Sunday Summations - The Wrap-up from Bigfoot Country

Nine freakin' hits. Nine. Need it in numeral form?... here you go: 9.

The defending national champions are used to getting nine hits in a half-hour afternoon catnap. But instead, that's what Arizona State allowed in three games here in Corvallis this weekend. I was there. I saw it with my own bloodshot eyes. And this isn't the bootleg hooch talkin' either.

Yep, this is that same Arizona State team that is used to obliterating opponents with bats like Alley Oop used to use in those caveman cartoons, only now they're using their arms. The team that came into the weekend second in the nation in batting average at .358. The team that changes offensive lineups like pairs of socks, just so everybody stays somewhat satisfied.

Pitch. Pitch. Pitch. That's all those pesky Devils did this weekend.

Between Mike Leake, Josh Satow, Brian Flores and Freshman reliever Jason Jarvis, the O-State Ballaz got nine measly hits in 27 innings.

Yet there was head coach Pat Murphy saying to me after the Saturday game, "I don't think we're playing all that great yet. We haven't peaked." For chrissakes, that's scary as hell then!

I mean, let's do the math on ASU here:
- No. 2 in the country in hitting prior to the weekend at .358.
- No. 1 in scoring at an exact 10.0 coming in.
- No. 2 in the country in slugging percentage at .554.
- No. 2 in the country in defense with a fielding percentage of .978.

Now throw in the fact that their pitchers just held a decent Oregon State offense to a weekend average of .105. Get the kids, wake the neighbors, this team is wicked.

But let's put a caveat to this amazing stat though, the Beavers haven't exactly been ripping the cover off lately. So we'll see if this is an area of marked improvement for the Devils, or if their incoming ERA of 4.28 is a truer indication. A torrid Arizona team is next on the schedule this weekend, so that should be a bigger test of their arms.


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What I saw at Goss Stadium today---
Arizona State - 8 9 0
Oregon State - 1 1 6
Those totals aren't a typo either. This was another stink day from pitch No. 1 to out No. 27 for the Beavers. OSU led the nation in fielding percentage coming in, but committed a blundering six errors, three in a key Sun Devil five-run 5th inning that had the Beav fans starting to file for the exits.

Brian Flores lived up to his J.C. All American hype today, striking out eight Beavers, walking three and allowing just a sharp liner to Braden Wells in the 2nd inning. From that point on it was nail after nail in the coffin.

And one more thing, while we're giving The Devils a red spot on their back for patting it excessively, ASU committed just one error all weekend long.

Now, if Pat Murphy still says they aren't hitting their stride... I'm scared.


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Just not a good day at Oregon State in many ways---
The hometown Beavers lost big, got swept, it rained all damn day, the writer's portion of the press box (which was as big as a dog house, for five writers and some "fans") was so crammed I had to stand outside and, I'll be damned if head coach Pat Casey was never available this weekend for an interview. Hmmm. Not good, man.


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Best part of the trip---
Access to the Cascade Mountains.
Got to see the Timberline Lodge. Got to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Got to have a Bigfoot sighting.... okay, I'm kidding about that part, but the thought did cross my mind as I heard strange noises in the deep Oregon woods.


ViewOfMt.Wash.jpg
A view of Mt. Washington along the Pacific Coast Trail during a Saturday hike. The foreground is part of the Willamette National Forest that got burned from a naturally occuring forest fire a couple of years ago.


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The hardest thing to get used to---
In Oregon, all gas stations are full service.
I started to pump my own gas today, just like normal, and some zit-faced kid came over and told me it was against the law to pump your own gas. Against the law! Up to a $1,000 fine and everything. I can't even remember when the last time was that I had somebody else pump gasoline for me. I just forgot about that Oregon-only quirk. Or are there other states that don't allow self-serve gas? Drop me a line if you know.


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The one thing I loved about being on the road this weekend---
Gas prices.
For ONCE, I went to a state that didn't have half-price gas like most states are compared to California. The price was $3.35/gallon in Portland. Good.


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What I loved about Oregon drivers---
They don't change the way they drive when it's raining.
I drove from Corvallis to Portland today in a steady rain. In L.A., the minute it starts sprinkling, people slam on the brakes and suddenly feel the need to drive 25mph on the freeways. Nice job Oreganders... or Oregonians... or Oregonites. Whatever.


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Strangest phenomenon---
Classic rock radio.
I don't know this for sure, but my rent-a-lemon had preset channels and all five of them were set to classic rock stations. Maybe Portland is the classic rock capital of the world, but that's all I seemed to find on local radio. If there is a bigger classic rock market than Portland, drop me a line.


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Tux fitting No. 3 for the Big Dance---
Bethune-Cookman.
It wasn't as easy as I thought it might be, that's for sure. B-CC faced off with North Carolina A&T in today's championship round, needing just one win. But the Aggies stole game one by a 4-3 count, forcing a second game. That's when the Wildcats talent and experience eventually got the best of A&T, for a 6-4 win.

B-CC ran away with the MEAC regular season crown with a 16-1 mark, a full five and a half games ahead of the rest of the conference. Now the 'Cats enter the NCAA tournament with a record of 33-25.


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Now let's move on to this Sunday's abbreviated Ouch List---

- Oregon State.
Today: Lost 8-1 vs. Arizona State.
Why it hurts: As noted above, any loss at this point is painful for this now-bubble team.

- Kansas State.
Today: Lost 9-3 at Baylor
Why it hurts: As a bubble team, the last thing K-State (32-22) needed was a three-game sweep at the hands of a team in a down year. Now we'll see how far its RPI of No. 28 drops. It's been a good year for Brad Hill's charges, but they may need the Big 12 tourney title.

- USC.
Today: Lost 4-1 at Cal.
Why it hurts: The Trojans have now lost twice in Berkeley, further dimming their already-faint at-large hopes. They still have one more game left to play on Monday, but at 26-25, even a killer non-conference slate may not be enough.

- North Carolina A&T.
Today: Lost the second championship game in the MEAC tourney to Bethune-Cookman 6-4.
Why it hurts: The Aggies made a big charge at the MEAC title, winning game one today, 4-3. But came up short in game two. Ho-hum, it's B-CC winning the MEAC again. Okay, so it was in white-knuckle fashion this time.

- Cal State Fullerton.
Today: Lost 3-1 at Cal Poly.
Why it hurts: The Titans needed some positive vibes here. Instead, by suffering a series loss in San Luis Obispo, the Titans drop to 32-21. Could it be? Fullerton now a bubble team too?

- Long Beach State.
Today: Lost 7-6 in 10 innings vs. UC Riverside.
Why it hurts: All that talk about the Beach being back and leading the Big West and moving into the Top 10 and maybe even getting a national seeding is gone out the window in this three game sweep at the hands of the Highlanders.

- Winthrop.
Today: Lost 7-2 vs. Coastal Carolina.
Why it hurts: A series win here would've given the Eagles a share of the Big South title, if not outright. But with today's loss, WU finishes in 2nd place in the conference and doesn't have the RPI for an at-large.

- Oklahoma State.
Today: Lost 7-4 vs. Missouri.
Why it hurts: The Pokes got swept. I didn't expect that. But I did expect Mizzou to have a good weekend as they are better than people think. But State out-hit the Tigers 12-to-6 today, yet still lost. Not good. Their RPI coming in (No. 49) wasn't so hot either.

- Texas A&M.
Today: Lost at Texas 9-1.
Why it hurts: Like Okie State, I didn't expect a sweep in this series. And A&M still had designs on hosting in the post-season. But now they sink all the way to 5th in the Big 12 standings and will travel for the Big Dance.


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The architect of the Northridge near-miracle is back---
Gotta give a quick shout out to a bud of mine in the coaching ranks that has been given a shot at being a head honcho once again. Cal State Fullerton pitching coach Bill Kernan was named the new head coach at fledgling Cal State Bakersfield this past week.

If Bill's name sounds familiar, it's because he coached for five years under Augie Garrido at Fullerton and then had the head coaching reigns of Cal State Northridge in the early 90s. It was at that time that Coach K nearly pulled off one of the more amazing stories in recent NCAA baseball history. He took a team in its first year of making the jump to Division I to within three outs of making it to Omaha in 1991. The Matadors imploded after having a three-run lead in the 9th inning of a West Regional title game against home-standing Fresno State.

Kernan, ever the renaissance man, then decided to become a playwright in New York for the last 10 years or so before getting the itch to come back to college coaching. He assisted at North Carolina State for two years and then made his way onto Fullerton's staff this season.

Now it's back to head coaching again. And does he have a run for Omaha in his new Bakersfield team? Now THAT would be something worthy of a story only he could write. Good luck Coach K.


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One small correction---
In my rankings of best airlines last week, I had Alaska ranked at No. 3 on the strength of good service and a TV screen at every seat. Well, after flying the Big Eskimo this weekend, I realized I made a mistake - there are no TVs on Alaska. I thought for sure I had flown an Alaska flight to an Oregon State football game and watched the Friday night game on it last fall. I even asked the stewardess if they had TVs like Jet Blue on some of their other planes in their fleet and she told me, "No, we don't have TVs. They weigh too much. Jet Blue does, but now they're regretting it because the added weight and cost of gasoline on their flights."

Well you don't have to be smarmy, lady. Just for that, move Midwest Airlines up to No. 3 and drop Alaska down to No. 4, precariously ahead of American.

Alright, the final weekend of the regular season is in the books. Sniffle. Sniffle.

Hope you all had a great college baseball weekend. I'll have more for you stitch-heads tomorrow.

G'night.

Comments

The good ol' state of New Jersey doesn't let you pump your own gas either. Pretty lame. The New Jersians get spoiled too when venturing into New York.

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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