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How College World Series determines home team for each game

Who gets to bat last in Omaha? It’s complicated. We try and explain here.

A general view during the Division I Men’s Baseball Championship held at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha on June 26, 2019 in Omaha, Nebraska. Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

I have been a journalist, scoreboard operator, DJ, and official scorer for Division I college baseball for almost 20 years. And the most common question I’ve gotten over the years isn’t whether I’ve seen a foul ball break a laptop (I have)...

Or if the coaches really do call upstairs and ask you to change hit/error calls in the middle of a game (oh you betcha!)...

It’s the same question those around the game will get from more casual fans every postseason: “Why isn’t TEAM NAME GOES HERE the home team in today’s tournament game??”

Because college baseball has made this process as fair as it can be, however the method is a bit arcane. The rule of thumb is the team in any tournament that’s had the least amount of chances to be the home team compared to their opponent will bat last when those two teams play each other.

But how we get there is a whole other kettle of fish. Here’s the bullet points:

  • The better-seeded team will be the home team during the first game each team plays in Omaha
  • If both teams that were the road team (or home team) in their first game face each other in their first winners bracket/losers bracket game, a tournament director or umpire will flip a coin with both teams present to determine who is the home team as soon as the matchup is finalized.

The rest of the “who’s home” rules are in full below, in order of priority.

1. The institution that has been the home team the fewer number of times in that particular tournament.

2. If the two teams are equal in this respect but unequal in the number of times they were the visitor, then the team that has been the visitor more often will be designated the home team.

3. If the two teams are equal in the number of times that they have been home and visitor, the games committee or the NCAA game representative shall observe the following procedures in the order stated:

a. If the two teams have met previously in that particular tournament, the visitor in the previous game shall be the home team in the game in question

(Exception: If two teams are left where both teams have been the home team twice, the fifth game will be determined by a coin flip);

b. The team that was visitor in its preceding game shall be the home team, unless both teams were visitors in their preceding games; or

c. If the above procedures do not resolve the matter, the home team shall be determined by coin flip. The higher seeded team can determine whether they will call the coin toss, or defer the call to their opponent.

To be noted: Sometimes an assistant coach gets left at the stadium just to watch a coin flip while his team has already left the ballpark for a team meal or the hotel. This person is also usually tasked with scouting the following game, but the Coin Flip Coach is one of the least-pleasant jobs in all of college baseball. If you’re in the press box at TD Ameritrade Park this week and you see this coach, offer to grab them some food from media catering. I can assure you you’ll make a new friend.

Once we get to the CWS Finals, it’s a bit easier.

For Game 1, the better-seeded team is at home and for Game 2, the better-seeded team is away. Because the best-of-three series is an entirely new tournament, immediately after Game 2 they’ll flip a coin for last ups in Game 3.

So there you go. @ me on Twitter if you need more info, but since I’ve been doing this since the old eight-team regionals before 2003, I believe I can handle any pedantic scenario you throw at me.

College baseball: Where the curveballs hang and the equipment managers have to bring about 11 jersey combinations to every stop in the postseason. It’s just the best.