Saturday Statements - Setting an NCAA record in Irvine

About a half-hour after all the fans had filed out of Anteater Ballpark tonight, Barry Faulkner of the Irvine Daily Pilot turned to me and said, "It's not often you get to see an NCAA record set." Sweet. I gotta agree. This was cool.

What I'm talking about is, tonight, I made the trek down the coastline to see UC Irvine beat Cal Poly 3-2 in game two of their three-game series. But the real news of the day was Anteater reliever Blair Erickson, who shut down the Mustangs 1-2-3 in the 9th inning to earn the 50th save of his career, setting a new NCAA record.

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What I saw at Anteater Ballpark tonight---
Cal Poly - 2
UC Irvine - 3
Wes Etheridge pitched 8.0 solid innings, scattering seven hits and striking out seven to improve to 9-1 on the season, and senior relief ace Blair Erickson earned his NCAA Division I record 50th career save to help UCI stay within striking distance of Poly in the Big West standings. With the win, UCI improves to 25-9-1 and 5-3 in Big West play. Cal Poly drops to 19-18 and still in first place at 6-2.

Erickson set the side down in the 9th inning with a strikeout and a pair of harmless flyouts, earning his 10th save of the season and improving his ERA to 2.40.

For more post-game comments about Erickson's record setting performance, check out the blog from the game here:

http://slog.cstv.com/touchingthebases/calpolyucirvine/

I've also got to say, offensively, I was most impressed with Cal Poly's Grant Desme. The number three hitter in the 'Stang lineup was unstoppable, going 4-for-4 with all sharply hit line drives and scoring both of Cal Poly's runs. With his four hits, Desme also raised his average to a cool .399.

Getting back to Irvine, after the game (and after all the questions about Blair Erickson) I asked Coach Dave Serrano about the performance of his team up to this point in the season:
"My goal is, and always will be, about getting this team to be better each and every day. I'll never rest until we've clinched something. I won't let the team rest until we've clinched something. Because the pitching has started to step up, I think as long as we can get it back together on offense and continue the good defense we've been playing - though we had a few miscues tonight - we'll be fine."

On how he feels his team measures up nationally:
"We've seen some people around the country and I don't know if there's any dominating team out there. I'll put us in the mix with anyone. I'll stack this team (UCI) up with anybody IF we're playing good Anteater baseball."

On if he agrees his team is in a good spot considering they've played Fullerton and Long Beach already:
"Oh definitely. We're sitting in a good spot. But tomorrow's going to be a war against Cal Poly. No doubt in my mind. I said that to the team. I told them, 'Don't come out to this dugout unless you're prepared to play the toughest game we've played all year.' That team (Poly) is going to come out ready to play. And tomorrow's a big, big game for this program. Cal Poly's not going to roll over. That's a good, good baseball team over there. It's going to be a dogfight."


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On to other goings-ons from around the country.

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What I saw on TV, part I---
Boston College - 18
Maryland - 6
Oh, it keeps getting worse for the Terps, this time losing to an expected also-ran in the ACC ladder. Now, more and more, it's looking like the Turtles are pulling their heads back inside their shells and going back to the bottom of the conference. I'm sorry to say I didn't watch much of this game. But I did see where Peter Frates of BC blasted an RBI double, a grand slam and a three-run homer in his first four at-bats. That's wicked huge.


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What I saw on TV, part II---
Nebraska -
Oklahoma -
Because of rain yesterday, the staff aces for both teams got the start in this one. Behind Tulane transfer Stephen Porlier's first career complete-game shutout on the mound (four hits, six Ks, no walks), OU was able to recover and pull out a 3-0 win. NU shot itself in the foot, going just 1-for-12 with runners on base.

It was good to finally be able to see NU's Tony Watson pitch too. Though he suffered the loss, he did a decent job, going 7.2 innings and giving up just three runs, albeit on 11 hits, while striking out four. Watson is a big time talent, having twice been drafted, including in the 17th round in last June's draft.

I not only love the way shortstop Aaron Reza plays for OU, but I also love that he was so well-spoken on-camera. He speaks quite comfortably on the tube for a 21-year old and he's a huge leader for the Sooners in the field and at the dish.


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What I saw on TV, part III---
UCLA - 7
USC - 6
These two teams have been playing each other since the dawn of time, so I'm not sure how many down-to-the-wire classics they've played, but add this game to that ledger. Facing a certain loss, the Bruins' Brandon Crawford proved why he's one of the best hitters in the Pac 10 with a two-out, two-strike, two-run 9th-inning two-bagger to tie the game off of SC relief ace Paul Koss. Then, one of UCLA's hottest bats, Cody Decker, got a huge infield single that scored Crawford all the way from 2nd base for the winning run. Nice drama.

I've written it before, but Grant Green has to be the most exciting freshman in the country. The Trojan shortstop hit his seventh triple of the season in the bottom of the fifth inning. That's one short of the school record of eight. Green ended up going 3-for-5 on the day and added to his lightning bolt status as the number two hitter in the lineup.

I liked UCLA coach John Savage's comments on the return of leadoff man Jermaine Curtis, who sat out February and March with an academic issue. "His return has meant everything to us. We didn't play very well for the first month and a half of the season. We really struggled. He came back that first Friday against Stanford and it was like a whole different team. It was contagious, everybody started swinging the bats and playing better defense. One guy made that big of a difference. We've now won eight out of ten and a lot of the credit goes to Jermaine."


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What I listened to on Sirius radio on the way down to Irvine---
Vanderbilt - 2
Kentucky - 1 (game suspended in Top of 6th)
It was the Vanderbilt feed of the game with Jeff Fisher (I think was his name) giving the play-by-play. It started with him saying things like "A light sprinkle falling now here in the bottom of the first" then "the rain starting to pick up here" and eventually getting to "it's really coming down out here now." Poor fans and players had to not only deal with that but also with the rather cool temperatures as well. Fisher also pointed out that the "attendance" was going to be somewhere near 3,000 fans, but in truth, there couldn't have been more than 300 in the stands. (One of big pet peeves, attendance figures being based on ticket sales and not actual attendance of fans at the stadium).

I figure tonight's game not getting completed was only appropriate. Since last night's game was a white-knuckler that went back-and-forth and into extra innings and also lasted five hours, ten minutes. Those fans in Lexington needed this extra span of time just to regroup from that emotionally draining contest.


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Best win of the day---
Chicago State - 7
Centenary - 0
This was the first 9-inning win for the Cougars this season. What is even more surprising is that it came against a team that looked like it had a shot at the Mid-Con title, since Oral Roberts is on a down-cycle and the Gents also have wins over Kansas State, Penn State and Northern Iowa and also played Arkansas to a tight game. But today was all about the 'Coogs, who came in with a 1-29 record. The Gentlemen won game two of the DH, 9-0.


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Best doubleheader of the day---
Texas A&M - 3 6
Missouri - 1 7
Kyle Nicholson and Aaron Crow put up a beauty of pitcher's duel in game one, both going the distance. But the resourceful Aggies pulled the W with a pair of runs in the top of the 9th inning. Not surprisingly, Blake Stouffer started the rally with a single and then scored the winning run on a sac bunt by Craig Stinson. In game two, Mizzou let A&M recover from a 6-1 hole, but then scored the winning run in the bottom of the 9th when the Aggies couldn't complete a double play on a grounder by Jacob Priday, allowing Ryan Lollis to score from 3rd.

Then again, with a pair of three hour games and temps in the upper 30s after the sun went down, maybe this wouldn't have been the best day to be in the stands at Taylor Stadium.


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Worst loss---
Michigan - 12
Ohio State - 4
For the second day in a row the Buckeyes lose big to the Maize and Blue - albeit yesterday's 10-4 loss came in 10 innings. OSU really needs a win or two tomorrow in this series (Mother Nature willing) because of all the teams in the country, this is one that has a potentially good team, but is nearly bereft of quality RPI points. And with the number of games that the midwestern schools like those in the Big 10 are losing to weather, every big RPI opportunity is necessary. Michigan and Minnesota? They are in much better shape thanks to some marquee non-conference wins to lean on. Because of their weak non-Big 10 slate, those are the type of wins the Buckeyes don't have.


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'Cocks of the Walk---
Siena - 4 6
St. Peter's - 8 2
As most of you might know, I've jumped on the Peacocks' bandwagon in a huge way this season. Today's game one win over Siena was the first time that WE have beaten Siena in school history. Prior to today, WE were 0-25 against the Saints. Mike McGuire batted more like Mark McGwire on steroids, smashing two home runs in the win. With game three to be played tomorrow at "The Shack," Siena stands at 3-23 and will surely meet their final demise at the hands of OUR Peacocks strength and might, who are now 17-16 and WE'RE in great shape in the Metro Atlanic as well, sitting at 7-4.


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I'm having to do a double, nay, a triple take---
Arizona - 15
Stanford - 1
I'm not shocked that Arizona won the game, not even too stunned it was by such a washout amount (okay, maybe a little). But as announcer Bill McDonald reminded us during the UCLA-USC game, this is the first time in school history that the Cardinal has started Pac 10 play at 0-8. And this was particularly ugly, as UofA scored 11 runs in the 5th inning to blast the doors off this one.

Just in case you guys wanted to know, the last time Stanford didn't make the NCAA tournament was in 1993 when the Trees went 27-28 and 10-20 in the Pac 10.


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Revenge is a dish best served cold---
Auburn - 1
South Carolina - 10
After getting humiliated by the Tigers yesterday (an ugly 16-1 loss), the Gamecocks choked the hell out of AU here, getting a great effort from Arik Hempy, who went 6.2 innings and gave up just two hits. Hempy, looking steady and gaining confidence after sitting out half the season with an injury, is now 3-0 already. Dish-bashers James Darnell and Travis Jones each blasted a three-run homer in the first inning to help SC jump out to a 6-zip lead. Jones continued his white-hot pace, going 3-for-4 with four RBI.


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The shortest three-game sweep in baseball history?---
Coppin State - 0
VMI - 11
Poor Eagles. I don't mean to pile on the downtrodden here, but this game wrapped up a three-game sweep for the Keydets this weekend that saw them take all three games in shutout fashion. Also, the teams only played a combined 18 innings in the three games. Yesterday's VMI wins (13-0 and 10-0) came in a pair of seven-inning games (so actually just six and a half since VMI didn't bat in the bottom of the last frame) and today's game went just five innings because of a downpour that ensued . VMI allowed only five hits in the three games combined as Coppin falls to 0-32 on the season.


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CSTVer Glenn Tanner's new Player of the Year candidate---
During the Irvine-Cal Poly game tonight I got an Email from the venerable one saying that he was planning on voting for Coppin State's Sebastian Fomenko, "simply for the courage it must take him." Fomenko is hitting .047 in 64 at-bats and is 0-4, 21.97 ERA. But hey, two of Seb's three hits on the season have gone for doubles and he's got nine walks too.


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Okay, let's get us some sleep here. We've got a big Sunday ahead of us.

G'night.

Comments

Eric,

You're right about Cal Poly's Desme, he's been a beast at the plate this year. Last I checked he is at or near the top in the Big West in every single offensive category.

http://www.bigwest.org/admin/stats/data/baseball/lgplyrs.htm

I just hope we can keep the junior around one more year...most likely not!

Great job - keep it up!

Thanks for readin' Lee. That rules.

I really loved watching Desme play this weekend. I also saw him play at the beginning of the year at USC, where he went 2-for-4 with a bomb. He's just wicked man. I added him to my Player of the Year vote this week as well.

Eric

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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