Sunday Summations - Arizona gets out of the sick bay, picks off UCLA

Historic Sancet Stadium and Kindall Field.

I've been wanting to make it to a game here for a long time. After spending the last three days in Phoenix doing the basketball side of things for the West Regionals, I was able to catch the getaway game between UCLA and Arizona.

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(C.J. Ziegler and Brad Glenn celebrate Glenn's 7th inning home run that clinched the win for Arizona today)

Truthfully, I couldn't wait to get down here to see just what the hell UCLA was doing, playing possum all season long and now, all the sudden, becoming the monstrously good team that everyone expected. The Bruins entered today's game with 'Zona having a chance to sweep the Cats and really plant a flag in the grass that they were back.

Meanwhile the Arizona nine just reeked of desperation, to be honest. They really needed a win today, having dropped eight of their last nine to plummet from the No. 1 spot in one or two of the all-too-numerous rankings out there.

More on that in a bit, let's take care of some Sunday business first...

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THREE UP---
1- California.
Completed the sweep of No. 5 Long Beach State, 4-3.
Like a bat signal above Gotham City, this weekend sends an ominous sign to those in the Pac 10. Cal is for real. David Cooper continues to swing the steel, going 3-for-3 today to add to his two homer performance from Saturday. Matt Gorgen got his 15th career save today, moving him to 5th on the school career saves list.

2- Louisiana-Monroe.
The Warhawks beat Florida Atlantic 13-5 today to complete a three-game sweep.
With the sweep of the former top team in the Sun Belt, ULM is now 10-2 in the conference play and owns weekend sweeps over pre-season No. 2 New Orleans and pre-season No. 4 FAU. Ben Soignier concluded the weekend going 7-for-13 at the dish and picked up the win on the mound in Saturday's 3-2 win. And to put this in perspective, UL-M was tabbed 8th in the coaches pre-season SBC poll.

3- Texas Tech's 9th inning vs. Mizzou.
Took the series from No. 2 Missouri with an improbable 15-11 win today.
The Raiders rallied for six runs in the bottom of the 9th inning, including a jog-off grand slam by Doug Thennis that gave Tech the win and the series in one fell swing. This is one of those moments that could turn a season around for the Raiders too, as they improve to 14-12 and 4-5 in Big 12 play.


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THREE DOWN---
1- Mother Nature again.
Man, she's been a bitch again this season. And it's not just in the Northeast either. If I'm doing my math right here (always a questionable foray) there were a total of 17 cancellations all across the country. Storm systems in the Midwest and South wreaked havoc on the college baseball landscape all weekend long. Not just with cancellations, but also revised schedules. It's a shame when teams have to bunch games together on a Sunday - like Vandy and Arkansas did, one of which was a 7-inning affair.

2- The Hogs.
Lost twice to Vanderbilt, 6-5 (12inns) and 6-3
After seeing the Hogs beat Nebraska 9-4 last week, I came away impressed with Dave Van Horn's nine. But having gone 2-5 since then, it turned out to be a lost weekend for the Hogs - literally. Because of horrid weather all weekend, it took three days to complete game one (a 12-inning loss) and then game two was shortened to seven innings. Maybe, in secret, the Razorbacks are glad one game was lost to weather, because this team has been snakebitten. UofA is now just 2-6 in SEC play.

DaveVanHorn.jpg
(Not even the umpires are giving Dave Van Horn respect lately)

3- The Chips.
Lost twice at Buffalo, 1-0 and 4-3.
Central Michigan, the MAC West Division favorites, trounced the Bulls in three straight last year by a combined 24-6. This was supposed to be a no-brainer. But the perennial bottom-feeders stung the Chips twice today, allowing just one earned run in the two wins. Jeffery Hains went 8.2 innings giving up just five hits in game one. CMU is off to a terrible 1-4 start in MAC play and just 7-15 overall. So much for that expected 30 or maybe 40-win season I predicted in the season preview.


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THE OUCH LIST---
Let's get on with our Sunday tradition here stitch-heads.

- Long Beach State.
Results:
Got swept at Cal, L6-1, L10-6, L4-3
Why it hurts:
I suppose this might be one of those situations where the schedule is finally starting to grind on the Dirtbags a bit. They seemed to just ran out of gas today, making uncharacteristic mistakes in the field. Doesn't get any easier either, as the Beach now travels to play at Stanford and at Fresno in the next two days.

- Rice.
Results:
Lost twice vs. Southern Miss, L1-0, W7-0, L8-7
Why it hurts:
Going 1-2 this weekend already equals the number of losses Rice has had in C-USA play for the last two years each. My prediction of them going something close to 22-2 in C-USA play again is going to be wrong. Dare we say... their run at the top is in jeopardy too?

- San Diego
Results:
Lost two of three at home to Santa Clara, W1-0, L12-10, L6-4.
Why it hurts:
Just when you think USD has righted the ship, the Toreros go and drop their WCC opening weekend at Cunningham Stadium. Frosh sensation Kyle Blair was roped hard for seven hits and runs in 2.0 innings on Saturday and Josh Romanski had his first pitch of today's loss sent off the apartment building beyond right field by Matt Long. USD is now 19-10 overall.

- Boston College
Results:
Lost all three at home vs. Georgia Tech, L5-2, L-13-2, L3-2
Why it hurts:
BC has played well this season (including a pair of wins at Clemson), they also were salivating at the chance to hang a few more Ls on a ranked team. But this weekend it wasn't meant to be, losing Sunday's getaway game by the barest of degrees.

- Lafayette
Results:
Lost three of four to Patriot rival Navy.
Why it hurts:
The Leos dominated the PL last season and were the favorites to do it again in '08. But this opening weekend of league play saw them lose a pair of one-run games, including today's finale, where Navy won 6-5 in 13 innings.

- Florida Atlantic
Results:
Got swept in three straight at UL-Monroe (4-3, 3-2 and 13-5)
Why it hurts:
The Owls went from being in first place in the Sun Belt to three games behind the Warhawks with the three losses. But it was the pen that really constricted the Blue Wave attack, giving up just one earned run in 10.2 combined innings of relief this weekend.

- Missouri
Results:
Lost two straight at Texas Tech after winning Friday night 1-0.
Why it hurts:
This isn't a major "ouch" here since losing a series at Tech is not horrible. Dan Law Field is a tough environment to get a W to begin with. But Sunday saw the Tiger arms finally go bust as they gave up six runs in the bottom of the 9th to lose 15-11.

- Houston
Results:
Got swept out at San Diego State, L8-0, L7-6 and L9-6
Why it hurts:
At 16-7 and with wins over the likes of Texas Tech, UL-Lafayette, East Carolina (2) and Rice, I was looking forward to what UofH would do in this last non-conference hurrah before returning to C-USA play next week again Central Florida. Unfortunately, Raynor Noble's charges couldn't gain any ground against Tony Gwynne U., losing all three games, including a blowout loss today that was made cosmetically better by the Coogs scoring five of their six runs in the 9th inning.

- West Virginia
Results:
Lost two of three at Rutgers, L8-4, L8-2, W8-7 (10inns)
Why it hurts:
Labeled as one of my "Teams to keep and eye on" this weekend, the Mountaineers folded up like a cheap tent in Scarlet Knight country, having their 11-game win streak snapped. They ended Friday's game with a bases-loaded pop-up and finally pulled out an extra inning win today to salvage some semblance of respect. Still, at 20-6, it's not too late to make a good impression and this week's visit from South Florida offers a chance to make amends.

- Portland
Results:
Swept in three straight at home vs. LMU, L7-2, L9-3, L-12-3.
Why it hurts:
Other than having a DeMarini bat commercial filmed at their home stadium, there hasn't been a lot of marquee to the Pilot program over the last 10 or so years. When they got out to a 10-2 start this season - including wins against Michigan, Hawaii and Fresno State - it got my attention. But now, with the three losses to the Lions this weekend, PU is on a 2-8 slide and appears headed for the bottom half of the WCC again.


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WHAT I SAW AT SANCET STADIUM TODAY---
UCLA - 011 000 020 - 4 6 2
UofA - 110 120 21x - 8 12 1

WP- Eric Berger (2-1)
LP- Gavin Brooks (1-2)

Arizona coach Andy Lopez wasn't in the dugout for Friday night's 4-3 loss to UCLA because of a fever keeping him under the weather. He mentioned that the fever broke early on Saturday and he was hoping his team's 6-game losing streak fever would break soon too. Well coach, it looks like today your teams' feverish funk broke as well.

The Desert Cats took an early 1-0 lead on a T.J. Steele RBI single in the first inning and never trailed from there. Steele teamed with fellow lumberjack C.J. Ziegler to put the screws to the Bruin staff, both going 3-for-4 and got the backing of cleanup man Brad Glenn, who went 2-for-3 with three ribs, including his third home run of the season.

I gotta say, Ziegler was pretty damn impressive, with a hulking presence at the dish and a smooth stroke, he didn't seem the least bit bothered by the flu bug he was trying to shake off that caused him to miss Saturday's game. (What's in the water here in Tucson, with these sick bodies and all?)

On the mound, Wildcat starter Eric Berger allowed only two runs on four hits in five innings of effective work. Daniel Schlereth came on in relief, striking out five Bruin batters in three innings. This was a much better performance than that Saturday Horror Show that saw the Bruins rip Cat arms for 22 hits and 20 runs.

Nice bounce-back Sunday Arizona. Welcome back to the land of the living. Now, lets just hope that sickness bug doesn't come back to bite you again.


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BIGGEST UMPIRING GAFFE---
Unfortunately, the only real dunce-cap moment of the game came in the bottom of the 5th inning when UCLA managed to pull off the "hidden ball" trick on Arizona's Jon Gaston, whom third baseman Jermaine Curtis tagged while leaning off of third base. The King Cap goes out to the umpiring crew who totally didn't see the play and made no call at all. Eventually, after Curtis and UCLA skipper John Savage pleaded for a call, the umps decided, wrongly, that there was no play and Gaston was safe. The truth of the matter is that Gaston was pegged and the umps just didn't realize the trick play was being pulled off.

HiddenBallAftermath.jpg
(Jermaine Curtis and John Savage want answers about their hidden ball trick from the umpiring crew. They wouldn't get them)

In case you're wondering, the umpiring crew that screwed the pooch on this call was Billy Haze, Bill Speck and Steve Mattingly. Oh, and Mattingly, who bears the biggest brunt for botching the play, tossed out UCLA assistant coach Brian Green during the aftermath. Luckily the play didn't end up being a deciding factor in the game.


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CELEBRITY SIGHTING---
Don't know if you can call seeing ESPN football personality Mark Schlereth a "celebrity" or not - he's no Pam Anderson showing up at Pepperdine games or anything - but there he was in the front row of the stands encouraging his son Daniel the whole time he was on the mound. I do have one question though, if big daddy Schlereth is a 6'5" former NFL offensive lineman, how did Daniel end up being a slight-built 6'0" relief pitcher?

MarkSchlereth.jpg
(Big Daddy Schlereth recording every pitch his boy Daniel makes on a DV camera.)


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NOT A GOOD PLACE FOR A BREW---
After the game was done, I was dying for a cool brew and desperate to see the end of the Kansas-Davidson basketball game. So I left the stadium and went searching for a sports bar of some sort. Now, I don't know if I just took some wrong streets in the process, but I couldn't find a watering hole anywhere on the outskirts of the campus. Hell, I would've even settled for a Chili's or Ruby Tuesday's at that point. After about 20 minutes, I ended up at some place called Famous Sam's, a shady joint that didn't even have windows. What is this, a casino?


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PUTTING OUT AN A.P.B. FOR ONE OF MY BIGGEST CRUSHES---
Unfortunately, my visit to the Tucson campus was done with a heavy heart, because fastpitch pitching guru - and fabulous babe - Nancy Evans is no longer with the Wildcat softball program. So there were no Nancy sightings, unfortunately. The seven-year assistant softball coach quit her position before this spring season started for the red, white and blue. In fact, does anyone out there know what happened to Coach Evans? C'mon stitch-heads, gimme some low-down if you know. Tell you what, Nancy, if you're reading this, I'd like to buy you a nice dinner somewhere and see what you're up to nowadays. And yes, I promise free publicity for doing so.

UofANancyEvans.jpg


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Okay stitch-heads. Another great weekend down, more great stuff to come. In case I didn't mention it before, I've been assigned to cover UCLA in the Final Four down in San Antonio this coming weekend (LOVE the March Madness!) and for the sake of the adventurist in me, I'm driving my way from Tucson to S.A. for the big event. So while I'm on the road, I'll be sure to (finally) go way the hell off the beaten path and make my way to the college baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock sometime this week.

I'll give you the full low-down on what the place is like.

In the meantime, I'll be hitting the high road to Texas in my cold blue steel, listening to my Underground Garage (channel 25) on Serius radio along the way. And yes Kendall, it IS a cool way to go to the Final Four. I'm diggin' it.

G'night.

Comments

Nancy Evans is coaching for Cienega H.S in Vail Co.

Nancy Evans has been dating my brother for the last 8 years. Do you know something different flirty guy?

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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