CWS, Day 8: Bulldogs win. Bulldogs lose.
One Bulldog wins. One Bulldog plays again.
In Day eight of the 2008 College World Series, Georgia got the W. Fresno got the lump of coal. We now go to Sunday with another Fresno State-North Carolina matchup to decide who will play the Junkyard Dogs for the national title.
(Along with this home run trot, Ryan Pielsel also scored the run that put Georgia up for good earlier in the win over Stanford.)
Georgia beat Stanford 10-8 and North Carolina beat upstart Fresno State 4-3. Here's a quick run-through of what happened at Rosenblatt Stadium today.
Conditions at gametime:
83 degrees, 41% humidity, winds calm.
Georgia - 013 230 010 - 10 15 2
Stanford - 001 210 004 - 8 11 0
WP: Dean Weaver (6-1)
LP: Jeremy Bleich (3-3)
Rich Poythress: 4-for-5, 4RBI, tied CWS record for most doubles in a game (3).
Ryan Peisel: 3-for-5, 3RBI, HR
Gordon Beckham: 2-for-4
Joey Lewis: 2-for-5, 3RBI
Cord Phelps: 2-for-5, 1RBI
Ben Clowe: 1-for-1, 3RBI, HR
Dogs dominate at the dish early and lock down the Stanford offense when they have to. That's the dime tour of what happened in game one today.
The top of the UGa lineup did its usual trick, as the 1-through-4 hitters went a combined 10-for-19 with seven RBI and seven runs scored. Rich Poythress was a man possessed, getting four hits and four RBI. He couldn't be stopped, going double, RBI double, 2RBI single, fly out and RBI double in his five at-bats.
"I wanted to help take the pressure off the top of the lineup and I was able to sneak a couple of balls through." Poythress was quoted as saying. Sneak a couple through? How about he pounded the Stanford pitching mercilessly? His hits weren't exactly seeing-eye singles or Baltimore chops.
(Rich Poythress was breathing through his eyes today, including avoiding the tag here by Jason Castro of Stanford)
Poythress set the tone and the rest of those hot bats helped the Bulldogs race out to a 9-4 lead after five innings as the outcome was never (much) in doubt after that. But yes, I did see that freaky 9th inning where Joshua Fields once again looked pretty shoddy. More on that in a bit.
Looking at the big picture, the pitching, though not exactly an A+ tonight, was sufficient, as starter Nathan Moreau and reliever Alex McRee combined for six Ks in just 4.1 innings of work. It was more a case of Bulldog pitchers bearing down when they had to as SU stranded 11 baserunners in the game, including six in scoring position.
Reliever Dean Weaver got the win with 3.2 innings of 3-run pitching. Not great numbers, sure, but he seemed to come up with the big pitch when necessary, including giving up just one run in a bases-loaded jam that he inherited when he entered the game in the 3rd inning. With the win, Weaver improves to 6-1 on the season.
"Our bullpen was phenomenal in the middle innings." Coach Dave Perno said. "It's who we are." Indeed. And now, "who they are" is national championship contenders who are moving on to the title round for the second time in school history.
Maybe Coach Dave Perno can awaken the spirit of that 1990 team he played on, and won it all with.
- Georgia head coach Dave Perno on Josh Fields' poor showing.
"He's never blown a save. It just seems that it happens in non-save situations. But we needed to get him out there to get some work."
- Thoughts on the top of his lineup.
"They've been doing it all year. I'm very confident of our first five hitters."
- Stanford coach Mark Marquess on Georgia.
"They're a great team. They were too much for us today, we couldn't stop them. This game belongs to a stronger team in Georgia."
(Oh boy... judging by the darker-than-the-Raiders-Black-Hole cheering section, looks like we're in for another long rain delay on the way. I'll go build the ark.)
Conditions at game time:
64 degrees (yes, a full 19 degrees cooler than the first game), clearing skies. Northeast winds at 12mph. All this after a 48 minute rain delay though.
Fresno State - 100 200 000 - 3 7 0
No. Carolina - 000 200 02x - 4 8 0
WP: Alex White (13-3)
LP: Justin MIller (6-4)
Alan Ahmady: 2-for-4
Tommy Mendonca: 1-for-4, 2RBI, HR
Chad Flack: 2-for-3, 2RBI, HR
Dustin Ackley: 2-for-4, 1RBI
The Tuscaloosa Super Regional, 2006.
The Chapel Hill Super Regional, 2007.
Game 12, College World Series, 2008.
Chad Flack is used to this. He's been the hero so many times he knows his way around a telephone booth. In each of the above instances he's provided the game-winning home run that keeps their post-season hopes alive. I.e., without Chad Flack, North Carolina is not in the national championship best-of-three the last two years.
In the 8th inning of tonight's Bracket 2 game between Fresno State and North Carolina, Chad Flack strode to the plate in the 8th inning with No. 5 hitter Kyle Seager standing on second base, and jacked a Justin Miller slider nearly to Council Bluffs.
(The Carolina bench explodes after Chad Flack's no-doubter home run won it in the 8th inning.)
That horsehide ride put the Heels up to stay for good at 4-3. The ensuing celebration swarmed Flack at the plate, giving him another heroes welcome.
When asked if this was the biggest home run of his career, he said, "It has to be, because we are here another day. It's No. 1, especially right now, because it gives us another day to play baseball."
The other big key to the game? The "new" closer for North Carolina, Alex White. Yes, the normal Friday starter got his fourth relief appearance of the season and made it count. With the bases loaded and one out in the 7th, White came in and got a pair of strikeouts to Gavin Hedstrom and Erik Wetzel to allow Mike Fox's charges to escape unharmed and keep the game at a single run.
That set the stage for another legendary Flack moment in the 8th. "Coach had given me the bunt sign at first." Flack explained. "But then I didn't get it down on the first pitch. Then coach gave me the green light to swing. And I think he (Miller) happened to leave one over the plate for me."
The impact was instantaneous. Flack had crushed that one. And who knows, maybe the impact will be felt well into the history pages of Carolina baseball.
("Let's hug it out Bee-yotch!" Alex White gives Fedex a post-game hug after beating Fresno tonight)
- Fresno State coach Mike Batesole:
"An extremely well played game by both teams. Both teams made some big, big pitches when they had to. There was a lot of good pitching and a lot of good defense. I like the way all the guys attacked the mitt. Proud of the way they played. Tonight didn't hurt us and we get to go out again tomorrow."
- On going with Justin Miller the rest of the way in the 8th and 9th.
"He was throwing the ball exceptionally well. He made a good pitch on the home run he gave up, it was a 3-2 slider, which is what he does really well. And give Flack credit for hitting it well. That was a good pitch."
- On his pitching situation involving Clayton Allison, who has been the No. 2 starter but has been hurt:
It will be a gametime decision. If he feels well, we'll go with him. It might be a last minute thing. I like where we're at. If Allison can get it going, we still have Sprague coming back, we didn't use Burke. We're okay.
- FSU's Erik Wetzel on whether the team is demoralized after this game:
"We don't have anything to be demoralized about. That was a really good team in the other dugout. So we just have to shake it off and get ready for tomorrow. We were in this situation at San Diego too and we came back to win that one. That's the advantage of being in the winner's bracket."
- North Carolina coach Mike Fox:
I don't really know what to say. Chad Flack is the clutchest player I may ever know. But our pitching is the story of this game. Matt gave us five innings and we didn't have to go to our bullpen. He just made one bad pitch out there. And I haven't told him yet but we may have a new role for Alex after tonight. He did outstanding.
- Alex White, on coming into a bases-loaded situation:
"It's fun. Bases loaded, you just have to have a different mentality. I don't mind coming out of the pen. I threw a lot of fastballs and maybe just one slider all night. It was mostly fastballs."
- On whether he felt more tired after pitching last night as well.
"I felt better tonight than yesterday, had better stuff and was throwing harder. I'll get in the pool tonight and see how I feel tomorrow."
- More new ballpark malaise.
Today's attendance for game one: 15,828.
That's the smallest crowd since June 18, 2004 when Georgia beat Arizona State 8-7 before 14,697. Here are three reasons why:
1- I still think it has a lot to do with people disenchanted with that whole new downtown ballpark issue.
2- The threat of rain.
3- People had planned on seeing just one game today, but they changed it to two games, so they stayed away from the day game.
(Note that these extremely empty outfield bleachers were pictured during the second inning of today's first game.)
- Make my shot a Double.
UGa's Rich Poythress tied the CWS record for doubles in a single game, set seven other times in the past. It's the first time since Florida's Jeff Corsoletti did it against Nebraska on June 19, 2005.
- Red flag this
Ace reliever Joshua Fields is not on his A-game. Leading up to today he had given up five runs in his last 4.1 innings of work. Today, more shaky stuff, as he gave up four runs on three hits in his lone inning of work.