The 2021 College World Series is in the books, and with it, the NCAA season. College baseball's return to Omaha was a welcomed one, especially by those who have made the Left Field Lounge and StarkVegas household names. With a record-setting crowd of 24,052 behind them, many of which were Mississippi State fans, the Bulldogs won the 2021 CWS — not only their first national championship in 11 trips to the CWS, but the first national championship in school history.
Let's take a look back at what went down at Charles Schwab Field Omaha in high-school yearbook style. Here are the 2021 College World Series superlatives.
Most popular: Will Bednar, Mississippi State
With record-setting crowds highly populated with the Starkville faithful, the 2021 College World Series Most Outstanding Player stole the show. The sophomore right-hander made three appearances, all of which were victories for the Diamond Dawgs. His 15-strikeout outing in the opener was part of history, as was his performance in the finale. Bednar, on short rest mind you, went six no-hit innings to hand the ball to Landon Sims and secure Mississippi State's first championship.
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Most dependable: Landon Sims, Mississippi State
Mississippi State had five wins in Omaha and Sims was a crucial factor in four of them. In his four appearances he went 10 innings, allowing just one run — none over his last three outings — and struck out 15 while walking one. He picked up one win in the walk-off against Texas to advance to the finals and three saves — the last one resulting in a Diamond Dawg pile.
Class clown: Stephen Schoch, Virginia
He thinks he's a cool guy, his dogs think he's awesome and his teammates like him. OK, maybe his one appearance in Omaha wasn't a memorable one, but Schoch became an internet sensation throughout the tournament. Whether he was on line waiting for Dippin' Dots or out there conquering his fear of caves, Schoch certainly found a few new fans over the final month of the season.
Most likely to succeed: Sam Highfill, North Carolina State
Sam Highfill entered Omaha as a freshman — and one of our under-the-radar players to watch — and left a seasoned veteran. First, he went toe-to-toe with Jack Leiter, who was sensational in his own right, striking out 15 and allowing just one run. But Highfill countered with 7.1 innings of goose eggs, keeping Vanderbilt off the scoreboard, and getting the ball into Evan Justice's hands to secure the victory. Then, in one of the more memorable games of the CWS, Highfill played first base for a depleted Wolfpack lineup and took his first four at bats of the season. He recorded three hits, two of which came off of Kumar Rocker. You can be sure all eyes will be on his sophomore campaign.
Best home run: Logan Michaels, Virginia
There were probably home runs that went farther. There were probably home runs that were louder. But Logan Michaels' home run, well that brought out the onions.
"I think I'm the luckiest man on the face of the earth." No, that wasn't what Logan Michaels — a .250 hitter who launched his first home run of the season to give Virginia a 1-0 lead in the Hoos' lone victory in Omaha — said. It was his father, Jeff Michaels, who was on hand to watch his son's home run after battling pancreatic cancer. Oh, it also happened to occur on Father's Day. At the risk of being the cliched sportswriter ... how can you not be romantic about baseball?
WATCH: The longest home runs in CWS history ... we think
|Tanner Allen||Mississippi State|
|Kellum Clark||Mississippi State*|
|Kamren James||Mississippi State|
|Logan Tanner||Mississippi State|
|Devante Brown||NC State|
|Jonny Butler||NC State|
|Terrell Tatum||NC State|
|Maxwell Romero, Jr.||Vanderbilt|
* = Hit two home runs in CWS
Best buds: Tanner Allen and Rowdey Jordan, Mississippi State
Was there any better way to start off a lineup than with these two? Described as "two roommates who can't decide who cleans the most," by our own Michella Chester, the duo has been through four years and plenty of Omaha baseball together. Allen hit safely in his final six games of the College World Series, including his third two-hit game in Omaha in the winner-take-all matchup. Jordan piled up three hits, scored two runs and drove in one in the clincher. Like Allen, it was Jordan's third multi-hit performance in the CWS.
Most likely to be a superhero: Devonte Brown, NC State
We really don't need to say anything here. Devonte Brown straight up took flight in the College World Series.
Vanderbilt's Isaiah Thomas also deserves a shoutout. He covered so much ground to get to this ball and seemingly flew out of nowhere to make this memorable grab in Game 1 of the championship series.
There is still strength in the Pack! #SCTop10 #CWS x @NCStateBaseball x 🎥 ESPN2 pic.twitter.com/uKI2Difeil— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 25, 2021
OH MY ISAIAH THOMAS 🤯🤯🤯#VandyBoys | #CWS pic.twitter.com/PgK5MYlVic— Vanderbilt Baseball (@VandyBoys) June 29, 2021
And that concludes the 2021 Road to Omaha. What a long, strange trip it's been.