OMAHA, Neb. – College Baseball’s World Series is down to its championship pairing with a couple of Montanans in the mix.
Monday night No. 5 Arkansas and No. 3 Oregon State open a best-of-three series in Omaha, Nebraska. (Editor’s note: Game 1 has been postponed due to weather and is now scheduled for 5 p.m. MT Tuesday.)
The Beavers return to the title tilt for the first time since Great Falls native Tyler Graham played outfield for OSU’s back-to-back national title teams in 2007-08. Graham is still in Corvallis, now the director of player development at Oregon State.
Meanwhile, Colstrip native Craig Parry is making his CWS debut as a volunteer coach on the Arkansas staff.
And he knew early there were signs — signs that this could be the year for Arkansas baseball.
“I had familiarity watching them play, being a fan of college baseball,” Parry told MTN Sports Sunday in a phone interview from Omaha. “To hear some of the things Coach (Dave) Van Horn was saying, I knew it was going to be special.”
Which is why Parry jumped at the chance to join the Razorbacks’ staff last August.
He’s no stranger to baseball success. The Colstrip native starred at South Dakota State before being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2008. Parry opened his coaching career
shortly after under Jeff Brabant at Miles Community College. And there’s one conversation they both remember vividly.
“Funny story,” Parry recalled, “talking with Coach Brabant when I was coaching with him, that first summer he was talking about coming to Omaha with family and asked if I wanted to go with him. And I said, ‘I’m going to pass, because I don’t want to go until I coach in it.’ It actually irritated him at the time because he wanted to experience it with me. He was like, ‘Man, you don’t know you’re actually going to make it.’ I can’t say I predicted it, but it definitely was something that I wanted to be able to accomplish and experience as a coach.”
Now a week into his first College World Series, Parry admits it’s lived up to the hype.
“Oh yeah, no question,” he said, “it’s everything you’ve heard about, thought about, dreamed about and more.”
And asked how it compares to other moments in a baseball-rich life, he doesn’t hesitate.
“Oh man, right at the top. Individual stuff is fun, but when you achieve some things as a collective unit, all the things that goes into that, all the working pieces that combine to make this happen, a lot more joy involved when it’s a group effort,” he said.
This is Arkansas’ ninth trip to the College Baseball World Series, but the Razorbacks have never won it.
Imagine what that might feel like this week.