Did never winning in Omaha finally send Carolina back there?
Several Tar Heel programs come close, but few in any college sport build a short-term dynasty like UNC baseball did 10 years ago and are able to sustain it. That’s like going to the Final Four six times in eight years and four-straight. The players on a college dynasty move on, and they must be replaced not only by talent but the same kind of grit that won before.
That, and teams from a dynasty have to keep getting better because they are now the hunted with targets on their backs. If and when things don’t go right for a new group of baseball players, there is no guarantee they are going to respond like their College World Series predecessors.
Mike Fox did not say exactly that Saturday after watching his team jump into a traditional dog-pile celebration. But some of his newest winners said that recent teams lacked the chemistry and culture of this one. Fox did say you have to be a little lucky, too, and the 2018 Diamond Heels were.
If the bases-load towering fly ball to centerfield in the ninth inning had been 15 feet to the left or right, Stetson would have taken the lead and maybe pushed the series to a do-or-die game. Instead it was caught and the dog-pile erupted.
Maybe the list of little things those former Tar Heel teams did so well was passed on from overlapping players during the last five years, and this team executed better than recent teams for reasons of their own talent and togetherness.
Fox acknowledged that his latest ballclub isn’t as gifted as those that had Andrew Miller, Dustin Ackley and Colin Moran, to name three, but this year Michael Busch & Co. are carving out a new story for themselves.
The one thing these Heels can still do that those teams no longer can is reaching Omaha AND bringing home Carolina’s first NCAA title in baseball.
That’s where the complexities of losing are now so far removed that only the result is left. And that alone, failure in Omaha, can be reversed by simply writing a different script.