Sunday Summations- Buster Posey, YOUR Player of the Year
(Word of warning: Today's column will most certainly be the one that makes you say I am such an ACC homer it's not even funny. Feel free to do so, I can take it.)
Ladies and gentlemen, it's Buster Posey's world. But he gratefully allows us all to live in it.
(Buster Posey, the FSU catcher, has done everything but sell personal in-stadium air conditioners at Dick Howser Stadium this year)
The National Player of the Year - in case you didn't know, yes, he IS the best player out there - officially took over the national triple crown lead with today's 7th inning monster slam off the scoreboard in left field. After today's CWS-clinching win, BP's offensive numbers are staggering:
.460 batting average.
92 runs batted in.
26 home runs.
Those are all national bests (or tied-for the national best) as he heads to the Mecca of College Baseball. So we could be looking at a triple crown winner going to play for a national championship next week.
But it's not just his offense that shone today, he also threw out an attempted base-stealer and managed a good game from behind the dish. In other words, he did his usual lead-by-example play between the lines.
This guy's a MAN... well, with a boyish face and soon to be a lot of money.
Posey's prowess has been the main reason that the Seminole nation is now making its plans for Omaha for the first time since 2000. And why they've got a legit shot at the first ever national title in the Mike Martin era.
Meanwhile, FSU and two other ACC teams lived up to the hype and are now headed off to Omaha.
- From yesterday:
- From today:
North Carolina (51-12)
Florida State (53-12)
HOW THEY GOT THERE---
Florida State - 11
Wichita State - 4
WP: Ryan Struass (10-1) 6.0inns, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 2Ks, 2BBs
LP: Anthony Capra (9-1). 0.2inns, 3H, 6R, 6ER, 2Ks, 3BBs
The Seminoles warpath their way to Omaha for the first time since 2000.
Today's rout got started early with a six-run first inning by Florida State that saw 11 'Noles step up to the dish. The big blows came from Jack Rye, who blasted a three-run home run, and Tommy Oravetz, who knocked in three runs on a bases-loaded double.
All those runs came off of Shocker stud Anthony Capra, who came into the game with a 9-0 record. Though they didn't need the help, Florida State got the benefit of nine Shocker walks, two wild pitches and two errors.
One of the things I was questioning about the Seminoles was their quality pitching depth. It's been a little up and down at times, but not today, as Ryan Strauss came to the mound in the 4th inning and gave up just a single hit the rest of the way. If that kind of pitching continues next week, we could be seeing the Noles in the title round of Omaha.
North Carolina - 12
Coastal Carolina - 4
WP: Adam Warren (9-1). 2H, 0R, 0ER, 3Ks, 4BBs
LP: Nick McCully (10-3). 7H, 6R, 6ER, 0K, 1BB
Heels barely break a sweat in sweeping two straight from the Chanticleers. (Well, the triple digit temperatures made sure they broke plenty of sweat, but you know what I mean.). Some reliable names came through again at the dish as post-season vets Dustin Ackley (3-for-5, 3RBI) and Tim Federowicz (3-for-5, 3RBI) led a 17 hit batting practice attack.
Adam Warren had a no-hitter going into the 6th for the Heels, losing that bid on a sun-blinded pop up just beyond second base. Wooten put a cap on any hopes the Chants had, stymieing their once-potent offense. The only way I thought CCU had a legit shot was with an inspired showing from starter Nick McCully, but they didn't get that. McCully went just 2.0 innings, surrendering seven hits and six earned runs. So you knew there was no magic in that horse.
(Isn't winning Super Regionals old hat for this team? Then why the dogpile? And the bigger question is... Is that camera man really wearing heavy-leather hiking boots on a 100 degree day?)
N.C. State - 8
Georgia - 17
WP: Nick Montgomery (4-2). 6.0inns, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 3Ks, 1BB
LP: Eric Surkamp (5-3). 0.0inns, 2H, 5R, 5ER, 0Ks, 2BBs
This was ugly. Well, kind of like UGa the bulldog himself, Georgia fans think he's beautiful. And that's the way this game looked to the Bulldog faithful too. Man, when the Dogs have to win a game, they tend to go off on people. Particularly Gordon Beckham. Ummm, make that Mister Gordon Beckam. The meanest Dog in the pack sent two shots beyond the outfield wall (tied with Posey for national lead with 26), collecting four RBI and a walk along the way.
Catcher Bryce Massanari added another yard call and four addition RBI to help stoke the fires even more. The Dogs went wild for 18 hits off of six Pack pitchers for the game. In fact, they got things cooking soon after the opening bell, plating nine runs in the first inning, including two hits and five runs off starter Eric Surkamp, who never even registered an out.
In their six post-season wins, UGa has scored 77 runs. Talk about a dog that has its ears pinned back.
(Georgia has now gone to Omaha in even-numbered years 2004, 2006 and 2008. Perno is doing a big-time job)
Miami - 4
Arizona - 2
WP: Enrique Garcia (7-2). 6.0inns, 7H, 1R, 1ER, 4Ks, 1BBs
LP: Eric Berger (8-4). 7.2inns, 6H, 3R, 3ER, 4Ks, 2BBs
Save: Carlos Gutierrez (13). 1.1inns, 0R, 0ER, 1K, 0BB
What a great series this was. It was like a pro wrestling match. With heroes and hype and injuries and, thanks to Arizona's John Gaston, complete with a crowd-angering villain. Three close games between two evenly-matched teams.
Tonight, the big stars were Yonder Alonso (just try to act surprised by that news) who hit a three-run bomb in the first inning that ended up being all the offense the Canes would need. On the season, the U has now hit 100 home runs in all, the third most in school history.
Garcia had a solid outing, going six innings and scattering those seven hits effectively. Kyle Bellamy, Chris Hernandez (the Friday starter) and Carlos Gutierrez gave up just a single hit in the last three innings. Improved pitching like this could be the one good omen heading their date in Omaha.
(Don't know if he's yelling out of excitement or out of relief in finally putting Arizona away with the last out, but Yonder is happy either way)
Rice - 6
Texas A&M - 5
WP: Bryan Price (4-4). 2.1inns, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 3Ks, 0BB
LP: Travis Starling (8-2). 3.0inns, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 1K, 2BBs
Save: Bobby Bell (3), 2.0inns, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 2Ks, 2BBs
Where have you gone Bobby Bell, Bobby Bell?
The strapping Owl reliever who sat out last season came on in relief to get his marquee moment for 2008, shutting down the Aggies offense for the final three frames and send his team to Omaha.
Same old, same old. Rice has done it again. And it came at the expense of Texas A&M again. (C'mon committee, give us a different Super Regional matchup)
Catcher Adam Zornes was the hero here, sending a two-run laser shot scraping over the wall in the top half of the 8th inning.
(With efforts like this, it's no wonder Rice's Adam Zornes is such a huge talent)
Then Mr. Bell came on to put a cork in the A&M hopes in the 8th and 9th innings.
With the win, Rice's Wayne Graham steers his Owls to the college baseball promised land for the seventh time and third year in a row. A&M falls short in the Super Regionals for the third time since the format change in 1999.
NOW FOR THE TWO SERIES THAT JUST WON'T END---
LSU - 9
UCI - 7
WP: Louis Coleman (7-0). 3.0inns, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1K, 0BB.
LP: Eric Pettis (4-3). 1.0inns, 5H, 5R, 5ER, 0Ks, 3BBs (1 intentional)
UC Irvine played picture perfect, fundamental baseball for the most part of eight innings. Then came those eerie ghosts in the ninth.
Play-by-play man Clay Matvick said it best during what was a riveting 9th inning today. "This is what Alex Box Stadium is all about." So true. So freakin' true. The unexplainable magic of the old lady was back today, because for the 29th time this season, the LSU Tigers provided a come from behind win to extend this Super Regional another day. And send it's fans to the ICU with heart palpitations.
Down by three runs going into the 9th, LSU went:
RBI fielder's choice
RBI sac fly
SOMETHING must've shifted in the Earth's core, because all the sudden LSU started getting the breaks, bounces and big plays. If it wasn't some kind of cajun mojo, perhaps the relief work of LSU's Louis Coleman was the other huge factor. Coming in at the start of the 7th, he put everything on lock-down and gave up just a single hit and offered no hope to the 'Eaters offense.
Also, gotta love the highlight reel catches that LSU outfielders Leon Landry and Jared Mitchell have been providing as well. Another key was the lack of a catch of a Matt Clark hit to the wall that UCI's Sean Madigan could not come down with in the 2-run 8th inning. Did you notice that Ollie Linton almost caught the carom off of Madigan's glove? A game of inches man, a game of inches.
Is it 4pm Monday yet?
Arizona State - 6
Fresno State - 8
WP: Holden Sprague (5-2). 1.1inns, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 0Ks, 0BBs
LP: Josh Satow (9-4). 3.2inns, 5H, 6R, 6ER, 3Ks, 2BBs
Save: Brandon Burke (12). 3.2inns, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 4Ks, 3BBs
Holy cow. Holy freakin' cow! I don't use exclamation points often either. But I will here because Mike Batsole's charges are just like that cockroach that starts to feed off the Raid, get stronger and just ain't gonna die. And I'll tell you this much, after watching them at Long Beach last weekend and then after tonight's win in the desert, this team is about as worthy of their 4-seed status as I am worthy of being a hair model for a shampoo commercial.
This team is NOT the same one we've been seeing for 13 weeks this season.
First, the Bulldogs chased ASU starter Josh Satow in the bottom of the 4th inning by loading the bases with two outs. Then, after Stephen Sauer came in to try to quell the uprising, Gavin Hedstrom, who had hit only six dingers on the year sent a salvo deep into the desert night, igniting the Bulldogs and putting them up 7-5. A lead they'd never relinquish.
Wow. Just... wow. Five hits and five runs, all with two outs. I'm not sure if I've seen a team hit better with two strikes or two outs as I have the last two weeks in FSU.
Holden Sprague and Brandon Burke repeated their clampdown performance from last Sunday's win over San Diego and choked off the Sun Devils from that point on to salt away the stunning win. The biggest stat being that the Devils left the bases loaded twice down the stretch and stranding 12 runners in all. Game three is tomorrow. And I can't wait.
- Stupidest fan in college baseball.
This FSU fan who reached over the fence in foul territory down the third base line and robbed a two-out pop-up from 3Bman Stuart Tapley in the third inning of today's game with Wichita State:
(The guy in the FSU jersey sporting the cool porn 'stache felt this foul ball was way more important than letting the game be decided on the field)
Because instead of it being the third out of the inning, Andy Dirks drove the very next pitch well over the wall in right center field, cutting the FSU lead to 6-4:
(Because of the college version of Bartman there, Andy Dirks was able to celebrate a two-run bomb with his Shocker mates on the next pitch)
- Just an obscure "Did you know?" here.
Did you know that Arizona State's original nickname was "Bulldogs"? Yep, they had that name up until the mid-50s or so. As usually happens, some sports writer at the Arizona Republic changed the name by writing once that the football team came back to win a game "like a bunch of mad devils." (I'm paraphrasing here).
I've noticed so far that Stanford and Rice have both NOT dogpiled after winning Super Regional title games this weekend, rather just getting together and slapping fives in a line instead. Why is this significant? Because I've also noticed that the last three national champions (Oregon State, Oregon State and Texas) have not dogpiled until after they won it all. Just something to file away.
- Who here is as tired of seeing those Vonage commercials as I am?
This damn split screen spot has been in constant rotation during this weekend's games on ESPN. And because of that, I'm beginning to dislike Vonage a lot. See, there's a diminishing returns factor at work here. So ease off on the baseball-heavy media buy guys.
- Call this my newest pet peeve.
Have you noticed that game announcers on TV this week have been saying a short promo with the "NCAA.com" logo up on the screen, which starts with them saying "The College World Series returns to Omaha as the action gets started on Saturday June 14th..."
Should be worded differently, don'tcha think? Because the CWS never has left Omaha since it moved there in 1950. So you can't "return" to someplace you never left left. Dear NCAA, whoever writes your info interstitials... fire them now. And then hire me.
- It's "run-and-hit"
I'm going to try my best to get a national moratorium on the phrase "hit-and-run." The correct phrasing really should be "run-and-hit" because that's what you are really doing when you're playing the aggressive running game. So there you go. Spread the word stitch-heads.
- I'm taking suggestions.
During the two or three days in between the CWS bracket play and the title series, I'm trying to decide what I should do to bide my time. (You can only see so much in Omaha for 11-12 days, ya' know?). So here's a few things I was thinking of doing:
* Driving up to see Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota.
* Driving to Kansas City and seeing the Negro League Hall of Fame
* Driving to see the Field of Dreams field in Dyersville, Iowa (Sitting behind Kevin Costner at the Fullerton game on Friday night has inspired me)
* Driving to Lebanon, Kansas to see the geographic center of the lower 48 states.
* Drive to Texarkana with Jerry Reed, fill up an 18-wheeler full of Coors beer and bring it back to Omaha within 48 hours for $80,000.
Six down, two to go. Will the Golden State be golden with UCI and Fresno State? Or will the mega-powers of LSU and Arizona State beef up what looks to be the strongest CWS field in years?