It’s College World Series time in Omaha

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Ping! The sound of aluminum bats hitting baseballs will fill the air around downtown Omaha for almost the next two weeks as the College World Series gets under way.

Eight teams vying for the national championship in college baseball will take to the turf at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha starting with a pair of games starting Saturday.

The eight teams visiting Omaha are: LSU, Louisville, Mississippi State, UCLA, Oregon State, Indiana, North Carolina and North Carolina State. UNC is the top seed coming into the CWS. Oregon State and LSU are third- and fourth-seeds, respectively.

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Oregon State faces Mississippi State at 2 p.m. CT Saturday to kick off the games. First-time visitor Indiana of the Big Ten will take on Louisville in the night cap at 7 p.m. CT.

Sunday’s Fathers Day action gets under way at 2 p.m. CT with an Atlantic Coast Conference match-up between North Carolina and North Carolina State. The opening round closes with Omaha’s favorite Louisiana State playing UCLA.

Monday and Tuesday will feature two games each day, with one elimination game between the losers of the first round games. The winners of the Saturday and Sunday games will play each evening.

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The double-elimination brackets continue until as late as June 22nd. The National Championship series kicks off June 24th with a best-of-three playoff.

Tickets are extremely difficult and expensive to get at times, depending on who’s playing. With LSU in town, tickets will be at a premium. Omaha seems to have a love affair with The Bayou Bengals.

All games will be televised on the ESPN family of networks.

I was fortunate to catch two games last year. Lisa and I saw Arkansas outlast two-time defending champion South Carolina 2-1 in a game that snapped the Gamecocks’ two-year winning streak at the CWS. Tickets

Then, I had the honor of taking my nephew Don to his first CWS game (a big deal in Omaha). We watched Arizona beat the Gamecocks to win the national championship. It was exciting (to me at least) to see the Wildcats do the dog pile at the pitcher’s mound once they got the last out of the series.

For those of us who may not have solid plans to go to the games, but want to take part in the local festivities, there are plenty of activities available.

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The opening ceremonies start Friday. There is a fan fest daily, with free activities for kids and grown fans.

A concert outside the stadium is scheduled for Friday evening, before the action moves inside the TD Ameritrade for the ceremonies. O.A.R. will perform onstage. The band’s song, “This town” was used by ESPN as the bumper music between innings a couple of years ago.

Following the concert, former Major League pitcher and current ESPN baseball analyst Orel Hershiser will address the crowd.

Orel Hershiser, Kyle Peterson and Mike Patrick make up the ESPN announcing crew for the games.

Orel Hershiser, Kyle Peterson and Mike Patrick make up the ESPN announcing crew for the games.

With the opening ceremonies falling on Flag Day, there will be a tribute to the American flag.

Then, the Parade of Teams will top off the festivities. Each school will enter the field, reminiscent of the Olympics opening ceremonies where each participating nation enters. Last year’s event was canceled because of threatening storm clouds. Fingers crossed it does not happen this year.

The evening ends with a fireworks display.

Then, it’s play ball!

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Other activities will take place throughout the series’ run. A more recent addition is a 5k run/walk on the off day Sunday, before the championship series starts. Participants get to run or walk around the warning track in the baseball field as part of the course.

Team flags fly on flagpoles near the stadium. As each team is eliminated, their flag is removed.

Team flags fly on flagpoles near the stadium. As each team is eliminated, their flag is removed.

There are plenty of party tents and vendors available during the CWS, so the stadium area will be busy most of the days.

For additional activities and game information:

http://www.cwsomaha.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=58657

http://www.ncaa.com/championships/baseball/d1#!fan_events

Long-time Southern Cal coach Rod Dedeaux. He coached the Trojans to 11 national titles, including five straight from 1970-74. I saw the 1973 team play.

Long-time Southern Cal coach Rod Dedeaux. He coached the Trojans to 11 national titles, including five straight from 1970-74. I saw the 1973 team play.

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