Omaha, Neb. — Game 1 of the College World Series finals between Arkansas and Oregon State was postponed until Tuesday night because of rain — just the latest in a line of delays caused by the weather this year.
“In my 16 years of being involved with this championship, this has been the most challenging College World Series as it relates to inclement weather,” NCAA director of championships and alliances Randy Buhr said.
Rain fell most of the day Monday, and officials announced late in the afternoon that the game would be delayed. The decision to postpone came 90 minutes after the scheduled first pitch.
Arkansas (47-19) will start Blaine Knight (13-0) against Luke Heimlich (16-2) of Oregon State (53-11-1) on Tuesday.
Game 2 of the best-of-three finals is set for Wednesday and, if necessary, Game 3 would be Thursday.
More than 4 inches of rain have fallen in Omaha since the start of the CWS on June 16.
The Texas-Arkansas game on June 17 was interrupted for 2 hours, 49 minutes. There was a delay of 4:31 in the Washington-Oregon State game on June 18. The start of the Texas Tech-Arkansas game on June 20 was delayed 3 ½ hours.
Skies cleared over TD Ameritrade Park late Monday afternoon, but a line of rain was approaching Omaha from the southwest. That left the NCAA Baseball Committee, a meteorologist working for the NCAA and representatives of the teams, among others, to decide whether the game should start as scheduled.
“We made the right decision not starting it at 6 o’clock,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “The meteorologist said it was going to rain, and he nailed it. With a wet field and playing late and this being a championship, and the next two or three days looking really nice, I think it’s best we didn’t play tonight.”
Coaches were adamant they didn’t want the game to start if there were a chance it would have to be stopped after three or four innings, Buhr said.
“You want to protect the student-athletes first and foremost and their welfare,” Buhr said. “You don’t want to burn a pitcher’s arm. But at the same time, you see the clouds break at 4:30 or 5 o’clock and you have sunshine, so the fans are going to think, ‘There are no issues (so) why don’t we start the game on time?’ “
If the game was going to be played, Buhr said, at least a three-hour window with no rain was necessary. The forecast, however, called for a chance of more rain later in the evening.
“Our guys are pretty resilient,” Van Horn said. “We’ve been through rain delays, cold weather, doubleheaders and everything. It’s such a privilege to be here, and they earned their way here. We’ll stay here as long as it takes.
“If you look down the road 20 years from now, you’re not going to remember all the rain delays. You’re going to remember the great experience and whether you won or lost.”
College World Series
Championship series (Best-of-3)
Tuesday: Arkansas (47-19) vs. Oregon State (53-11-1), 7
Wednesday: Arkansas vs. Oregon State, 7
x-Thursday: Arkansas vs. Oregon State, 7