One question remains unanswered five years after a group of Fresno State baseball players went from underdogs to wonderdogs in Omaha.
Steve Detwiler sees it on the faces of his former teammates when they get together each February for the annual alumni game.
“It's like, 'How in the world did we pull that off?'” Detwiler said with a chuckle. “We had some good players on that '08 team, but we weren't the most talented team in Omaha that year.
“We had some guys do some good things at the right time. Still, when you think about it, what we did that year was a little jaw-dropping. Still is.”
What Detwiler and his teammates did in 2008 was put together a storybook run to a championship that would make Cinderella blush. The Bulldogs were barely .500 heading into their conference tournament.
Even with its best pitcher sidelined by a shoulder injury, Fresno State got hot. The Bulldogs won the Western Athletic Conference to earn a spot in the 64-team NCAA field. They eliminated a pair of top 10 teams in winning their regional, then won the final two games of their super regional to knock No. 3 national seed Arizona State out of the tournament.
The Bulldogs stayed red hot in Omaha, winning their bracket to advance to the championship series against Georgia. After losing the opening game, Fresno State fell behind 5-0 2 1/2 innings into the second game.
“A lot of teams might have panicked at that point,” said Ryan Overland, the Bulldogs' starting catcher. “We had been through a lot. We had faced so many elimination games.
“One of the big parts of our team is that we never felt like we were out of anything. We were able to overcome so much. Getting down in that game was just one more thing we had to overcome.”
Fresno State roared back to win 19-10. The next night, Detwiler, playing with a torn tendon in his left thumb that made swinging the bat incredibly painful, hit two homers and drove in all of the Bulldogs' runs in their 6-1 win.
He also caught the last out, a line drive to right field, to finish off the incredible run. He stuffed the ball in the back pocket of his uniform pants before disappearing into the middle of a dogpile for the ages.
The Bulldogs became the only No. 4 seed to win the national championship. They overcame the longest of odds to win the title. It left outsiders struggling to put their run into perspective.