Friday First Takes - YES!!

This might be the only time all season that you'll catch me pulling for one team over another. But remember, we're wishng for upsets this weekend since there aren't hardly any intriguing matchups? Well people, raise your right hand in a fist, because that's what we got today, in a few cases at least.


VandyFlaherty.jpg
(Ryan Flaherty prevented Vanderbilt from becoming another upset victim)

For starters, let's hand out the best and worst of this first Friday in March:

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THREE UP---
The best of Friday.
1- The Top 30 Upsets
Five Top 30 behemoths bit the dust in this weekend's first day of games. A couple more had to hold on to their knickers for nearly getting another notch in the loss column.

See more on this below.

2- The West Coast Conference
The Westies went 8-1 on the day, including two wins over ranked teams: LMU beat No. 19 Oregon State 13-3 and San Diego beat No. 22 Oklahoma State 7-2. Also, Santa Clara improved to 9-1 with a 10-6 win at San Diego State. And late, late into the middle of the night while most of you were in R.E.M. sleep, San Francisco was pulling out an 8-7 win at UNLV in 13 innings. The only hiccup? St. Mary's got one-hit by Tim Murphy and Garett Claypool in a 14-0 loss to UCLA.

3- Shooter Hunt (Tulane) and Scott Gorgen (UC Irvine)
UC Irvine - 0
Tulane - 2
These two put on a clinic at re-worked Turchin Stadium today. Give the edge to Hunt and the Wave as he went 7.0 innings, striking out 11 Anteaters and giving up just one harmless hit to pick up the W. Gorgen was nearly as good, also going 7.0, striking out 10 Greenies and giving up four hits and the two runs. Nice win for Rick Jones' charges.


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THREE DOWN---
The worst of Friday.
1- Mother Nature (again).
Eleven games inside the rankings were postponed or canceled by rain storms roaring up and down the East coast. Who lost the most? The ACC's opening Friday of conference play only saw two games out of six get played. The Southern Conference also played only one of eight games on the docket. Concerning Mother Nature, I digress to the words of Randy Moss, "Dammit woman, I said leave me alone."

2- Call it the Devils beatdown effect.
These teams are still feeling the effects of getting lambasted by Arizona State:
- Oregon State. Lost today to LMU 13-3.
The Beavers have been very Jekyll and Hyde so far, including today's ugly loss.
- Vanderbilt. Rallied to beat Illinois-Chicago 5-4.
Once again, the 'Dores just didn't play very well, having to stage a furious 4-run rally to beat the Flames (while saying "thank you for the pitching change")
- New Mexico. Lost at Minnesota 7-3.
The Lobos were off to a 7-0 start before getting blasted by a combined 28-2 in mid-week games vs. ASU. Today, the Gophers worked them over pretty well too.

3- Those upset-minded teams that couldn't hold on.
Illinois-Chicago - 4
No. 6 Vanderbilt - 5
What the Austin Peay is going on here? UI-C gave up four runs in the 9th, including back-to-back hits by Alex Feinberg and Ryan Flaherty (a two-run single) to ice the game.

Massachusetts - 4
No. 1 Arizona State - 13
Okay, this would've been our sports' Appalachian State, since UMass did lead 3-1 in the 5th inning. Can you imagine if they had held on? But ASU poured it on late to ease into another W.

No. 11 Long Beach State - 4
Hawaii - 3 (12inns)
The Beach looked dead in the warm waters of the Pacific with only two hits through seven innings, but score three times in the 8th to send it to extras, then got an RBI double by Shane Peterson to pull out the win.

Youngstown State - 7
Alabama - 15
With 41 degrees and a slight drizzle, you had to think this was perfect Penguin weather. So a 4-2 lead in the 4th shouldn't have been a shock. But Bama eventually heated up.


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MATADORS BEAT BACK A STORM---

St. John's - 5
Cal State Northridge - 6

Caught the Friday matchup of St. John's at Cal State Northridge today in the San Fernando Valley (Hopefully, nobody at work noticed I was gone.). Wanted to get a chance to see the Big East contenders while they were in town. They ran into some problems with the hot Northridge bats, who came in hitting .370. Starting hurler Scott Barnes didn't last too long, giving up four runs and four walks, along with two hits before getting yanked.

The Johnnies came back and even took the lead at 5-4 in the 7th, but the Matadors were resilient, and the hot bat of Catcher John Parham put the game away with an infield single to short that scored the winning run. Parham only had that one hit on the day, but came in hitting .500 so far.

Interestingly, CSUN 2B Justin DeMarco ended up getting tossed in the 6th inning for giving an extra forearm shiver to the chest of SJU's Johnny Kemp after a collision at second base on an attempted steal. To Kemp's credit, he didn't charge back for the Frosh's hot-headed anger. In the end, after DeMarco got tossed, at least he got comforted by an understanding female while reposing in the grass beyond the outfield wall.

CSUNejection.jpg
(Someday this Freshman will become a Sophomore and it will please his coach)


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THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN---
Here's the list of today's Top 30 upset victims:

Michigan State - 9
No. 6 Rice - 3
It's weird to see Ryan Berry go just 4.2 innings and give up seven runs in the process. The Spartans have now beaten Stetson, Western Carolina and Rice so far.

No. 13 UC Irvine - 0
Tulane - 2
As mentioned above, one of the best-pitched games in this early season.

LMU - 13
No. 19 Oregon State - 3
OSU's pitchers have been good and awful at the same time this season. Latest example being Mike Stutes, who gave up nine hits and four runs in 5.0 innings. Eight Beaver pitchers were used in all.

Rutgers - 10
No. 25 Texas A&M - 8
The Knights add to their impressive list of victims, including Old Dominion and Georgia Tech, all of which were ranked at the time they beat them. A&M arms issue 10 walks today.

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WHO I ALMOST INCLUDED IN THE "THREE UP"---
The Southland Conference.
The SLC was ravaged by cancellations as well, but of the five games there were played, they won four.

McNeese State - 1
Texas-Arlington - 26

St. Louis - 4
Sam Houston State - 9

Notre Dame - 2
Texas A&M Corpus Christi - 5

Northern Illinois - 1
Texas State - 3

Akron - 10
Lamar - 8

Only thing that held the Southland back was no wins over ranked teams and it was hard to ignore that zit of a loss by Lamar.


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NOW THEY LOOK LIKE A NO. 1 TEAM---
South Alabama - 0
No. 5 Arizona - 18
Down at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, UofA, the No. 1 team in some rankings, played one of the more dominant games put together this season. Preston Guilmet went 8.0 innings striking out 12 and giving up just four hits, no runs and no walks to improve to 2-1. C.J. Ziegler hit his 7th yard call of the early season. The 'Cats improved to 8-1 and the Jags dropped to 7-4.

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That's it. I stayed up long enough to find out that the Beach had beaten Hawaii. So now, I'm out. More tomorrow from the Oregon State-San Diego game (if traffic obeys, of course).

G'night.

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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