Sunday Summations, The Houston-to-L.A. edition

Taking the 9:30 flight from Houston to Los Angeles tonight, I happened to be on the same flight as the Cal State Northridge baseball team, who just finished up a weekend at the Citrus Tournament down in Edinburg, Texas.

They didn't look overly joyous, to tell you the truth. Then, I realized they must've lost today. Sure enough, they did, 6-4 heartbreaker to Lamar after giving up three runs in the bottom of the 8th. (CSUN did go 2-1 on the weekend to improve to 6-3).

Read on...

Sometimes we all seem to live in a vacuum, forgetting the joys and sorrows of teams after each weekend. Do you realize how many happy and sad teams are taking flights across the country as I write this? I'm lucky, at this time of year, I'm always happy after a weekend of college baseball.

Turns out, it was one of those flights where the pilot tries to be cute on the p.a. but isn't really funny at all. Okay, this guy was kind of funny, but you know those types that get on the loud speaker and they're NOT funny. That's the kind I hate.

It also struck me as odd that this was one of the few times I was alright with the in-flight movie. It was Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz in something called "Banditas." Oh sure, if there were any Girls Cone Wild moments, they'd end up on the cutting room floor of this airline to make it PG, but at least it was a movie I hadn't seen already. (And by the way, if there are any of those GGW moments, this thing is going on my Netflix queue tomorrow.)

Now, about that Astros College Classic in Minute Maid Park this weekend. It was a huge setting and a great stage for college baseball. The attendance was outstanding and the Fan Fest that co-insided with the games hopefully brought out a bunch of new college baseball fans. Except for the deceiving start times, it was a well-run weekend. Great press box food too. Although, considering this was a big league ball park, I shouldn't be surprised.


What I learned---

- Vanderbilt
This team doesn't have a quit button. The Commodores don't mope around and feel sorry for themselves when they get behind. David Price threw more off-speed stuff than I expected and wasn't exactly lights out by any means. But Pedro Alvarez seemed to get better with every game, despite a few funky defensive lapses. Oh and No. 3 starter Brett Jacobson and the bullpen in general, led by Cody Crowell, looks pretty good. A top five team? For now, I'll sign that memo.

- Rice.
The Owls need to get their arms healthy and I'm not sure if they will. Got some conflicting information on Cole St. Clair's return, but either way, it doesn't look soon. Still a lot of good arms to go around. Frosh Ryan Berry was nails against Baylor. This team seemed to go flat at times, like it was looking for a Josh Rodriguez-type bat to pull them up by the bootstraps, but it never came. Still, when the hitting hits its stride, the Owls should be fine. Just not No. 1 for the time being.

- Arizona State.
When Pat Murphy said, 'We have a long way to go, particularly on offense." I could just imagine the pupils in their opponents eyes getting smaller all at once. Granted, they were a little inconsistent on offense as well, but when the Devils bats were on, it was almost inhumane. Josh Satow can be a great fool artist as a weekend starter and freshman Mike Leake, who showed potential at the plate, was wicked on the mound vs. A&M. And Matt Spencer was a freakin' monster! His home run on Saturday might still be traveling.

- Houston
Even Coach Murphy conceded that the Cougars will be a good team once they get their injuries healed up, despite the lopsided loss to his Sun Devils. For instance, pitcher Ricky Hargrove will be a big help. Houston didn't take advantage of all their opportunities, but tended to hit the ball hard, even the ones that went for outs. Keep an eye on Jimmy Cesario and Dustin Kingsbury, especially when they hit back-to-back. Aaron Brown appears to be a gem on the mound.

- Texas A&M.
Just got home and saw that the Ags beat Rice to go 2-1 on the weekend. Nice win. I do know they got some good pitching from Kyle Thebeau and Jordan Chambless on Saturday. The offense was a little hit-and-miss and the defense could've been a bit more steady. Friday starter Jason Meyer will have better outings, especially since he won't have to face an offense like ASU every week. Confidence is still job one for Rob Childress, especially after last year's great start and subsequent collapse.

- Baylor.
Probably the most disappointing team of the weekend. Wait, forget "probably", they were. The offense got shut down pretty good in all three of their games. But keep in mind, it's a lot of young bats, so they'll get more comfortable as the season goes. Dustin Dickerson and Aaron Miller showed some good freshman flashes. The mound corps also didn't hold up its end of the bargin as a hot arm was never found. Had the most obnoxious fans though.


Here's what I saw today at Minute Maid Park---

Arizona State - 11
Houston - 1
Josh Satow lightly tossed a slew of 66-68 mile per hour pitches, which according to coach Pat Murphy was a little too fast for a slow-ball pitcher like Satow. Yet he confused the Cougar bats all day and brilliantly got the complete game win. It marked the first time since the '05 College World Series that an ASU pitcher had tossed a complete game. Ike Davis led the hit parade going 3-for-4 with three RBI. It was a solid outing by the Sun Devils, who rebounded from a frustrating loss on Saturday.

Vanderbilt - 7
Baylor - 4
Unlike the first two games of this weekend, the Commodores didn't mess around with trying to make a big mid-game rush and pull out a dramatic victory. They just dominated from start to finish. Starter Brett Jacobson pitched a great game, going 6.2 innings, striking out six, giving up just one earned run and providing Coach Tim Corbin with another reliable arm in the arsenal.

Sorry, but my flight time tonight kept me from seeing the final game of the day, Texas A&M's 4-2 win over Rice. But before I left the park, I did manage to talk to Owl head honcho Wayne Graham for a quick Q&A. He offered a few gems and a couple of surprises. I'll type it up as soon as I can and have it up on the site in the next day or two..

Since I got back so late tonight - and my dog is still wanting a midnight search-and-destroy walk - I'll keep this wrap-up a bit short.


Teams I have to admit I was pulling for today---

Georgia, UCLA and Texas.
As I've stated before, I hate all teams on an equal basis. So don't mistake this for any bias here. But each of these teams played so close with Oregon State, Miami and Long Beach State on Friday and Saturday that I thought it would be a shame if they didn't get a little RPI boost with at least one win in the three-game series.

Oregon State - 6
Georgia - 2
The Dogs played well enough to win in each game but whenever things started going bad it turned into a disaster quickly. The bullpen implosion must be of particular concern to Coach Dave Perno. But hard-hitting Gordon Beckham, with his two home runs on Saturday, and leadoff man Jonathan Wyatt are not.

UCLA - 3
Miami - 7
The Bruins lost a pair of one run games on Friday and Saturday in which it looked like Brandon Crawford was going to be the hero both times. But the Bruins couldn't get over the hump. Yonder Alonso was the biggest culprit in the first two games, going 4-for-5 with 5 RBI and three walks. Today, another close game sifted out of the Bruin hands thanks to Blake Tekotte's two-run double in the 8th.

Texas - 2
Long Beach State - 1
The well-armed Horns salvaged the Sunday game with four pitchers combining on a 9-strikeout, 2-walk effort. Unlike the first two games of the series, there would be no Dirtbag magic on this day, though the tying run was at second in the 9th. But knight in shining armor Danny Espinosa was held in check, going just 1-for-4 today.


Scores that jumped off the page---

Cal State Fullerton - 11
UNLV - 12
Let's give the Rebs some credit, the dramatic balk-call win today means they've beaten Fullerton and Pepperdine (twice) already this season. (By the way, Bryan Harris was called for the balk. Last year at Stanford, he also lost a game with a balked-in run in the 9th.).

Virginia - 2
Coastal Carolina - 3
CCU gets the RPI help it craves. Chris Raber's 7th-inning yard call is the winning run. Chants sweep the field at their Springmaid Beach Tournament.

Georgia Tech - 6
Georgia Southern - 9
Mike Economos and A.J. Wirnsberger both went 4-for-4 and with 2 RBI. First series sweep for GSU over Tech since '96.

Southeast Louisiana - 4
Tulane - 0
Hard to believe as it is, the Lions actually won this series 2-to-1. In fact, even Friday's 19-4 loss was very misleading as Tulane led just 5-3 before the Green Wave piled it on with 14 runs in the last two innings.

USC - 4
San Diego - 3 (10inns.)
Who else but Matt Cusick? His RBI single in the 10th gave the Trojans a 2-to-1 weekend series win. Robert Stock gets his second save of the season. At this pace he'll have 10 saves by his 18th birthday.

Oh and in case you're wondering, Kansas got redemption for the middle-of-the-night loss to South Dakota State on Saturday morning by winning both games vs. the Jack-a-lopes, er... I mean, Jackrabbits, at the MetroDome that started at 3am Sunday morning.

That's it for now - although I know there's more I could talk about. Tomorrow we'll start up our Teams of the Week feature once again (Miami, Oregon State, get your acceptance speeches ready.). See you all then.

Hope you had a great college baseball weekend.

G'night.

Comments

Yes, the Astros College Classic is the sort of event college baseball needs more of.

When the NCAA announced the "no games before the last Friday in February" rule, I saw a counter-proposal on an SEC baseball site. The idea was to allow teams to start their season a week earlier, if they played in a neutral-site tournament. Is this idea going anywhere?

Thanks for readin' Bob. I don't know if that proposal is going through or not. But I hope it comes about either way, 'coz neutral site tournaments sure beat playing a bunch of tin cans at home for an easy W and it also means more non-conference games.

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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