Thursday Thoughts - Three words: Coppin. State. Wins.

No. 12 goes down!

And no, I don't mean Baylor, the No. 12 ranked team in the country, I mean the No. 12 thing on my "64 Things That Will Happen In College Baseball."

Coppin State has won. Yes, not a typo, the longest losing streak in Division I history is just that - history. Coppin State beat North Carolina Central 11-7 on Tuesday. And just to prove it wasn't a fluke, the Eagles did it again in the second game of a double-header by a score of 7-6.

Harry_Williams.JPG.jpg
(Coppin State's Harry Williams scored the game-winning run
in game two against North Carolina Central on Tuesday)

Coach Lee Harvey was understandably relieved. "I finally got the monkey off my back." he said on the school's website. "The kids deserve this. There have been a few games where calls didn't go our way, but I wanted them to see they really are a good team."

I think Coach Harvey misspoke. What he meant to say was that he just got the 1500-pound gorilla off his back. I was on the CSU bandwagon huge last year and cringed as they rarely even came within four runs of a win. On Tuesday, that all changed when they pulled off two Ws in one day in a pair of seven inning games.

How about this for getting the breaks and the calls? Game one ended when, with two out in the seventh inning and runners on second and third, N.C. Central's Kyle Davis beat out a grounder to third base, but Justin Goodson, running on the play, was ruled to have interfered with the fielding of the play. Thus Goodson was ruled out and the game was over.

And in game two, the winning run for Coppin was scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch that scored Harry Williams from third.

So there's your antithesis to "calls didn't go our way" right? By golly for coach Harvey and company, the worm has finally turned.

But what am I most proud about these two wins? Both times, the woebegone Eagles were faced with large deficits, of 4-0 and 5-1, and they didn't throw in the towel. You'd expect a team like CSU to crumble in situations like that. But instead the Eagles put nose to grindstone and came back to win both games.

Yep, if anything exemplifies Coppin's luck taking a change for the better, Tuesday was the day everything turned up golden for the Eagles. And stitch-heads everywhere are applauding.


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TOP FIVE WINLESS TEAMS I'M CHEERING FOR NOW---
Now that Coppin State gets a pair of checks in the win column, who else do we need to pull for? Here's a short list of who's bandwagon I'm now officially on and their chances for a win this weekend:

1- Purdue, 0-9.
Hard team to figure out. Lost three one-run games at Baylor, then tanked in three bad losses at Western Kentucky, then lost two more one-run games at unbeaten Kentucky. (insert sound effect of scratching head here).
Chances for victory: 90%. at Ohio this weekend.

2- Eastern Michigan, 0-15.
Impossible schedule so far. At New Mexico, at Florida, at Florida Atlantic, at Tennessee and at Kentucky. My God!
Chances for victory: 45%. vs. Wright State on Saturday

3- Harvard, 0-3.
The Crimson should once again be Rolfe Division title-holders by season's end. They lost three at Wichita State, including an 11-10 loss in 10 innings, where WSU scored five runs in the bottom of the 9th with two outs to tie it.
Chances for victory: 90%. vs. Eastern Illinois and Northern Iowa on Saturday

HarvardWin.jpg
(Harvard will probably rebound to celebrate another
Ivy League title, like the Crimson did here in 2002)

4- Columbia, 0-8.
The Lions of the Hudson have lost at Duke and at Pepperdine. They were competitive in every game in Malibu too, losing 7-1, 7-3, 5-2 and 9-0. No double-digit scores. But the road gets no easier until the end of March when Ivy play starts.
Chances for victory: 10%. at Georgia Southern.

5- Long Island, 0-9.
The Blackbirds nearly beat a good St. John's team on Wednesday, succumbing 9-8 in 10 innings. The Red Storm scored two runs in the bottom of the 9th to tie it on a Tim Morris home run. Arrrgh!
Chances for victory: 75% vs. 1-13 LaSalle on Friday.


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AND JUST FOR KICKS, HERE ARE THE UNBEATENS OF COLLEGE BASEBALL---
Keeping an eye on these guys too:
- Arizona State, 14-0
The Devils keep taking on good competition and keep winning, including two mid-week games against Arkansas, 6-5 and 7-4. Though I did notice that they threw weekend starters Josh Satow and Mike Leake in those two games.
Chances for a loss: 10%. vs. Troy this weekend

- Kentucky, 15-0.
Oh we've been down this road before. Remember last year's school record 19-0 start... followed by the Cats not even making the SEC tournament? Just keep in mind that UK has nine wins against winless teams already this season.
Chances for a loss: 85%. vs. Alabama this weekend.


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WHERE I'D LIKE TO BE THIS WEEKEND---
It's a South-by-Southeast weekend in college baseball. With the West getting most of the best matchups in non-conference games up until now, the SEC and ACC play starts to kick in now. So I'm planning on taking the CSTV Lear Jet down South this weekend. This is tasty tasty stuff people.

1- No. 4 South Carolina at No. 9 Vanderbilt.
Both come in at 10-3 and have a few curious losses to their ledger (Carolina really lost to Yale?), but it's still going to be a great weekend of action in Nashville. It's weird to think that Vandy is playing without Pedro Alvarez and Dominic de la Osa is hitting just .250, yet the 'Dores are still batting a brisk .332 as a team. The rotation of Mike Minor, Caleb Cotham and Nick Christiani all have ERAs of 2.55 or lower and will be a huge test against the awe-inspiring bats of the Gamecocks. Speaking of, the last time VU faced an offense that had this kind of ability to demoralize someone was at Arizona State, and we all remember how bad that was. So here's the Commodores chance to make amends and I think they will.

2- Kansas at No. 10 Texas.
Hey, it's my wish list. If I would rather go to Austin more than anywhere else this weekend, it's my right. Okay, so maybe this one is based more on the fact that the South-by-Southwest Music Festival is going on there as well. Bands like R.E.M., the Boss Martians, The Raveonettes and Moby will be part of the 1000 bands in 100 bars. Oh and the slightly over-rated, but ultra-cool Lou Reed is the keynote speaker this year. Too good to pass up. And KU plays at Texas.

3- No. 21 Cal State Fullerton at No. 2 Arizona
The well-armed Cats have a 36-inning scoreless streak going after throwing three straight shutouts at the Whataburger Classic last weekend. Fullerton is young, but has found some new arms to rely on (frosh Daniel Renken and Jason Dovel). But the road to Tucson is a tough place to lean on young bucks.

4- No. 22 Georgia Tech at No. 6 Florida State.
Two interesting things: 1) This will be Tech's first real games against a team with a pulse (Okay, Rutgers is going to be pretty good). And 2) This will be Tech's first road games of the season. I'm looking at a Seminole series win.

5- No. 25 Oklahoma State at No. 12 Baylor
This is a solid first weekend matchup of Big 12 teams. Poke pugilists Dylan Brown and Tyrone Hambly combined for five home runs in their 19-10 win over Missouri State on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Bears are coming off of back-to-back losses to Oral Roberts. But OSU will have a much, much bigger hill to climb going up against the likes of Kendall Volz and the rest of the Bear arms.

6- TCU at No. 15 Wichita State
Both teams have had interesting seasons so far. TCU has been roller-coasterlike, including last weekend's series win over then-No. 2 Mississippi. But in two mid-week wins over Prairie View, the Frog arms gave up just six hits and struck out 19. WSU picked up a nice win over Washington State and is still trying to get by without stud arm Aaron Shafer.

7- No. 5 Miami at North Carolina State
Of all the ACC teams NOT ranked, the Wolf Pack is the most curious to me. They've gone 9-3 and are coming off a series win over No. 16 Virginia. Eric Surkamp and Eric McConnell will face off against those daunting bats like Yonder Alonso, Jemile Weeks and Jason Hagerty. It's baseball bliss man.

8- USC at/vs. No. 7 Long Beach State
Always one of the best non-conference matchups in the L.A. basin, but it usually takes place on the first weekend of the season. Still, this will be fun to watch. Long Beach continues put the clamps on people, with a team ERA of 2.19, including the bullpens combined ERA of 0.22. SC's All American SS Grant Green is struggling with a .233 average.

9- Oral Roberts at No. 28 Pepperdine
This battle of mid-major powers got a whole lot more interesting when the Eagles took down No. 12 Baylor twice this week. ORU comes to Malibu with a 10-2 record and Brian Van Kirk hitting in the .447 range and pitcher Carlos Luna emerging as one of the most valuable pitchers in the country with numbers like 3-0, 2.20 and two saves.

10- The Pepsi Johnny Quick Classic, Fresno.
Always a collection of wide-ranging schools take place. So if you just want to kick back and overdose on college baseball all day long, this is your destination. Of course, the reason I'd really like to go would be to see just what the hell is going on with Fresno State. They have already lost three games in this tournament this week to New Mexico State, Portland and Indiana.


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TOP PITCHING MATCHUP---
South Carolina's Mike Cisco (3-0, 2.79) vs. Vanderbilt's Mike Minor (2-1, 1.66)
This is one of those matchups that could go the distance or see either hurler run off the mound before an inning or two are done. The offenses are potentially that good. Cisco is a battler. He'll have to have his best junk working well to confound the Vandy bats. For Minor, on the other hand, this may be his biggest test of the season. Last year he shut down the Cocks in his first career weekend start, striking out nine in 7.0 innings to get the win. If he has his fastball moving all over the strike zone, it'll set up his impressive changeup enough to keep the massive Carolina bats off-kilter.


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ONE I FORGOT TO PUT ON THE OUCH LIST---
Ohio State.
My Sunday Ouch List just didn't seem complete did it? Now I know why. I forgot to include Ohio State. As my admitted surprise pick for Omaha, I also knew there would come a time (or 10) that I would second-guess that pick. Well that time (or one of them) is now. The Buckeyes went 1-2 last weekend in Palm Beach, Florida, including one-run losses to both Air Force and Maine. The Falcons scored three runs in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Bucks 9-8.


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TOP 25 TANK JOBS---
Remember No. 7 in my pre-season list of 64 Things? It stated:

"A handful of pre-season Top 25 teams will tank it big time this year."

Well, with all the timeliness you can set your watch to, here's a quick look at those who have already jumped the shark (though we reserve the right to welcome them back with good baseball down the stretch):

- Michigan
Pre-season ranking: No. 8, Baseball America
Current record: 5-5
Not sure we should be getting all freaked out about this, last year the Wolverines started out at 6-6, but included wins over Mississippi State, Oklahoma and Troy. Only difference this year is they don't have any marquee wins. Then again, two games with Coastal Carolina are up next.

- Fresno State
Pre-season ranking: No. 18, Baseball America
Current record: 6-9
Tough schedule? Sure. But that doesn't explain going 1-3 in the Pepsi Johnny Quick Classic, losing games to Indiana, Portland and New Mexico State.

- Louisiana-Lafayette
Pre-season ranking: No. 19, Baseball America
Current record: 5-9
This one is the most perplexing. Had one of the best starting rotations returning this season, but has gone belly-up big time. Getting swept at home by Arkansas State is a real head-scratcher.


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HERE'S HOW YOU KNOW NUTRISYSTEM DOESN'T WORK---
You see all those weight-loss commercials on TV with people like Dan Marino, Mike Golic, Marie Osmond, etc? Well, a few years back Tommy Lasorda was doing those commercials too. Bragging about all the weight he lost and the Nutrisystem plan will help him keep the weight off. Nothing against Tommy Lasorda, unlike Fletch, I don't hate him. My angst is against those damn commercials. Look people, it's mainly genetics with a good dose of moderate eating and exercise that will do the trick.

LasordaBig.jpg
(Lasorda bellying-up to argue a call in a Dodger game last week)


Oh yeah, and don't buy one of those stupid Abdominizer things either.

Okay, I'm going to put my power-stepper box back under the NordicTrac now.


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THIS WEEK'S YOU TUBE MOMENT---

The way the NFL Monday Night Football intro should still be.
Okay, I know we live in an explosions, rap rhyme, dub track with the heavy-breasted girls around the hot-tub world and all, but I have to admit, seeing this old intro for Monday Night Football with the classic orchestra music building throughout and the inimitable voice of Howard Cosell adding intrigue and suspense to the pre-game. Here it is in all its Wank Hilliams-less glory:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgf8SQVpaeE&feature=related


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BEST MID-WEEK WIN---
Coastal Carolina - 11
North Carolina - 4
I always wonder how to gauge mid-week wins. One on hand they're not true indications of a teams' strength, since they usually start their No. 4 or 5 pitcher on the roster. But remember three years ago when back-to-back mid-week wins over Georgia Tech and North Carolina solidified a No. 1 seed for Coastal? Yep, it's true.

On Tuesday, the Chanticleers pulled off another big mid-week win over the No. 3 Heels. And they left no doubt from the get-go, scoring six (6) runs off of freshman phenom Matt Harvey, who was pulled eight batters into the game after walking in two runs.

MattHarvey2.jpg
(This is a picture of Harvey throwing to one of the eight batters he faced)


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SOME QUICK HITS---
- Don't know what's going on with Tuesday's lately, but it's been Super Tuesday for upsets so far this year. This past Tuesday's Top 30 carnage:
No. 20 Coastal Carolina 11 - No. 3 North Carolina 4
Yale 5 - No. 4 South Carolina 3
Western Illinois 3 - No. 7 Long Beach State 0
Oral Roberts 7 - No. 12 Baylor 6
No. 27 San Diego 6 - No. 21 Cal State Fullerton 2

- As I stated before, ESPN just doesn't "get it"
ESPN announced their regular season games they'd be showing this spring, a paltry six in all. (You freakin' kiddin' me?). But I was glad to see the N.C. A&T- Bethune Cookman game on April 6th (Dammit, I'll be working the Final Four) included in the lineup. Rice-Texas is always a great game to see as well. Here's the "complete" schedule:
April 1st: Rice at Texas
April 6th: N.C. A&T at Bethune-Cookman
April 18th: Oklahoma State at Texas
April 20th: UNC-Ashville at Coastal Carolina
April 26th: St. John's at Notre Dame
May 9th: Portland at Pepperdine.

All the games are scheduled for ESPNU. I loved Aaron Fitt's comment on Baseball America, "That's all folks. Makes you long for the days of the NHL work stoppage..." You've crystalized every stitch-heads thoughts exactly Aaron.

- The configuration of the New "Rosenblatt"
Some people in Omaha are up in arms because they don't approve of the proposed downtown stadium having a field that faces south, from home plate to right field, instead of the traditional eastward direction from home to right field as most stadiums are are configured. At least that's how all the artist's renderings have it situated. Me personally? I love the thought of batters trying to fight the brutal South winds coming from right field, instead of the gorilla ball winds from behind home plate that blast pop flies into home runs like Rosenblatt does on hot summer days.

Pitching and defense people, THAT'S what I want the College World Series to become known for.

- Jason Jarvis is ineligible again.
The Arizona State bullpen stud has been declared academically ineligible again, this time for the rest of the season. According to reports, it was a case of an online class mis-understanding that led to his grade being lowered. The part I thought was interesting was when Coach Pat Murphy said that the issue was being appealed, but that was between Jarvis and "the music department."

So, if that's true, what the hell is he doing taking a music class online anyway?


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WHATEVER HAPPENED TO---
Derek Tatsuno?
The Tsunami! As a University of Hawaii pitcher, he was the national Player of the Year in 1979 winning 20 games on the mound, while striking out an incredible 234 batters. That mark still stands as an NCAA record.

DerekTatsuno.jpg
(Hawaii coach Les Murakami with Tatsuno in 1979)

Special thanks to ARW for the update on Wichita State's Jim Audley, who he says now owns and operates his own pizza shop in Waxahachie, Texas.


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Here's to a great college baseball weekend to all of you out there in Stitch-land. Go catch a game near you if you can.

G'night.

Comments

Nice work again, Eric. I really like the now-obscure players featured in the "Whatever Happened To" section, but have never seen anyone reply with an answer. Do you ever hear back from readers and find out what really became of some of these guys?

Oops, Gibson, you inadvertently reminded me of something. When I sent in my column, I accidently forgot the "Whatever happened to..." response I got on Jim Audley from my Reader of the Week, ARW. You can see the added line underneath the picture of Tatsuno above. And thanks for reading and writing, Gibson. I'll be sure to remember the name.

E.

Thanks for the heads up on that BCU vs NCAT game. By the way, I love your blog.

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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