Monday Stuff - Going 270.2 miles in the name of college baseball

See the gas receipt below? This is from Friday when I filled up with gas before driving down to Long Beach for the first two games of the regional down there at Blair Field. Yeah, I know. Laugh at me because I spend about a buck and a half a gallon more than you probably do.

GasReceipt5.30.08.jpg
(71 bucks for a tankful. Wait... is my credit card number on here?)

Through the weekend, between the Long Beach and the Fullerton Regionals, I ended up driving 270.2 miles from Friday afternoon to Monday night. Two hundred seventy point two freakin' miles! All in the name of college baseball. Ten years ago, I could've flown to a Regional in Austin for as much as I spent in gas this weekend, right?

Oh well, I love college baseball almost more than some politicians love seeing their rich oil company brethren make a killing off us common Americans. But I digress.

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AH! PITCHING, DEFENSE, STRATEGY. GOOD BASEBALL TO WATCH---
Unlike most of this Game 7 Monday out there in stitch-ball land that was wrought full of football scores in worn-out rag-arm-fests, I was able to see a pair of games that were good, fairly well-played nail-biters here in Smogland.

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AT BLAIR FIELD TODAY---
U. San Diego - 000 010 000 - 1 6 1
Fresno State - 000 020 03x - 5 7 3

WP- Holden Sprague (4-2)
LP- Sammy Solis (3-2)
SV- Brandon Burke (11)

Top hitter-
FSU's Gavin Hedstrom, 3-for-3, 2RBI

Fresno State makes its first ever appearance in the Super Regional. In fact, other than back when Rice was a part of the configuration, current WAC members have yet to win their way to the Supers stage. Until today. The Bulldogs have the Toreros number, beating them for the fifth time in the last three years of regional play. This also marks the first time a 4-seed has ever advanced to the Supers. But really now, who here considers the Bulldogs to be a 4-seed? As Rich Hill stated the other day, these guys and NOT a 4-seed.

(Then I did the 25 minute drive from Blair to Goodwin)

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AT GOODWIN FIELD TONIGHT---
UCLA - 000 210 100 - 4 9 0
CSUF - 002 210 00x - 5 9 1

WP- Brian Wilson (3-2)
LP- Rob Rasmussen (0-2)
SV- Jeff Kaplan (1)

Top Hitter-
Fullerton's Brian Wilson, 2-for-4, 2 runs scored

Mr. Wilson, fresh off a complete game win on Friday over Rider, turned around tonight and threw four innings of four-hit ball to go along with three strikeouts and also a pair of hits at the dish to pace the Titans to another regional title. For a guy who didn't have a start on the mound all season coming into this weekend, that's not bad.


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IT'S NOT SO UNUSUAL---
Going into today's games, a couple of Super Regional-bound teams had a chance to add to the long list of NCAA tournament teams that had to come out of the loser's bracket to win three games to earn their way to the Super Regional round. Here's the breakdown of those early-round losers since the new format took hold in 1999:

1999:
Rice, LSU, Oklahoma State, Clemson, Texas A&M
2000:
Penn State, Texas, Florida State
2001:
Rice, Stanford, Georgia, South Carolina
2002:
LSU
2003:
Florida State, Houston
2004:
Arkansas, Cal State Fullerton
2005:
Texas, Cal State Fullerton
2006:
Missouri, Oklahoma, Georgia
2007:
Oregon State, Wichita State, Texas A&M, Louisville

(Special thanks to the San Diego Tribune's Kirk Kenney for doing the math on this one for me. I'm ain't so good at math and stuff.)

Now add a couple more teams to that growing number...


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HERE'S WHERE THE YAWN LIST STARTS---
Unfortunately, other than the two L.A. area games, it was a pretty boring day of college baseball Game 7s. No real drama, as you can tell by the scores. But if you were on the winning side of things, well, it was a good day. Here's how the carnage laid out.

Georgia - 18
Georgia Tech - 6
Would you call me a geek if I stated the obvious by saying, "The Dogs win the one that really matters." Too late, I'm already a geek. Anyway, yes, Georgia wins the season series 3-2, including today's bludgeoning. The 2-through-5 hitters combine to go 12-for-20 with 10RBI, including Matt Olson's 5-for-6 day. The Dogs are now 15-0 in elimination games at Foley Field.

Florida State - 16
Tulane - 7
This should probably come as the least surprising score of the day. It was manifest destiny for the Seminoles to come all the way back from the game one loss to Bucknell. In fact, it's been three days now, how the hell did that happen again? Anyway, the Green Wave starting Shooter Hunt was supposed to be just the tonic to pull out an upset, but after just three innings, he started to tire quickly and his defense failed him. Hunt gets the loss by giving up six hits and six runs, only two of which were earned.

This will be FSU's eighth Super Regional appearance, but the first one at home since 2002.

Houston - 5
Texas A&M - 13
The Coogs may have been running on fumes after yesterday's clutch pair of wins in 90+ heat. This was an instant snoozer, with A&M scoring seven runs in the second inning to put this one out to pasture quickly. A Kyle Colligan two-run bomb and a bases-clearing double by Darby Brown were all the Aggies needed in the second. UofH trotted out seven arms on the day, but most were ineffective as the deficit was way to big to overcome. Though they've won four other regionals before, this is the first back-to-back regional titles for the Maroons.

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THEN THERE WAS ONE MORE DECENTLY COMPETITIVE GAME---
Stanford - 9
Pepperdine - 7
Things looked good for the Waves early on as they scored four runs to start the first inning. But just like most of the games above, the ragged arm staff just couldn't hold it together long enough. A 6-run fifth inning propelled the Trees into their second ever road Super Regional. Jason Castro doubled to left, scoring two, and then Sean Ratliff blasted a four-run bomb into the shrubs beyond right-center.


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THE DAY IN PICTURES---
Wish I could've gone to all six games today (sorry, you know how much gas prices are, there's only so far I could feasibly drive). Here are a few pics from the two that I did make it to...

Fresno-ThrownOut.jpg
(Josh Romanski gets thrown out at 2nd trying to nab a 1st inning steal)

USD-bench.jpg
(USD had one of the more entertaining dugouts in college baseball this year. But I remember one of the five things that coach Rich Hill told us at the press conference on Friday is that his team needs "hitting, pitching, defense, fundamentals and energy in the dugout." So there you have it.)

USD-DiegoTorero.jpg
(Ladies and Gents, here's Diego the Torero. If I remember correctly, USD is also the only school I've seen that has had a mascot at a game this year)

Fresno-helmet.jpg
(Fresno's Easton batting helmets are like the football ones, with paw stickers and the ubiquitous green V symbolizing their pride in the San Joaquin Valley)

Fresno-PlateCelebra.jpg
(Dogs are howlin'. Steve Susdorf and Steve Detwiler celebrate touching the dish.)

Fresno-Reg.Celebration.jpg
(Mission accomplished... so far. Coach Batesole's Bulldogs will head to the desert and take on Arizona State this coming weekend)

CSUF-JeffKaplan.jpg
(Usual Friday starter Jeff Kaplan came in to pick up his first save of the season with three innings of work on the mound.)

UCLA-DeckerHeadTap.jpg
(When UCLA was rallying late in the game, Cody Decker thought it would be good luck to go down the dugout and tap all the cleanly-shaven heads of his fellow players before a big pitch)

CSUF-Reg.Celebration.jpg
(Fullerton wins another Regional title with a hard-fought 5-4 win that coach Dave Serrano called "a great college baseball game between two evenly-matched teams". The scoreboard totals bear this out too.)

CSUF-JaredClarkThumbsUp.jpg
(Veni, Vidi, Vici! Jared Clark gives the crowd the thumb's up before shaking hands with the UCLA players.)

CSUF-SerranoInterview.jpg
(Dave Serrano in post-game mode. And let me say, I know this may be stating the obvious here, but this guy's been wicked-good the last few years. Coach is just two wins away from becoming the first coach to lead two different teams to the College World Series in consecutive years.)

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SORRY, I WOULDN'T KEEP WRITING ABOUT THIS IF IT DIDN'T KEEP COMING UP---
Once again the subject of regional assignments came up after tonight's game. UCLA coach John Savage was surrounded by a few reporters and was asked about being paired up with Fullerton in the post-season again. He was quick to respond with, "Well, we know out here you have to beat the Pepperdine's, Long Beach's and Fullerton's to make it to Omaha, and regardless of where we got placed, I felt like we had an Omaha-type team this year. So we're not going to make any excuses."

Then I asked him about if he was hoping to get sent out of the West for the regionals, he conceded, "Again, we had the team to make it to Omaha either way. But, I mean, just look at the brackets. You can do the math. Arizona gets sent out and makes it to the Super Regionals. UC Irvine gets sent out and makes it too. Look at the regionals that went to Monday games, six of the teams playing in them were West coast teams facing off with each other, so we had more of the competitive regionals too. I think that says a lot."


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BO---
Quick note and R.I.P. here.
If there was ever a Mount Rushmore of rock-and-roll, Ellas Otha Bates, better known to us as Bo Diddley, would be in the running for one of those four spots on the Black Hills mountain. The McComb, Mississippi-born/Chicago-raised blues guitarist with his signature square box guitar was one of the giants of early rock-and-roll and rhythm and blues. And yes people, he did more than just star in the "Bo Knows" Nike commercials and George Thouroughgood "Bad to the Bone" video.

Bo+Diddley.jpg
(Bo Diddley, in the early days, still with his signature square-box guitar.)

My favorite part of the Bo Diddley story? His mother's cousin who raised him bought him violin lessons as a youngster. But the minute Bo stumbled upon John Lee Hooker playing his guitar at a smokey Chicago blues club, his instrument of choice quickly became a no-brainer.

Bo Diddley died today at the age of 79.


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I would like to take this time to thank ESPN for having the Fullerton Regional's final games of each day start at 8-freakin-PM West coast time. After I got home from tonight's/last night's game, I finally gave into exhaustion and hit the rack. So that's why I'm just now getting around to posting this here this morning. Mea culpa. But don't blame it on me.

G'night. Or rather, G'day.

Comments

Ok, Coach Savage, let's do the math. Your team was 31-24, 7 games over .500, and winning only 56% of its games. Irvine and Arizona went 37-16 and 37-17 respectively. That's winning about 70% of the time. They were given regionals that did not include a national seed. UCLA recieved a bid in a national seed's regional. That's the difference. Win your games and you won't get a "bad draw."

And just because the games go to Monday, doesn't mean they're competitive regionals. It just means no one closed out the regional. Next time, send UCLA to LSU or Rice or Miami and see if they complain about staying out West.

Eric, no note that all national seeds advanced?

I think the real beef in this tournament is the NCAA once again (like always) kissing the rear of the SEC. The conference was ranked 4th in the RPI and got 9 (NINE!) teams into the tournament. Undoubtedly the SEC has talent, but what does it say when the Big XII team that made their conference tournament and no one wanted in the field (Oklahoma) beat an SEC team that was solidly in the field not once, but twice! 2 of 9 teams made a super, one of which had one of the easiest regionals in the field (LSU).

The SEC gets more love than any other conference in just about any sport. They have great football teams, but then again rarely do they venture out of the southland to play a midwestern, northern, or western powerhouse at home. The SEC was also one of the worst major basketball conferences and received too many bids in basketball this year too. How do you account for this?

By the way, I go to school at South Carolina, and even I can see the disparity.

I don't know if you caught this Eric, but here's something from the Long Beach Press-Telegram:

"There are 25 schools in the Pac-10, Big West and West Coast Conference. Eleven made the tournament field. Nine are stuffed in three regionals, meaning only 33 percent of them could advance to a Super Regional.

There are 24 schools in the Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference. Fifteen made the tournament. They are stretched across 11 different regionals, so 73 percent could advance to the next round."

And the NCAA claims that they're fair to all regions.

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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