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Mike Lopresti | | June 28, 2022

The agony of defeat: Lessons learned from seasons ended at the Men's College World Series

Relive Ole Miss' MCWS Finals Game 2 win, from field level

OMAHA, Neb. — Here’s to those who didn’t get to hold up the trophy in Omaha.

Eight teams come to the Men’s College World Series. Seven leave town with their hearts broken a little bit. Or a lot. As Texas A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle said after his Aggies were eliminated by Oklahoma, "There’s only one coach that gets to feel good at the end of this week."

To close out baseball’s latest June, we should listen not just to the joy of champion Ole Miss, but the pain of the teams the Rebels left behind.

HOTTY TODDY: How Ole Miss took down Oklahoma in two games

This is what anguish sounded like in Omaha in 2022.

Stanford coach David Esquer, after being evicted by Auburn: "I say it all the time because it has to happen on our side. You can hope all the support players do all they can to help you, but sometimes your guy's gotta beat their guy. You can’t escape it. Sometimes the best players on your team have to beat the best players on their team.

"I mentioned to them in our huddle that, when time passes, no one is going to remember what the score was of any of our games or what our record here in Omaha was. I think I will remember I had a chance to go to the College World Series with a team I love."

Texas coach David Pierce after getting the boot from Texas A&M: "I’m a little numb right now, a little kind of just don’t know what to say, because I don’t think anybody was really ready to end this thing. Unless you win it all, though, you’re going to feel this feeling. And I’ll take this any day as opposed to not competing for the national championship."

Notre Dame coach Link Jarrett after the Irish were shown the door by Texas A&M: "You learn from the negatives and then you just try to process obviously some of the good things you did. But to take in what this series feels like, until you’ve done it, you can’t teach it, explain it, fake it, show video of it. You can’t.

"I told our assistants, write down everything you saw, felt, think it takes to get over the hump. This is when you really start to build your tactics on how to run things. So I’m doing it right now."

Auburn pitcher Carson Skipper after the Tigers were knocked out by Arkansas in his second trip to the CWS, and coach Butch Thompson had said he had "enjoyed getting up every morning" to be with this team: "A lot of people say that coming to Omaha is a once-in-a-lifetime, but for me and all the other guys that have been here twice, it’s an incredible feeling to be able to come to a place with such joy and happiness to the whole college baseball world more than one time. And all that stems from Coach Thompson. Great leader, great man."

Schlossnagle after the Aggies’ loss to Oklahoma and two of his transfers this season — Troy Claunch from Oregon State and Jacob Palisch from Stanford — had said how grateful they were for the chance they were given at Texas A&M: "(Those words) meant everything. They could have run down the top-25 at the end of the season last year and picked any place . . .but (they) took a chance on Texas A&M. Those guys are Aggies. They’re also Beavers and Cardinal, I guess, but they will forever be remembered as hopefully the team that reignited Texas A&M baseball. It’s our job now, mine included, to hone what they’ve started and continue to build on it."

WEB GEMS: Here are the top defensive plays from the 2022 MCWS

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn, describing his postgame words to his Razorbacks after they were sidelined by Ole Miss: "I told them how proud I was of them. I had a little trouble talking, but I told them that I’m not going to cry. I’m not going to cry when you finish your season in Omaha."

Oklahoma coach Skip Johnson, on what he told his Sooners after the Finals defeat against Ole Miss: "First thing is, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. You can be anybody you want to be. Secondly, the game doesn’t care how you feel. That’s why the details of the game are so important, and you’ve got to keep fighting for every inch that you get in baseball.

"In baseball, confidence is a fragile piece of ice. The guys at the end of the game, wanting the ball, wanting to be in situations, they’re in control of themselves. The moment is not too big for them . . . (The 2022 Sooners) got through that. They broke through the mold of knowing how to win and understanding what that is, and wanting to ball hit to them."

And finally, the one coach who wasn’t a victim in 2022, but knows how it feels leaving the College World Series with a defeat. Ole Miss coach and new champion Mike Bianco: "When you walk out on the field, which you’ve seen seven other teams do here, you’ve got a bunch of young men 18 to 22 years old that are crying and knowing that this is the last game and this is how it’s going to end that season, and some of them will never put the uniform on again. They won’t get the chance to play professional baseball. This is it and this is how it’s going to end. Nobody is prepared for that.

"I’ve always struggled in that moment because I didn’t have a speech prepared. So (the Rebels) didn’t have to go through that. That didn’t have to be out there with all the hugs and tears."

But seven other teams did, since losing is as much a part of the College World Series as winning. And then Omaha 2022 was over.

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Division I
Baseball Championship
June 14 - 24, 2024
Charles Schwab Field Omaha | Omaha, NE

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