Sunday Summations- A Day Only Spencer Tracy Could Love

Remember that movie Bad Day at Black Rock?

I saw it personally today. That famous Molotov cocktail has been aimed at a lot of teams this week, but perhaps no team went up in flames more than Oregon State, with their three losses at USC.

And this may be a totally crazy, out-of-left-field question: But could USC actually be within the grasp of an NCAA tournament at-large bid?

I know that's absurd, right? I know. I know.

But after seeing the Trojans complete a highly-unlikely weekend sweep of defending national champion Oregon State, that light at the end of the tunnel is still slightly glistening. In today's clincher, USC's Hector Rabago collected three RBI, including the game-winner with two out in the 9th.

USC-Rabago.jpg
(Hector Rabago and USC are all smiles after his game-winning hit)

Besides, the Trojan RPI is only six spots below UCLA's. And last I checked, there was no agent-driven, high-paid athlete on the team. That makes this team much more likable. (Well, actually that's why we ALL like college baseball better than anything else). But really, at 27-26 overall and 10-11 in Pac 10 play, the Men of Troy still have three more games at Washington State to get to 30 wins and above the Mendoza Line in conference play.

Unfortunately for the Beavers, they lost a 5-run lead to the Trojans and dropped their third straight game by a 6-5 count. OSU is now just 25-23 on the season and will surely see their No. 26 RPI take a fall. I know pain. I've seen it first-hand today. And it's an ugly monster when it rears it's head.

OSU-Casey.jpg
(First Coach Casey got tossed from today's game, then afterward,
he was left wandering the campus streets in his frustration)

As for the rest of the painful weekend. Well... let's start with the good news, then move on to the other stuff.


.
THREE UP---
1- Bethune-Cookman.
Beat Norfolk State 13-2 to earn the MEAC title and an NCAA tournament bid.
Not sure I should give this a No. 1 in the Three Up department, considering this is usually BCU's domain year-in, year-out. With today's easy pasting of the Spartans, the Wildcats earn their 11th MEAC title in 13 years, including three in a row. Eric Thomas improved to 9-0 with the 10K, 6-hit performance. Jose Lozada earned the MOP for the tournament as B-CU improves to 36-20 and awaits the NCAA tournament.

BCU-MervylMelendez.jpg
(B-CU coach Melendez has his team in the NCAAs again. So, what else is new?)

2- Pepperdine.
Won 6-5 at Santa Clara to earn the playoff spot opposite San Diego.
As it turns out, the winner of today's game at Schott Stadium would get the No. 2 slot in the WCC playoffs. Enter the Waves. Nate Simon deservedly got mobbed after his 8th inning solo shot put today's game away. The Waves are probably in good shape for the Big Dance, even if they fall to USD next week. Especially since their RPI stood at No. 27 going into the weekend.

3- UC Santa Barbara.
Beat UC Riverside 14-8 to complete the three-game sweep.
The Gauchos really helped themselves this weekend taking down the former 2nd-place Highlanders. With the sweep, UCSB is now 13-8 and just two games behind Fullerton in the Big West title chase. Of course, the Gauchos now will have to go to UC Irvine next weekend. That series could decide the 2nd place slot... and don't you think the NCAA committee will shine on that?


.
THREE DOWN---
1- Southern.
Lost a pair of games to Prairie View, 5-4 and 15-14, and was eliminated from the SWAC tournament.
Going into today's fourth day of SWAC tourney action, the Jags took a 6-1 mark against the Panthers into the day. All they needed was one win today, but PV had the Jags number, edging by SU by one run each. And all on its home field too.

2- Oklahoma State.
Lost 10-4 vs. OU in OKC in the Bedlam Series.
With today's loss, Okie State lost a chance to take the No. 1 seeding in the Big 12 tournament, also improving their stock for a possible National seed. It also marked the Pokes first loss to their rival Sooners in eight regular season games. OSU also allowed OU to go 9-for-19 with runners in scoring position on the day.

3- MEAC Administrators.
Have to say, I've never heard of a post-season tournament awarding a Coach of the Tournament, but that's what the MEAC does. Only problem is, they shouldn't have given it to B-CU's Mervyl Melendez, though he obviously did a good job. But 5th seeded Norfolk State was the story of the tournament, going all the way to the title game before succumbing to the 'Cats.

My vote for the Coach of the Tournament? NSU's Claudell Clark.


.
THE OUCH LIST---
This time, it hits much closer to home.
- Arkansas
Result:
lost two of three at Mississippi State
Why it hurts:
The Hogs lose out on the SEC tourney altogether as the No. 9 finisher in the conference. And you already know my feelings on their NCAA tournament chances. But they'll probably get one anyway.

- Washington State
Result:
Got swept at UCLA.
Why it hurts:
As if everybody didn't already wonder if the Coogs' No. 28 RPI was legit to begin with. Now this. At 6-16 in the Pac 10, their NCAA chances have been sunk for sure now. That's pain man.

- Nebraska
Result:
Swept at Missouri
Why it hurts:
With A&M tanking it this weekend, this was NU's chance to take over the No. 1 spot in the Big 12 tournament and a National Seed. It may be all gone now.

NU-Pribanic.jpg
(NU pitching coach Eric Newman was caught reading the Riot Act to Aaron
Pribanic on the mound today, typifying the Huskers' frustrating weekend)


- Texas A&M
Result:
Swept in three games vs. suddenly hot Texas
Why it hurts:
This makes five straight Big 12 losses in a row for the Aggies. But shouldn't we give the Longhorns the bull's worth of credit here? Of course. Are we looking at a serious dip in the RPI and possible loss of a national seeding too?

- Washington
Result:
Swept in three straight down at Arizona State
Why it hurts:
Like the Coogs, the Huskies needed a weekend win over a high-profile opponent to legitimize their NCAA at-large profile. Even one win would've helped. But everybody can probably agree that Tempe, Arizona is no place to try to build confidence and prove points.

- Oregon State
Result:
Swept at USC this weekend.
Why it hurts:
What's in the water in the Pacific Northwest lately? OSU has been given a lot of credit for their tough schedule, good wins and past performance. But nobody saw this sweep at the hands of the 8th place Trojans. Now, at 25-23, the Beavers look to be joining Arkansas as another team that doesn't deserve the at-large consideration.

- Ole Miss
Result:
Lost two of three at Kentucky
Why it hurts:
If not for Louisiana Tech, it might be the Rebels who win the Award for under-achieving season. And this weekend brought more fuel to that fire, especially after losing the first two games by a combined 21-4. With the losses, Ole Miss now stands at 34-22 and just 9-13 in road games.

- Tulane
Result:
Lost all three games vs. No. 5 Rice.
Why it hurts:
After getting all that positive flow for the sweep at East Carolina last week, I guess we might've expected more from the Wave in this one. But again, the Owls are considered the bullies of the C-USA for a reason. Now the Greenies have to worry about their RPI of No. 38 coming back to bite them in the under-tow. Though it shouldn't.

- Southern Miss
Result:
Lost two of three at Alabama-Birminghan
Why it hurts:
Their No. 13 RPI looked legit, but this assures the Eagles won't be playing a home regional at Pete Taylor Field. Coupled with the mid-week loss to South Alabama, it's evident this team has hit a cold spell. They even lost game one in the series with Barry Bowden on the mound, falling to 7-3 on the season.

.
There are plenty more that I could add to the Ouch List (I'm looking your way UC Davis, Baylor and Jackson State), but I've gotta hand this thing in at some point. So here you go.

More to come in the days ahead.

G'night

Comments

RE: Tulane v. Rice....That sweep happened on Tulane's home field, not the Owls'.
Triple-ouch!

Not sure my first post went through, so I'm re-sending:

Spencer Tracy also said, "Acting is easy, just believe it." A paraphrase of Tracy's quote would apply to those teams that had bid/making and bid/breaking sweeps this weekend(UCLA, USC, Wash State), "Baseball is easy, just believe."
A question about some West coast shortstops: could you compare and contrast the draft status of UCLA's Crawford, Pepperdine's D'Arnaud and USC's Green (even though he is a '09 draftee).I would love to hear your insight.

Bryan, thanks for reminding me the series was at Tulane (as we all saw on CBS College Sports on Friday). I dumb-gummed-up that one. Eh, it happens. I went ahead and made the change in the column, so thanks again.

Mac, I love the Spencer Tracy quote. Strong work on your part. As for the shortstops and their draft status, I gotta admit a couple of things: 1- All three are big time talents. And 2- I'm not a big draft status geek. I'm more concerned with how they play, their effort and their work ethic. Those things are much more important than draft talent in seeing how effective of college players they are.

With that in mind, I love Grant Green. Sure, I'm aware he was a 14th rounder out of high school, but I loved how in his first at-bat of his career, I saw him rip a triple to the gap vs. Cal Poly. He's just solid too. Although vs. Oregon State yesterday, he got dinged and didn't finish the game. I like Crawford a lot too, but his play seems to drift a little bit every so often. It's been a while since he's been on lock-down mode (or so it seems). And he's not as much of a vocal leader like Jermaine Curtis. His average is climbing back up into the upper .280 range, so he's coming around.

Still, I know you didn't ask, but I like Gordon Beckham most of all. He's been a beast, and with just 10 Es so far.

Since NSU manages to "steal" the All-Sports Trophy every year by virtue of the way Track and Field is rigged, I'm inclined to say, "Too bad about that made-up Award." On the flipside, one could argue that the coach who managed to keep his team out of the loser's bracket for the entire tournament earned the award.

For Sale: One Conference Administration-cheap.

Congrats to BCU for advancing to the NCAAs again. Can I see Bethune-Cookman advance to the Super Regionals this year. Only UMES Bowling has properly represented the conference this year by winning it all. This two & out stuff by MEAC teams in the NCAAs is unacceptable. Show me something this year please. Make some noise!

Sorry for the incomplete emails!! My point is, OSU deserves to defend their title an you know it! They barely got in last year and they practically ran the table. Don't count Pat Casey Out!

JHammer, I sure hope we do better this year. Eric Thomas and his nasty slider may be the ticket. Considering the insurmountable odds, we'd be really happy just to get our "furries" to the Supers. LOL

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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