Eight teams arrived at the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, in hopes of leaving with a national championship.
Now there are just two left.
The Arkansas Razorbacks will face the Oregon State Beavers in the finals beginning Monday at 7 p.m. ET. The first team to win twice will leave as champions.
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn told reporters that he does not have an inspirational speech ready for Monday.
“I told them I didn't have one of those for them. If I have to give you a speech in Omaha, then, what are we doing here?” Van Horn asked. “You should be highly motivated to be here.”
Plus, his Razorbacks don’t need any motivation, he said. “I don’t have to give them a talk; they’re ready to play.”
Arkansas third baseman Casey Martin said he is proud of his teammates and will do whatever he can to help them succeed.
“It’s a family,” Martin said. “You do what you can for each other.”
Arkansas has won all three of its CWS games leading up to the finals, including over Florida, the top-seeded team.
Razorbacks pitcher Matt Cronin said his team is coming together on the CWS field to make good plays. “And I think it’s just the right time to get hot, and I feel we have a great chance to make a run at this and win it,” Cronin said.
Oregon State’s road to the CWS finals has been tougher. After losing their first game to North Carolina, the Beavers had to win four games in a row, including against UNC—and against Mississippi State on consecutive days.
OSU coach Pat Casey said he is proud of the Beavers for fighting to get through the loser’s bracket to the finals. The team played five games in a week, so by the time Saturday’s game rolled around the players were tired.
“Our guys, you could see, we were running on fumes,” he said.
Beavers second baseman Nick Madrigal said after the first loss, the team continued to just focus on the next game.
“The coaches do a great job of telling us just to stay in the moment,” he said. “Take it one pitch at a time. Play our game. And hopefully the rest will take care of itself.”
Oregon State designated hitter Tyler Malone said focusing on helping his fellow Beavers helped him make good plays. Malone has hit three home runs this week in Omaha.
Said Malone, “Whenever I go up to the plate, my team’s always in my mind.”
Photographs by Nati Harnik/AP/Shutterstock