Friday First Takes - The Berzerkely Edition


Evans Diamond at Cal.

Greetings from Berkeley, the campus where they filmed The Graduate, birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, Dr. Harry Edwards, Dr. Timothy Leary and, if you will, where Kendall Rogers said he would never want to visit.

On an off-day from the West Regional in San Jose, I made it out to Evans Diamond on the California campus to see the "Turn on, tune in, drop out" Bears take on the "If I don't raise 10 million dollars, God will call me home" Eagles. (That's Cal vs. Oral Roberts, in case you lacked any historical perspective.)

I love the Berkeley campus. It's built on a natural uphill - though not as drastic as Pepperdine's. It is vibrantly green, offers good views of San Francisco Bay and is surrounded by college town-type of streets with endless restaurants, bars and shops, both national chains and the ultimately cooler mom and pop type of joints.

Okay, so I hate that you can't shoehorn your car into anywhere on campus because the parking situation sucks. But walking isn't so bad, you know?

What I saw at Evans Diamond:
Oral Roberts
000 200 010 - 3 7 2
010 130 30x - 8 12 1

WP: Nick Nunez (now 2-0)
LP: Jeremy Hefner (now 3-1)
Attendance: 307 (although it looked like less)

Well you know how hitters at the top of the lineup are supposed to carry a team? Cal head man David Esquer got exactly that today, just like a perfect script. The top four hitters - Stephan Carlson, Jeff Kobernus, David Cooper and Josh Satin - combined to go 7-for-16 and knocked in seven of the eight Golden Bear runs to help UC breeze to an 8-3 win in game two of the series. It's now tied at a win a piece.

The big daggers were supplied by Cooper, the Cal State Fullerton transfer, who belted a two-run single and a one-run single in his last two at-bats of the day. Both he and clean-up man Josh Satin - who also homered to start the scoring - ended up 2-for-4.

ORU was led by strapping First Baseman Chad Rothford, who hit a screaming line-drive home run over the 365 power alley sign to give the Eagles a brief lead early on. Rothford, a holdover from ORU's '06 Super Regional team, goes about 6'5"-250. An imposing sight. He'll likely pad his stats huge once Mid-Con play starts, if he ever sees many pitches to swing at.

Surprisingly, neither team is having a noteworthy season so far. I say "surprisingly" because ORU had a good nucleus returning from last year's 45-win team, but has labored so far this season, not even getting a signature win or two thus far. It could be - and I gasp in horror at the mere mention of this - the year that ORU actually gets challenged in Mid-Con play. And unless drastic changes lie ahead, Cal looks like it will probably be near the caboose in the Pac 10 again.

Oh but the most frustrating thing of the whole day had to be the way ORU handled opposing base runners. Catcher David Van Kirk, a Tennessee transfer, had no arm behind the dish for the Eagles today. So once anyone got on first with a hit or a walk, ORU would automatically throw over to first base at least five-to-ten times each at-bat afterward. It made the game much longer than it needed to be.

For some reason, the few times that Cal was able to steal, it did so with ease off of Van Kirk, who must be suffering the effects of a dead arm or something. He had no chance to catch anybody. Eventually, Van Kirk was replaced in the 7th inning and a few fans from Cal gave a mock cheer because of it.

Now some quick thoughts on my Top 10 weekend series. And by the way, in the words of that Florida football announcer, Ho-My! It was wicked day of baseball. Was there a bad game in the bunch?:

Vanderbilt - 7
Arkansas - 8 (10inns)_
Is it going to be a classic game every Friday for Vandy? Geez. Actually, the Price-vs.-Schmidt matchup never materialized as each stud was a little off his game. But you could expect that with these two offenses. Arkansas scores the game-winning run on a deep sac fly that was misplayed on the relay, allowing Logan Forsythe to score from second. (Am I reading that right? Yeesh.)

Cal State Fullerton - 7
Long Beach State - 4
Cold-as-stone Wes Roemer is going South fast, giving up four runs on five hits and - still wiping my eyes here - four walks. Justin Klipp, who has thrown some quality innings lately, comes in to get the W for CSUF. Jake Vasquez, the A&M transfer, continues to get good at-bats as well, hitting a two-run homer in the 7th to account for the winning runs.

Texas A&M - 7
Oklahoma - 3
Sooner starter Stephen Porlier, a Tulane mercenary, suffered his first loss of the year after a great 4-0 start. He struck out 12, but gave up nine hits and seven runs in 7.0 innings. The big key? A&M flingers David Newmann (now 4-0) and Kyle Nicholson held OU's 3-4-5 hitters to and 0-for-12 night.

Arizona State - 10
USC - 0
Can't say I'm shocked. In fact, anything ASU does this year will come as no surprise. That's just what you get with a team that has so many new players trying to gel and so much offensive talent. The goose-egg for SC? That's a surprise, because off all the bats they flash. Josh Satow went the distance on a 6-hitter to improve to 7-1.

Rice - 3
Southern Mississippi - 9
Don't be shocked by this either, for two reasons. One, Ryan Belanger is a good, albeit underrated pitcher. And two, until Rice busts out of its .260ish team batting average, they'll lose more games like this. Friday, Seastrunk, Henley, Savery and Luna combine to go 0-for-17. Nice crowd of 4,119 too.

Miami - 1
Virginia - 4
Jacob Thompson is fitting nicely into his new Friday ace role for UVa, as he improves to 6-0 on the season, with an 8.0 inning, four-hit, 10K performance.

South Carolina - 20
Mississippi State - 3
Okay, since that Chisenhall/Fuller burglary hoo-hah, the Gamecocks have gone 2-0 and outscored their opposition 33-4. Reese Havens and James Darnell both gather four RBI on the night, while Phil Disher, taking over for Chisenhall, could only manage a mere three.

Missouri - 5
Nebraska - 1 (11inns)
Round one of the Big 12 North rivals goes to the Tigers. I really like this team, winning in a tough environment tonight. No easy task. But give Husker starter Tony Watson big props. He went 10.0 innings, giving up just three hits and striking out seven. It was his replacements that blew the game, giving up four runs with the help of an error, a hit batsmen and a walk in the 11th.

TCU - 11
BYU - 12
Cougars give their fans every penny worth with a three-run rally in the bottom of the 9th to pull out the second game of the series. The rubber match is Saturday in Provo.

Oregon State
Cal Poly
DNP. This series is going to go Saturday-to-Monday because of OSU's mid-terms schedule this week. Game one tomorrow at 4pm.

Best off the radar series---
Mercer - 2
Stetson - 3
Melching Field had to be jumpin' tonight. Corey Kluber won his fifth decision (against no losses) with 7.2 innings of nine-K work. Robbie Elsemiller picked up save number 10 already this season (more saves than Harvard has played games).

Second best off the radar series---
VMI - 2
Winthrop - 4
It's good to see Alex Wilson return to dominant form, K'ing 14 Keydets and allowing just four hits in a complete game effort. Mighty-mite slugger Billy Froehlich was beaned three times in the game. Wonder if he balled his fist after that third one?

File this under "See what happens when you don't play road games early on?"---
Clemson - 1
Maryland - 4
The Tigers are now 0-3 in road games, 14-2 at home.

Miami - 1
Virginia - 4
Canes are now 1-6 away from Mark Light.

North Carolina - 15
Virginia Tech - 4
Oops. Well, okay, but it's still just Virginia Tech.

Georgia - 3
Tennessee - 4
Just the second road game of the year for the 'Dogs.

Vanderbilt - 7
Arkansas - 8 (10inns)
I'll be keeping a close eye on games two and three of VU's first true roadies.

Okay, it's late. I've got to get back in basketball mode before too long. That UCLA-Kansas game here in San Jose should be tasty.

Still yours in the stitched-ball.



I'll give ya the YouTube link if you need it, but the Friday night VU/UA game ended with a deep fly to center by Logan Forsythe, and Sean Jones tagged from second in. The Vandy second baseman, shocked at Jones rounding third, missed the relay throw. Gutsy call by Van Horn and great hustle on the part of Jones.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


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