The last two College World Series spots went to a couple of SEC teams that cruised through their winner-take-all games in blowout fashion Monday afternoon.
Auburn scored 13 runs in the first inning against North Carolina — the second-highest single-inning total in an NCAA tournament game — and secured a 14-7 win. That clinched the Tigers’ first Omaha berth since 1997.
Arkansas went about things a little more gradually Monday, but it still earned a dominant 14-1 win over Mississippi. The Razorbacks will make their second straight CWS appearance.
Those two Monday wins were the ones that solidified this year’s full eight-team College World Series field.
No. 7 overall seed Louisville clinched Saturday. No. 2 Vanderbilt, No. 6 Mississippi State, No. 8 Texas Tech, Florida State and Michigan advanced Sunday.
Then came Auburn and No. 5 Arkansas, who each showcased the strength of their conference with those Monday routs.
Their berths reserved four CWS bids for the SEC, matching a series record. The SEC has sent four teams to Omaha three other times, most recently 2015. It had three teams here each of the last two years.
“It’s a great league,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said in his postgame press conference Monday. “It was really deep. It was an older league, for the most part. A physical league. And the starting pitching in the league was incredible.”
That’ll be one of many storylines once the games begin Saturday.
There will be two iconic coaches going for their first titles — Florida State’s Mike Martin is making his 17th CWS appearance and Van Horn is coming here for the eighth time.
There will be underdogs. Michigan snapped a 35-year Omaha-less drought and Auburn ended a 22-year gap between berths.
The regulars are back — and hungry. Texas Tech’s making its fourth CWS appearance in six years. Louisville’s in Omaha for the fifth time (all in the last 12 seasons). But the Cardinals and Red Raiders are a combined 4-14 in those trips.
Mississippi State is bringing its wild fan base and a determined team that’s yet to lose in this year’s NCAA tournament. Vanderbilt, the No. 2 overall seed, is so overloaded with talent that it tied an SEC record with 13 MLB draft picks last week — and that doesn’t include freshman pitcher Kumar Rocker, who threw a no-hitter on Saturday.
But all eight teams have an equal shot at the crown. And that’ll be the objective.
Guys like Auburn’s Edouard Julien made sure to celebrate some first, though. The sophomore said Monday that the Tigers were motivated after they lost a super regional final to Florida last year. Overcoming that hurdle was meaningful.
“It’s crazy — Omaha was the big goal for everyone in the locker room, and just to be able to accomplish that,” he said on the SEC Network. “After last year, when we were one game away, to come out here and win the third game, it’s like a dream come true for me.”
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Henry Walker of the Aggies beats a throw to first base, which is manned by Charles Eyer in a photo published June 12, 1954.
Blair's Helen Rasmussen displays the CWS trophy in a photo published May 20, 1951.
This photo of Oklahoma State — then Oklahoma A&M — was taken during the 1954 College World Series.
Colorado State's big batters await their game in June 1955. Left to right: Lucas, Petersen, Lee and Hoien.
Cougar coach Buck Bailey and Captain Jerry Martin are greeted by CWS Queen Jody White in a photo published June 8, 1956.
Myers, Reed, Taylor and Sudderth — Texans that banked on pitching experience. This photo was published May 30, 1957.
Notre Dame's Duffy, Hurley, Cusack, Kohorst, Giarrantana, Senecal, Carideo, Johnson, Buinowski prepare for a game against Iowa State in a photo published June 8, 1957.
Coach Frank Sancet congratulates Arizona pitcher Donnie Lee, who brought a 13-0 mark into the 1956 CWS.
Janice Daly, a woman from Western Michigan, met Bob Mason, left, and Dick Sosnowski, in a photo published June 13, 1958.
Arizona State Coach Winkles took a victory ride.
Ringel of Holy Cross gets big welcome after two-run homer in a photo published June 16, 1958.
Arizona's Bob Wilson went high at first base and failed to land in time to catch Bob Andrew, Oklahoma State, in a photo published June 16, 1959.
Arizona pitchers Burdette Morago, left, Bob Encinas, Dave Baldwin, Norm Popkin and Jim Ward on June 12, 1959.
Happy Texas players gather around to greet Kal Segrist after his three-run homer in 1950.
Wixson, left, holds court for Oklahoma City writer Volney Meece, Coach Greene and World-Herald writer Robert Williams. The photo was published June 16, 1960.
A trio of players kneel. From left: Ron Causton, Larry Molsather, North Carolina's Larry Craver, in a photo published June 15, 1960.
Jubilant Arizona mates congratulated Ward (third from right) after he struck out 16 to tie an Omaha record. The photo was published June 11, 1960.
Engstrom, left, and Scott, have differing reactions in a photo published June 21, 1960.
Southern Cal players were caught smiling in 1960. From left: Dick Matern, Larry Himes, Coach Dedeaux.
In a photo published June 6, 1961, five players pose. Martin and Pellagrini stand in back, with, from left, Robinson, Kilroy and Coyle kneeling.
This photo featuring Dedeaux, left, and Hollowell, was published on June 17, 1963. The duo combined for four homers and nine RBIs in the CWS.
Ken Flanagan twisted to score Santa Clara's first run in 1962. Onlookers include catcher Joe Merullo and umpire Lew Weyer in a photo published June 17, 1962.
In a photo published June 16, 1963, Grant Hagwood, left, and Bob Gauna, both Arizonans, play a game.
Minnesota's Dick McCullough, left, and Archie Clark were caught in the rain in 1964.
Ringside seat for rain watching in 1964. From left: Minnesota's Duane Markus, Frank Broseau and Reni Valenciano.
Missouri's Woods, left, and Price peruse some magazines in 1964.
Mississippi's Mattina, left, and Higginbotham warm up with shuffleboard in 1964.
Suzy stands with Ole Miss's Larry Higginbotham, left, and Hancock in 1964.
Teammate and trainer Jack Ward helped Rees to dugout after being hit by a pitch in a photo published June 12, 1964.
Don Moucka, president of the Omaha Suburban Baseball Association, left , and Lloyd Martin, Little League player agent, back, distribute ticket coupons to brothers John and Jim North in 1965.
Schaefer, left, and Penders produced 40 percent of UConn's RBIs in 1965.
Julie Ann Proskocil, a Creighton student, left, and Nan Kristine Isaacson, a UNO student, were voted, respectively, the princess and queen of the 1965 College World Series.
1967 baseball smiles. From left: Janice Simmons, Janice Blauer, Q.V. Lowe and Mr. and Mrs. Scotty Long.
In this photo published June 17, 1967, Houston's dugout is featured.
Queen Michele Marqua "hides" behind 152 discarded baseballs in a photo published June 18, 1967.
CWS Queen Michele Marqua drew the names of the winners in 1967 World-Herald Bat Boy Contest.
The Buckeyes' Rein checked the rain situation before Ohio State's game in June 1966.
Cowboy Ron McCord scored in the eighth inning on pitcher Wally Gross' wild throw to catcher John Zarzocki in 1966.
David Hall of Texas proved a long reach can be helpful in 1968's 7-0 elimination of BYU. He apparently misjudged his dive back to first, but used his hand to regain the base ahead of a throw to Doug Howard.
Southern Cal's Bill Seinsoth dove in from the rear to tag Al Matson just before Redman reached first base. Pitcher Jim Barr tossed ball and applied brakes to avoid a collision after fielding a drag bunt. This photo was published June 14, 1968.
1968 bat girls From left: Michele Martin, Diana Tuel, Linda Svoboda, Christy Gee.
New York University has made two College World Series appearances. In this photo, from NYU's 1969 CWS, Jones, Marino and Coach Geracioti are pictured.
In this photo published June 6, 1969, Longhorns freshman Burt Hooton, a "strikeout wizard," is pictured.
Iowa State's Bob Case, left and Ray Wood, in a photo published June 14, 1970.
Iowa State's Larry Corrigan takes a futile belly slide. Dartmouth's Tim Hannigan kicks the plate on a force play and moves aside as the Cyclone creates a dust storm in the 1970 CWS.
Umpire Gus Steiner makes emphatic "out" signal as Ohio catcher Malcolm Smoot retains the ball while meeting the sliding contact from Longhorn Jack Miller in the 1970 CWS.
Southern Cal Coach Rod Dedeaux leads A cheer after a win in 1970.
A moment of glory for Delaware. Texas batsman David Hall looks on as ump Doug Cossey calls Lou Bagwell out on attempted steal of home as Dave Willard took an accurate throw from second base following a successful first half of a double steal in 1970.
Here's a shot of the 1970 College World Series crowd.
Texas baseball followers have had more ups than downs during the College World Series.
Umpire Bill Stewart listened patiently as Tulsa coach Gene Shell argued in vain on "out" call in 1971.
Out at the plate! Souther California's Frank Alfano tried to stretch a triple into a home run, but was tagged out by Tulsa catcher Mike Pemberton. The umpire pictured is Don Gust in a photo published June 16, 1971.
Umpire Doug Cossey grimaces in the 1972 College World Series heat.
Reggie Tredway jumped, steadied himself on the grandstand railing and made the catch. Harvard rivals look on in grudging admiration in 1971.
Keith Rosnovsky is pictured cheering for the Longhorns in 1972.
Clint Myers scored for Arizona State, who doubled in the second inning and was brought home by Jerry Mentlo's double. Teammate John Sain signaled no need to slide as Trojan catcher Sam Ceci stood by in 1972.
Texas catcher Bill Berryhill, left, threw throw to pitcher Jimmy Brown, who was covering at home. Runner Steve Dillard, of Mississippi, raced home safely after advancing on Brown's wild pitch in 1972.
Southern Cal Coach Rod Dedeaux protests call in 1972.
It must be the seventh inning. This unidentified fan had his picture published on June 11, 1973.
One treat wasn't enough for Denise Williamson in 1973.
Doug Keiser made plenty of noise in the 1973 CWS.
A western hat made Texas Norman Miner easy to spot in a contingent of Longhorn rooters in 1973.
A Georgia Southern quartet relaxed outside Blackstone Hotel in 1973. From left: John Tamargo, Rolando DeArmas, Steve Daniel and Keathel Chaucey.
Mr. and Mrs. George Morse of Calvin, Oklahoma, had their photo published in the June 9, 1974, edition of The World-Herald.
Millke, left, and Southern Cal Coach Rod Dedeaux in 1974.