2008 College World Series

By: Brandon Unverferth

The 2008 College World Series was one of the most improbable and inspiring stories in college baseball history. It featured a Cinderella team that defied all odds and expectations to win the national championship.

That team was Fresno State, a No. 4 seed in the regionals that barely made the postseason with a 33-27 record. The Bulldogs had to overcome injuries, adversity, and powerhouse opponents to achieve their dream.

They started their journey by upsetting No. 1 seed Long Beach State and No. 2 seed San Diego in the Long Beach Regional. Then they stunned No. 3 national seed Arizona State in the Tempe Super Regional, winning two out of three games on the road.

They arrived in Omaha as the lowest-seeded team to ever make the College World Series. They were dubbed the “underdogs to wonderdogs” by their fans and media.

But they were not done yet. They faced No. 6 national seed Rice in their first game and won 17-5, scoring 11 runs in the fifth inning. They then beat No. 2 national seed North Carolina 5-3, thanks to a clutch two-run homer by Steve Detwiler in the eighth inning.

They lost their next game to Georgia 4-3, but bounced back with a 19-10 rout of Rice in an elimination game. Detwiler hit two more homers and drove in six runs in that game.

They advanced to the best-of-three championship series against Georgia, a No. 8 national seed that had won its first three games in Omaha.

The Bulldogs lost the first game 7-6, despite rallying from a 5-0 deficit and taking a 6-5 lead in the eighth inning. Georgia scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth to retake the lead and held on for the win.

The Bulldogs faced elimination again in the second game, but they did not give up. They scored six runs in the second inning and never looked back, winning 19-10. Detwiler hit his fourth homer of the series and drove in four runs, while Tommy Mendonca hit his record-tying fourth homer of the College World Series.

The stage was set for a winner-take-all game three on June 25, 2008, at Rosenblatt Stadium.

The Bulldogs took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run single by Alan Ahmady. Georgia tied it up with two runs in the third inning on a double by Gordon Beckham and a single by Rich Poythress.

The Bulldogs regained the lead with two runs in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly by Danny Muno and an RBI single by Erik Wetzel. Georgia cut it to 4-3 with a run in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly by Matt Olson.

The Bulldogs added an insurance run in the sixth inning on a solo homer by Detwiler, his fifth of the series and his third of the championship series. He became the first player to hit five homers in a College World Series.

The Bulldogs held on to their 5-3 lead until the ninth inning when Georgia threatened to tie or win the game. The Bulldogs brought in their closer, Brandon Burke, who had saved four games in the postseason.

Burke gave up a leadoff single to Olson, who advanced to second on a wild pitch. He then struck out Bryce Massanari for the first out. He walked Lyle Allen to put runners on first and second. He then got Joey Lewis to pop out to second for the second out.

The final batter was pinch-hitter Robbie O’Bryan, who represented the go-ahead run for Georgia. Burke got ahead of him with two strikes, then threw a slider that O’Bryan swung at and missed.

Strike three. Game over. Fresno State had done it.

The Bulldogs stormed out of their dugout and piled on Burke near the mound, celebrating their historic achievement. They had become the first No. 4 seed to win the College World Series and only the second team from outside a power conference to do so since 1954.

They had also set several records along the way, including the most home runs (14), most runs (84), and most hits (115) by a team in a College World Series.

They had also captured the hearts of baseball fans across the nation with their grit, determination, and joy.

They were truly wonderdogs.

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