CWS, Day3: Seminoles take trail of tears home, Dogs hunker down 'til Friday

Hard to believe we're sending Florida State home already. It's day three of the CWS and I'm not sure there are many people out there who would've put their money on another 0-and-2 finish. Not THIS team. This one the one that was going to put them over the edge. Now it's not.

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(Joshua Fields. This reliever is, well... relieved)

Meanwhile, the biggest win so far this series comes from the arms of the Georgia Bulldogs. They get to avoid the determined Miami Hurricanes in the loser's bracket by beating Stanford in come-from-behind fashion, 4-3. As a bonus to that, they also get a three-day rest. And the Bulldog fans hearts may need it after the two games they've put up so far.

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GAME ONE---
Conditions at game time:
71 degrees, 42% humidity, winds from the Northeast at 10-12mph.

Florida State- 100 100 003 - 5 18 0
Miami (Fla) - 004 000 21x - 7 11 2

WP: Eric Erickson (9-1)
LP: Elih Villanueva (7-4)
Save: none

Top Hitters:
FSU-
Tyler Holt, 3-for-6, 1RBI
Buster Posey, 4-for-5, 1RBI
Dennis Guinn, 3-for-4, 1RBI
Tommy Oravetz, 3-for-4

Miami-
Blake Tekotte, 1-for-3, 1RBI, HR
Ryan Jackson, 3-for-4, 2runs scored

Florida State stranded 17 runners on the day and that inversely led to their being stranded winless in Omaha for the fourth time in 13 years. Somehow, the Seminoles found a way to outhit Miami 18-to-11, yet still only get five runs out of it. They were also the beneficiaries of five walks and committed no errors on defense. So how did they lose this one?

"If you had told me that we would have 18 hits and no errors, I would've like my chances." Said Coach Mike Martin afterward. Indeed. So would I.

But Miami had the timeliness that FSU didn't. Making the right pitch at the right time, getting the right guy out and playing with confidence. They also made their hits count, getting home runs from Blake Tekotte and Jemile Weeks and getting a pair of two-RBI hits with two outs to stake the Canes to a 7-2 lead.

CWS08-RyanJacksonScore.jpg
(Raise your hand if you want to send FSU home. Ryan Jackson was able to slide past Mr. Posey to put Miami up 4-0 in the 3rd)

"I don't think we're swinging the bat all that well." Dennis Raben said. "But we had a couple of two-out RBI hits today. We got some clutch hits and that's what made the difference."

But if you want to talk about an area of concern, look no further than relief ace Carlos Gutierrez. After his meltdown on Saturday night against Georgia, he was up to his high-risk high-wire act again. FSU got a pair of singles, then a pair of groundouts to cut the lead to 7-3. Then a walk loaded the bases and Tyler Holt drove in another run with a single. Jaston Stidham got another RBI single a batter later, setting the stage for the most anticipated one-on-one of the game.

National Player of the Year Buster Posey strode to the plate and the entire stadium knew THIS was going to be big. But rather anti-climaticly, Posey drew a walk to load the bases again.

"Buster's last at-bat showed what kind of player he is." Martin boasted of his best player. "Some guys would want to be the hero, but Buster put together a great at-bat and turned it over to the next guy."

That guy was Jack Rye, who had hit the ball hard all day. But Rye was coaxed into a fielder's choice as Jemile Weeks handled a wicked hop and retired the final out of the Florida State season.

"Jemile made a nice play to end the game." Martin said. "But that last inning was a credit to our young men."

And Coach Martin wasn't done glossing on his team either. "This was one of thebest years of my career to coach. They all competed and competed hard all year. In my 29 years of coaching I've never - NEVER - had a better group of young men in my career."

Sure the Canes won. But when is Carlos Gutierrez going to go back to being Carlos Gutierrez again? The saves specialist has now given up seven runs on seven hits with two walks in two innings of work in the CWS.

His return to form is the most important key to the Canes chances from this point on. But unfortunately for Florida State, their hopes have gone South from Omaha. Again.

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GAME TWO---
Conditions at game time:
75 degrees, winds out of the Northwest at 8-10mph. Chamber of Commerce-like, boys and girls.

Stanford - 003 000 000 - 3 6 0
Georgia - 000 101 20x - 4 9 0

WP: Alex McCree (7-1)
LP: Austin Yount (6-4)
Save: Joshua Fields (17)

Top Hitters:
Stanford-
Joey August, 2-for-4
Jason Castro, 2-for-3, 2RBI, HR

Georgia-
Gordon Beckham, 2-for-4
Matt Cerione, 2-for-3, 4RBI
David Thoms, 2-for-4

The term "effectively wild" is not always a term of endearment. We found that out tonight. When All American closer Joshua Fields jogged out to the mound in the 9th inning of tonight's game two. He looked good early, getting the first out on a harmless groundout. But then, a bean-ball to the dome of Toby Gerhart and a walk to Austin Yount, put Fields behind the 8-ball.

That's when the 'pen stud, still throwing just wild enough, enticed Cardinal frosh Colin Walsh into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play. And that loud rush of sound you heard was the Georgia fans and staff letting out a gigantic steam of relief.

It doesn't take much. All Georgia coach Dave Perno asks is that his team get to the 8th inning with a lead. It doesn't even have to be a big lead. One run will do. That's where Stephen Dodson and Joshua Fields unleash their wrath.

Tonight was another example of their M.O. But getting that slight lead was a bit of an adventure too.

With the Bulldogs trailing by a run in the 7th inning, Bryce Massanari came to the dish with men on first and second. He cranked out a booming shot that right fielder Toby Gerhart couldn't quite get to. But the ball hit the yellow part of the tape at the top of the wall and, more importantly, to the right of the foul pole. Close, but no dice.

CWS08-PernoAngry.jpg
(Dave Perno has a few words for home plate ump Tony Walsh after that near-miss home run call went against his Dogs. And they're not exactly sentiments you'll see on a Hallmark Christmas card.)

After Bryce Massanari's near-miss, Yount plunked him to load the bases. Two pitches later Matt Cerione made him pay with a two-run single up the middle. That sequence all came after the first two batters got out in the inning and also put the Dogs up for good at 4-3.

"You can't dwell on the ump's decision. You have to put it behind you and bear down." Said game-winning hero Matt Cierone, concerning coming back from the disappointment of not getting the home run call. "After Bryce got hit, I knew it was my turn. I was just turned on it and got a good piece of the ball."

That led to Fields toss-and-turn 9th inning that eventually subdued SU for good. But the best part? The Bulldogs get to rest until Friday. Hey, let a sleeping dog lie.


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NOTES FROM DAY THREE---

- Nope. No handshake again.
I'll be damned if Mike Martin and Jim Morris went handshake-less again before and after game one today. These two don't like each other much, that's pretty obvious. When I was at the Miami-FSU series in Tallahassee, these two never even made eye contact all weekend long. And as you may recall, there was even a near-brawl in the post-game because of it. Well that hatred continued today.

CWS08-MiamiLookin2Shake.jpg
(Notice on the left side of this pic that Coach Morris and the Miami staff are looking into the FSU dugout to see if Mike Martin and company are going to come out to shake hands after the game. I'll give his staff credit for at least going halfway on this. And note once again, stand up guy Blake Tekotte is leading the handshake line for The U.)

- But there were encouraging signs.
When Miami's Blake Tekotte went up to bat to open the Canes' half of the 1st inning, he cave FSU catcher Buster Posey a tap on the back as he went to the batter's box. Then, after the game, once again it was Tekotte being the first guy in line as these two teams shook hands this time. Well, at least the players did.

- Familiarity breeds contempt.
(Well, not that these two need any more contempt for each other) Today's game marked the eighth year in a row that two conference mates have faced off with each other in the CWS. The last time that didn't happen was back in 2000.

- Ouch.
Hurricane starter David Gutierrez had to exit the game after seven batters when he got a line drive slam into his throwing shoulder. Coach Morris said he was taken to a nearby hospital, was released and should be available in a few days if the Canes win another game or two.

CWS08-DGutierrezInjury.jpg
(Cane starter David Gutierrez comes out after getting dotted on the shoulder with a line drive seven batters into the game.)

- 'Nole proof.
Eric Erickson, who replaced the injured starter, improves to 4-0 against FSU in his Miami career. In total, he has gone 23 innings against the Noles and allowed eight earned runs on 26 hits while striking out 16.

- Left on base records.
FSU's 17 stranded men is the most in CWS play since 1951 when Springfield College did the trick against Oklahoma. There have been only six games previously where a team has stranded 17 or more on base.

- No triple crown for Posey.
The best player in the country won't be winning the national triple crown this year. While he ends his season with a nation's best .463 average, he was stuck on 26 home runs. LSU's Matt Clark surpassed that mark last night with his 27th of the year.

- Put this guy to a music soundtrack.
I've always noticed that when Stanford is on defense, coach Mark Marquess rarely stands still. In fact, he's a ball of energy. With the whole team lined up against the railing, giving free range for Marquess to move, coach usually paces behind the team, checks his charts, then paces again and finally ends up at either end of the bench to watch the pitch. After the pitch, the process starts all over again. And the whole time he's doing it, he's holding a pen in his left hand and a white towel bundled up in his right hand.

CWS08-MarquessPacing.jpg
(Coach Marquess doing his game-time pacing routine)

- Coach Marquess on the Georgia pitching. "They really shut us down tonight. We got that triple from Zach Jones and the home run from Jason Castro, but that was about it. Their pitching really shut us down after that."

- When asked about the possibility of walking Jason Castro with an open base in the third inning, instead of pitching to him and allowing him to hit the go-ahead home run, UGa coach Perno came clean. "You're right. That was my bad. I made a couple of mistakes tonight and that was one of them. Fortunately, we got some great relief pitching and got a great hit from Matt to pull out the win."

- Gordon Beckham on his approach to his 7th inning at-bat. "I was honestly trying to hit it over the fence, to be honest. But after I got two strikes on me I thought I better just try to get on the best I can and I was fortunate to get a hit. And then the guys behind me were able to get us some hits."

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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