Sunday Summations, Chasing the sun with the Titans

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North Carolina, just moments before they swept up Miami on Sunday


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You ever hear that semi-famous quote from Muhammad Ali, who once stated while flying, "This plane ain't gonna crash, I'm on it."?

Tonight, on my way back from Raleigh, North Carolina, I was on the same non-stop flight as Coach George Horton and the Cal State Fullerton baseball team. No worries, this guy's won a national championship and has the best program in the West. Nothing to fear.

Only, it doesn't seem as if George's boys are too golden right now, coming off a three-game sweep at the hands (and butt-kickin' feet) of East Carolina this weekend.

And no, there's no truth to the rumor that the Pirates were out in the parking lot after Sunday's game calling Fullerton off the bus to play a fourth game.

That 0-for-3 performance was the most stunning result of the entire weekend. Go ahead, by show of hands, who here saw this one coming?... that's what I thought.

I have to admit, seeing ECU get beat in three straight at UCLA three weeks ago, was also a bit of a surprise, but also made me think this was going to be an Pirate team that might struggle to make the post-season again. I think my view has changed now.

This was a real beat-down. Holding the Titans to just six hits in the first 18 innings was incredible enough. Then today, the Pirates went steel for steel with the Titan bats. Not many teams have done that and lived to tell the tale.

Big props to ECU. This was probably the most impressive three-game performance by any team all season long. Which reminds me, let's do this real quick...

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The most impressive sweeps of the weekend---
1- East Carolina over Cal State Fullerton (6-1, 2-0, 12-5)
This weekend may change the destiny of both teams here. Incredible.
2- North Carolina over Miami (7-5, 3-1, 11-7)
UNC makes amends for lackluster weekend vs. Penn State. Miami looks troubled.
3- Boston College over Duke (3-1, 10-5, 10-2)
This was Toto pulling the curtain to expose the "wizard." Nice work BC.
4- Texas A&M over Florida State (7-1, 13-5, 6-1)
Ags sweep Gators again. So only one of them are now in tailspin mode this year. Not both.
5- Arkansas over Kansas (8-7, 4-0, 5-2)
In battle of Nicks, Schmidt beats Czyz on Saturday, though both give up just three hits.


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Speaking of those sweeps...

What I saw at Boshamer Stadium today:
Miami - 7
North Carolina - 11
The Tar Heels got into a slugfest with the Hurricanes and lived to tell about it. UNC used a staggering (okay, and annoying) nine pitchers on the day, just enough to keep the Canes from making a comeback. A Benji Johnson grand slam in the 2nd inning put Carolina up for good. Eight pitchers made sure that lead would stick, including winning pitcher Tyler Trice (who threw six pitches) and save artist Andrew Carignan (who threw two pitches). Note that both pitchers of record threw more pitches in warm-ups than in the game. The Heels survived an offensive onslaught from UM leadoff hitter Jemile Weeks (3-for-5 and a triple short of the cycle) and Dennis Raben (3-for-3 with two home runs).

Miami is now 10-9 and looking for answers in the bullpen once again, an old concern. UNC is 15-1 and looked better than at any other time this season, since it was the first set of games against a team with a pulse.


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Other weekend highlights in Carolina---
- Seeing East Carolina's new Clark-LeClair Stadium. Nice joint, all the trimmings.
- Seeing leadoff men like Harrison Eldridge (ECU), Greg Miclat (UVa), Jemile Weeks (Miami). Great talents.
- Enjoying $2.30-per-gallon gasoline. (When did gas become half price?)
- Attending a concert at the venerable Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill.
- Getting to see Ernie Shore Stadium (the sight of Wake's 2002 Regional) after the Wake game.
- Interviewing UVa coach Brian O'Connor, a former Creighton mound stud.
- Winning the trivia contest at the Wake Forest game. I've never won anything before!
- Getting a chance to talk with Baseball America's Aaron Fitt. We both agreed this isn't Fullerton's year and Miami and ECU are impossible to figure out.
- Having a few brews at He's Not Here in Chapel HIll. One of the best names for a bar as I've ever heard.

Weekend lowlights---
- Having freakin' "Rocky Balboa" as my in-flight movie on the way back to LAX.


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One last thing about NCAA tournaments that use the RPI---
So you're telling me there were only six (6) mid-major at-large bids for the NCAA basketball tournament announced today? That's horrible. In 2004, the committee gave mid-major teams 12 at-large bids. I hate when big money conferences get preferential treatment. Drexel and Missouri State should have gotten in. And not only is six bids bad, but two of those teams will face off with each other in the first round as No. 5 seed Butler will play No. 12 seed Old Dominion on Thursday.

I hope the baseball tournament committee wasn't taking any notes.


G'night.

Comments

Hey man, I love your articles. Just wanted to let you know you confused FSU with Florida in your "most impressive sweeps" #4. I was born and raised a Noles fan, not a good idea to mix those two up.

OREGON STATE. DO YOU REMEMBER THEM?

You're right Will. Damb!... I mean, damn! My fault. Didn't mean to put "state" in there. just happens sometimes. You win the dollar for noticing first.

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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