Friday First Takes - The Eating Crow Version

A new team Bruin

Before I get to the crow-eating stuff in this edition, lemme tell you about what I saw.

I decided to ride out to Jackie Robinson Stadium tonight to check out a few innings of the second UCLA-Washington game of the weekend. And, well... it got ugly in a quick way.

What I saw at Jackie Robinson Stadium tonight---
Washington - 2
UCLA - 11

I've gotta tell ya', it seemed like a totally different blue and gold team out there this time around. Not for any other reason than the fact that the Bruins have Jermaine Curtis back in their lineup, and his presence was huge. He actually returned from his academic troubles last weekend for the Stanford game, so he's been back for four games. But tonight was his coming out party. Curtis went 2-for-4, got hit by a pitch, scored three runs and absolutely peppered the ball each time he was at the dish. Hitting from the lead-off spot and starting at shortstop for Brandon Crawford, it was obvious that he made a big difference in being out there tonight. Additionally, No. 8 hitter Ryan Babineau, a great defensive catcher, burst out of his shell, going 4-for-4 with three Ribs, including two wicked-long yard calls. Brick wall back there, Babineau!

UCLA starter Tim Murphy threw 6.0 innings of 7-strikeout ball and still had his fastball hitting 92mph in the 7th inning, before he got pulled after opening the inning by issuing a walk. He came away with the win, improving to 2-1.

I'm tellin' ya', considering this was a hot Husky team coming into this weekend (14-3 of late), the Bruins look like a new team now and improve to 15-14 with the win, including a 5-0 mark in Pac 10 games.

Oh, and I'm not sure if I should admit this or not, but I sat behind some Washington softball coaches for part of the game tonight (they are playing at UCLA this weekend) and I think I've developed a crush. Damn.

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New digs---
Ironically, both UCLA and Washington are in the process of improving their ballparks. Jackie Robinson has a whole new netting system that doesn't require those obstructive posts (or that obnoxious shower of rust that would happen every time the ball was fouled into the old iron fencing they had before... I wonder why my pop always tasted funny?). It's a pretty sheer netting too, allowing for good viewing. Also, the usher at the stadium tonight was talking about how 750 additional seats were going to be built for next season along the grass berm areas down each foul line and how the playing surface is going to get a facelift with new prescription turf and new infield dirt in the off-season.

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SIDs doing their job---
I have to admit, Washington's Jeff Bechtold is the best SID in the business. And he told me that Washington is also in the process of giving their baseball facility a serious upgrade. A new press box and lockers building is going to be started after the end of this season. That will eventually lead to an entirely new facade and grandstand that will allow Husky fans to enjoy a comfortable new facility while looking out at one of the greatest outfield views in all of college baseball.

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Charles Brewer update---
Talking with UCLA SID Alex Timiraos (How 'bout those BC Eagles playing for the puck national title tomorrow, A-man?), apparently the frosh phenom is well over his bout with mono but is now dealing with a tender elbow and that's why he has yet to pitch for the Bruins this season. If things progress as expected, he could be available for them in two weeks. They just don't want to do further damage by rushing him back into action. And I can dig that.


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Forget Good Friday, today is National In-My-Face Day---
In my Thursday Thoughts, I had reservations about the following teams that ended up winning tonight. No, I mean winning impressively. Like, in my fat mug impressively. (Yes, I'm not too proud to admit when I'm wrong.). By the way, before I start, did I ever mention that the song "Good Friday" is just about the only song The Black Crowes sang that was really worth the vinyl it was printed on? And just how did that pathetically skinny lead singer Chris Robinson ever land Kate Hudson?... I digress. Here are the games that shut my trap today:

Florida State - 10
North Carolina State - 4
On the road and everything! Noles get an "A" grade so far this weekend. Though Tony Thomas was just 1-for-6.

South Carolina - 12
Florida - 2
Gamecocks, you're one-third of the way to finally pulling out an impressive weekend. Harris Honeycutt is now 7-0.

Mississippi State - 11
Arkansas - 9
The Jim Belushi raised-eyebrow goes off of the Dogs and onto the Hogs. Got anything beyond Nick Schmidt?

Rice - 4
East Carolina - 0
Hose and company are suddenly struggling. Owls show they're still the team to beat in C-USA. Frosh Ryan Berry Ks 12 in 7.0 innings for the win.

Southern California - 4
Oregon State - 1
Forget all that rap about them being young, the Trojans even the series tonight in impressive fashion. Brad Boxberger is the real deal (7.0inns, 3 hits).

Oklahoma State - 2
Nebraska - 5
Sorry I doubted you Huskers. Tony Watson Ks 12 and goes complete. OSU, you REALLY need to impress me now.

UC Irvine - 2
Cal State Fullerton - 10
Wes Etheridge surrenders seven earned runs in 3.0 innings, laced with first loss of the season. The series is tied at one apiece now.


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Fastest game in the history of mankind---
Samford - 0
Austin Peay - 1
Chandler Tidwell and Shawn Kelley pitched complete games for each team, Tidwell giving up three hits and Kelley allowing just five. Only nine strikeouts between them, so there weren't a lot of long counts either. The result: a game that lasted just 1:54. And by the way, this was game one of a doubleheader. Samford won game two, 5-1, which was a 7-inning game that lasted 2:16.

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Biggest double upset of the day---
Lamar - 8 2
Central Arkansas - 16 8
Get this, Zach Dickson goes 7-for-10 with five doubles and seven RBI on the day for the Bears. Lamar drops to 8-3 in Southland play. UCA improves to 3-8. Jeremy Cloud strikes out 11 as part of a complete-game, five-hitter in game two.

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College boys in pro ballparks again---
Santa Clara - 2
San Francisco - 6
In the Bendetti Classic played at Pac Bell Park in S.F., the game drew a crowd of just 900 people, but the Dons got a complete-game 7-hitter (and no walks) from Jason Dufloth, who improves to 5-3, to pull out the win over their bay area rivals.


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Not Ready For Prime Time Players---
Pittsburgh - 6
Louisville - 4
After getting some nice pub early this season from our boy Mr. Etheridge over at SEBaseball and getting a nice bit of pub from Baseball America's weekend preview today, the Cards promptly went out and laid an egg to Pitt. Seth Button hit a pair of doubles and a home run as part of a 3-for-4 day with a pair of RBI. Pitt's Paul Nardozzi went 6.0 innings and gathered 10 strikeouts along the way. As if that wasn't bad enough, the game was played in upper 30s temps with intermittent snow flurries.


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Keeping a keen eye on---
Coastal Carolina - 13
Troy - 6
I have to admit, looking back at my previous stuff this season, I haven't given enough love to the Chanticleers. They're making their 2005 No. 1 seed season look like a pre-school rec league. At 28-3, CCU had a nice win tonight and if they keep it up, this could be a pretty impressive series win. Remember, the Trojans beat Arkansas and gave the Hogs fits all weekend long back in February.


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Streak stopper---
Miami Univ. - 1
Eastern Michigan - 3
At the coolest old-school stadium I've seen in college baseball, the RedHawks had their 10-game win streak stopped by a pretty good EMU squad this afternoon. Miami's record now falls to 17-10 overall and both teams move to 6-1 in MAC play. Keep in mind, EMU is just 8-12 overall, but they played very well in the pre-conference, including wins at Tennessee and Arizona.


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Second game-winning hit in as many nights---
UNLV - 3
BYU - 5
Just like the game I watched on BYU TV last night, the Coogs' Apana Nakayama provided BYU's game-winning hit once again to help the Cougars beat the Rebs for the second game in a row. Nakayama went 3-for-4 on the night and helped BYU improve to 18-13 and 5-3 in MWC play. UNLV falls to 14-22 and 3-5.


Okay, it's getting near 1:30am, I gotta get some sleep. I'm also hoping to make it out to the finale of the UCI-Fullerton game tomorrow. Hopefully traffic will play nice with me. Oh, and I'm going to TiVo the Pepperdine-LMU game. Did I mention that the Waves had to pull out a 6-5 win in the 13th inning of today's game? Typical of those two rivals.

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