Friday First Takes - The just-got-internet-back-up version

A pair of great games and a convo with Missouri coach Tim Jamieson. Could life get any better?

Well the Surprise Coca-Cola Classic lived up to its name. No, not the sticky, syrupy crap that gets kids fat when they drink it night after night with their dinner. But the "surprise" part of the name, as we saw Gonzaga lace the first loss of the season on defending national champion Oregon State in today's first game and then saw Missouri tame Arizona State's offense just enough to pull out a W in the second game.

Nationally, I didn't get to see a whole lot of what transpired, just because I was busy writing stuff for these games and chasing down Missouri coach Tim Jamieson after the game for a quick interview (emphasis on "quick"). I'll try to get to more of the national scene tomorrow.


What I saw in Surprise tonight---
Gonzaga - 6
Oregon State - 5
The Bulldogs take a big step toward being champions of the Rain Belt since this will be the only meeting between them. In a back-and-forth struggle, GU leadoff hitter Evan Wells was hard to contain, going 3-for-4 and scoring the game-winning run, after reaching base off a throwing error by OSU catcher Mitch Canham. The Zags have to feel good about hanging four earned runs on starter Mike Stutes and not getting their nerves frayed by OSU's continual comebacks throughout the game.

Missouri - 3
Arizona State - 2
Okay, I'm going to quit giving this ASU offense God-like status. As tonight showed, the Devils can be shut down. But man, somebody pinch me. ASU was held in check and beaten by a freshman pitcher - you know, the kind of pitcher this offense considers the Christians to their Lions. Down 2-0 all game long, the Black & Gold got a strikeout, a pair of walks and a single to start the pivotal 8th inning. Then, after a pitching change and another strikeout, John McKee blasted a shot to the wall that Devil outfielder Matt Spencer was unable to handle (mainly because he ran smack-dab into said wall) and three runs scored. McKee ended up on second base. Then, in the 9th, ASU got a two-out rally started, but ended up stranding three baserunners as Jarred Bogany struck out to end the game. If there is such a thing in the early season, this was a big win for Missouri.

As stated above, I was able to track down Missouri coach Tim Jamieson before I took off and after he did his radio duties with the MU radio crew.

I fully intended on doing a complete sit-down type of Q&A with the guy, but I didn't get to talk to him until after the game, and I try not to keep a coach too long in those situations. So I quickly juanted through a few questions with the Tiger head honcho. And luckily I caught him on a night where his team played well and beat a great Arizona State team. Here's what was said.

Me:
Hey coach, I'm Eric Sorenson from CSTV.

Coach Jamieson:
Hey Eric.

Me:
Congratulations on the win tonight.

Coach Jamieson:
Thanks. It was nice.

Me:
I don't know if this is good or not but I've seen you guys the last two years make your final out of the season in Fullerton (the Regionals in 2005 and the Super Regionals in 2006).

Coach Jamieson:
(Laughs) Well, it's just the fact that we were there. That's the main thing.

Me:
Quickly here. I know you're wanting to take off. Nice win here. But thinking big picture, what are your overall expectations for your team this year?

Coach Jamieson:
It really is too early to tell. I mean we expect to go to Regionals. We expect to be a team that's consistent like we've been over the last four years. How good can we be? Well we had a freshman on the mound here (tonight) and we're starting a freshman on Sunday. So we're young and we're going to have to find out how good they are.

Me:
The youth is kind of a good thing too, I guess, right?

Coach Jamieson:
Well the potential is there. That's the thing that's exciting in that we don't know what they're going to do. He (Frosh reliever Greg Folgia) stepped up big time tonight. But the potential is there to end up being really good.

Me:
I don't think you guys get enough respect. Do you agree? I haven't seen you guys anywhere in the polls coming into this season.

Coach Jamieson:
Well (Slight paused exhale), I think that's true. I think the fact that we've been to four consecutive Regionals - only 21 other schools have actually done that and only two in our league have done that - at some point in time you're going to gain some respect based on what you've done, not what they THINK you're going to do. So yeah, I think that's true, but it's alright. I like the underdog role. (add the wry grin on coach's face.)

Me:
(laughing) Quickly, how do you replace pitchers like Nathan Culp and Max Scherzer this year?

Coach Jamieson:
Well I think it's more about quantity over the quality that those guys gave us. We've got a lot of arms and maybe we're not going to be able to expect seven or eight innings out of our starters like before. We'll have to go to the bullpen a little bit quicker. But you know, we've got guys that can pitch and compete and we've got a good number of them, so we'll have to do it with a lot of guys.

Me:
Do you feel like the Missouri administration has given you good backing to progress the program forward the last few years? Are you happy with the way things are going?

Coach Jamieson:
Oh yeah. I mean I think you can always be better. The bottom line is that we're getting it done with what we have. There are things that we'd like to have that may make it a little bit easier, but money doesn't guarantee wins, it revolves around effort.

Me:
But it's nice that you guys got that relatively new stadium.

Coach Jamieson:
Yeah, that was nice.

Me:
By the way, how did you end up going to school at (the University of) New Orleans, having grown up a Tiger fan in Columbia and all?

Coach Jamieson:
My dad and the head coach down there played baseball together in college. And that was one of few options that I had at the time.

Me:
Oh okay, I thought maybe it was because of the incredible food.

Coach Jamieson:
I actually didn't know about it at that time, but I found out soon enough.

Me:
Coach, thank you again. Sorry it was so brief but I know you want to get out of here now.

Coach Jamieson:
Oh no. That's alright.

Me:
Hopefully I'll see you later on this season and not for your last out. Oh wait, unless that means you'll be in Omaha.

Coach Jamieson:
Well let's hope you see the other teams' last out.

Touche' coach.

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