The Best College Recruiter

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First Downs and Second Guesses

Blog #169 - June 2019

The men's College World Series is presently being played in Omaha at TD Ameritrade Park. Two of the eight teams have departed, having lost their first two games.  That would be Arkansas and Auburn.  Vanderbilt beat Mississippi State this afternoon, dropping the Bulldogs into a losers-bracket game against Louisville.  Vanderbilt joins Michigan as the two unbeaten teams.  Florida State and Texas Tech will battle for survival in a Bracket 1 winner-stays-loser-leaves game later.

The Mississippi State-Louisville game has a unique flavor to it.  That's because the two head coaches - Chris Lemonis at Mississippi State and Dan McDonnell at Louisville - were teammates on a Citadel club that played in the 1990 College World Series, the program's lone CWS appearance.

"This is a proud moment for not just the two of us, but for all those Citadel guys we played with, all those guys we coached, all the alumni of a really neat, neat institution," McDonnell said.

McDonnell and Lemonis are a part of a social media chat group titled "PALS" which includes all of the players from that 1990 squad.  A boatload of those players have made their way to Omaha to cheer on their "PALS" and former teammates.

Both McDonnell and Lemonis had The Citadel crew at their respective practices on Sunday.  They all met for dinner on Monday night.  Current Citadel coach Tony Skole, also on the 1990 team, has been on hand for all of it.

"They mean a lot to the city of Charleston and our baseball program," Skole said of Lemonis and McDonnell.  "That's what it's all about.  Thirty years and to still have those close relationships?  It's a special thing."

The game McDonnell and Lemonis wanted to avoid is now a reality.  The two friends will square off, with the winner having to beat Vanderbilt twice to get into the championship round.  The loser bids a fond farewell to Omaha.

This game will be typical for McDonnell and Lemonis.  They compete against each other when they get together, whether it's a game of pick-up basketball or a showdown on the golf course.  Skole said McDonnell and Lemonis often end up on opposing sides anyway, so perhaps a matchup in Omaha could settle some scores.

Neither wants his CWS stay cut short.  So they'll try to make the most of it until then, with some of the longtime friends.

"The sights, the sounds, the smells of the College World Series, that just brings you back to life," Skole said.  "It just sticks with you forever.  When you can share it with family and friends and those close to you, that makes it so much more special."

Stories like this is what makes the College World Series a special time for not only current players and coaches, but also for teammates who climbed the mountaintop of college baseball back in 1990 and still bask in the sunshine of that special time thirty years ago.

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