Friday First Takes - The Rollercoaster Seasons continue in college baseball

So what's more impressive sounding, beating the last place team in the conference or routing the No. 28 RPI team in the country? UCLA did both of those things tonight in beating Washington State by a 10-zip count at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Westwood. The Cougars, otherwise known as the biggest anomaly in college baseball, drop to 6-13 in Pac 10 play and won't improve on their impressive RPI.

Wazzu-DonnieMarbut.jpg
(WSU coach Donnie Marbut can't be encouraged by his teams' recent play)

Wazzu - 000 000 000 - 0 4 1
UCLA - 100 017 01x - 10 8 1

WP- Tim Murphy (4-6)
LP- Matt Way (3-4)
Key play: A Cody Decker grand slam pushed the UCLA out to 9-0 in the 6th inning, essentially sealing the Cougar fate.

Meanwhile, the Bruins may very well be figuring out their roller-coaster season after all. In the last 14 days they've added Ws against No. 28 Wazzu, No. 21 UC Irvine, No. 26 Oregon State and No. 4 Arizona State. At 27-23 overall and 9-10 in the Pac, things are looking a little bit better for their view into at-large land.

UCLA-CodyDecker.jpg
(Bruin slugger Cody Decker eyes his favorite Easton right before he hits a deflating grand slam as part of a 7-run 6th inning)

But don't jump the gun here either, the Bruins are sitting at No. 54 in the RPI and have games with Fullerton and three at Cal. Though if they keep playing like they did tonight, they could easily slide right off that bubble after all. But there's still a lot of work to do.

Meanwhile, as for the teams that are trying to gussy up their image for the NCAA selection committee, here's tonight's Three Up-and-Three Down. I have to keep it abbreviated because I have friends in town. So bear with me -


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THREE UP---
Here's the best I could find for Friday's games...

1- North Carolina.
Recovered from that 12-2 spanking to oblivion to win game two at Miami, 10-6.
Unlike the Doctor of college baseball, Dr. Kenny Cook, I don't think there's a chance in Hades the Blue Rams will lose a national seeding. None-the-less, UNC made real sure of that with tonight's win at Mark Light. Despite the great effort, the U's Mark Sobolewski hit a grand slam, the second night in a row for that feat after Alonso went Yonder with a salami last night.

2- Missouri.
Beat No. 6 Nebraska 8-1 in game one of their series.
Not surprisingly, Tiger ace Aaron Crow picked up another high-profile win, going 8.1 innings, striking out (only?) eight and allowing four hits. The light-hitting Huskers got a run in the first inning off a Jake Mort dinger along with a Jake Opitz double. But other than the two Jake's, NU was swinging with a wet noodle. Mizzou's No. 46 RPI is a bit puzzling, but tonight they played more like their No. 15 ranking.

3- UC Davis
Beat UCI 3-1.
Davis needed this. And still need more like it. With an RPI at No. 51 and the Big West's knack of getting screwed for at-large bids. But Eddie Gamboa went 7.1 innings, giving up seven hits and no earned runs. Also, Justin Fitzgerald, a highly under-publicized reliever, picked up save No. 13 on the season. And for UCD to get the W on a night when Scott Gorgon was on the mound (though he didn't get the loss), that's huge.


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THREE DOWN---
Here's three of the heartbreakers I found for Friday's games...

1- Ole Miss.
Lost at Kentucky 9-0.
How does this happen? How does a team with THAT much talent (particularly on the mound) tank so bad? They've now lost to the Bat Cats by a combined 21-4 in two games and are 8-11 since April 13th. And with the RPI sitting at No. 45?... Hmmm.

2- New Orleans.
Lost 11-8 at Louisiana-Lafayette.
With the loss of tonight's game at Tigue Moore Field, the once-hot Privateers have now lost three straight games, and also are now officially out of the running for the Sun Belt title. At 18-10, there is no chance for them to catch Louisiana-Monroe, who is sitting in the clubhouse at 20-10. Damn that rainout at Middle Tennessee. Well, actually, damn this loss at UL-L. The Cajuns got two home runs and seven RBI from Matt Goulas to key the win.

3- New Mexico.
Lost at home to TCU 8-3 and 14-11.
The Lobos came into the series with the Frogs tied atop the Mountain West standings at 16-5. But this is a pretty bad tank job in the comfy confines of Isotopes Park. The losses gives the Horned Frogs their third straight MWC title. Of course, with an RPI in the low 70s, the Lobos will still need to win the MWC tournament in Ft. Worth to get to the Big Dance anyway. Still, not good.


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SOME PROPS FOR RICE---
(to please our good friend Jeremy Mills)
With their two wins today over Tulane (8-4 and 6-2), Rice has now won 41 games on the 2008 season. This marks the 14th straight 40-win season. And also, this marks the 14th straight season where they've won either a regular or tournament title or both. As Carter Blackburn pointed out on the broadcast of the game tonight, it's all pretty impressive considering the Owls had never even made the regionals before the 1995 season.


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AND FOR THOSE OF YOU KEEPING TRACK---
LSU - 15
Auburn - 4
The Bayou Bashers have now won 15 straight games, 11 in the SEC, improving to 38-16-1 and 17-11-1 in conference play. When will it end?

Alright stitch-heads, more tomorrow. Have a great Saturday in college baseball.

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