Saturday Statements - The "I Saw Kelly Leak Today" Edition

I spent most of the day immersed in college baseball la-la land at home, zombie-like, in front of the tube and pounding away at scores on my computer... okay, that and playing chase-the-tennis-ball-and-bite-the-hell-out-of-my-hand with my dog too.

So I finally got weary of that and finally realized it was time to take my shiftless butt out the front door and go up to Loyola Marymount and see how San Diego was faring with the Lions in game two of their DH.

I was able to catch a little bit of Brian Matusz on the mound for USD as he picked up his eighth win with 6.2 innings of work, striking out eight and giving up just five hits to improve to 8-2. I have to admit, it wasn't an overpowering performance but it was good enough to set up reliever A.J. Griffin for his seventh save of the year. Also, the offense backed up the effort with eight runs in the last two innings to assure the Toreros of another WCC weekend series win.

But I did see something I had only seen in movies before take place on Page Stadium's diamond today. USD's Jordan Abruzzo, who became the Torero career leader in hits with his 3-for-6 day in the second game of the double-header, brought back memories of the Bad News Bears' Kelly Leak. In the eighth inning, with men on second and third, it appeared as if LMU's Andy Beal was going to intentionally walk Abruzzo with one out. But Beal's third pitch got a little too lazily close to home plate and Abruzzo reached out and smacked a two-run double to the wall in right center.

In the euphoria of the play, I kept looking to see if Buttermaker was in the USD dugout calling for that reach-and-hit, because Kelly Leak's potential game-winning hit off an intentional walk against Coach Tanner's evil Yankees was the only time I'd seen that play work.

Abruzzo's double made the score 6-1 and put a wet blanket on any hopes LMU had of a comeback.


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Best broadcasting decision of the day---
Navy - 3
Army - 4 (8 innings)
CSTV deciding to put the opening game of the Army at Navy series on their network today was a sage choice.
Mitch Harris vs. Nick Hill is a matchup of, quite possibly, two of the best arms in their respective academies' history. Great numbers for both going in (Hill 4-3, 1.42, Harris 7-1, 2.09) as they faced off in a planned seven-inning game one of a double-header.

-Army came back from a 3-1 deficit against Harris and scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to send the game into extras. Then, facing Navy relief ace J.D. Melton, won the game with a run in the eighth.

- I can't imagine that large contingency of Army cadets that were literally hanging over the Navy dugout were very nice to their military comrades. But I'm sure some of the Navy boys were smart enough to remind them that they're all on the same side of the war.

- Midshipmen Nick Speciale's two-run single in the 3rd broke Nick Hill's 15-inning scoreless streak and were the first runs that Navy had scored off of Hill since the 2004 series.

- Senior captain Milan Dinga, handcuffed all day by Harris and with a gimpy hamstring, got the biggest hit of the game, with an RBI single in the 7th inning that tied things at three against Navy reliever J.D. Melton.

- Andy Ernesto, a light-hitting .188 hitter, got the game-winning RBI with a double that hit at the bottom of the left field fence in the 8th inning, much to the delight of the cadets in the stands. It was exciting to see the Army team explode out of the dugout after the hit as well.

- Turns out that Navy got its revenge in game two of the DH, a 6-4 win. Navy is now 30-14, making this the first time in program history that the Middies have pulled back-to-back 30-win seasons.


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What I saw on TV, part II---
North Carolina - 4
Florida State - 5
State raced out to a 5-zip lead and looked to be in full control of this one. But the Heels never waved a white flag and came back like the champions that they are, punching out four runs in the 6th inning to make it a one-run game. But the story of the game was the relief pitching Florida State strutted out to the mound in innings seven, eight and nine. Travis Bruge pitched the seventh inning and went three-up-three-down. Danny Rosen followed suit with a pair of hitless eighth and ninth innings. It was a serious clampdown by a bullpen I had questions about going in. It was great to watch these two teams go at it on the tube today.

- Got to see the nation's top two hitters, FSU's Tony Thomas and UNC's Dustin Ackley. This was actually the first time I got to see Thomas and obviously, I was impressed. His two-base blast in the 5th inning came just a few feet short of a home run. That was his 24th double on the season. Incredible.

- You have to put up a red flag on the quick flame-out for FSU starter Michael Hyde. Like color commentator Dan Bonner pointed out, "he lost it so quickly after a great first three innings, you have to wonder if there's an injury situation involved in that decision." Obviously, the performance of the bullpen not-withstanding, come post-season time, the 'Noles are going to need a good compliment to Bryan Henry in the starting rotation.

- Despite the poor start, I liked the looks of FSU's pen, including closer Danny Rosen, who sat down the last six batters he faced on the day for his 7th save.

- The field at Dick Howser Stadium looked pretty torn up, with not-so-green grass infield and an ugly re-patched section right in front of the pitcher's mound. The good news is that they'll have only three more home games remaining before the post-season, so there's time to give the field some rest.

- When did Florida State fans start doing that thing that Texas has long done and chanted the name of a home run hitter until he comes out for a curtain call? I don't remember seeing that during last year's ACC tournament.


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No slight to Dustin Ackley---
Just because I mentioned USC's Grant Green as my "IT" Freshman player for this season in my Thursday Thoughts, it was no slight against North Carolina's awesome frosh 1B Dustin Ackley. Watching Ackley play today against Florida State reminded me of how good he is, leading the ACC with a .469 average and 50 RBI. I got to see Ackley in person back when the Heels played host to Miami in early March, and he went 2-for-3 that day with a triple and an RBI. But as Mike Fox is wont to do, he pulled Ackley after seven innings during some late-game defensive changes. The only thing that distinguishes the two fab phenoms is that Green has played unbelievably well at shortstop, quickly becoming the best defensive player on the team. Plus, he has been the best-hitting Trojan against the second-toughest schedule in the country. But again, both have been outstanding. It's great to know we'll be able to see these two for a couple more seasons.

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What I saw on TV, part III---
Michigan State - 2
Minnesota - 9

Michigan State - 4
Minnesota - 5
The Gophers seem to be a team that executes the fundamental aspects of the game perfectly. They don't bash the ball around the park (or maybe that was because of the howling wind blowing straight toward the plate), but they make good contact, hit behind runners, sacrifice well and also play solid defense.

- This fundamental style of play that coach John Anderson has them playing is probably a good reason why The U is now 9-2 in one-run games. They just get things done and don't panic at any point.

- This was also my first chance at seeing CSTV Player of the Year candidate Mike Mee of the Gophers. The thing I liked about him was that he made something happen on every at-bat. In his four at-bats in game one, he slammed a double to the wall, got an RBI single, advanced a runner on a groundout and then got a full-count, bases-loaded three-run double. He went 1-for-2 in game two, raising his season average to .442.


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What I saw on TV, part IV---
Texas - 8
Nebraska - 4
Adrian Alaniz got into early trouble, with the bases juiced and no outs, but escaped with only one run allowed and cruised from there. Alaniz ended up going 7.2 innings, giving up seven hits, four earned runs and striking out 10 on his way to improving to 10-2 on the year. Nice rebound win after last night's power-outage doled out by Tony Watson.

- Unlike Friday, the Longhorn offense gored the Huskers today, getting eight runs on 11 hits. The attack was pretty spread out as eight of nine starters got hits, but Kyle Russell was The Man again, going 3-for-4 with two RBI on a 1st-inning, wind-aided, home run.

- Announcer Greg Lucas on Kyle Russell, after he hit his 22nd home run on the season in the first inning:
"Not only am I in admiration of his power, but this man has NO waist. What is that? I don't get that. Must be those remarkably fast hands and bat speed."

- The top of the NU order did its job, as hitters 1-2-3 went 6-for-11 and scoring all four runs. But batters 4-through-9 wore the big horse collar, going a combined 1-for-18.

- 8, 656 fans in the stands? Freakin' sweet! Nice goin' Husker Nation.


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What I WISH I could've seen on TV---
South Carolina - 0
Mississippi - 6
Rebel hurler Lance Lynn has to be a lock for SEC Player of the Week, don'tcha think? In case you didn't see his linescore, he tossed a complete game three-hitter with 12 strikeouts to improve to 4-3. That's a career day, especially when you consider how dangerous those Gamecock bats are. I will say Arik Hempy did a gusto job for Carolina for the second start in a row, going 7.0 innings and giving up just five hits and two runs. That's got to be the silver lining to the South Carolina locker room today.


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Quirky factoid of the day---
Of the 10 conference games played by five Big 10 doubleheaders today, all 10 were won by the home team. Of those 10 games, six were decided by a single run.


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Score that jumped off the page---
Dayton - 7
No. 23 Charlotte - 1
The Flyers have some sticks, that's never been the problem, as witnessed by their 11 hits today. But Quinn Haselhorst went the distance on the mound for DU, giving up just seven 49er hits and the lone run. Bobby Getty and Jeff Mercer blew the game open in the seventh inning with back-to-back home runs to make it 6-1. Charlotte dropped to 12-2 in the A-10. It was also their first home loss at newly refurbished Hayes Stadium in 10 games this season.


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Under-the-radar pitcher of the day---
Delaware - 0
Old Dominion - 4
The Monarch starting pitcher Anthony Shawler had this line on the mound today:
Innings: 9.0
Hits: 4
Earned Runs: 0
Strikeouts: 12
Walks: 2
With this lock-down effort Shawler improves to 9-0 and ODU maintains its perch on top of the CAA at 14-5, 27-16 overall.


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I tried. Lord, I tried---
Louisiana Tech - 10
Hawaii - 9 (midway through the 8th inning)
I wanted to stay up to listen to the entire game with Don Robbs on the Hawaii Radio Network, but this game was moving at a glacial pace. Through seven and a half innings, this game was on a four hour, 30-minute pace. It's been a real back-and-forth game as it's been tied at 3, 5, 6, 8 and 9 during the game. Brian Rike just hit a home run blast to re-claim the lead for Tech in the eighth. But I'm done.

Okay, my eyelids are getting like anvils, so I'm hitting the hay.

G'night.

Comments

Very few people write daily on college baseball...so I love reading your columns.
A couple of notes on the fsu-unc game: 6 hits were the fewest by the noles all year, making the game seemingly drag on to this spoiled fsu fan.
I've been going to fsu games since I was 8 (I'm 25), and they have always done that stupid curtain call thing. And the animals have also been singing "O Canada" after the top of the fifth inning for God knows when.

another score that should have jumped off the page should be Marshall 21- Memphis 7... Memphis was Second in C-USA coming in and was a 2 Seed in your first mock bracket.. Marshall has already jumped out to a 5 run lead in the middle of the first innning today

Brother Jimmy. You rock man. Thanks for writing. As harsh as I've been at FSU for their schedule, I wasn't sure if I had any 'Nole fans left out there. But don't worry, I still dig 'em. And I promise, when I was at the ACC tournament last May, they didn't do that curtain call thing. Maybe it's just home games? Or hell, maybe they didn't hit any home runs that week? And I LOVE the Oh Canada! thing.

And Adam, I agree. That Marshall score was like something from another planet. Sorry I didn't get to mentioning anything about it. And winning by the mercy rule today? Phhheeeeeww! The Herd took Memphis behind the woodshed.

E.

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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