Saturday Statements - It's a Crowded House for those trying to make the post-season

The mad crush for conference tourney positioning is not for the meek of heart. A lot of teams are making their last mad dashes toward that with today's pivotal games.

But before we get to that post-season stuff, let's address the biggest storyline in college baseball today: Mr. Ron Polk

RonPolkLastGm.jpg
(Ron Polk's last game didn't turn out as he hoped, but he's still a hero in my book)

In case you're wondering, no, I'm not happy with Ron Polk having his last game today. We - the college baseball community - need this guy. Who else is going to talk sense to the NCAA about the foibles of our sport and it's many rules and stipulations that we know are bad for the sport?

No other coach in the country has been more important for the prosperity of college baseball. Nobody else speaks their mind like Polk does on the things that every coach is concerned with. He's like the one guy in a room full of stuffed shirts that is not afraid to discuss the gorilla in the room.

His career came to an end today with a 15-10 loss vs. Arkansas, closing out the Dogs long season with a record of 23-33. It was the only losing season of his career. Polk announced his retirement effective at the end of the season at about the midpoint of their schedule. The scuttlebutt seems to be that when his epic 18-page open letter to college baseball that he released last summer fell mostly on deaf ears, it crushed his passion for fighting for the good and the right.

The game will miss you coach. Even if nobody else will come out and say the real reason why.


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THREE UP---
The good part of college baseball on Saturday.

1- Reese Havens, South Carolina.
This was really freakin' clutch. The Vols had just forged extra innings with three runs in the top of the 9th on a Jeff Lockwood homer. But Havens responded with another clutch yard call in jog-off fashion to help Carolina pull out a 12-10 win against Tennessee in 10 innings. Despite their under-achieving season, the W helped solidify the Gamecocks position in the SEC tournament. So in essence, he could very well have extended their season in the process all on his own.


2- Oklahoma State.
Beat Bedlam rival Oklahoma 11-1 to improve to 18-8 in Big 12 play.
Shhhh! Keep quiet. Don't tell Texas A&M and Nebraska that the Pokes are now within a game of Texas A&M of the Big 12 title with today's win. After beating OU by a combined 18-2 score, the Cowboys still need another win over OU and a Texas win over the Ags to take the No. 1 seed for the Big 12 title. In case you're wondering, OSU beat A&M two of three early in the conference play.


3- Bucknell.
Beat Navy in Annapolis in two straight to win the Patriot League.
Bucknell - 8
Navy - 7
The Bison return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003 and the league-best fourth time after beating Navy today. Jason Buurma not only scored the winning run on an Ed Rubbo single in the bottom of the 9th, but also picked up the W on the mound with an inning of work to shut down the Middies bats. Buurma also was one of the main reasons BU is on to the NCAAs after going 4-0 in the PL tournament.


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THREE DOWN---
The bad part of college baseball on Saturday.

1- The fact that Arkansas won't make the SEC tournament, but will probably make the NCAA tournament.
I saw a good bit of today's Hog win at Mississippi State and I've got to admit, that was simply a game between two bad teams. With South Carolina's jog-off win over Tennessee, the Razorbacks are left on the outside of SEC post-season play. But at 33-22 and an RPI at No. 19 (going into the weekend), it's possible that this 9th place team makes the field of 64. No way, no freakin' way.

How do I know Arkansas shouldn't go to the Big Dance? In their seven games against good non-conference competition (Texas A&M, Arizona State, Nebraska and Oral Roberts), the Hogs went just 1-6.


2- Nebraska and Texas A&M.
Just because you guys put on one of the best three-game weekends this season is no reason to go out and lay a big fat egg the following weekend.

NU got obliterated by Missouri for the second day in a row, 22-8.
What happened to the Big 12-leading pitching and defense of the Huskers? For the second day in a row they were routed in ugly fashion down in Columbia.

A&M meanwhile, was able to score a pair of runs off of Austin Wood in the 1st inning, but was held to just two hits the rest of the day as Wood tossed his first career complete game. With Kenn Kasparek coming on so strong the last two weeks and Austin Wood adding in today's effort, could UT be ready to make a post-season run? Stay tuned.

Let me bottom line this thing for you guys: The performances of Nebraska and Texas A&M this weekend is not the stuff that a national seed is made of.


3- North Carolina and Miami pitching.
Hate to be picky here, but file this away until Omaha, these two teams didn't do a whole lot of good pitching against each other. And as you know, the last few years have been very pitching and defense dominated in the CWS. But in the three games combined, UNC hurlers issued 23 walks and gave up 29 runs. Miami was pretty giving as well, allowing 24 runs and 36 hits on the weekend.

C'mon guys. As wildly talented as you are, you're going to need to be better to make it to Omaha. No two ways about it.


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THE ALONSO SHIFT---
Check out the way North Carolina played Miami slugger Yonder Alonso in the field today, especially where the black dots are, those are the four infielders:

AlonsoShift.jpg
(This shift of infielders didn't seem to help stymie Yonder Alonso's offensive production)

Note where UNC 2Bman Kyle Seager is playing in short right field. It all didn't seem to help as Alonso went 4-for-5 with three RBI, including his 19th home run of the season.

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JUST CANCEL THE POST-SEASON TOURNAMENT---
The Atlantic Sun.
With four of the top five teams in the conference being reclassifying teams to Division I, the A-Sun tournament will feature 3rd place Lipscomb as the No. 1 seed and teams six through 12 comprising the rest of the field. All seven of those other teams have sub-.500 records too.

Just bite the bullet and make LU the NCAA automatic bid. The league has been a disaster enough this season.


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JUST MOVE THE POST-SEASON TOURNAMENT---
The WAC will send six of their seven teams to the post-season tournament. The problem with that is the tournament is slated to be played at Louisiana Tech's Love Field. And of course, the under-under-under-acheiving Bulldogs are the saps that finished in 7th place. So the home team won't be be participating. Get ready for 100 people in attendance.


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HO-HUM, TITLE NO. 7 IN A ROW---
Illinois-Chicago.
The Flames won their 7th straight regular season Horizon League title today after completing a pair of DH wins vs. Valparaiso to eek out the title by a half a game over Wright State. And get this, going into this week, the Flames needed five straight wins to pull out the title and that's just what they did, winning twice vs. Clevelnad State and three straight over the Crusaders.

Today's two wins both came by a single run, 8-7 and 7-6.

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THE CROWDED HOUSE GIG---
Had the chance to go downtown to the ornate, stately Orpheum Theater to see that Australian/New Zealand supergroup Crowded House on the last night of their North American tour tonight. Neil Finn and the boys played a two-hour show with 23 songs in all and showed remarkable musical acumen all night long. Each and every member of the band played multiple instruments, including French horns, slide guitars, keyboards and various percussion to form a rich, eclectic sound that goes great with their numerous radio successes over the years.

NeilFinn.jpg
(Neil Finn and Crowded House put on a great performance at the Orpheum Theatre tonight)

Great show. Great music. No sampled music tracks or over-dubbed vocals. These guys simply had a lot of musical talent. A Crowded House-ful, if you'll excuse the pun.

Okay, it's almost 3am. I'm a freak.

G'night.

Comments

The funny thing is, they shifted all the way toward right for Yonder, and he hits one out oppy afterall.

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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