2020 has been a tough year, so as the year winds down the Sports Central team wants to remind our viewers of all the great things we’ve seen from central valley athletes and teams so far this century. Each weekday through Dec. 30th during our 6 pm newscasts on KSEE24 and CBS47 (and during our 11 pm newscasts on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), the Sports Central team is counting down the 20 best central valley sports stories over the last 20 years, something we’re calling 20 in ’20. Checking in at No. 1 on the list is the magical run of the 2008 Fresno State baseball team.
(KSEE/KGPE) – The story of the 2008 Fresno State baseball team can be summarized in three words: Underdogs to Wonderdogs.
Seemingly underachieving for most of the regular season, the Bulldogs needed to win the WAC Tournament just to qualify for their third straight NCAA Regional.
They won four straight games to capture that conference tournament, and entered the NCAA Tournament as one of the lowest-ranked teams in the field.
It turned out not to matter for the “Cinderella” Bulldogs.
First up was the Long Beach Regional, and Fresno State won that, outlasting a couple of Top 25 teams along the way. Then the Bulldogs headed to the Super Regional at No. 4 Arizona State.
In Tempe, Fresno State dropped Game 1 of that three-game series, but bounced back with two straight wins over the Sun Devils, punching its ticket to Omaha.
The magic of Cinderella continued at the College World Series, where the Bulldogs had to survive three more elimination games, two of which took place in the best-of-three championship series against Georgia.
At the College World Series, Fresno State’s offense exploded for 14 home runs and 62 total runs. In the deciding game against Georgia, Steve Detwiler was the hero: a legendary performance from the outfielder, who went 4-for-4 with two home runs and 6 RBI.
The Bulldogs became the first-ever No. 4 seed to win the College World Series, and they also became the lowest-seeded team in any sport to win an NCAA championship.
“I can’t believe it to tell you the truth,” said pitcher Justin Wilson, who shut out Georgia for the first seven innings in the championship clincher. “I’m not too sure it’s real yet.”
Added sophomore infielder Alan Ahmady, “I’m so happy for our team. Dude, we played so hard and battled. Oh my God. This is unbelievable. I don’t even know what to say right now.”
Perhaps senior catcher Ryan Overland summed it up best when he said, “We’re going to Disneyland!”