0613McReeAUDListen to Georgia pitcher and Chestatee High grad Alex McRee talk about his anticipation to pitch in the College World Series.
Alex McRee has only heard stories about playing in the College World Series. Many of his Georgia teammates were on board in 2006 when the Bulldogs last made it to Omaha.
The College World Series is designed to pit the best eight college baseball teams in a double-elimination format to find the national champion. The draw of seeing some of the best players in the country and a steady supply of future Major Leaguers means the crowds can hit 30,000 at historic Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium, in addition to primetime national television exposure the players receive.
“When you come to play in college it’s something you always think is possible,” McRee said of playing in Omaha. “But it’s something a lot of players never get to do.”
It was an uphill climb for the Bulldogs to punch their ticket to the series after dropping Game 1 of the Athens Regional to Lipscomb. Georgia was an underdog after that, needing to win five elimination games in the Regional and Super Regional. In doing so, the Bulldogs extended their winning streak in elimination games at Foley Field to 16 dating back to 2001.
McRee, a Chestatee High graduate, says it didn’t sink in completely that a CWS trip was looming even during the celebration on Foley Field after Georgia recorded the final out against N.C. State in the Super Regional. He enjoyed the moment with his teammates: a dog pile on the field, followed by a lap of the outfield to thank all the fans.
This is a lifelong dream for the Bulldogs sophomore reliever and he’s looking to help bring home the school’s second national title in baseball and the first since 1990. Georgia is becoming quite a regular in the College World Series with their fourth trip to Omaha this decade (2001, 2004, 2006 and 2008).
McRee (6-1) certainly did his part to get the Bulldogs to Omaha. He earned the win for Georgia in its fourth elimination game of the Regional Series, throwing four innings, recording five strikeouts, and allowing only one earned run in an 18-6 win against Georgia Tech on June 2. He entered the game in relief before the first out was recorded in the first inning and only allowed four hits, giving the Bulldogs’ bats time to tear the game wide open.
“It makes me feel better to know I did my part on the mound,” McRee said. “It was a matter of if we lost, we went home.”
The road doesn’t get any easier for the No. 8 national seed Bulldogs (41-23-1), who have a first round date against No. 1 seed Miami (52-9) at 7 p.m. Saturday. The ACC champion Hurricanes are deep in pitching and hitting, and had three players drafted in the first round of the MLB amateur draft earlier this month.
“I’ve watched Miami a lot and they are solid,” McRee said. “They’re definitely not going to roll over for us.”
Georgia traveled first class for its date to Omaha. The Bulldogs chartered a plane out of Athens’ Ben Epps Airport on Wednesday wearing their Sunday best. Georgia normally flies commercially out of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
During their stay in Omaha, the Bulldogs will also have a sponsor take them around the area and provide activities to keep them busy during their days off. McRee says in 2006 the team was hosted by the Air Force and one of their activities included going to a shooting range.
McRee’s parents Mitch and Lynn McRee are also flying in to join their son today. The family is allowed to stay in the same hotel with the team and given passes to Georgia’s games. Alex’s father says he’s heard all the parents of players that made the trip two seasons ago talk about what a great atmosphere there is for college baseball in Omaha.
“We’ve heard that Omaha is the greatest,” Mitch McRee said.
McRee wants to make the most of his experience in the College World Series. He feels like playing a tough out-of-conference schedule that included games against back-to-back national champion Oregon State, Arizona, Florida State, Clemson and five games against Georgia Tech will help take the edge off playing in Omaha.
“We’re excited to be going to Omaha and hope that we win,” Lynn McRee said. “But the main thing was getting there.”
This summer McRee is going to play with the Hyannis Mets in the Cape Cod baseball League. Their season begins Saturday night with a game against the Chatham Athletics, but McRee has a three-day cushion to report following the end of Georgia’s season. The Mets are coached by Young Harris College coach Rick Robinson.
The Cape Cod League is catered to premier college players seeking to showcase their talent for Major League scouts. Last summer, McRee’s teammates Gordon Beckham, Trevor Holder, Stephen Dodson and Nathan Moreau played in the Cape Cod League, and all four were drafted high in this month’s MLB draft.