Friday First Takes

The tragic accident of the Bluffton University baseball team, whose bus crashed in Atlanta early this morning and caused the death of four players, was terrible news to wake up to this morning. I can't imagine what that team must be going through at this time.

And you know what's weird? Do you ever stop and think about the endless amount of college and high school athletic teams that travel on buses and airplanes each and every weekend? I don't mean to sound morbid about it, but thank the travel gods that incidents like this don't happen more often. Especially considering so many overnight bus rides in the horrible weather that this winter has wrought across the country.

God's speed to those Bluffton players who survived the accident and will push on without their fallen teammates. It certainly casts a pall over today's college baseball action.

Let's press on to some of today's games.

Best win---
Oregon State - 2
Texas A&M - 5
Not that I doubted the Aggies, especially after they beat Rice while going 2-1 at the Houston Classic, but after last season's nose-dive at around this same time of the season, you had to wonder a little bit. But a nice win over the defending champs here as David Newmann and Kyle Nicholson combine on a 5-hitter against a team that knows how to handle the bats. And I could just imagine that student section was alive all night long.

Score that jumped off the page---
Pepperdine - 3
East Carolina - 4
What a nice win for the Pirates as they crash the Waves shore and hand ace Barry Enright his first loss of the season. After seeing the way ECU has played early on, I wouldn't have guessed this outcome. Ryan Tousley was unstoppable, going 4-for-4 with a home run and three ribs. T.J. Hose gets the win on the mound going 7.2 innings of 6-hit work to improve to 2-2. Shane Matthews got his third save of the year. I'm supposed to be going to next Friday's Cal State Fullerton at East Carolina game, and this win today just makes me wish next Friday was here sooner.

Hail to another "mid-major"---
Louisiana-Lafayette - 4
Southern Miss - 7
Nice opening win for the Eagles' weekend. This could end up being a real big series at the end of the season. USM gets a third straight win from Ryan Belanger (now 3-0) and a fourth straight save in as many appearences from Patrick Ezell. Eagles improve to 9-1 and hand the Cajuns their first loss of '07 in 11 games.

The proverbial frying pan into the fire---
Richmond - 11
Wichita State - 10

Temple - 5
Winthrop - 4 (10inns.)
My God, this week can't end soon enough for these two. The Shockers don't look like the same team that just got through sweeping Hawaii out on the islands. And Winthrop doesn't look like the team I saw play a pair of nip-and-tuck games at UCLA. For Richmond, 2B Austin Reilly and 1B Joe Mahoney combined to record the last three outs of the game and also paced the offense, combining to go 6-for-10 with four RBI. Temple nearly blew the upset bid by allowing the Eagles to tie the game in the 9th, but then escaped in the 10th when leadoff hitter Dan Brady singled and eventually came around to score. This was only the Owls second win of the season against five losses.

East vs. West---
Round one goes to: The East, six games to three.

East wins:
Oregon State - 2
Texas A&M - 5
Ags didn't even go with ace Jason Meyer as expected. And could somebody pour a pale of water on A&M? The Aggies are now 13-1 with 12 straight wins. This also marks the first loss of the season for the Beaver's Joe Paterson.

Pepperdine - 4
East Carolina - 5
Not to over-dramatize it, but this is a win ECU really needed over a hot Waves team. N. C. State and Western Carolina will provide stern tests for the Pirates as well, who are now an even 5-5.

UC Riverside - 5
Oklahoma - 14
My God. Justin Simmons gets roped for nine hits and seven runs in 5.0 innings. OU stays hot, improving to 7-4 after Tuesday's win over Wichita State. UCR is now 10-5.

UC Santa Barbara - 5
Lamar - 7
The Cardinals have now won eight straight after a 1-3 start. Brian Sisk is a name to watch, improving to 3-0 after giving up just four hits and two runs in 7.0 innings.

San Francisco - 4
Baylor - 5
With Aaron Poreda on the mound, this was USF's best chance at a win vs. the Bears. But Beamer Weems' third home run of the season and Aaron Miller's game-ending double in the bottom of the 9th did the Dons in. BU is now 9-4. USF drops to 7-6.

Cal State Northridge - 0
Texas Tech - 5
Could it be? The Red Raiders rely on pitching? Yep, A.J. Ramos struck out 10 Matadors in 7.0 innings of action, giving up just three hits as well. Tech is now 11-4. CSUN drops to 10-8.

West wins:
Rice - 3
Cal State Fullerton - 10
I'm kind of glad the traffic was so monstrously bad going out to Fullerton tonight. A 6-run 1st inning by the Titans made this game a yawner.

USC - 4
Georgia - 3
It's no shock that freshman Grant Green and junior Matt Cusick lead the Trojans offensively once again. It's becoming a pattern.

Arizona State - 8
Auburn - 2
Devils make it 2-0 in Pac 10 vs. SEC today. The Maroons didn't seem too fazed by Auburn's 2.56 team ERA, hitting .381 for the game.

The Jim Belushi raised eyebrow goes to---
Georgia Tech's pitching.
Gave up 14 hits and 12 runs in their 18-12 track meet win against Rutgers.

Vanderbilt's offense.
Only three runs against Xavier? In yet another tight game (3-2), the Commodores pull out their 4th one-run win. But how long will this kind of good fortune stay with them?

LSU's everything.
Man, did Smoke Laval ever leave the cupboard bare. Tigers lose to Lipscomb tonight 7-6. So while their basketball team's season came to an end to East Tennessee State, the Bison baseball team may have just jump-started its season, as they now sit at 10-4.

Holy smokes, it's late. I'm going to try to head out to Fullerton tomorrow for game two of the soiree. Hopefully it will be a better game than tonight, bringing back fond memories of last year's classic tussle at Reckling Park.

Speaking of, where are those dudes that let me "borrow" their beer bong on the hill beyond the left field wall last March?


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