Friday First Takes - The Houston Edition

You see that monstrously-huge picture of me above, beaming into the camera with a sprite look and hopeful demeanor? Add a few more bags under the eyes, a tad more of a shadow to my beard and a strikingly obvious need of a shower. That's how I look/feel right now.

After taking the red-eye flight from Los Angeles with no sleep, taking a rickety shuttle from the airport to downtown, not being able to check in early to my hotel and falling asleep for a scant few minutes at a breakfast restaurant like a railyard hobo, you could label this for me as a long, long day... or two.

Let's discuss today's action across the country...

What I saw at Minute Maid Park---

Vanderbilt 7
Rice 3
Best win of the day, hands down.
Will probably end up being the SEC's most impressive non-conference win. Or one of the few. I loved Vandy's never-say-die attitude, it paid off huge in the second half of this game. Alvarez and Price got better as the game went on, but it was Shea Robin and Matt Meingasner who were responsible for the rally, with back-to-back home runs to help VU pull away.

Texas A&M 4
Arizona State 5
Brett Wallace hit for the short cycle and frosh reliever Mike Leake retired 15 of the 16 batters he faced to close out the game. For once, the Devils didn't reach double digits in runs. Actually, it was a rugged start for both A&M's Jason Meyer and ASU's Brian Flores.

Baylor 2
Houston 4
The Coogs went on a hitting spree, mashing out 13 hits off six BU hurlers, compared to Baylor's mere five hits. Jimmy Cesario and Dustin Kingsbury both went 3-for-4 on the night. Aaron Brown went a solid 5.0 innings, striking out five and giving up just one run. Coach Raynor Noble said he was "very pleased with the hitting because we hit the ball on the nose all night."

Overall, it was a good, but cool day at Minute Maid Park. This deep-freeze-like oversized blimp hangar was chock-full of professional scouts and media members from just about every media outlet on the web and in the local rags. The attendance mark of 8,079 for game three wasn't too shabby either. Of course the worst part was listening to all that pro ballpark music in between innings. Oh sure, there was an occasional Foo Fighters or Greenday song, but nothing remarkably innovative or surprising.

Let's breeze the country now.

Score that jumped off the page---

Oklahoma 2
South Carolina 13
Thought this might be a rebound game for OU after last week's putrid 1-2 start which included just 19 hits against the likes of UT-Pan Am and Texas State. But OU continued to get shut down, scoring just six hits on the night. Carolina's Travis Kline had a pair of doubles in a 3-for-4 day and Harris Honeycutt struck out six in 5.0 for the W. OU is a mess right now.

Best stat line of the day---

New Mexico State's Joseph Scaperotta:
5-for-5 with a single, two doubles, a triple and a grand slam home run for 14 total bases and 7 RBI.

Kind of makes teammate Leo Agguire's 3-for-4 day with 4 RBI and two runs scored see to pale in comparison, huh? The Aggies beat Utah 16-5.


Miami 1
See what having Scott Maine available will do for you Hurricanes? Maine and reliever Eric Erickson combined on a four-hitter. Not that Tyson Brummett did that bad either, holding the Canes to three hits in 7.2 innings. Bruin SS Brandon Crawford was stranded at third when the game ended.

Eastern Michigan 4
Tennessee 7
The Vols just needed a win, no matter what the margin. Craig Cobb did a decent job, giving up eight hits but striking out nine in 8.0 innings. Cody Brown was the only Vol with more than one hit, going 2-for-4 with a home run.

Arkansas 13
Troy 1
Hog ace Nick Schmidt made up for his three inning cameo at LaTech last weekend, going 6.0, giving up just three hits and zero markers on the scoreboard. In fact, after a struggle with LaTech all last weekend, including a blowout loss on Saturday, the Hogs got this weekend off to a good start against a good team.

Northern baseball---

Oregon State 10
Georgia 8
Beavers prove the champs that they are by scoring six runs in the 9th inning to pull out the wild win at Foley Field. Most shocking stat of the day had to be UGa reliever Josh Field's line: 1.0inning, 3hits, 6runs, 5earned, 3walks in five at-bats. Gah! I would never have guessed that could happen to a solid pitcher like that. Overshadowed in the loss was Gordon Beckham's two home runs to pace the Dogs.

Northwestern 12
Texas Tech 7
Damn! The Wildcats, who probably haven't even had an outdoor practice yet, totaled 19 hits on the day. The top three in the lineup combined to go 9-for-16 with five RBI and six runs scored. Dan "The Power of the" Schwartz gave up just three hits and three earned runs in 6.0 innings.

Florida 3
The Gators continue their struggles from last year's reoccurring theme - errors. The Key-dets scored four runs in the 5th inning with the help of two UofF Es. Friday ace Bryan Augenstine gave up seven hits and five runs in six innings, though only two of them were earned.

Navy 12
Florida A&M 3
A new two-way threat may be ready to emerge in 2007 as Mitch Harris, heretofore a stud pitcher, went 1-for-4 with two runs scored, a walk and an RBI along with going 5.0 innings and giving up just two hits and striking out seven on the mound.

Not a good sign---

Liberty 6
East Carolina 2
Six Pirate pitchers couldn't stop the bleeding, but mostly starter T.J. Hose got roped, giving up seven hits and five runs, while also issuing five walks. Not a good start for a team that folded up at the end of '06 and missed the post-season.

St. Mary's 3
Charlie Furbush didn't pitch bad in his debut, going 5.2 innings, giving up five hits and striking out seven. But the relievers weren't exactly the lock-down variety. The Gaels also out-hit LSU 8-to-6. A blowout might've made those ravenous Tiger fans more at ease. But as Coach Mainieri said, "In college baseball there are many good clubs you've never heard of."

Late Results---

I'm used to sitting in my broken-springed Lay-Z-Boy, staying up obscenely late and collecting all the game results that come in on the left coast each weekend night. Man, this central time stuff is bullcrud. None-the-less, here are the best of the West, even if I'm two time zones away:

Texas 6
Long Beach State 7
The Longhorn west coast blues continue as All-American SS Danny Espinosa come through with the game-winning RBI that was part of a 3-run 9th inning for the Dirtbags. Snake bitten, the Horns had two of those runs originate from hit batsmen.

Cal State Fullerton 5
Wes Roemer is in a slump, giving up 11 hits in 8.0 innings of work. He still improved to 2-0 with the win, but lots of nervous moments from the Titans tonight. Bright spot was Adam Jorgenson was continuing his good work from the Stanford series with a save tonight.

San Diego 2
Trojans break a 2-2 tie with a pair of runs in the 7th and 8th innings each. The big news is that Robert Stock doesn't play, but his replacement catcher, Johnny Bowden, goes 2-for-4 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored. BUT, Stock did make his mound debut, going six-up, six-down in the last two innings to secure his first career save.

Loyola Marymount 0
UC-Irvine 2
Blair Erickson picks up his second save of the season, moving him to within eight more saves of earning the NCAA record for saves in a career, currently held by former USC bullpen ace Jack Krawczyk (1995-1998).

Man it's late. 'Nuf said.



Eric, it was much worse before MMP opened up. Downtown's buzzing these days compared to then. With the Rockets at home tonight, downtown should be a lot more hopping than last night- especially with Rice playing tonight (Rice students don't go out on school nights... trust me on this).
Regarding where to go for a bite, just tell someone you want to go to "the original Mama Ninfa's on Navigation" and you'll get the quintessential Houston dining experience (Houstonians eat out more than any city in America, and this place is one of the major reasons why).
Regardless of the wait time they tell you, it's never that long and the celebs with signed glossies on the wall are fun to check out while waiting.

Hey Booster,
While in Houston you have to eat at Pappasito's or Pappadeaux...

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Eric Sorenson Eric Sorenson
Eric Sorenson is's National Baseball Columnist, and also appears on CSTV as a baseball expert