Saturday Statements - The Agony of Defeat strikes Fullerton
There will be only one thing missing from this year's big party in Omaha. The lights of the Fullerton house across the street from Rosenblatt.
It's ironic that on the day that the venerable Jim McCay passes on to that great announcer's booth in the sky, Cal State Fullerton is the only Super Regional team to experience the ultimate Agony Of Defeat: being the only team to go 0-and-2 in the Supers.
Now Titan fans know how Yugoslavian ski jumper Vinko Bogataj felt on that fateful aborted jump that graced the Wide World of Sports opening all those years.
("Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport. The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat. The human drama of athletic competition. This is ABC's Wide World of Sports.")
The Titans dropped their second straight loss to Pac 10 power Stanford at Goodwin Field tonight, 8-5, to end their season at 41-22.
Elsewhere, the survivor rate was impressive. All three ACC teams that lost yesterday, came roaring back today with brutal offenses as Miami, Florida State and North Carolina State all rebounded with big wins, pushing their weekends to a third day.
The biggest news was that two streaks came to an end tonight. 1- LSU's 23-game win streak was stymied with UC Irvine's 11-5 whitewashing at Alex Box Stadium. And 2- To satiate Jeff the Commentor... the West Coast teams' dominance finally took a shot to the ego. It turns out that Arizona buys the next round of beers after becoming the first Occidental team to lose to a team East of the Mississippi River in this NCAA tournament in 18 games, dropping a 14-10 decision at Miami.
THE GAME TWOS:
Georgia - 6
NC State - 10
Well leave it to the Pack to lose the games I think they're going to win and win the games I think they'll lose. Nonetheless, this one will go to game three now as NC State got 12 hits and, get this, nine free passes, to blitz past Georgia in game two. Ryan Peisel started things for the Silver britches with a leadoff home run. But NCSU countered with a tying run of their own in the bottom of the first and also got 5.1 innings of solid work by Frosh starter Jake Buchanan, who improved to 3-2.
"That's something we've done well all year, come back after the other team has scored." is what head coach Elliot Avent would say afterward, and rightly so. The Pack got three runs with two outs in the bottom of the 3rd to go ahead for good. Jeremy Synan, Russell Wilson and Tommy Foschi each had RBI singles to get things cookin'. After that 3-1 start, the Pack never trailed.
Florida State - 14
Wichita State - 4
Here we go again people. Are we looking at another offensive blitz to dig the 'Noles out of another post-season hole? Don't bet against it. Wichita's Aaron Shafer - a righty - just didn't have the answers today as FSU roped him for eight runs, chasing him after three innings. Meanwhile Matt Fairel went a career-high 8.0 innings, striking out six and setting down 21 of the last 26 batters to shut down a potent Shocker offense, who only had one extra base hit on the day.
(Aaron Shafer just wasn't right from the beginning, including this wild pitch that helped FSU pad its lead)
- CORAL GABLES:
Miami - 14
Arizona - 10
Willis MaGahee ran for 210 yards and two touchdowns to off-set a 325 yard performance by Willie Tuitama. Okay, that's football, but it DOES match the score, right? Actually, Miami had four different players hit full-on dingers, including a pair of three-run bombs by Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal as the Canes exacted revenge on the Desert Cats today.
Mark Sobolewski provided the go-ahead run with a 6th inning solo shot to put the Hurrincanes up for good. In addition, Dennis Raben induced six walks, tying an NCAA record that was previously set by Josh Holliday of Oklahoma State in 1999. Arizona issued a staggering 16 walks in the game. You're not going to beat these guys with that. Hell, you're not going to beat a team going to Williamsport like that.
Cal State Fullerton - 5
Stanford - 8
The Trees were stuck in a back-and-forth struggle until their top 10 draft pick Jason Castro proved why he was a top 10 draft pick, by ripping a bases-loaded double that scored three runs. That big blast was the difference as Stanford goes to the College World Series for the first time since 2003. There was nothing overwhelming to the Cardinal modus operandi. Starter Erik Davis only went 2.1 innings and Austin Yount came in to throw 5.1 innings of 7-hit ball.
Castro ended the night with four RBI and got two RBI from No. 2 hitter Joey August to supply all the runs SU would need.
(Stanford 1Bman Brent Milleville cradles the game's final out, setting off a non-dogpiling Cardinal celebration at Goodwin Field tonight.)
THE GAME ONES---
Coastal Carolina - 4
North Carolina - 9
The Sky Blue Heels don't sweat too much as they put a good pasting on the Chanticleers. But CCU helped out incrementally with a handful... make that a large handful of mistakes in the field and on the basepaths. In the first two innings alone, the Chantacleers committed three errors in helping to stake the Heels to a 3-zip lead. A Seth Williams solo shot and a Kyle Seager RBI single brought the UNC lead to 6-1 after six innings. That made this game a boat race.
With a supreme lack of timing, Coastal committed a season high six errors on the day. With the win, Carolina is now nine innings away from its third straight berth in the College World Series. And I will personally be pulling for them if they make it to the championship round again.
* Is this series over?
Yeah, for the most part. That 11-4 loss back in March where CCU jumped all over Matt Harvey to breeze to the win is the only thing that's making me pause for thought. So even if SuperFrosh Nick McCully can pull out the game of his life, it would just put off the inevitable by a day.
(After stealing 105 bases this season, CCU only attempted one steal vs. UNC, getting caught at that. It seems like Coastal should've utilized its speed against a more powerful opponent today.)
Texas A&M - 7
Rice - 9
The Owls got to A&M's Br. Raley early and often and built a 6-3 lead after three innings, only to see A&M come back and tie things up in the fifth. That's when senior Jordan Dodson stepped up to the main stage, smacking a two-run double to put the Owls up for good. Super reliever Cole St. Clair came on to put the clamps on the Ag offense from there. The big strapper threw the final 4.1 innings of two-hit ball to pick up the win and improve to 10-2 on the season.
* Is this series over?
No. But you have to like the Owl chances with the experience on the mound they still haven't used. But keep in mind the Rice propensity to give away errors at bad times. If that hideous monster raises its head like it did in the Regionals, this could go three and maybe even extras on Monday.
- BATON ROUGE:
UC Irvine - 11
LSU - 5
Nope. Typo. That's a freakin' typo. No way.
* Is this series over?
Can't be. Not after 23 straight wins prior to this. But I guess you've gotta say that the Anteaters are in their heads.
Fresno State - 4
Arizona State - 12
It seems like everybody gets their chance to be the offensive catalyst for ASU. Tonight, after patiently waiting his turn, it was Ryan Sontag's night. The Michigan State transfer hit a pair of yard calls and had four RBI, pacing the Devils attack. But don't worry, Brett Wallace and Jason Kipnis each added three hits to help him out. Mike Leake was effective enough to go 7.2 innings and improve to 11-2. At one point, he set down 10 in a row.
* Is this series over?
Almost. I thought if Fresno didn't win game one it would be a real mountain to climb. But the 'Dogs have some capable arms and have been hitting fairly well enough to pull a W here somewhere.
- Whatever happened to all that talk of "hit by pitch" rules change?
Remember how rampant the plunking was in Omaha last June? To tell you the truth, I haven't seen any change in that ruling or interpretation this season. As an example, when Ryan Berry plunked Kyle Colligan in the shoulder in the 3rd inning, it marked the 99th time an Aggie batter had been hit this season. As play-by-play man Dave Barnett pointed out, that's 24 more HBP's than A&M's previous school record for a season.
- Oh my! Don't cross Ron Polk.
Wanna see what Ron Polk (allegedly) thinks about John Cohen being named as the next coach at Mississippi State, instead of his suggested replacement Tommy Raffo? It's not pretty.
(Special thanks to CSTV contributor and college baseball extraordinaire Glenn Tanner for this link)
I feared that Texas A&M's Frosh pitcher Brandon Raley might have a tough outing in his first start of an NCAA post-season game. Sure enough, the wily Rice batters got to him early and he looked a little shaky, going just 3.1 innings, giving up a devilish six hits, six runs and six earned runs. The wise ol' Owls never were quite out of the woods though, having to get three runs off of Ag vet Kyle Thebeau to go ahead for good in the game.
- Hidden ball again? You're kidding, right?
Well, first off, D.J. LeMehieu was safe. No doubt. The umps got caught up in the moment and the Irvine players were smart enough to sell the call right off the bat. (I love the description by Coach Gillespie saying that his Anteater team has the highest baseball I.Q. of any team he's coached.)
(You tell me, is D.J. LeMehieu safe here or what? Once again, it was the ineptness of the men in blue and the timing of the play that did in the Tigers)
But wrong call or not... C'mon people. Is there ever a reason for a team to fall to this trick? Especially after all the notoriety UCLA got for pulling it off against Virginia? Now LSU blows a bases-loaded, open-the-floodgates opportunity by having UCI pull it on them. Just call that typical Mike Gillespie trickery. The old war horse has been doing stuff like that for years (remember the steal of home in the title game vs. Arizona State?). I mean, even though he was safe at second, why on EARTH would anybody venture off second base with the pitcher standing on the grass? Jeez.
- Stepping on the throat.
One thing that UC Irvine did that none of the other teams seemed to do in that 23-game winning streak LSU owned, was they didn't wilt like soggy Corn Flakes man. When Paul Maineiri and the Javi Sanchez got the crowd fired up by howling ruthlessly that wrongly-called out on the hidden ball trick, Irvine didn't give in to the angry energy of the Box. Instead, they immediately scored two more runs in the next half inning and got a two-run bomb from Brock Bardeen in the 8th to keep the pressure on LSU... and to keep the Tiger fans howling mad at the umpiring crew.
(Paul Maineiri and Javi Sanchez argued long and hard after that wrongly-called hidden ball trick. Sanchez ended up getting the boot from the game for throwing his hat at the feet of the umpire that made the call.)
"IT'S HOT. IT'S LIKE AFRICA HOT"
(Guess the quote, get a free brew on me)
Is it just me or have the temperatures been much more steamy this year than most in Regional and Super Regional play? Here's today's AlGoreian numbers.
95 degrees at game time.
95 degrees. Heat index of 99 degrees.
(Although, from what I heard, it was even worse than it showed.)
94 degrees with 50% humidity.
91 degrees in the 3rd inning with 55% humidity. Heat index of 100 degrees.
92 degrees at game time. (Then the general dispositions got even more heated.)
High of 96 degrees with 55% humidity
85 degrees. Can't imagine the humidity was anything less that 65% though.
83 degrees at game time.
64 degrees at game's end.
98 degrees at first pitch.
(Look at all the 90+ temps on this map! The Cauldron of Hades was hard at work making it miserable for us all out there today)
Day three of the Super Regionals is about to begin in five hours. I really should get some sleep, shouldn't I? Okay, more tomorrow from Day Three.