Thursday Thoughts - From Mickey Mantle town

The post-season casualties are piling up already. In the first real day of elimination baseball, we've seen a few worthy teams get the boot out of their conference tourneys, some of which will see their seasons come to an end. Others will just become all that much more nervous come selection Monday.

Even though I truly consider conference tournaments the work of Satan, this has still been an exciting few days so far. Okay, not exciting enough to get me to believe these conference tournaments are a worthy cause, but it's still fun to watch elimination baseball.

At least it preps us for the next few weeks.

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Quickly here... What I saw at Bricktown Ballpark---

Game One:
Texas - 3
Texas A&M - 7
Craig Stinson launched a grand salami as part of a 5-run 3rd inning and Kirkland Rivers pitched 6.2 innings of 7-hit ball to pick up just his second win of the season. Staff ace Kyle Nicholson threw 2.1 innings of no-hit ball.

The bottom five hitters in the Longhorn order went a combined 3-for-18. UT also missed out on numerous scoring opportunities while A&M capitalized with huge hits at the right time.


Game Two:
Nebraska - 1
Kansas State - 5
Welcome to Error-fest/Fight-fest 2007. To be honest, the four early errors by Nebraska, led to K-State's 3-0 lead after four innings and were never threatened again.

But a Jordan Cruz slide into the foot of Nebraska catcher Mitch Abeita sparked an uproarious 6th inning, that eventually saw three NU coaches get ejected, Abeita limp off the field and NU never able to get their bats together again.

Husker reliever Steve Edelfsen beaned KSU's Eli Rumler in the 8th inning and was ejected. He could face a Big 12 mandated four-game suspension after throwing at a batter after being warned.

The Wildcats eventually scored a pair of runs in that 8th inning and also escaped a bases-loaded situation in the 9th to post a huge win and keep their NCAA chances alive.

Brad Hutt pitched 8.0 innings, giving up just three hits and one walk. And that was it. At one point Hutt retired 13 straight Husker batters.

Nebraska didn't help things by committing five errors in the game, two coming on routine grounders that could've been inning-ending double-plays, but instead allowed runs to score.


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The Thursday Ouch List---

College of Charleston.
Today: Lost to Appalachian State 11-10
Why it hurts: On a couple different fronts. 1) it eliminates CofC in two straight games from the SoCon tourney. And 2) It means that unless Western Carolina claims the title, then this is one conference tournament that will take a spot away from a bubble team out there.

Western Carolina.
Today: Lost to Georgia Southern 6-5
Why it hurts: Welp... read above.

St. John's.
Today: Lost to Connecticut 8-7
Why it hurts: With the Johnnies going three-and-out in the Big East tourney, it may be a stake in the heart of any hopes they could host a Regional. But my guess is... and this is a fairly certain guess, they'll make the Big Dance. But I bet the Red Storm hate all this "guess" crap.

Iowa.
Today: Lost to Penn State 6-3.
Why it hurts: Ends the Hawkeye season. But let's not dwell on the negative, Coach Jack Dahm turned IU around this year, improving from 2006's 23-33 mark to finish 31-23 this year. That's good stuff.

Notre Dame.
Today: (Okay, it was actually yesterday but I had to mention it): Lost to Villanova 3-2
Why it hurts: Not only does it end a tough season for the Irish (28-28), it also marks just the second time in 20 years that the Golden Domers haven't won 40 games. I haven't even gone back to see when the last non-30 win season was for the Irish.

Chicago State.
Today: Lost twice, 17-3 to Northern Colorado and 20-2 to South Dakota State.
Why it hurts: Poor Cougars. Too bad they can't play Tulane every weekend, huh? These two losses came at the Division I Independent Championship in Ogden, Utah. This makes their season mark 4-51.

Central Michigan.
Today: Lost 12-6 at Eastern Michigan
Why it hurts: Though it was very, very remote, going 0-2 in the MAC tournament, there's no chance that the Chips will get any at-large love, despite a 35-21 mark and 2nd place finish behind the Eagles.


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Best finish---
Southern Miss - 1
East Carolina - 2
Harrison Eldridge, who was one of the most exciting players I'd seen all season, lived up to that billing by stealing home in the bottom of the 10th inning to put the Pirates past the Eagles in the C-USA game. Does that take some stones or what? Nice call Coach Godwin.


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Worst place to be in college baseball today---
The WAC tournament in Reno.
The three games combined to see the winning teams outscore the losing teams 32-4. Two of the games ended after seven innings due to the mercy rule... which I think is something to take mercy on the fans in attendance, not the losing team. Here are the scores from Reno:

Sacramento State - 2
Fresno State - 10

San Jose State - 11
Louisiana Tech - 1 (7inns)

Hawaii - 1
Nevada - 11 (7inns)


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A real punch in the NEC---
Monmouth - 9
Mount St. Mary's - 3

Central Connecticut State - 3
Quinnipiac - 2
The two teams that tied for the Northeast Conference regular season title were both upended in round one of the NEC tournament. Once again proving my point that these lower conferences have no business holding post-season tournaments. It's not like they're money-makers. Plus all they do is prevent the best team from giving your conference the best chance for NCAA tournament success. We'll see if either of these teams can make a comeback here.


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See what I mean?---
In the Southland Conference today, all three lower-seeded teams pulled upsets over higher-seeded teams.

Stephen F. Austin - 11
McNeese State - 3
Lumberjacks set SLC tourney record with 21 hits, including Kevin Crabtree's grand slam.

Texas State - 9
Texas-San Antonio - 6
The Bobcats get a pair of inning-opening walks and eventually score three runs in the 10th for the win,

Lamar - 3
Sam Houston State - 7
With this loss, the 2nd-seeded Cardinals will now face top-seeded UT-SA in an elimination game tomorrow.

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A good idea---
Brown at Lafayette
Two of the four teams that have already qualified for the NCAA tournament went ahead and played a double-header today in Poughkeepsie, New York (roughly halfway between the two campuses). They split the DH (Brown won 6-1, LU won 11-4) but the main point was to get some games in and keep sharp for next week's NCAA tournament.


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Thanks a lot ESPN---
Before I left for my flight this morning, I set my TiVo to record the NCAA selection show on Monday. Turns out that the boys from Bristol have changed the time and network of the announcement show. Instead of being on ESPN2 at 12:30 (pacific time), they've changed it to ESPN, to be held inbetween a pair of softball games.

Softball?! Great, now who knows WHEN the show will be? The first softball game may go extra innings or may get over with quickly. Thus, even if I had set my TiVo, it would surely have been futile anyway. Jerks.


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A few quick comments about the drive from Dallas to Oklahoma City this morning---
1- I drove through what had to be the hardest rain I'd ever driven in. It got so bad, the windshield wipers that were set on hyper-active, weren't helping a lot. But I had to keep driving because if I took any time off, I wouldn't have made game one in time.
2- I haven't seen this many Chili's restaurants in one stretch in my life.
3- What the hell is it with Texan and Oklahoman drivers? I lost count of how many times I had to pass slow-ass dipsticks on the right side because they were driving down the interstate in the passing lane. Anybody got any insight on this? Please.

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It's late, Central time. I'm going out to find a brew or two. Hope Oklahoma City has such objects here.

G'night.

Comments

I need to correct two pieces of mis-information with regards to the NCAA selection show.

1) The show has been scheduled at 12:30 *Eastern* for the last several years.

2) This year's show is preceded by a repeat of SportsCenter and followed by the lacrosse national championship game, so it will air at the scheduled time.

As for driving behavior in that area, I'm glad that you enjoy Texas drivers (who believe that they're entitled to the left lane as a God-given right). I didn't realize that it also extended to Oklahoma, though I wouldn't be surprised if most of the culprits had Texas plates...

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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