Saturday Statements, March 3

If you were looking for good games, today wasn't really your day. Sure there was a close game or two here and there on the schedule, but the marquee matchups just didn't measure up. Most of those games were stinkers on the intrigue scale because of blowout results.

I happened to be at one of them tonight. Unfortunately.

What I saw at Goodwin Field tonight:
Rice - 9
Cal State Fullerton 3

The Owls came out with steam coming out of their beaks, blasting out 16 hits, committing no errors and getting great relief pitching from Bobby Bramhall and Matt Langwell. In other words, to paraphrase what Fullerton coach George Horton said afterward, Rice excelled in every phase of the game. Offensively, Joe Savery and Diego Seastrunk both swatted three hits apiece, while Jess Buenger, Aaron Luna and Chad Lembeck went yard to supply the long ball intimidation factor. And the Owl defense always seemed a step or two ahead of where the ball was going. It was a great effort on Rice's part. They came to play man. No doubt.

A couple of interesting notes heading into tomorrow's rubber match:
- The Owls have 28 combined hits in the first two games against Fullerton this weekend. Compare that with their 22 hits in all three games between the two last year.
- The Owls also have a lot of other hits. Hit batsmen, that is. So far in these two games, Rice pitchers have plunked Titan batters nine times. Something the Fullerton fans made sure the umpires knew about after the fourth one tonight.
- Marathons. The first two games have taken 3:36 and 3:23. Pack a lunch in the morning. You know how Sunday games can be.
- 11. Fullerton has used 11 non-starters in fill-in roles in the two games. Talk about not being settled on a lineup.

On to a few other things that happened around the country today.


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The over-hyped game of the day---
South Carolina - 12
Clemson - 0
Geez guys, thanks for making this such a bummer of a game. Well, unless you're a Gamecock fan of course. Nothing like mashing your rival to a moist spot in the dirt. Four Carolina pitchers combined to hold what I thought was a potent Clemson offense to two measly hits. (I didn't stutter.). Too many offensive stars to mention for the 'Cocks, but erstwhile struggling Justin Smoak went 3-for-5 with three RBI, finally allowing SC fans to smile. Game two tomorrow. Let's pray for something better... all of us, in unison.


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The game that really mattered to ECU---
North Carolina State - 5
East Carolina - 4 (10inns.)
So if you had to ask any ECU fan who they would've rather beaten, Pepperdine or NC State, who do you think they'd say? I agree, the Pack. State wins on a bases-loaded single. But the most impressive stat of the day had to be the crowd of 5, 523 that had Clark-LeClair Stadium bursting at the seams. Tomorrow's LeClair Classic games will have ECU facing off with Western Carolina and N.C. State playing Pepperdine.


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Best first win of the season---
Boston College - 6
Florida Atlantic - 5
Then again, this is an ACC team. Aren't they supposed to beat teams from the Sun Belt? Ryan Hutchinson had three doubles on the day, going 4-for-5. Jett Ruiz, which would be a killer name for a rock band, homered as part of a 2-for-4 day. BC is now 1-3. FAU falls to 11-3.


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Best conference performance---
The Big Ten.
Okay, not the entire Big 10, but the contenders that should finish at the top had a great day, collectively. Here are some examples.

Penn State - 3
North Carolina - 2 (10inns.)
The Nittany Lions get a down-to-the-last-strike home run from Robert Yodice in the 9th, then score the game-winner with the help of a 'Heel error in the 10th. Craig Clark and Drew O'Neil combine to hold the Tar Heel bats to four hits on the day. I might've put Bob Gibson and Roger Clemens in their prime and still thought UNC would get more than four hits. PSU is now 4-2. UNC suffers its first loss, and is now 10-1.


Michigan - 11
Troy - 3

Michigan - 4
Mississippi State - 3
The Wolverines made amends for Friday's horrid 13-6 loss to the Trojans. Then, in front of 4,000+ rabid Dog fans, the Wolverines, not bothered by the pressure of their surroundings nor the nine strikeouts thrown by MSU's Justin Pigott, calmly stride away with a win at Dudy-Noble. This was MSU's first loss in six games. UMich is now 5-2.

Mississippi - 2
Minnesota - 3

Mississippi - 9
Minnesota - 4
The Gophers did damn well in their opening weekend at the Homewood Suites Shootout, beating UNC-Asheville, The Citadel and Virginia Tech. But the win over No. 18 Ole Miss was a step up in prestige. Mike Mee, a career clutch hitter, slapped a two-run double in the 9th. Then, he scored the winning run on Jeff DeSmidt's RBI single. The Gophers couldn't pull the double-trick in game two. Rebs win despite still not getting SS Zach Cozart to be Zach Cozart, as he went 1-for-9 today.

Purdue - 12
Western Kentucky - 5
The Boilers beat WKU. Yeah, no biggie, right? Well, it's still not a bad win when you consider the Hilltoppers have already beaten UNC-Wilmington and Oklahoma. But Purdue has now taken them down two days in a row, with Ricky Heines getting his second win of the season (the first came in a shut-out at Georgia) striking out seven and giving up just one earned run.


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Can't wait for game three---
Louisiana-Lafayette - 4
Southern Mississippi - 0
This has been a great series so far. Lots of quality stuff here Maynard. Today, it was the pitching of John Zorich and Danny Farquhar, who combined to strike out nine and scatter eight hits for the Cajuns. The Eagles stranded five runners in the 8th and 9th innings alone.

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East vs. West, day 2---

Round 2 goes to: the West, four games to three.

West wins:

Western Carolina - 1
Pepperdine - 3
WCU is a good team, now dropping to 6-3, but playing well. The interesting thing about this game is that Waves coach Steve Rodriguez decided to start Sunday man Robert DIckman and save Frosh All-American Brett Hunter for tomorrow's N. C. State game.

Baylor - 1
Pacific - 3
Ed Sprague is still trying to get the confidence level up for the Tigers and this game should help a good bit, especially when David Rowse goes 8.0 innings, striking out nine and giving up just two hits.

Cal State Northridge - 8
Texas Tech - 3
I'm having a tough time wrapping my mind around the fact that these teams are winning with good pitching. But three Matador hurlers held Tech's 1-2-3 hitters to a 2-for-13 night. Tech hit-machine Roger Kieschnick has gone 1-for-7 in the two games so far.

USC - 4
Georgia - 2
Like CSTV blogger Anthony Dasher pointed out, why can't the Dogs score anything after the first inning? For the second straight day, USC shuts down UGa in innings 2-through-9 again. SS Grant Green leads the way again for SC, going 3-for-4 and scoring half their runs.


East wins:

Rice - 9
Cal State Fullerton - 3
The Owls just came to play. Plain and simple. As stated above, they displayed a well-rounded game and never trailed the entire night. Bobby Bramhall and Matt Langwell held Fullerton to two hits in the last 4.1 innings.

Arizona State - 8
Auburn - 11
How do you know this isn't the same Auburn team as in 2006? The Tigers came back from an 8-0 hole to paste ASU pitching for 11 runs. That shows some moxie. Great win for the Plainsmen.

UC Riverside - 5
Oklahoma - 11
I'm starting to think that OU is a no-brainer for Team of the Week in the Midwest. Coach Sunny Golloway picks up win No. 400 of his coaching career. In SS Aaron Reza's six games back from injury, he's hitting 11-for-22... which I'm relatively sure is a .500 average (sorry, I went to a state school).


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Label this either "coming up clutch" or "by the skin of their teeth"---
Wright State - 8
Tulane - 9
After last night's 13-inning escape of the inspired Raiders, Tulane pulled the rug out from under them again today. Only this time, WSU scored seven of its eight runs in the 9th inning alone. Coach Jones had to be pulling his hair out because the Greenies used three pitchers in the last inning, before eventually resorting to ace reliever Daniel Latham coming in and getting the final out of the game. Meanwhile, WSU pitchers issued 14 walks on the day.

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I could write more, but it's time to go to bed. There will be more baseball tomorrow.

Hey, I just noticed in the L.A. Weekly concert listings that the Hoodoo Gurus are coming to the El Rey Theatre in late March. Nice. Didn't know they reunited. Unlike The Police, these Australian blokes aren't doing it for the money (I'm looking your way Mr. Andy Summers). Now if only Midnight Oil would open for them. Hmmmm.

G'night.

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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