Sunday Summations - The College Baseball Oscars Edition

Welcome to this, the Oscar night for college baseball's grand opening weekend.

(Oh crap, wasn't I supposed to put one of those little copywrited "R"s with a circle around it after writing the word "Oscar"?)

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(The Streaker of '74 behind presenter David Niven)

So before the orchestra starts playing because their acceptance speeches have gone too long, here are the winners of this weekend's gala opening for college baseball.

- Best Leading Man:
Brett Wallace, Arizona State.
He *only* went 5-for-12 on the weekend. No harm, no foul, right? Well three of his hits were Earthquaking bombs over the right field wall. He also had seven RBI in Saturday's 18-6 sinking of the Commodores.

- Best Supporting Character:
Cody Overbeck, Mississippi
The Rebel 1B went 6-for-12 with three home runs to help pace Ole Miss to a breezy three-game sweep of Minnesota this weekend.

- Best Director:
Dusty Rhodes, head coach of North Florida
Ole Dusty turned in a great directing job this weekend. His team can't go to the post-season, but that isn't going to stop them from playing with purpose, beating Mississippi State two out of three this weekend. And their wins were obliterations, to the tune of 17-9 and 11-6.

- Best Production Team:
South Carolina.
As expected, the Gamecocks blasted their way to a 2-1 series win over East Carolina. This team hit nine home runs in the three games, two each by Reese Havens, Justin Smoak and Phil Disher. And by the way, as a point of reference, those nine home runs were just one less than Arkansas-Pine Bluff hit all last season.

- Best Dramatic Series:
Rice at Long Beach State.
"High-quality" is the phrase that keeps overtaking my mind as I write about this series. The Beach won the first two games, 1-0 (10inns) and 3-2. Rice took Sunday's capper 3-1. Friday's first game was a true beauty and the best season-opening game I've ever seen.

- Best Date Movie:
Purdue.
Why best date movie? Because it's sure to be a huge tear-jerker. The Boilers went down to Waco and promptly lost three straight one-run games, 2-1, 11-10 (11inns) and 2-1. Cry if you must, that's pretty damn good baseball being played by a team with a handful of outdoor practices.

- Best Violent, Shoot-Em-Up Movie:
Miami University.
The Redhawks had to be angrily throwing things around the locker room and busting stuff to bits after coming up three outs short of pulling off a significant upset of No. 3 Vanderbilt today. The 'Dore bottom of the 9th went: single, walk, bunt single, throwing error, intentional walk and single to allow VU to score three runs and squelch the bid by a 4-3 score.

- Best Comedy:
Ole Miss.
They so dominated Minnesota in their three game sweep in Oxford - by a combined 45- 10 - it turned into a laugher.

- Best Big Screen Debut:
Jim Toman, Liberty.
The longtime South Carolina assistant took his first team to an unbeaten weekend with wins over Notre Dame (6-2), Albany (5-4) and Iowa (3-1). I'm sure many more honors are on the way.

- Best Spoof:
Michigan.
So get this, the Wolverines got some snowbird team (Villanova) that barely had a practice outdoors all pre-season long, flew them down to the deep south (Port St. Lucie, Florida) and drummed them mercilessly. Now look... they're imitating Southern and Western teams so well, they might just follow their blueprint for success all the way to Omaha too.

- Biggest Box Office Flop (The "Ishtar" Award):
San Diego.
With a team that quite possibly had the best returning rotation in the country, it was stunning to see the Toreros give up 37 runs to San Diego State in losing two of three this weekend. But unlike Ishtar, there's still plenty of time to turn everything around.

- Biggest Opening Weekend Jitters:
Florida International.
Too bad for new coach Turtle Thomas that USC came to town and decided to play like the Trojans of old, winning all three games against the Golden Panthers. But that could be an indication that USC is back and not that FIU is a poor team. Look for better from Thomas and Co.

- Best Prequel To The Post-Season:
Vanderbilt vs. Arizona State.
Okay, so ASU won by a football score over VU on Saturday. But keep in mind what Devs coach Pat Murphy said about how Vandy will make it to Omaha. I'll take his prediction over some of these internet hacks we read out there. And yes that includes me.

- Second Best Prequel To The Post-Season:
Rice vs. Long Beach State.
Unlike Vandy and ASU, this series looked like a post-season quality game.

- Best Summer Blockbuster Thrillride:
North Carolina.
The defending runner-ups swept Florida Atlantic down in Boca Raton this weekend in three straight. But there was hair-raising, edge-of-your-seat action on both Saturday and Sunday, as those games were big time comebacks (from 10-6 and 7-4 respectively) keyed by their significantly experienced offense. Word of warning though, the usually pitching-heavy Heels were roped by the Owls in those two games as well.

- Best Showing At Sundance (an off-the-beaten-path gem):
Jacksonville.
The Dolphins went 3-0 this weekend in the Jacksonville Invitational, beating Wisconsin-Milwaukee 20-8, Richmond 7-4 and UNC-Wilmington

- Best Short Film:
Troy.
The Trojans gave up two, zero and one runs respetively in their three games with Rhode Island, an expected contender in the Atlantic 10. The rest of the Sun Belt is on notice as the efficient Trojan arms gave up just 12 hits all weekend. The best part for those in attendance? Saturday and Sunday's games went just 2:24 and 2:29 in length.

- Most Entries In One Category:
The Near Upsets.
Despite the upset successes of North Florida, Cleveland State (over Louisville) and Texas-San Antonio (over UL-Lafayette) check out these near-misses from Sunday on the Top 30 scoreboard:
North Carolina 8 - Florida Atlantic 7.
South Carolina 7 - East Carolina 6.
Arizona 9 - Georgia 8.
Vanderbilt 4 - Miami Univ. 3.
Cal State Fullerton 7 - TCU 4 (just missed a game-tying three-run homer in the 9th)
Coastal Carolina 4 - Virginia Tech 3.
Southern Mississippi 9 - Lipscomb 8.

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SOME ADDITIONAL NOTES FROM MY TRIP TO THE DEMARINI CLASSIC IN TEMPE---
- Got the perfect location to shoot the movie Damnation Alley 2:
For those of you who know, here's a picture of that old horse track that's about 20 minutes outside of Phoenix:

ArizHorsetrack.jpg
(Yes, I took this picture while in my truck driving on I-10. What? People talk on their phones and drive at the same time too!)

Looks like a giant, abandoned, alligator mouth-shaped eyesore. According to San Diego ace Brian Matusz's father, it hasn't been in use for about 30 years now but has yet to be torn down. Nice post-World War III setting.

- It's "George"... as in Curious George:
According to Oregon State's new SID Hank Hager, Beaver Sophmore pitcher Jorge Reyes' first name is pronounced like "George." Hank said even Jorge's cell phone voice mail identifies himselt as "George" and not "Hor-hay" as he had been called all last season. Still, when it comes to media matter, Jorge says "Hor-hay" instead. Go figure.

- I caught Darwin Barney WITHOUT any ESPN cameras fixedly focused on him:
Saw Darwin Barney at Saturday night's Oregon State-Miami game. I would say more about him here, but Erin Andrews did SO many personal feel-good stories on him during last year's national championship series with UNC that I can't possibly tell you anything you don't already know.

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(A rather dark pic of Barney at Packard Stadium Saturday night)


- Call this the challenge to Sports Illustrated's cover "jinx":
Speaking of Reyes, this is the third straight year that the team on the cover of Baseball America has left their opening weekend of play with a losing record. Texas had Kyle McColluch and Drew Stubbs on the cover of the 2006 edition and went 0-3 at San Diego. Last year, Rice's Joe Savery was on the cover and Rice left the Minute Maid Classic with a record of 1-2. And Reyes was on this year's cover with Mike Stutes, but OSU went 1-2 in Tempe this weekend.

- Blogging Arizona:
Enjoyed my time in Tempe with fellow CSTVer Doug Kroll, Rivals Kendall Rogers and SEBaseball's Dylan Hedges. But I checked out Doug's live blog and the other live blogs out there. Hafta admit, and this is no hometown call, Doug's blows theirs out of the kiddie pool. I think they know that too. I enjoyed adding pics of the game to it as well. Gotta love out-of-the-box thinking.

- Woke up early in Phoenix in order to do some hiking with the mutt and still get back in town early enough to see the last half of the UCLA-Oklahoma game in Westwood. Unfortunately, despite the partly cloudy skies in Santa Monica, the game had already been canceled from the overnight showers. Damn you Mother Nature, you got me again.

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(The dog during a morning hike in the desert. See? That's a cactus there.)


Okay, I'm wicked tired now. Hittin' the hay.

G'night.

Comments

Eric, ever hear of Dustin Ackley of UNC? Dude, how can you leave out his numbers over the weekend? .714 average (10-14), three home runs, seven RBI and five runs scored. He belted a pair of solo shots Friday and added a three-run blast in Sunday's series finale for six home runs in his last seven games dating to last year's College World Series. Not bad for last years National Freshman of the year. I always thought you were West Coast biased...now I know.

Best Production Team? UNC with 11 home runs in three games. South Carolina - 9.

Okay, so you chose Brett Wallace of ASU for your Best Leading Man. His numbers are good but I propose that Dustin Ackley's numbers are better (UNC national freshman of the year last year). His numbers over the weekend? .714 average (10-14), three home runs, seven RBI and five runs scored. He belted a pair of solo shots Friday and added a three-run blast in Sunday's series finale for six home runs in his last seven games dating to last year's College World Series.

Steve. My man, thanks for reading and writing in. Much appreciated, of course. But I think you're just rearranging deck furniture on the Titanic... either way, it doesn't matter. Ackley is a freakin' monster. (Can't wait to see him in April at the Bosh. Oh yeah, I'll be there again this year. Love the ACC.) Wallace just did his deeds against the pitching of Vanderbilt and Oregon State. That's the only difference. But you didn't say anything about my putting Cody Overbeck as Best Supporting Character? Hmmm. I always thought you were East coast biased... now I know.

Have fun at the Bosh Eric since UNC plays their home games in Cary this season because the stadium is being rebuilt.

Sorry I had to do that.

Damn you Brian. Why do you have to be so much smarter than me? You're right, I better make it out to Cary instead. Otherwise, I'll be waiting a long time for first pitch.
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cheers,
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Eric

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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