Wake Forest’s 1955 NCAA baseball championship was the fledgling ACC’s third national title of any variety, following Maryland’s in football (1953) and men’s lacrosse (’55). Conference teams have since won 134 national championships in 17 sports.
None in baseball.
Yes, welcome to the annual head-scratching over the ACC’s College World Series jinx. Virginia this week became the 43rd team from the league to reach Omaha since the Deacons’ title, proof of ACC baseball’s quality, especially of late.
The previous 42 departed disappointed. Oh-for-42. Oh-for-58 years.
That, my friends, is Craig Counsell-Bill Bergen territory, a streak that neither Pythagoras nor Bill James could explain.
The drought has been most baffling of late. Virginia is the ACC’s 18th CWS team since 2006, meaning the conference has earned exactly 25 percent of the 72 series berths in the last nine years.
Only four times since Wake Forest has an ACC team reached the national title game or series. Georgia Tech fell to Oklahoma in 1994, Florida State to then-baseball independent Miami in 1999, and North Carolina to Oregon State in 2006 and ’07.
Coming against a state rival and by a run, the Seminoles’ 6-5 setback was painful, but the Hurricanes led throughout the final four innings and retired FSU in order in the ninth.
Yet nothing compares to 2006. North Carolina defeated Oregon State 4-3 to open the best-of-three championship series, the Beavers leveling with an 11-7 victory to force a decisive Game 3.
With two out and none one in the bottom of the eighth, the score knotted at 2, a walk and bloop single put Oregon State runners at first and third. UNC’s defensive replacement at second base then fielded a routine one-hopper, only to throw wildly to first, allowing the go-ahead run to score.
The Tar Heels advanced runners to first and third with two out in the ninth but could not score, losing 3-2.
Pitching depth and a resurgent offense give Virginia, the tournament’s top remaining seed, considerable chance — more on the Cavaliers’ cavalcade of arms in Sunday’s print column — to end the ACC’s drought, some details of which follow.
# Since Wake’s 1955 championship, teams from 10 leagues have won the CWS, including the West Coast, Missouri Valley, Big West and defunct Southwest Conference and Southern California Baseball Association. The rundown:
SOUTHEASTERN (9): LSU 6, South Carolina 2, Georgia 1.
WESTERN ATHLETIC (7): Arizona State 4, Arizona 1, Fresno State 1, Rice 1.
INDEPENDENTS (4): Miami 4.
SOUTHWEST (2): Texas 2.
BIG WEST (2): Cal State Fullerton 2.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA BASEBALL ASSOCIATION (2): Cal State Fullerton 2.
WEST COAST (1): Pepperdine.
MISSOURI VALLEY (1): Wichita State.
# The ACC’s 43 College World Series teams since Wake Forest break down as follows:
CLEMSON (12): First in 1958, most recent 2010.
FLORIDA STATE (10): First as ACC member in 1992, most recent 2012.
NORTH CAROLINA (10): First in 1960, most recent 2013.
VIRGINIA (3): First in 2009, most recent 2014.
GEORGIA TECH (3): First in 1994, most recent 2006.
MIAMI (2): 2006 and ’08.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE (2): 1968 and 2013.
DUKE (1): 1961.
Final thought: Safe to say the ACC’s dream championship series is — and this is possible since they’re on opposite sides of the bracket — is Virginia-Louisville.
The Cardinals join the conference July 1 and are competing in their second consecutive CWS. The most recent ACC program to reach Omaha in back-to-back seasons was North Carolina — the Tar Heels advanced four straight years from 2006-09.
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