Saturday Statements - The Muse of Augie Edition

Augie Garrido is not Texan.

He doesn't sound Texan. He doesn't talk Texan. He doesn't look Texan.

I don't think I'm making fodder for the nightly news with that statement either. No matter what his paycheck says at the top, this guy is pure Californian. And if not, then he's the brother from the planet Lovetron along with Darryl Dawkins or something like that.


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He was at his Zen best today following the Longhorns' 5-4 win over Nebraska in game No. 10 at the Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.

Check out these gems from the post-game presser today:

On what these tournaments do to a team:
"In these tournament situations it's hard to keep a team tuned up because you don't have practices. Those practices create the structure that gives them confidence. When they play day after day and don't have the structure of practice that they're used to, it becomes a lot harder to stay focused because they're in a different environment."

On the recent struggles of star player Kyle Russell:
"Well right now the baseball gods don't want him to succeed. They want him to relax. That's what is so special about this game of baseball. When you struggle it starts to threaten your whole existence. You look in the mirror and you don't see yourself, you see the devil. That's the mystical spirit of the game. It's very magical. The harder Kyle pushes, the harder he tries, the more the spirit of the game will work against him. They (the gods) want him to relax."

On how the lower-seeded teams have risen up and played well here:
"The survival instinct is a very primate instinct. It's a behavior that is very strong and you saw that throughout the tournament. People that really needed to win were fighting to survive. The ones that didn't have that same feeling were competing at a little lesser level. It's just subconscious."

When asked about his team's expected national seeding for the NCAA tournament:
"I don't really have a handle on the process of the NCAA tournament. It's a foreign process for me. We're not really focused on that process. We're still trying to teach our team how to bunt properly."

When asked if he was happy to help out Texas A&M by beating Nebraska today, thereby letting the Aggies slide into the title game tomorrow:
"(long pause)... yes. It's in the manual to do so." (laughs).

Garrido is part Phil Jackson, part Casey Stengel and 100% quirky, nutty, freaky Californian. And yes, that's where the seeds of his legend were born to begin with. He played at Fresno State, got his coaching start at San Francisco State, then moved down the coast to Cal Poly, where his 1971 team set a school record for wins with 39. Then came the stint that made him legendary; Cal State Fullerton.

Other than that three-year, late 80s experiment at Illinois (further proving Augie likes to keep an unpredictable side), he was at the helm of the Titans for 20 years. He took a small school surrounded by the orange groves south of L.A. and made it a national power in no time at all, improving from 19-33-1 in his first year to 37-17 and a conference title in his second year.

His 1995 monster that featured Mark Kotsay, Brian Lloyd, C.J. Ankrum and Ted Silva, went 57-9 en route to breezing to the national title.

That he happens to be at Texas is both odd and ironic at the same time. He may have followed in the footsteps of the legendary Cliff Gustafson as the programs head coach, but he didn't follow him in many other ways, especially not stylistically.

One of my favorite scenes this entire season had to be when Coach Garrido was kicked out of the Nebraska game back in April in Lincoln. Garrido was tossed by umpire David Aschwege in the 6th inning of that game. While walking off the field, he was serenaded by the NU fans with the familiar chant of "left, right, left, right" as he walked off the field. All at once in front of the Nebraska dugout, Garrido froze in his tracks, allowing the fans to misinterpret his strides as looked at the still-chanting crowd with a sheepish grin. I spewed pop through my nose over that one. I mean, can you imagine any other coach in the country doing that? Or Coach Gustafson? I think only Augie can get away with things like that. You have to respond with, "That's just Augie."

And his 2007 outfit has that special "it" factor going for it too. This year's team appears to be another 5-tool machine, if you will, being so good in so many ways. Great pitching, great defensively, can utilize the West coast style of small ball that Garrido helped create, and yet still have a punishing power game with sluggers like Kyle Russell, Bradley Suttle and Preston Clark.

The road to the second weekend in Omaha starts this Friday, presumably at the Dell Diamond in neighboring Round Rock. And Coach Garrido will be there waxing Zen-like the entire step of the way. No matter who's counting his steps out loud.


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What I saw at Bricktown Ballpark today---
Thirty-four innings of pure baseball bliss.
Texas A&M - 7
Kansas State - 2

Texas - 5
Nebraska - 4

Missouri - 13
OklaState - 1

Baylor - 7
Oklahoma - 6
This leaves Baylor and Texas A&M going for tomorrow's title game at 1pm. With their play here, you have to figure it has helped Baylor's cause for an at-large berth. In fact, K-State, at 34-24, may be the only team in trouble of not making the field of 64. However, Okie State didn't help itself much either, going 0-3 this week, with an RPI of No. 46 coming in.


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This place was get-the-white-jacket-guys crazy---
The Missouri Valley Finals.
Creighton - 1
Wichita State - 2

Wichita State - 9
Creighton - 10 (12inns.)
I can't even begin to describe what this scene must've been like, especially that second game. Tell you what, just go to Jean Neuberger's live blog from it:
http://slog.cstv.com/touchingthebases/2007_conference_tournaments/missouri_valley/

Both these teams deserve - and will get - bids to the NCAAs. And just like the MoValley teams last year, watch for them to make some serious noise too (Evansville and WSU both made it to Regional title games last June). THIS should be fun.

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"Left, right, left right."
Creighton's ambidextrious Pat Venditte was voted the MoValley MVP.


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Mother Nature FINALLY comes through for college baseball---
Thanks to a rain delay at a softball Super Regional, we were all treated to most of the scintillating Rutgers-UConn Big East title game on ESPN.
UConn - 6
Rutgers - 7
I caught a good bit of this game every now and again on the press box TVs here. What a crazy finish this was. The Huskies, as a No. 8 seed, scored five runs in the bottom of the 9th and had the tying run at the dish, before Kevin Lillis was able to finally subdue the Big Blue with a pair of flyouts.

Man, did you see that monster home run by All American Todd Frazier? His 5th-inning shot went over the scoreboard. Hell, over the replica Cyclone rollercoaster on top of the scoreboard even. Yikes.


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Dolphins swim into Big Dance---
Manhattan - 7
LeMoyne - 9
Stephen Crawford and Mike Brown hit back-to-back home runs in the 8th inning to account for the winning margin and sending the Dolphins fishing into the NCAA tournament with the MAAC title. Ryan Woods improved to 7-1 with 3.1 innings of relief, giving up one earned run.


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Other tux fittings from today---
- Coastal Carolina (48-11).
Beat Liberty 6-5. And all the bubble teams across the country send along a huge thank you note.

- Charlotte (47-10).
Blasted Fordham 18-6. Nine-run 2nd inning leads to school's third NCAA appearance, first as A-10 champions.

- Albany (29-27).
Survived top-seeded Binghamton 1-0. BU outhit the Great Danes 6-3 but went 0-for-7 with men in scoring position. Albany was swept in four games vs. BU in April.

- Jacksonville (34-26).
Swept Belmont in two games 10-4 and 7-6 to get their second straight appearance in the NCAA tournament.

- Virginia Commonwealth (37-21).
Scored six runs in the 13th inning to beat Delaware 10-4. Luke Pisker got them to that point by throwing seven shutout innings, improving to 9-1.

- Illinois-Chicago (34-19).
Beat the dickens out of Wright State 14-2. Too bad, WSU played really good most of the season (series win at Ole Miss), but UI-C had their number, winning 4-of-5.

- Kent State (33-24)
Edged homestanding Eastern Michigan 3-2 for the second straight day. The Flashes Jason Patton got the game-winning RBI single in the 8th.

- Oral Roberts (40-15).
Won 9-1 over Centenary. ORU is now 25-1 since April 6th.

- TCU (46-12).
Rallied for four runs - all with two out - in the bottom of the 9th inning to beat BYU 9-8 in Vegas. The Frogs are still holding out hope for a surprise Regional hosting assignment.

- Monmouth (36-22).
Lost game one, but came back to win the second "if necessary" game 7-1 over Central Connecticut State. First title for the Hawks since '99.

- Austin Peay (39-20).
Win No. 600 for coach Gary McClure was pretty sweet, a come-from-behind white-knuckle 3-2 win over Jacksonville State.

- Wofford (30-31).
Won 4-2 over The Citadel. Brandon Waring apparently went freakin' nuts at the plate, going 14-for-25 for the week to earn MVP honors.

- Sam Houston State (38-22).
The Bearcats win the Southland with a 3-1 win over Texas State. This will be their first NCAA appearance since 1996, where they upset No. 2 ranked Miami in Austin.

New Orleans (37-24).
Stunned regular season champion UL-Lafayette 8-2. First post-season sniff since the year 2000.


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The Ouch List---
- Florida State.
Today: Lost 5-1 vs. Clemson
Why it hurts: It's not going to keep them from being a National No. 1 seed, but the two losses to Miami and Clemson does raise eye-brows toward their legitimacy. Are we going to see another Nole meltdown in the Big Dance?

- Louisiana-Lafayette.
Today: Lost 8-2 vs. New Orleans.
Why it hurts: May put a damper on their hosting hopes. I said "may" not "will." We'll see. Their resume is still plenty impressive enough.

- BYU
Today: Lost 9-8 vs. TCU
Why it hurts: Though the Coogs are 37-20, it's not likely they'll get an at-large bid. But to lose twice by a single run each time to the Horned Frogs this week proves BYU is good enough, but won't have the RPI.

- UCLA.
Today: Lost 13-5 vs. Oregon State.
Why it hurts: A second straight loss to OSU means the Bruins now REALLY start to look shakey for an at-large bid. If the committee bases it on their No. 42 RPI, it could mean trouble. Bruins seem to be in a must-win situation tomorrow vs. the Beavers.


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Reason No. 343 that conference tournaments should go the way of the buffalo---
Minnesota-Penn State.
Imagine you are on one of these teams. Rain stopped today's semifinal game in the 7th inning with Penn State up 3-2. It will be picked up again tomorrow at nine a.m. (yes, that's 9). After that, the winner will take on Ohio State at 11:05am. If OSU loses, another game will be played at 2:05pm. So either Minnesota or Penn State would have to play 21 innings in approximately eight hours of time. People, this is NO way to decide a championship.


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Alright. I've gotta be up in a few more hours to check out of the hotel and get to the ballpark on time for the Big 12 title game. In fact, if I'm doing my math correctly, it's only five hours before Minnesota and Penn State continue their rain-shortened semi-final. Hope your baseball weekend is still going well.

More tomorrow night.

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