The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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June 19, 2013

College World Series always leads to great memories

Last weekend I made my annual visit to the NCAA Division I College World Series at TD Ameritrade Center in Omaha, Neb. Some friends and I have been doing it for nearly 10 years now, and I can truthfully say it never gets old.

It might have been a tad more fun when they were still playing the games at the tradition-laden Rosenblatt Stadium, but the product is still the same. It's still the best college players in the country trying to win a national title for their schools.

As we do every year, we bypass the first two games on opening day and started our viewing with two games on Sunday. The first featured a game of in-state rivals in which No. 1-ranked North Carolina took on North Carolina State.

It proved to be no contest as N.C. State won easily 8-1. The Wolfpack put it away in the third, putting five runners on base with two outs to jump to a 5-0 lead.

The Tarheels wheeled eight pitches to the mound to try to stop the bleeding, but it never happened. Meanwhile N.C. State's Carlos Rodon was nearly untouchable as he took a no-hitter into the fifth. He ended up with eight strikeouts and allowed five hits in the complete-game win.

We always camp on our trip to Omaha and happened to set up next to a couple of Wolfpack fans who were making their first trip the CWS. It was the goal of the couple — Will and Melissa — to take in every game for the duration of their stay and to experience every aspect of the tournament.

The people you meet before, during and after the games are what make the event so special. The one common denominator is that nearly everyone there has a love for baseball.

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