Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 6/19/12
OMAHA, Neb. - It was a week ago Wednesday that Kent State centerfielder Evan Campbell -- exactly the kind of smallish, small-town kid who embodies this Kent State baseball team -- peeked out his hotel room window and saw TD AmeriTrade Park, home of the College World Series. Campbell just sat there for a minute, soaking it all in. "We're really here," he said. A week later, the Flashes are still here, still living a charmed life that's seen them survive stiff competition, incredible drama and a bunch of nailbiters. Their reward for holding on to beat No. 1 seed Florida, 5-4, on Monday, is another elimination game Wednesday night with South Carolina, the two-time defending national champion. Campbell's diving catches -- one vs. Florida, one which sealed Game One of the Super Regionals at Oregon -- have been part of the magic that started with a 21-inning win over Kentucky in the first game of the NCAA Tournament almost three weeks ago. The Flashes keep getting the big hit, the big strike and the lucky bounce that keeps allowing them to play on. Kent State and Stony Brook came to this College World Series as the party crashers, Cinderellas with remarkable stories who had defeated history and convention and now would be faced with the daunting task of trying to defeat college baseball's bluebloods. Stony Brook got bounced in two games. Kent State went flat and got a little overwhelmed in losing to Arkansas 8-1 in its World Series opener, then came back to beat Florida despite walking the bases loaded on 12 straight pitches to start the ninth inning of a one-run game. Just another day at the park that's led to another day at the park. "Our kids have made big plays, and to do it on such a big stage, it's been fun," Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said. "That's the satisfying part, that the country gets to watch us play. Every game we've played the last five games has been the biggest game in school history, and we keep playing them. "I thought we were really loose and relaxed (vs. Florida). Defensively, we played great. On the mound, we were good early on and it was a little shaky at the end. But we made it entertaining. It's amazing how many text messages and emails I got from people talking about heart attacks...living and dying with every pitch. "In the dugout, we feel the same way." On Saturday, Kent State's players heard "SEC, SEC" chants from the crowd, and not just from Arkansas fans. The taunts included colorful statements about going back to Ohio and the clock striking midnight. As the Florida game came down to the final innings on Monday, some of the crowd changed its tune. "There's one Cinderella left," Kent State catcher David Lyon said. "It seems like all of Omaha has adopted us and is rooting us on." As for the penchant for getting the right breaks and bounces going all the way back to the regional in Gary, the Flashes won't apologize for being 5-1 in NCAA Tournament games decided by one run. They're focused on the next play, the next clutch hit, the next diving catch. "I wouldn't say we expect it, but it is funny how we keep making strange things seem routine," Campbell said. "There's always something weird happening." Eventually, a team that's adopted and embraced the motto "Bite Down" has to bite through its lip, right? Right? "We keep finding a way," Lyon said. "It's a whole team effort. That's the way it's been. I can't explain it except to say we keep getting the job done." There is a certain level of satisfaction Stricklin takes in simply getting here, but Stricklin made sure his team put that aside after last Saturday's loss. Kent State brought its A-game vs. Florida, and that proved to be enough. Even if it was just barely. The beat goes on. At least one more game does, too. "We talked before the Florida game and said we were going to be loose, relax and have fun -- and advance in Omaha," Stricklin said. And that's what these kids did. There was no tension. Certainly there were some nerves there in the ninth, but our kids were the aggressors. If you were watching that game and had never seen a college baseball game before and didn't know any better, we looked awfully good out there. "We were here and we belong here. That's the most important thing that we wanted as a team and as a program, and as a university was to make a statement that we belong here. We're not a fluke. We're a really good baseball team. (Beating Florida) is the biggest win in school history." Beating South Carolina Wednesday night is the only way to surpass it.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Clay Helton says OJ Simpson would not be allowed at USC practice

Kyle Shanahan claps back at Matt Ryan

The Astros are going from really good to possibly great

John Harbaugh: Ravens exploring signing Kaepernick

Bryce Harper blames ejection, meltdown on pregame playlist

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Defining Darvish: Is a deadline deal looming?

Kyrie Irving reportedly ignoring phone calls from Cavs

Congress demands NFL pays $18 million bill

Report: Pedroia cheered loudly when Price told Eckersley off

Giancarlo Stanton mocks Jason Grilli after blasting home run

Adrian Beltre ejected for bizarre on-deck circle incident

The 'Old Tom Brady is still the Ol' Tom Brady' quiz

BIG3 Week 6: Should we begin the MVP discussion as we head to Dallas?

Three Up, Three Down: Adrian Beltre is a national treasure

The 10 craziest NFL offseason stories

Box Score 7/27: USMNT brings home the Gold Cup

The 'Cooperstown: The New Class' quiz

For the revitalized Pirates, trade deadline has newfound meaning

Every MLB team's best and worst deadline trade from the last 25 years

The 'Kyrie revolts against the King' quiz

Box Score 7/26: Nothing but grand slams

The most memorable moments from the class of 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame inductees

BIG3 Ref Hotline Bling: James White slams the phone down

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

BIG3 Week 6: Should we begin the MVP discussion as we head to Dallas?

The 'Old Tom Brady is still the Ol' Tom Brady' quiz

The 10 craziest NFL offseason stories

For the revitalized Pirates, trade deadline has newfound meaning

The 'Cooperstown: The New Class' quiz

The 'Kyrie revolts against the King' quiz

BIG3 Ref Hotline Bling: James White slams the phone down

The 'When George Brett went completely batty' quiz

Finding the possible Achilles' heel for baseball’s best teams

Getaway Day: A pair of aces get lost in the shuffle

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker