June 26, 2008

CWS, Day 12: In Pictures

Fresno State is our 2008 National Champion in baseball. I'm still trying to wrap my head around that one, but it's for real. The Wunderdogs rebounded from a crushing 7-6 defeat on Monday night to blitz past Georgia in two straight games, 19-10 and 6-1. So now the big brass ring is taking up residence with the pride of the San Joaquin Valley.

In the meantime, shut off the lights on the old man on the hill for another 50 weeks as the stadium known as "Mecca" closes up shop for college baseball until next June. Here are some lasting images from the final day of the (long) College World Series.

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(See you next June Johnny Rosenblatt. I'll miss you.)

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CWS, Day 12: It's Fresno!

THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
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... and that ONE is Fresno State!
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(Bulldoggin' it. The Fresno players show the hardware on the pitcher's mound in Rosenblatt after beating Georgia 6-1 to win the school's first baseball national championship.)

And you thought Oregon State in 2006 was shocking.

What the bloody hell is going on in college baseball these days? Four seeds winning the brass ring? Guys that hit .256 slamming home six RBI? A starting pitcher actually going more than seven innings in the CWS? A guy that went 0-for-4 getting named the MVP?

But amidst all the chaos, let me just say this: This is Steve Detwiler's world, we're just living in it. The Sophomore from Forest Knolls, California turned this into his own main stage tonight, tearing the cover off everything the Georgia pitching staff had to offer to lead his fellow Dogs to a win on this humid, sticky night.

Oh and I guess he'd go ahead and share the world with Justin Wilson too, since the Bulldog starter threw 129 pitches, giving up just five hits and one run and striking out nine in a dominating role.

In other words, it's just one of those nights that makes legends out of student-athletes.

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June 25, 2008

CWS, Day 11: In Pictures

THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES.
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It didn't look good early on - the weather that is. But once the rain began to taper off we were treated to one of the more bizarre games in this 2008 College World Series. Fresno comes roaring, and I mean ROARING, from behind to pull out a football-like, 19-10 win. So now we move on to a third and final game on Wednesday night.

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(An hour before game time, the grounds crew was trying to soak up the lake that had formed on the warning track behind home plate.)

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CWS, Day 11: Fresno bites back

THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES.
CWS08-OnlyBeOne.jpg


In the words of John Candy from Planes, Trains and Automobiles, "Oh, these dogs are barkin'!"
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Did I not say in my preview with Doug Kroll that there's no way you should count out the Fresno State Bulldogs? No way on Eddie Albert's Green Acre should you. These dogs are doing more than just barkin', they're bearing their teeth and frothing at the mouth now.

Late Night at Rosenblatt Stadium saw the most unlikely of teams make a rather most unlikely turnaround in game two tonight, plating six runs in the 3rd, five runs in the 4th and four runs in the 5th inning to turn what looked like a certain defeat into a laugher.

Then again, if we've learned anything from this CWS, it is that you should never count anyone out.

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June 24, 2008

CWS, Day 10: In Pictures

THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
CWS08-OnlyBeOne.jpg

You know it's a big event if luminaries like Warren Buffet, Nolan Ryan, Augie Garrido and Mark Richt are in attendance. So here's a handful of pics from the first day of the championship series (and what seems like the 27th day of the CWS in total):

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(Warren Buffet and Nolan Ryan walk out of the hallway that leads from the press box. I think Nolan was actually there just to pick up the money trail that Warren was leaving as he walked.)

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CWS, Day 10: Fresno blinks, Georgia one game from title

THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES:
CWS08-OnlyBeOne.jpg

After struggling through injuries and back-to-back games, you just got the feeling that there were only so many quality throws from the mound that Fresno had in them tonight. In the eighth inning, that proved true as the well ran dry.

For the third time in the CWS, Georgia made another comeback win a reality. The never-say-die Junkyard Dogs plated four runs in the bottom of the 8th to counter the three runs FSU had scored a half-inning earlier to pull out a W in game one of the championship series.

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June 23, 2008

CWS, Day 9: In Pictures

Do you ever wonder why, when a team gets eliminated and their season comes to an end, you always see so many pictures like this?...
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It's because of scenes like this...
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It might be hard to tell, but there are eight photographers in this picture surrounding the North Carolina dugout at the end of the game just looking for that teary player picture they so crave.

Here are some more pics from Game 13 at Rosenblatt.

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CWS, Day 9: Fresno wins. Let the bad Dog cliches begin!

Fresno State howls into the championship round with a convincing win.

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(Alan Ahmady is pumped after sliding into home)

You can see the bad puns coming from a mile away. After Fresno's win over UNC tonight, you can just imagine all the horrible headlines with their awful puns that papers and websites will be running tomorrow.

So in that spirit, here is my top five worst Dog vs. Dog championship headline cliches you'll probably see on Monday:

1- It's Dogs vs. Dawgs.

2- It's a dog eat dog world.

3- Best in show: Dogs vs. Dogs.

4- CWS going to the Dogs.

5- It's one Dog-gone good finale.

Dishonorable Mention:
Welcome to the Michael Vick Invitational.

Let me just say that it's amazing that Fresno is sitting where it is now. After spending the entire final month of the season (five weekends) on the road, they've built up quite a callus for tough games and tough situations. Look closely people, we may be looking at one of the toughest-minded teams that's ever been in Omaha. And here's how they got there tonight.

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June 22, 2008

CWS, Day 8: In Pictures

Georgia wins and waits. While Fresno and Carolina play another great game. In the meantime, I had the shudderbug thing biting me, so here are a few more pictures from Saturday's double-header at Rosenblatt.

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(Gotcha! Everytime I pointed my camera toward this little kid, he would immediately duck down behind his father. Finally, I held up a piece of candy and he emerged from his hiding place... snap! Got the picture I wanted of the young Miami fan.)

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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.

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(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.

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June 21, 2008

CWS, Day 7: Ladies & Gents, Billionaire Warren Buffet's house

Here's Day 7 in pictures from Omaha. And since it was a single game that didn't start until 6pm, I was able to spend the day finding out where billionaire Warren Buffet lived. Here you go...

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Kind of non-descript, huh? I was expecting something like Montgomery Burns on The Simpsons, replete with 30-foot fences, ravenous guard dogs and constantly ominous skies. Nope.

Instead, it's totally open, no fence, no guards, no nothing. Hell, if I was one of those Mormon missionaries, I could walk right up and knock on his door.

Now for more Day 7 pictures...

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CWS, Day 7: The Streaker and Grand Slam Streaks are Broken, so is LSU'S Dreams.

The long lost streaker has returned.

It's been since the championship game of 1974 that the CWS has seen a streaker interrupt a game during the College World Series. But it happened tonight. Right before Matt Clark's at-bat in the 8th inning, with two men on, the mad naked dasher jumped out of the outfield bleachers and made his pose in short center field, much to the crowd's snickers and squeals. He was soon pummeled by a security man and closely apprehended by the police. But while it lasted, it brought back many memories of another streaker, along with much laughter from the record-setting crowd.

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(The streaker from tonight's game pauses in center field to strike "The Thinker" pose)

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(He then gets pummeled by stadium security and taken down to the ground Brian Urlacher-style)

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(The hippy guy with the small willy is then led away by stadium police and sent directly to the sex offenders file)

A few minutes after that whole streaker episode transpired, a pair of 9th inning intentional walks to Dustin Ackley and Tim Fedroff set the stage for junior hero-man Tim Federowicz to pump out a game-winning grand slam that iced things. The place went crazy and the LSU fans, for the first time all weekend, fell silent. That death-knell sounded the end of LSU's magical season.

Continue reading "CWS, Day 7: The Streaker and Grand Slam Streaks are Broken, so is LSU'S Dreams." »

June 20, 2008

CWS, Day 7: Anatomy of a rain delay

Again, to re-iterate, this game should've been re-started at 1pm today. It was clear, beautiful skies all the way up until about 6pm tonight. Instead, at 6:09pm, the game was re-started. At 6:38pm, the game was stopped for lightning and then for the torrential downpour. The people in charge of this thing should've checked the weather forecast.

You know, they show an hour-by-hour forecast on weather.com.

So here's how things went at the stadium today, during the rain episodes:

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(the game re-started with Jared Bradford and his sunny day shadow throwing out the first pitch)

Continue reading "CWS, Day 7: Anatomy of a rain delay" »

CWS, Day 6: UNC takes early lead after seven batters.

It only lasted seven batters, but then it got ugly. And I mean ugly in two ways. LSU's Blake Martin couldn't find the plate, giving up two runs, plunking two batters and walking another on four pitches. And secondly, the weather turned nasty and the hammering thunderstorms halted the game with UNC up 2-0.

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(Tonight, Nebraska was definitely a red state, as you can tell by the smothering storms that blanketed the Omaha area, knocking out the LSU-UNC game with only one out in the game)

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June 19, 2008

CWS, Day5: In pictures

Stanford eliminated Miami with an 8-3 clampdown, putting the Cardinal into the bracket 1 finals against unbeaten Georgia. The Hurricanes see their promising season come up just short. That and other goings-ons in and around Rosenblatt were captured here.

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(Erik Davis replaces Danny Sandbrink on the mound in the 5th inning. Both pitchers did a good job of clamping down on a potent Miami batting order and also set up their rotation nicely for the upcoming Georgia series, where normal Friday starter Jeremy Bleich will pitch on Friday)

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CWS, Day5: Miami couldn't see the forest for the Trees

This was a rude way to end a great season. Miami had it all in '08; a boatload of talent, a No. 1 ranking, a diverse team with few holes and a murderous batting order. Tonight the Stanford Trees cut them down hard with a stunning 8-3 win.

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(Sean Ratliff, left, gets a hero's welcome at home plate after his crushing home run dimmed Miami's hopes)

It's not too stunning that the Cardinal won the game, they're obviously a good team. But it's how they did it. I'm not sure anyone expected a rather comfortable win like this.

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June 18, 2008

CWS, Day4: In Pictures

Just thought I'd let you guys know that there is no pluralization in the name Zesto, one of the most mis-pronounced burger stands in the world.

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(It's not "Zestos", but it doesn't mean they don't make some wicked milkshakes)

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June 17, 2008

CWS, Day4: Tigers take us to the ICU, Fresno takes Carolina

LSU... lemme tell you something. You guys are freaks!

Maybe the most freakish team I've ever seen in my 30+ years of following college baseball. And of course, I mean freaks in a good way.

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(Jared Mitchell screams for vengeance as he heads toward home)

Today's heart-wrenching win was another microcosm of the Tiger season. They looked pretty damn awful early on. Getting picked off bases. Not coming close on attempted steals. Playing with no energy. Then, a switch is turned on and it's as if those guys went into a phone booth and put on tights and a cape.

Now that I think of it, isn't that the way your football team played last season too? We all know how that ended up. Hmmm, ponder that people.

But let's not get too geeked about the Tigers alone. Is everybody ready to talk about Fresno State for the national title now? It's time. This team is the cockroach that survives the nuclear winter. And no FSU fans, I'm not calling your team a bunch of grotesque pests... you're just so never-say-die man. It's killin' me. And that's in a good way too.

Awesome.

As a good way to sum up the feeling here in Omaha today, when the working press got down to the press conference room here in Rosenblatt Stadium tonight, my good bud Mark Etheridge of SEBaseball.com turned to me and said, "You know. this was great. This is the reason you and I do this." So true.

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CWS, Day3 in pictures

Day three at the College World Series saw us say goodbye to our first team (Florida State) and also saw some of the best weather we've experienced in a while. And better yet, it's not supposed to change too much.

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(The forecast for the next few days is a beauty. No 90s. No rain. No prob. Now, let's just hope the damn weather man is right.)

Here's some more pics from yesterday's day at Rosenblatt.

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June 16, 2008

CWS, Day3: Seminoles take trail of tears home, Dogs hunker down 'til Friday

Hard to believe we're sending Florida State home already. It's day three of the CWS and I'm not sure there are many people out there who would've put their money on another 0-and-2 finish. Not THIS team. This one the one that was going to put them over the edge. Now it's not.

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(Joshua Fields. This reliever is, well... relieved)

Meanwhile, the biggest win so far this series comes from the arms of the Georgia Bulldogs. They get to avoid the determined Miami Hurricanes in the loser's bracket by beating Stanford in come-from-behind fashion, 4-3. As a bonus to that, they also get a three-day rest. And the Bulldog fans hearts may need it after the two games they've put up so far.

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CWS, Day2: In Pictures

A couple more pictures from Day Two at Rosenblatt and the College World Series.

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(Another angle of the play at the plate between Fresno's Danny Muno and Rice's Adam Zornes. Note the ball at his elbow that got knocked loose. Special thanks to Dr. Kenny Cook, the doctor of college baseball)

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CWS, Day2: Carolina throws a wet blanket on the upset-fest

North Carolina wasn't going to have any of that lower seeded-upset thing continuing through all four first round games. The Tar Heels didn't even want to hear about LSU's vaunted comeback ability. They just went out there and threw bee-bees at the Tiger bats and finally allowed one team NOT to pull the upset in this College World Series.

Meanwhile, Fresno State keeps on playing like they're from another planet, routing the CWS-experienced Owls in an ugly manner.

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(Kevin Muno slides around the tag of Rice catcher Adam Zornes)

Day two brings more surprises from Omaha.

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June 15, 2008

CWS, Day1: In Pictures

Thought I'd throw up a few more pictures that I took from the first day at Rosenblatt. You know, because no other blog site out there in college baseball land uses pictures like I do. I.e.: They're boring. Sorry, just a small personal note there. My bad.

Anyway, here you go...

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(A hazy shot of Rosenblatt from my flight into Omaha. I know, I really need to get a life.)

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CWS, Day1: Top of the 9th magic and ugly baseball

Don't know why, but the top of the 9th inning of both games today will become known for two things: 1- Game-deciding plays. And 2- Ugly baseball.

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(Mark Marquess, "When I got to the park today and saw the wind blowing out I knew it could be a long game.")

Stanford went nuts, with the help of two errors, to score 11 runs in the top of the 9th of game one, beating Florida State 16-5. And Georgia made a big comeback, with the help of a dropped third strike and an error, of course, to beat Miami 7-4.

Another ugly factor? The vaunted ACC starts Omaha 0-2 so far.

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June 12, 2008

Thursday Thoughts - An Expedition Into Gorilla Ball

Get ready for an offensive CWS. And yes, that could be a dual meaning of the word "offensive."

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Welcome back Gorilla Ball. Where ya' been?

Enough of this bunting business. Who cares about stealing a base? No more run-and-hit offenses. This is old school mash-and-jog, junior. Where hot, humid days lead to baseballs flying out like a hole in the aviary. Hell, we may not even care about pitching and defense this week at the College World Series.

And sacrifices? Phhewwww! we'd rather see Fay Wray, Jessica Lange or Naomi Watts tied up in ritual fashion for our Gorilla Ball gods to come storming through the home run jungle to snap them up. THAT kind of sacrifice. Not a freakin' squeeze bunt!

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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