February 21, 2013

CSTV's Extra Innings Rises From The Dead... and with my 20 Mondays column for the week.

This waking up some old ghosts for you?

Here's the deal guys, my CollegeBaseballToday.com site has been plagued with viruses this week. Can't do anything about it. These things just happen 'coz some fuggin' scumbags make it happen for no good reason.

So my thinking was, "Where can I post my work until the CBT site gets repaired? BOOM! It hits me. My long dormant CSTV "Extra Innings" website still exists and I still have the passwords for it. So here we are. THIS will be where my work exists until the College Baseball Today site is back up and operational.

Without further ado, here is my "20 Mondays" column for this week, including this pic:

OSU:UCR-Celebr.jpg
(Oregon State players celebrate the extra inning win over UC Riverside)

Okay guys and dolls, here is the rest of what I wrote a couple days ago...


First a quick stop off at the home of the Martini Pool Party… Palm Springs.

This edition of the 20 Mondays will be a little different since i went to a game today and won't finish this part until late on Monday. But as I said last week, the 20 Mondays feature will vary on when it's posted, sometimes early, or in this case, very late. So I hope you dig it either way.


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WHAT I SAW AT PALM SPRINGS STADIUM.
In what started out as a pretty uneventful game, things got really hairy in the 9th inning as UC Riverside rallied for two runs, both of whom scored on a bases-loaded attempted 4-6-3 double play that couldn't get the batter at first. But OSU would have the magic in extra frames, posting the winning run on a one-out RBI single by Joey Matthews in the 11th inning.


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LINESCORE:
UC Riverside - 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 - 4 6 1
Oregon State - 2 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 - 5 7 2
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PITCHING:
WP: Max Engelbrekt, 1-0
LP: Donovan Gonzales, 0-1
Save: None
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TOP HITTERS:
UC Riverside:
- Joe Chavez, 2-for-2, 2BHPs, 1BB
- Phil Hollinsworth, 1-for-5, 2B, 2RBI
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Oregon State:
- Kavin Keyes, 2-for-5, RBI
- Tyler Smith, 1-for-3, 2BBs, RBI
- Joey Matthews, 1-for-2, 2B, Game Winning RBI.
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RECORDS.
UC Riverside: 1-3
Oregon State: 4-0

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IN SUMMARY
The good news is that this game didn't turn out like Sunday's game between these two teams where Oregon State plated six runs in the 1st inning and the rout was on to the tune of a 14-3 final. This time, it was a game from start to finish. In fact, for the first eight innings this was a perfectly played pitching and defense struggle. But a funny thing happened in the 9th… as they always do.

Riverside was facing a 4-2 deficit, but got a glimmer of light when the Highlanders got the first batter of the inning, pinch hitter Devyn Bolasky, on to 1st base via the first error of the day (by SS Tyler Smith's high throw). A wild pitch later and Bolasky was standing on 2nd. Two batters later, a single to deep short by Clayton Prestridge put men at 1st and 2nd with one out. Then Eddie Young walked to load 'em up.

That's when the fun started.

OSU brought in reliever Scott Schultz, who immediately got Highlander big-stick David Andriese to bounce into a possible game-ending double play. But Andriese, sensing the moment, was on his horse right away and beat out the relay throw from SS Smith. Bolasky scored from 3rd base, of course. But unbeknownst to Beaver 1st baseman Jerad Casper, the speedy Prestridge never stopped running and he chugged it all the way to the plate before the Beavs could make a throw to the dish to try to salvage the lead. So yes, Prestridge scored from 2nd on the fielder's choice, tying the game at four.

But OSU escaped that and then plated the winning run in the 11th inning when, with two men on, Joey Matthews zipped a Donovan Gonzales offering into left-center, scoring pinch runner Zane Yanzick from 2nd base. Yanzick had come in to run for Kavin Keyes, who led off the 11th with his second single of the day.

Good game. Both teams used a lot of pitching and played mostly stellar defense until the fateful last few frames. But Riverside should be given some credit for now cowering after getting run-ruled by the No. 8-ranked Beavers just the day before.

OSU had a lot of talent sitting on the shelf for this one, but you could tell they had their fundamentals about them for most of the contest and got some great relief pitching from Tyler Painton and eventual game-winner Max Engelbrekt. More on them below.


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KEY MOMENT:
The gutsy baserunning to tie the game in the 9th.
UCR leadoff man Clayton Prestridge isn't a true speed merchant (though he was 9-for-10 in stolen bases a year ago), but give it to him on guile, grit and general baseball smarts. On what could've been the game-ending double-play, CP didn't stand around and spectate. He started sprinting hard for 3rd base and then noticed the double-play attempt in motion and kept his head down and feet turning up terra firma. He scored well before the Beavers could react and before a competitive throw to the plate could be relayed. It was a REALLY intelligent play on his part and made this an exciting game after all.

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KEY STAT:
8.2 innings of near-perfection.
OSU relievers Tyler Painton and Max Engelbrekt deserve a lion's share of the credit for this one as they combined for 8.2 innings of work and gave up just one hit, no runs and two walks. Of the two walks, one was an intentional walk and the other walk was eventually thrown out trying to steal second in a three-up, three-down inning.

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GAME BALL GOES TO:
- Oregon State LHP Tyler Painton.
In a game dominated by pitching and defense, the OSU reliever was the best of the best, just nudging out fellow reliever Engelbrekt by virtue of his longer stint. His 6.0 innings of work included four straight three-and-outs and he gave up just one hit and the two walks described above in his 87 pitches.
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COACH SPEAK.
Was able to catch up with both OSU head coach Pat Casey and UCR head honcho Doug Smith after the game. Here's a few bites from each.
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Pat Casey, Oregon State.
- On how he would rate the 4-0 weekend for his team in Palm Springs:
"I found out that we're going to compete a little bit. I mean, we didn't play very good today, but we made some plays when we really needed to and I think that's the sign of a good club. We had a freshman on the mound at the end of the game (Max Engelbrekt) and he competed very well. I think we've got some movable parts to work with, especially with some of the arms that are down and missing our best player. But again, we competed well and going 4-and-0 is a good start."
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- On the missing players OSU did without this weekend:
"We were without three of our main pitchers; Ben Wetzler (8-2, 3.10 in 2012), Taylor Starr (5-2, 4.37) and Jace Fry (5-3, 2.45 freshman All American). And we also didn't have one of our best players in Ryan Barnes, who is out with a broken hand for another two or three weeks. So we were missing some players but it was good to see some young guys step up and compete very well."
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- On the effort of reliever Tyler Painton.
"He was outstanding. Obviously we're talking about the fourth day of the weekend when you're down some arms and we were shallow on pitching to begin with anyway. Tyler took us all the way to (Scott) Schultz in the 8th inning, which is what we wanted. He threw really well and this being his first action for us that was very solid."
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- On the offense having to rely on the big inning most of the weekend:
"Early in the year, man, you gotta do all the right things on offense and we didn't do that in a lot of spots this weekend. We've got to get baserunners on they (UCR) didn't give up many free bases and we couldn't get it going. So give them credit. That kid that came in at the end, their closer (Trevor Frank), he was really good and we just took too many pitches from him. But early in the year I think the pitching is always a little bit ahead of the hitting, so we have to do a more consistent job."
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Doug Smtih, UC Riverside.
- On his team bouncing back with a much better effort today, compared to Sunday's blowout loss to OSU:
"Today was 180 degrees different than yesterday. We got caught with that 'Oh, we're playing Oregon State!' thing yesterday and didn't handle it very well. We were much better today. We had an opportunity today to break through and win and it just didn't go our way but I really liked our effort today."
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- On whether Clayton Prestridge was given the "Go" sign on that tying score from second base in the 9th:
"Yeah, he did. Clayton did a great job of going hard to 3rd on the groundout and then he started to make the turn and Bryson (LeBlanc, the 3rd base coach) saw it coming, so yeah, he waved him on. And it was a big time play… a real head's up play."
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On what he expects from his team in 2013:
"I really think we're gonna be better. I like our starting pitching - although you certainly couldn't tell it yesterday. And it's weird because we played horribly on defense out here this weekend, but all fall we played the heck out of it defensively. So I anticipate we'll be a good team from a pitching and defensive standpoint. We're still a young team, we play six sophomores on a regular basis, but this is a really good group. They work really hard and have good chemistry. The thing is they learn well. And what I mean is that when they do something poorly, like yesterday, they'll learn from it and come back the next day and be a little bit better. Part of me says that's all you can ask from them. (Pauses)… but then again another part of me says 'B.S., I can ask for a lot more than that.' (laughs)"
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- On getting tossed out of the game yesterday:
"We had a situation where we had a guy thrown out but he was safe from about me to you, so I went out and barked a bit, but not too hard. But then the next inning we threw a guy out at 3rd with about the same distance as our guy was, but the same ump called him safe. And to tell you the truth, I don't think he appreciated my wit. (laughs)."
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- On whether he goes out of his way to get tossed on purpose:
"No I don't. It's embarrassing to me. I always think to myself as I'm walking out 'Did you HAVE to do that you dumb A.' Coz usually the language gets bad and then if we're at home my daughter is in the stands and she looks at me like I'm an idiot."

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PICS:
A few more images from today's game in Palm Springs.


OSU:UCR-PalmsSnowcaps.jpg


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OKAY, NOW FOR THE 20 MONDAYS STUFF.
Here's a few hither and yons from the college baseball weekend.
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THREE BIG THINGS WE LEARNED.

1- You can wipe your ass with the paper your preseason rankings are printed on.
Lots of "upsets" probably aren't really upsets at all, since preseason rankings are largely incorrect.
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2- Sweeping is hard.
Even if you're at home and the opponent is Liberty, Western Illinois or Bethune-Cookman
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3- There should be an NCAA bylaw that Rice and Stanford play EVERY year.
Legends and memories are made here.

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TEAM OF THE WEEKEND:
- Ole Miss
No matter how you slice it, beating TCU in all three games was damned impressive 'coz you know the Frogs are going to be wicked this year. The encouraging part was that Rebel bullpen gave up just one run in 12.0 innings of work.
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OFF-THE-RADAR TEAM OF THE WEEKEND:
- Creighton.
I was going to put Pittsburgh in here but the Panthers have most of their team returning. CU on the other hand has a mostly freshman pitching staff and was facing a DBU team christening a new stadium and some had ranked them in their Top 25/40. Nice sweep by the Bluejays. Same goes for you too Pitt.

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NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME PLAYERS:
- San Diego.
(To be fair, there were a ton of candidates to choose from. So N.C. State, Baylor, Kent State, TCU… you got lucky this time.)

Man, opening a new stadium must be a lot tougher than we all thought. Like Dallas Baptist, the Toreros were opening all-new digs but got trucked over in three straight by their neighbors down the 8 Freeway, San Diego State. Aces Dylan Covey and Michael Wagner each gave up eight hits in their Friday-Saturday starts while taking the losses as well.

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WISH I HAD A TICKET TO:
- Tennessee at UNLV.
Of the four games played, three ended up as one-run, white-knucklers. The Rebels got off to a good start by winning three of the four games vs. their SEC competition. Congrats to coach Tim Chambers and Co. Now, I also could've picked the Cal-Michigan series which had all three games end up as one-run affairs (two of them went to extra innings), but I'll give the edge to UT-UNLV because I also could've gone to the casinos and lost my ass at Blackjack each night. Wish I was there.

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HEATING UP:
- Rice Pitching.
Damn man, these dudes are bad ass. Taking on a batting order as potent as Stanford's, it's amazing the performances of Friday ace Austin Kubitza (12Ks in 6.0 innings and just four hits) and Sunday starter John Simms (giving up one hit in 7.1 innings and taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning). The Owls took two of three from the Cardinal.
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COOLING DOWN:
- North Carolina State.
Literally, this team is cooling down, with snow and cold temperatures canceling their final two games of the series with Appalachian State. And of course, the other big news was the Friday night loss to the Mountaineers was the instant loss of the Carlos Rodon mystique. The All American candidate gave up three home runs in the first four innings and took his first-ever loss after going 9-0 as a frosh last year.

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PAIN:
- Michigan.
As mentioned above the Wolverines, under new head coach Eric Bakich, played competitively and with passion all weekend. But in the end Cal was one run better each and every game of the series. Arrrrrgh!

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MY S.I.D. OF THE WEEK:
- Nate Frieling, Dallas Baptist.
The dude laid out the red, white and blue carpet for me, even showed me around the new digs a bit and since it was Dallas Baptist, probably even said a prayer for me. (And all those people all those years who told me I "haven't got a prayer." In YOUR face!)
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FREAK OF THE WEEK:
- The guy on the plane sitting next to me who would NOT stop picking his nose.
Look dude, just 'coz the cabin lights are off doesn't mean you have free reign to go gold-digging. Stop it. You're freaking me out.

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THE POWER RANKINGS:
Just like last year's power rankings, this ain't no mamby-pamby rankings. More weight is going to be given to a team that plays good competition and wins a game or two than to a national power who barely escapes a weak sister, or as we saw this weekend, loses to said cupcake.

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1- NORTH CAROLINA (3-0)
Of Note: Kurt Emmanuel throws a complete game four-hitter on Friday vs. Seton Hall. Then, in a last minute add-on game, UNC drubs Coastal Carolina 7-1.
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2- OREGON STATE (4-0)
Of Note: As mentioned above the Beavers were handicapped with some bumps and bruises to the arms corps. But routs of Gonzaga and UC Riverside is pretty good.
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3- VANDERBILT (2-1)
Of Note: The offense couldn't be stopped, scoring 31 runs in the series win vs. Long Beach State. That's good news considering last year's .268 team average.
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4- RICE (2-1)
Of Note: It wasn't just that they took down Stanford in two of three, it's the dominant way their pitching staff worked in the two wins. Trip to Hawaii is next on the docket.
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5- OREGON (4-0)
Of Note: Speaking of the Hawaiian islands, even if the Warriors are down this year, winning four times in front of that crowd on the island is a huge deal.
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6- LSU (3-0)
Of Note: How about these stats?… in the three wins vs. Maryland, the Tigers committed just one error and issued only three walks, while giving up just four runs in 27 innings.

7- OLE MISS (3-0)
Of Note: Again, it was the arms beyond Bobby Wahl and Mike Mayers that were the most impressive in the unlikely sweep of the big-sticks in TCU.
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8- VIRGINIA (3-0)
Of Note: Some may find the two-game sweep at East Carolina to be highly offensive. (Groan… bad BAD pun). But Kenny Towns two grand slams were part of 27 runs in 18 innings.
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9- STANFORD (1-2)
Of Note: Justin Ringo is a Rice-killer again. On Saturday, the senior hit an RBI double in the 8th to plate the go-ahead run in a 3-2 win. In 2011, He hit his first career home run as the deciding run in a win over the Owls and last year he smashed a two-run homer in the 10th inning to win a game vs. Rice in jog-off fashion
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10- ARKANSAS (2-1)
Of Note: Struggled over whether I should keep the Hogs in the top 10 for losing to (clear the throat) Western Illinois. Even without talents like Fant and Ficociello they shouldn't have lost to the Leathernecks.
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11- UCLA (2-1)
Of Note: We'll see how legit these guys are eventually. Friday's 10-inning loss was followed by good wins, but at the expense of a Minnesota team missing its Saturday and Sunday studs on the hill.
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12- ARIZONA (3-0)
Of Note: Hard to judge these guys on three wins over Coppin State. But a pair of mid-weekers at Long Beach State should spark some discussion either way.
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13- KENTUCKY (3-0)
Of Note: After blowout wins over UNC-Asheville and Niagara, the Bat Cats have to rally for five runs in the 8th and 9th innings to beat USC-Upstate on Monday. We've got our eyes on you UK.
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14- FLORIDA STATE (3-0)
Of Note: Once again, the short porch in right-center benefits the Noles as D.J. Stewart hits his first career yard call in the 10th inning of Sunday's getaway game vs. Rhode Island.
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15- NORTH CAROLINA STATE (0-1)
Of Note: Came close to dropping the Pack out completely, but a small benefit of the doubt will be given here since it was only one game. Let's see how the Big Red Wolves respond.
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16- LOUISVILLE (2-1)
Of Note: In their three games vs. Indiana, South Florida and Purdue, the Cards only allowed four earned runs while notching 31 strikeouts in 27 innings.
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17- SOUTH CAROLINA (2-1)
Of Note: Yikes man. Only a monstrous 8-run rally in the 8th and 9th innings of the middle game kept this series from tipping toward a rebuilding Liberty teams' way.
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18- MISSISSIPPI STATE (4-0)
Of Note: Holy cowbells! I guess State was pissed enough at my preseason ranking they took it out on poor Portland to the tune of 31-3 in their four games. Now THAT's a rebuttal.
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19- TCU (0-3)
Of Note: The good news is that the pitching staff didn't throw too bad, all in all. Sure, playing in Oxford is no picnic, but if the offense can get rolling all may be forgiven… eventually.
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20- SAN DIEGO STATE (3-0)
Of Note: Just when we're all uber-impressed with a weekend sweep at USD, the Aztecs have to go and schedule No. 2 Oregon State for four games this week. Wow. Let's find out.

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Five On the Bubble:
Virginia Tech, Cal Poly, UC Irvine, Creighton, Pittsburgh

That's it for now. Until my next post here at CSTV's Extra Innings...

G'night.

 


Eric Sorenson Eric Sorenson
Eric Sorenson is CSTV.com's National Baseball Columnist, and also appears on CSTV as a baseball expert