Saturday Statements - The Need More Cowbell Edition

Do you hear cowbells? I swear I hear cowbells.

Or, like Christopher Walken might say, we need more cowbell.

MoreCowbell.jpg
(MSU fans + cowbells = Omaha)


That's because the Bulldogs of Mississippi State will bring their cowbell-wielding fans to an invasion of Omaha for the first time since 1998, after the Dogs disposed of Clemson 8-5 today in front of a record crowd of 13,317 at Dudy-Noble Field. They'll be joined by the Rice Owls, after they dropped Texas A&M for the second straight day. So far, that is the only two teams that have completed their Super Regional series.

But what is the main reason as why State is going back to the World Series again? I point to head coach Ron Polk.

The old Dog is a magician, especially with this year's team. As I stated in studio last week, there's nothing that bashes you over the head stats-wise with MSU, in fact I've bagged on their pitching enough this year. But I like the way Coach Polk has his team stepping up now. They really fed off that record crowd this weekend and also answered every time Clemson put runs on the board. That's the proof of a team on an uptick.

And it's music to Bulldog fans ears. More cowbell-type of music.


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I made it out to Goodwin Field tonight to see Cal State Fullerton dismantle what appeared to be an over-matched UCLA team, 12-2. For the first time, I was able to meet CSTV do-it-all Jason Owens. He's the guy that used to edit all my stuff I sent in when I first started writing college baseball articles back in the FansOnly.com days. Jason was there doing the blog-thing for CSTV from the Fullerton Super Regional. Ahhhhhh, but not DURING the game (although the Houston Chronicle was live blogging - with score updates - all during Rice's win vs. Texas A&M).

Now let's take a quick swing through all the Super Regionals.


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Let's start with the Game 2s of the day:

Mississippi State - 8
Clemson - 6
I can hear the Bulldog huddles all weekend, "Okay guys, here's the game plan: Every time Clemson scores, let's go out there and score a couple ourselves." Well, it worked people. RF/pitcher Mitch Moreland was freakin' studly all weekend. Today, he hit a pair of doubles and also brought his sweat-soaked shirt to the mound to pick up his second save of the season. He also hit a home run in game one on Saturday. I.e., the S.O.B. was all over the place man. You also gotta dig the Super Regional record crowd of 13,715. Awesome.
- Prospects for Omaha:
I know, I know, I better stop saying that the end is nigh for the Maroons, especially after beating two of the highest drafted pitchers in the country. But again, this team seemed to feed off their home crowd so much this week, you have to wonder how they'll do once out of their comfort zone. A win or two? Sure. Winning their bracket? Not willing to go that far here.


Rice - 5
Texas A&M - 3
Well, no surprises in Houston. Rice rolls into Omaha on a serious roll (34-2 since March 27th). Unlike yesterday's incredible rally, the Owls cruised today, never really having the game in doubt. Joe Savery got three hits and three ribs. On the bump, Matt Langwell and ace reliever Cole St. Clair held the Ags to six hits in all, pretty surprising considering the amount of lethal bats they possess. But the Owls didn't hit many speed bumps here today. Although St. Clair did give up a bomb and a single in his 2.2 innings of work. Okay, that's digging, I know.
- Prospects for Omaha:
You have to like the combination of late-season confidence and Wayne Graham's post-season experience. They are easily the favorite in their four-team bracket. Anything short of the second weekend will be a disappointment. A healthy Ryne Tacker will go a long way as well.


Oklahoma State - 3
Louisville - 2 (12inns)
You had to love the energy in Patterson Stadium today. But a great comeback by the Cowboys, tying it in the 9th on a Ty Wright home run, and winning it in the 12th on a Keanon Simon RBI single. But if you're Louisville, you've got some worries. Just when things seemed to be clipping along, a big red flag goes up. The Cards burned up both Freshman sensation Justin Marks and stud arm Trystan Magnuson in today's loss. That was a gamble Coach McDonnell was willing to take, but they lost. Now it's the Cowboys that sit in a good position, with a bevy of bats still waiting to get on-track and No. 3 starter Joe Kent (11 starts) ready to go.
. Is this series over?
Of course not... that's a dumb question. But you have to wonder if UofL is going to run out of pitching and OSU's bats are going to come alive. One may predicate the other.


North Carolina - 5
South Carolina - 8 (susp.)
The Gamecocks raced out to an 8-2 lead, but NC started a comeback that looked very similar to last night's big demoralizing loss that put the Heels up 1-0 in the best of three. With the game stopped in the 7th, we'll have to see if they hold on.


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Now a quick view at the Game 1s from today---

Cal State Fullerton - 12
UCLA - 2
Sometimes you just have to go retro. That's what the Titans did tonight at Goodwin Field as they looked like the Titans of old, belting UCLA's Tyson Brummett for six runs, all coming with two out, to race out to a 6-1 lead after three innings. Unlike their .274 batting average, this team looked like an experienced team at the plate tonight. Evan McArthur, who came in at .244, went 3-for-3 with three RBI and a pair of walks on the night. John Curtis, an inconsistent stick, also got three hits, including a home run and was hit by two pitches. Fullerton was clicking on all cylinders against a good pitcher tonight. That's seriously daunting.
. Is this series over?
Given that Brummett offered the Bruins their best chance for a win, I don't love UCLA's chances. Unless the Bruins jump on Jeff Kaplan early tomorrow in a similar fashion to the way the Titans did today, it won't be much of a contest.


UC Irvine - 1
Wichita State - 0
That had to be some of the most nerve-wracking bases-loaded situations I've seen in a long time. And give the Anteaters credit for playing such a cool, calm and collected game in front of a rabid Shocker fan base and the biggest crowd in Eck Stadium history (8,153). What was the difference in the game? A tough-hop back to the pitcher that bounced off of reliever Noah Krol and allowed a runner to score from 3rd. And Krol just missed gloving that ball and making the easy out at first to escape the threat. You have to say that Irvine played aggressive and undaunted by the gravity of the circumstances. Good fundamentals and a lock-down mentality helped them keep their heads about this game. And yes, Scott Gorgen was freakin' brilliant in going the distance, giving up eight hits and inducing a trio of double-plays when his team needed it most.
- Is this series over?:
Well, of course not. But I will say this, I'm just not sure this Anteater team is going to lose twice in a row, to anybody.

Mississippi - 3
Arizona State - 4
Look, I don't know what to say here. I can't believe what I just saw. ASU was more than dead in the water. They only had seven hits off of the wonderful right arm of Reb starter Will Kline. But in the 9th, Kline gave up four hits, a long sac fly and was obviously tiring when State's best hitter, Brett Wallace, came to the dish. I'm still not sure why fireballer Cody Satterwhite was never brought in. Especially when ASU starting jumping on the nose-diving Kline. Ultimately, it was Wallace's RBI single with two out in the 9th that did them in. I still can't believe how hand-cuffed the Sun Devils were - all game long! But I made the statement in the Thursday Thoughts that Ole Miss had a chance if Will Kline pitched the game of his life. Guess what? He did. But his wilted quickly when it counted.
- Is this series over?
Heavens no. But, you have to imagine this was a crushing defeat for Ole Miss. They can now go one of two ways, either come out and rip ass tomorrow, or go out like a lamb from deflation. And to think, I was all ready to eat my crow... fried.


Oregon State -
Michigan -
No game. Rained out. Series now pushed back to Sunday-Monday-Tuesday.


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Weather---
Since this was the one day that all eight Super Regionals were going to be played, I thought I'd contrast and compare the different weather conditions at each locale. Where would you have rather been today? Here's a look:
- Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
High in the mid-90s. This was the second hottest day of the year (and there's not a lot of shade at The Bosh). They started this game at 7pm, so thankfully it wasn't in full broiler-mode. Then, of course, the rain and lightning set in.
- Starkville, Mississippi.
High of 96 with 75% humidity (No thank you!). Then, add in the extra heat from the barbeque in the Left Field Lounge... we're talkin' mid-100s.
- Louisville, Kentucky.
High in the upper 70s. Low humidity. But the artificial playing surface warmed things up a tad bit more. I'd hate to slide on that stuff, even if they say it's "slide-able."
- Houston, Texas.
High of 94 with 72% humidity. There's a small bit of shade from the Reckling Park overhang, but it should be an architectural mandate that extended shade areas are regulation in this part of the country.
- Wichita, Kansas.
Nice. The game was played under mostly cloudy conditions and upper 70 temps. Of course the wind was also strong and knocked fly balls down all game long.
- Tempe, Arizona.
Get this, 105 degrees was the high temp. But it's okay, it's a dry heat, right? Yep, as dry as when you put your head inside your oven and crank it up.
- Fullerton, California.
Temperature of 72 degrees at first pitch. And it cooled down as the game went along. You know, more like a home thermostat setting. Sweet.
- Corvallis, Oregon.
Low 70s and no game because of the drops. Eh, it's the Rainbelt. But the new "field turf" surface will come to the rescue at OSU the next two days. Best investment ever.


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SEC getting revenge on ACC---
Mississippi State is showing some conference pride for the SEC, which has been bruised by the ACC of late. Last year, North Carolina swept Alabama in Tuscaloosa to advance to the CWS and Miami upset Ole Miss in Starkville on their way to Omaha. Well, at least this year, State was able to eliminate Clemson in two straight to save some face for the SEC. And don't look now, but MSU's first opponent in Omaha? It could be North Carolina. Unless they are taken down my South Carolina, another SEC team.


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What the penalty in NASCAR should be---
Sadly, ESPN Sports Center shows NASCAR highlights, so I happened to see that Kurt Busch guy angrily pull up next to that other car on pit row and nearly hit the pit crew dude. Last I heard, he was fined $100K and suspended or something like that. Well, here's my remedy to penalizing this guy:
1- the next race, he has to get drunk to where he's at a 2.0 alcohol level at the start of the race.
2- he must race inebriated and do a shot of jagermeister at every pit stop.
3- this will cause him to A) lose horribly, which is a good penalty. And B) it will surely cause numerous wrecks on the track... which is what fans come to the races to see anyway.

It's a win-win solution for everyone involved.


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Seeing too many sunglasses being worn on top of the hat today---
Just thought I'd let you know about that. I'm just waiting for the ball to get lost in the sun by one of these oafs.

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Jerk of the Day Awards---
1) Ole Miss catcher Alex Kliman.
Yes, the tag and subsequent push of Arizona State's Eric Sogard was WWE-like. But Karma got him in the end, with a pair of strikeouts in his last two at-bats and an L for the Rebels.
2) Arizona State coach Pat Murphy.
Yes, everyone saw the Devils coach needing to be restrained from going after Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco during the Kliman-ignited melee. But in the post-game press conference, Murphy said, "I don't remember needing to be restrained." Oh my.


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Best line of the day---
Phil Nevin, commentator on the Wichita-Irvine game, on Aaron Shafer, not getting a strike three call with the bases loaded in the 7th, "He's just got a case of the red-ass right now."


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Best voice-mail of the day---
I got a call from UCI's baseball Sports Information Director Fumi Kimura. After Scott Gorgen threw his incredible complete-game gem, she left this on my cell phone's voice mail, "So do you think the words 'Gorgen' and 'All American' can be used in the same sentence finally?"

I hear you Fumi. And as far as I'm concerned, he's an All American today.


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Okay, once again my eyes are like anvils. I've got to get some sleep here.

See you all tomorrow.

G'night.

Comments

It is amazing how much misinformation is printed on all the sports sites. Miss. State was not last in ERA in the SEC but ninth. They were not one of the last teams to be chosen for the regionals, they were a #2 seed(higher than Louisville or Oregon State). Their best hitter and their best relief pitcher were injuried the last month of the season. Before that they were #7 RPI. They lost 8 games by one or two runs during the injuries. Unfortunately many of you reporters don't bother to watch any games or attempt to find our what is really going on with a team. Anyone who who watched Miss. State play in April knew that if they stayed healthy they would go a long way.

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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