Utah State University Club Baseball scratched and clawed its way from the loser’s bracket to take the national championship Thursday, May 29, against Cal Berkeley in the National Club Baseball Association Division 1 World Series in Tampa, Fla.
And what a nice send-off for retiring Head Coach Norman Doyle — his second national championship in eight years as head coach of some extraordinary baseball teams. The last USU team to pull off a NCBA World Series win was two years ago in 2012. Six players and two coaches from that winning team were among this year’s 28 plucky players.
The series began with a 6-5 win for USU seed No. 2, against Colorado State, seeded No. 7. It was Colorado State that USU beat out two years ago 2012 to take the national championship.
This time around, USU lost its second game 14-13 against Cal Berkley, which put them in the loser’s bracket with a long way to go. They battled back against No. 3 seeded Florida State and No. 8 seeded Wisconsin to eventually face-off, once again, against Cal Berkeley. The second meeting put USU on top with a final score of 6-3.
“After we lost our second game, I told the team I wasn’t ready yet to be done,” Doyle said.
“‘Give me one more game,’ I told them, and they did just that. They kept gutting it out for the win. They got us to the top. Nothing better than going out on top.”
USU ended its 27-9 season as only the second team in the 14 years of the NCBA World Series to have won the championship more than once. The other school, Colorado State.
Doyle credits his team’s success to hard work.
“They were really dedicated,” he said. “They put in a lot of effort that started in the fall and then got back together again to practice beginning in January in the Nelson Field House from 9:30 – 11 p.m. daily. And while still in the dead of winter, took the team on the road to play in the warmer climates such as Mesquite and Phoenix.”
They played their first game on Valentine’s Day and continued to play with great heart to a very sweet May 29 season completion.
The NCBA consists of two divisions. USU is in the top division competing against 150 universities and colleges. Both divisions consist of 250 schools and some 26 conferences nationwide.
The team flies home Friday, May 30, and is expected to land at the Salt Lake International Airport at 5 p.m. Doyle said he and the team are excited to be returning as champions. He recalled how thrilled his team was back in 2012 when they received a police escort through the valley. Not that they are expecting a ticker tape parade, but they are looking forward to being back again in Aggie country with the fans who have supported them all the way.