April 10, 2012
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -
Loyola Marymount University is celebrating its Centennial in 2011-12 and athletics will honor the anniversary all season long. Each of LMU's NCAA Division I programs will be hosting a Centennial Game to honor LMUat100. Up next is the first of two Centennial baseball games this year, the first coming against San Francisco on Friday. As we approach the game, LMULions.com will look back at some of the memorable moments from baseball's history. Today's look back features LMU's only appearance in the College World Series.
The 1986 LMU baseball team put together the best season in program history. It was also one of the best overall seasons of all time for LMU Athletics. Following a 1985 season in which the Lions did not have a winning record at 27-28, the program performed one of the best turnarounds in LMU Athletics history. That team finished the season with a program-best 50 wins, and wrapped-up the season at 50-15, a 23-game improvement from the previous year.
The season started with the Lions winning their first eight games, and 12 of their first 13. As the season progressed, LMU produced a 13-game winning streak from March 21 through April 11, and won 20 of 21 games in the middle of the season. With the winning streak came the nation's top ranking in the ESPN/Collegiate Baseball National Poll. The Lions never looked back, finishing tied with Pepperdine for first place in the West Coast Athletic Conference at 19-5, forcing a one-game playoff to determine the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Regional. Played at Jackie Robinson Stadium on the campus of UCLA, the Lions defeated the Waves 14-9 to earn the bid to the NCAA West Regional.
LMU was placed with UCLA, UC Santa Barbara and the University of Hawai'i in Los Angeles at UCLA. It looked as though it might be two-and-out for the Lions, as they dropped their first game to UC Santa Barbara, 11-5, to move down to the elimination bracket. However, LMU would reel off its next four games, fighting through four separate elimination games to earn a bid to the school's first appearance in the College World Series.
In game two of the Regional, the Lions defeated UCLA 12-10, eliminating the Bruins and earning a rematch with UC Santa Barbara. LMU advanced past the Gauchos with a 14-6 win, and would then have to beat the University of Hawai'i twice to compete in Omaha. After 10-6 and 12-5 victories, the Lions earned a trip to the 1986 College World Series.
On May 30, the Lions opened their first World Series trip with a 4-3 win over perennial powerhouse LSU, earning a two-day rest and a spot in the winner's bracket. The Lions played the University of Arizona on June 2 and lost a heartbreaker, 7-5, to drop to the elimination bracket and face Oklahoma State. The Cowboys were too much for the Lions, as they went on to an 11-5 win, ending what has proved to be the best season LMU has ever had on the diamond.
For a slideshow of images from the 1986 season, please visit: