CWS: Day one wrap... damn, I'm still on West coast time

Well in the end, things went about as expected today in the first day of College World Series games in Rosenblatt. Both favorites - Rice and North Carolina - won, and won going away too. But it was the manner in which they did it that was witches-wart odd.

Rice fell behind quickly to a hot Louisville team, 5-0 after two and a half innings and 10-4 after four and a half. Later, UNC fell behind 4-0 to Mississippi State and, with a simple shrug of the shoulders, worked its way back with a pair of big innings. No fuss. No muss. These guys know how to play at this time of year. And it showed.

(UofL's Boomer Whiting had the catch of the day in game one)

And by the way, being back in The O is freakin' awesome. I don't think I have to spend any of my invaluable breath telling you that this is MY time of year. I dig this stuff. Here's what happened...

College World Series - Day One

Louisville - .113.140.000- 10 15 4
Rice - .004.031.16x- 15 19 0

WP: Bobby Bramhall, 7-2
LP: Trystan Magnuson, 3-3

In A Nutshell---
Louisville got the big head. Rice kept a cool head.
The Cardinals raced out to a 10-4 lead after four and a half innings and looked like it was going to be a Big East-sized upset over the top-seed Owls. Then, something very Owl-like happened. Rice turned on its championship charm. Unlike the team I saw earlier this season, getting behind was no big deal this time. Rice calmly went out and lit their bats on fire to storm back for 11 runs in innings 5-through-8.

Key Moment---
Up by six, Louisville was given the chance to step on the throat of the Owls, a botched bouncer to shortstop Chris Cates that could've been a potential double play ball, ended up opening a floodgate of three runs that essentially kept Rice in the game at 10-7. From there, the Owls pecked and pecked their way back into the game with a run in both the 6th and 7th and then the real floodgates opened in the 8th, with a 6-spot.

Another Key Moment---
Pete Rodriguez and Derrick Alfonso also deserve to buy a beer round after striking out and grounding out in the top of the 8th inning with the bases loaded. But Coach Dan McDonnell admitted he really liked Alfonso's at-bat. "Derrick got up there and had a great at-bat, it's just that he lined the ball right at the left fielder."

Aggressiveness is the Gameplan---
Louisville figured the best way to get to Frosh phenom Ryan Berry and the rest of the hurlers they faced was start early. Through the first five innings, 13 UofL at-bats lasted just one pitch. five went for hits, six went for outs and two Card batters were plunked. Chris Dominguez's three-run bomb was a first pitch offering as well.

The difference in Rice---
As opposed to the weak-hitting Owl team I saw back in February, this team didn't wilt when falling behind. On the second trip through the order, the Owls got six hits in nine tries against Zack Pitts. The Owls huge comeback wasn't a big surprise to UofL coach Dan McDonnell. "This is a game of momentum. They got it and we just couldn't get it back. You've got to give credit to their hitters, they're very good. These guys were here last year, they are not going to give up."

Louisville ace reliever Trystan Magnuson came into the game having given up only six runs all year, but gave up six runs in the 8th inning alone on five hits and one walk.

(Between games I had the media meal of sloppy joes, baked beans and corn on the cob. Not bad.)

Mississippi State - .040.000.100 - 5 12 2
North Carolina - . 000.206.00x - 8 12 0

WP: Adam Warren, 11-0
LP: Justin Pigott, 7-7
Save: Andrew Carignan (16)

In A Nutshell---
Carolina pretty re-enacted their Super Regional performance of falling behind early, then rallying late to win. Only this time, the only floodgates inning was the 6-run 6th inning. One of Carolina's strengths is their bullpen and once again, it came through strong. Adam Warren came in for a surprisingly ineffective Robert Woodard and clamped down the Bulldog bats, throwing 4.1 innings and allowing only three hits and no runs. Andrew Carignan went three-up, three-down to pick up yet another save.

Key Moment---
Trailing 4-2 in the 6th and already suffering an out, Josh Horton was hit by a Justin Pigott pitch. No biggie, right? Then Chad Flack got a single. Still no biggie? But that was followed by an error on 'Dog 3B Russ Sneed. Okay, THAT was a biggie. Because the next batter, Benji Johnson cranked out a 2-rib single tying the game. From there, a pitching change didn't really help matters as Dustin Ackley pulled off another 2-run single that put UNC ahead for good.

As for Sneed's key error, Coach Ron Polk said, "It wasn't a lack of effort on the play, it was just one of those things that happens. Who would've thought it would be the biggest play of the day."

About that comeback ability---
Chad Flack, "We've got a lot of veterans on the team and we just learned over the last few years to always play with confidence no matter what the situation."

Coach Fox. "It's a concern, sure. At some point it is going to come back and get us. We just hope it's not anytime soon. The nature of this game is crazy. It will surprise you, always does."

Fox Says "No Sweat"---
Coach Fox, on the struggles of starting pitcher Robert Woodard didn't get out of the second inning. "Robert will be fine. He's one of those that it's a fine line with him. He's gotta hit his spots because he's not a power pitcher. So I'm not concerned about him. The good part is he'll be available for Sunday now too."

I like you. No, I like you---
MSU coach Ron Polk. "After the game Mike (Fox) told me, 'I really like your team.' And I turned around and said, 'Well I like YOU'RE bullpen.'"

For the Mississippi State fan that I saw druing ESPN's opening for this game, it stands for Ole Miss Ain't Here Again. The Dogs fans obviously relish the fact that their rival Rebs, despite being favorites the last few years, still haven't been to Omaha since 1969. And - if I'm doing my very-challenged math correctly - that's 38 years.

Not A Prime Seat---
Roundball guru Roy Williams made his usual appearance to support the Tarheels in Omaha once again. Only problem is that they gave him a seat right near the aisle where any hack fan can come around and badger the dickens out of him. So that's why the picture below shows him (surprise!) taking another picture with a fan.

(Then again, maybe Roy asked for a seat on the aisle for pictures like this?)

Worst Job?---
Being the ESPN cameraman on the West side of the stadium.
During the second game, I sat in the top row of the North Carolina cheering section. I talked with the cameraman that worked at the top row of the West stands of Rosenblatt Stadium for a while during the night game. He said that he had to work both games today in 90 degree heat and was stuck wearing those horribly hot vinyl, Koss-like headphones. He told me, "It's brutal. I've had to wear these things for all 18 innings." Poor guy.

It's now 1:09am Omaha time. Damn... I can't get to sleep early enough. But that's okay, by the end of the week, I should be used to this Central Time stuff.




Great recap! Enjoy the sloppy joes in the O - it's the midwest's sushi.

Go Big West!

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Eric Sorenson Eric Sorenson
Eric Sorenson is's National Baseball Columnist, and also appears on CSTV as a baseball expert