June 07, 2008

Friday First Takes - The Home Team Blues Edition

It was Georgia on our minds today in Stitched-ball land. All hail the Dogs.

(Hey Costner. Down in front, you're blocking my view of the game!)

Georgia, you're our only hope for the home teams. With three of the four homers going down to defeat today, you could call this "Upset Friday" in Super Regional action.

The most impressive team of the day was the only home team to please its home crowd as the Bulldogs cruised to an easy 11-2 whitewashing of the North Carolina State Wolf Pack. Their hot-hitting from last week's regional round never got slowed down as they pegged the Pack for big hit after big hit on Friday, putting the Dogs just 27 outs away from another return trip to Omaha.

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May 31, 2008

Friday First Takes - Take the Bison off the endangered species list

I remember where I was for Southern in 1987. I remember where I was for Sam Houston State of 1996. I remember where I was for Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1999. I remember where I was for Texas Southern in 2004. But I never thought I'd have to remember where I was for Bucknell of 2008. But guess what? That's why we love the NCAA tournament, because there are going to be upsets.

And, occasionally they're of the axis-tilting kind. Like today's 7-0 win by Bucknell at Florida State.

(The American Bison, herbivore, most commonly found in the Great Plains)

The Bison were one of four 4-seeds to pull out stunning Ws today in the first day of action in the 2008 regionals.

- Lipscomb beat No. 8 national seed Georgia 10-7
- UC Davis beat No. 1 seed Stanford 4-2, though if you ask me it's not a big upset.
- Fresno State beat home host Long Beach State 7-3.

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May 24, 2008

Friday First Takes - The Apocalyptic "Dogs and Cats Sleeping Together" Edition

"Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling. Forty years of darkness. The dead rising from the grave. Human sacrifice. Dogs and cats sleeping together!... Mass hysteria."


I don't remember if it was Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth or Bill Murray in Ghostbusters who said the above quote, but all I know is that I think we're seeing these End Of Days type of signs right now my fellow stitch-heads. Because we actually saw rain here in Southern California in the month of May. Yes, rain. Not an earthquake. Not a mudslide. Not that usual light mist stuff either. Freaking rain.

Here, take a look for yourself...

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May 17, 2008

Friday First Takes - The Rollercoaster Seasons continue in college baseball

So what's more impressive sounding, beating the last place team in the conference or routing the No. 28 RPI team in the country? UCLA did both of those things tonight in beating Washington State by a 10-zip count at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Westwood. The Cougars, otherwise known as the biggest anomaly in college baseball, drop to 6-13 in Pac 10 play and won't improve on their impressive RPI.

(WSU coach Donnie Marbut can't be encouraged by his teams' recent play)

Wazzu - 000 000 000 - 0 4 1
UCLA - 100 017 01x - 10 8 1

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May 03, 2008

Friday First Takes - Bruins see a hellish ending

There's a reason why I still think Arizona State will make it to Omaha, even with all their injuries, suspensions, grades, investigations and seemingly shallow pitching staff. Tonight's 9th inning at UCLA is Exhibit A.

The Devils score five runs in their last at-bat and break the Bruin spirit with a 10-5 win in Westwood. And make no mistake, it's a win UCLA could've used for their RPI.

(Jason Kipnis gets another handshake after his second home run tonight)

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April 26, 2008

Friday First Takes - Heels get the pre-game handshake, then the big inning

Well at least there were handshakes before and after the game this time. And just like last Friday, the Seminoles played eight innings of really good baseball.

(Stupid umpire got in the way, but as you see, Mike Martin had no problem shaking Mike Fox's hand before tonight's FSU-UNC game.)

Only problem was, just like their big loss last Friday to No. 1 Miami, the Noles saw their bullpenners lugging a gas can with them to the mound tonight. And it was the hot sticks of players like Garret Gore (2-run single), Dustin Ackley (2-run single), Kyle Shelton (2-run dinger) and Kyle Seager (2-run double) that supplied the matches, pacing North Carolina to an 11-4 win.

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April 19, 2008

Friday First Takes - Errors, Runs and Boos Rain Down on FSU

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.--- I'm not going to say I told you so, but did I not say in my preview to this Miami-Florida State series that the sketchy Seminole defense, the worst in the ACC, was of grave concern coming into tonight's rivalry game with Miami? And guess what was a heavy contributing factor in FSU's 11-4 loss? Three nasty errors in the 10-run 6th inning spelled n-o-l-E doom tonight.

Miami - 000 00(10) 010 - 11 14 2
FSU - 011 020 000 - 4 10 3

(Not a lot went right for Mike Martin after the midway point of tonight's 1 vs. 2 game)

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April 12, 2008

Friday First Takes - Cal Makes The Fraud List (for today)

I liked the way Baseball America's Aaron Fitt put it in his preview today, "USC is one of the nation's most difficult teams to get a read on."

Great jiggers of gin, is that ever true! They'll play like Tarzan one day and then like Jane the next. No wonder the Men of Troy came into tonight's game with No. 17 Cal with a record of 16-15. Yet, keep in mind that those 16 wins included Ws over teams like Pepperdine, Arizona, UCLA, San Diego, Cal State Fullerton and road sweeps at Florida International and Winthrop.

However, you can pretty much figure out by the final score of 17-1, that tonight seemed to be one of those Tarzan-type nights.

(About the only thing that stopped USC tonight was the faulty sprinkler system that malfunctioned four times during the game.)

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April 05, 2008

Friday First Takes - Making our sport Ft. Worth-it

As a college baseball fan, what's your worst nightmare about bringing novice fans to a game? That it turns into one of those five-hour marathon ping-fests that sours potential fans into thinking this sport was just another fabricated version of the real thing - i.e. the Arena Football syndrome.

(Clint Arnold led the Frogs with three hits tonight in a 5-1 win)

Well tonight I went out to Lupton Stadium in Ft. Worth with a couple of friends to see TCU and Air Force play. And of course, I worried about a Frog-stomp that would soil the name of college baseball to these newbies.

Thankfully, that didn't happen.

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March 29, 2008

Friday First Takes - The "ASU-games-are-beginning-to-be-no-fun" Edition

Their games are over with quicker than a Politicians For Ethics role call.

This ASU team just keeps pile-driving people, especially the games I've been to. I've now seen the Sun Devils beat Vanderbilt 18-6 and today they obliterated USC 16-5 in front of a sellout crowd at Packard Stadium.

(Pat Murphy and Chad Kreuter share a light moment before the game got ugly)

Improving to 23-1, tonight was Arizona State's 13th game where they've reached double-digits in the scoring column. And of those 10 where they didn't, four of those they either shut the opponent out or held them to one run. This team is still scary good, as I found out again tonight.

First to a quick sweep of the national goings-ons:

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March 22, 2008

Friday First Takes - No "Sooner Magic"

Remember those days when Oklahoma's football team had horses like Billy Sims, Marcus Dupree, Elvis Peacock, Thomas Lott and J.C. Watts? Their high-risk, high-reward option offense used to fumble six or seven times a game and still beat the mess out of people by 50-10 or so.

Well, it turns out their baseball team doesn't have that kind of wishbone luck - or maybe I should say that kind of incredible talent. Seven times in their game at Nebraska today the Sooners got their lead batter on and five times they stranded a runner at third base to end an inning. All they got was two stinkin' runs today. And they lost 4-2 in Lincoln.


First a quick look at the best and worst around the country from Friday...

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March 15, 2008

Friday First Takes - A Classic in the 'Ville

Typical SEC. So far we're one day into the conference play and already we have one game for the ages. South Carolina and Vanderbilt proved they were high-quality teams - and not that we doubted that of course - with a 13-inning knock-down, drag-out. Legends were made and heroes were born on this night in Nashville.

Now, what does the SEC do to top this one? It may take all season to find another classic like this.

(Ryan Flaherty went 5-for-6, including the game-winning hit in the 13th inning)

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March 01, 2008

Friday First Takes - This Column Lives Up To It's Name Again

There's a reason that this column is called "Extra Innings." Mainly because Long Beach State keeps playing those kind of games.

Two Fridays. Two extra inning games. Two Dirtbag wins over a Top 10 team. Last week the Beach pulled a 10-inning, 1-0 win over Rice. Tonight it was No. 7 Wichita State, who extended the game with a pair of runs in the 8th, but was eventually subdued in the 12th by a 3-2 score.

(I suppose Shane Peterson looked pretty relaxed before his game-winning hit in the 12th inning tonight, didn't he?)

So it's like nearly 11:15pm West coast time as I begin to write tonight's entry. Let's just try to get as much done as we can and then call it a night... or in East coast time, call it a morning.

As usual, for starters here is Friday's best and worst in college baseball.

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February 23, 2008

Friday First Takes - The Damn-That-Was-A-Great-First-Game-Of-The-Season Edition

Man, I hope the last game I see this season is as incredible as the first game I saw this season.

(The scoreboard says it all. As does the celebration by Long Beach after its 10-inning win against Rice.)

See what else made Today's Best, and what made Today's Worst in college baseball's opening day...

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June 09, 2007

Friday First Takes - The "Jail the Rich" Edition

Is there no respect for the rich?

(poor little rich hotel heiress)

If we learned anything today, it's that the rich people in this country just can't get a freakin' break. First Paris Hilton has to go back to jail in tears after originally being released. Then we see a continuation of roughed-up rich boys on the mound - David Price last week (by a .188 hitter no-less), and this week it was soon-to-be rich guy Daniel Moskos of Clemson and then almost-as-rich-to-be Robert Woodard of North Carolina.

(Then again, going to punk clubs for years I've always seen stickers that said "Jail the Rich" on bathroom doors and light poles. So I don't feel sorry Paris. Besides, I've seen movies like "Chained Heat," prison life ain't so bad for chicks.)

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May 26, 2007

Friday First Takes - The Bedlam Lives Up to Its Name Edition

This Bedlam stuff is awesome!

As I said in my Touching the Bases blog tonight, I wanted to experience what the Bedlam Rivalry was all about. And boy, did I get that in freakin' spades, man!

Oklahoma comes back from an 8-2 deficit in the 8th inning to pull out the most improbable win I've seen all season. Hands down!

Final score: Oklahoma 9 - Oklahoma State 8.

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May 19, 2007

Friday First Takes - "Gimme the bat Wendy... Gimme the bat!"

This just in: Oregon State head coach Pat Casey hates to lose.


But I found out first hand tonight how serious he is about this. After meeting with his team following tonight's 4-3 loss to Arizona State, the Beaver bench boss slowly walked over to the four of us media peeps waiting to ask him questions on tonight's game.

S.I.D. Kip Carlson was first. "Coach, what did you think of Mike Stutes performance tonight?"

He snapped, "Mike pitched great. We've just gotta win ball games." And he barely lost a beat on chewing his gum.

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May 12, 2007

Friday First Takes - Notes from the Land of Paul Bunyan

Made it.

I've been wanting to go to a Big 10 weekend for quite some time now. And here I am, in the shadows of the venerable (if not comfortable) Siebert Field in Minneapolis.

The series between the homestanding Gophers and the visiting Buckeyes was supposed to be a riveting, meaningful Big 10 weekend. Just like it always is at this time of year.

I visited my Scandanavian roots in Norseland tonight.

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April 28, 2007

Friday First Takes - USD makes quick work of Pepperdine

Matusz looked good. Pepperdine looked distracted. That's the nuts and bolts of it.

I suppose that's why today's 10-3 washout that USD sunk the Waves with came as little surprise. I was warned by both coaches earlier this week that the Toreros were playing their best baseball of the season and that Pepperdine was busy all week with finals, lack of practice time and upcoming graduation.

Check and check. It all came to pass today at Cunningham Stadium.

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April 21, 2007

Friday First Takes - Grading on a Curve Edition

In my Thursday Thoughts I alluded to all the offense we've seen make a comeback in the 2007 college baseball season. So to counter that, I was wanting to take one Friday where we look at some of the top aces from across the country and put them under the microscope for their performances.

Here's what I came up with.

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April 07, 2007

Friday First Takes - The Eating Crow Version

A new team Bruin

Before I get to the crow-eating stuff in this edition, lemme tell you about what I saw.

I decided to ride out to Jackie Robinson Stadium tonight to check out a few innings of the second UCLA-Washington game of the weekend. And, well... it got ugly in a quick way.

What I saw at Jackie Robinson Stadium tonight---
Washington - 2
UCLA - 11

Continue reading "Friday First Takes - The Eating Crow Version" »

March 31, 2007

Friday First Takes - My Q&A with Maryland coach Terry Rupp

I'm in basketball mode here in Atlanta, I've got to admit. This is the first Final Four I've ever been to and I'm into it. UCLA, Florida, Ohio State, Georgetown... that's a strong field of teams.

But I broke away for a visit to Russ Chandler stadium tonight to see upstart Maryland take on Georgia Tech in the first of a three-game ACC weekend.

And since the Terrapins have been pistol hot with series wins over N.C. State and Clemson in the last three weeks, I thought it would be a good chance to catch up with UMd coach Terry Rupp.

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March 24, 2007

Friday First Takes - The Berzerkely Edition


Evans Diamond at Cal.

Greetings from Berkeley, the campus where they filmed The Graduate, birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, Dr. Harry Edwards, Dr. Timothy Leary and, if you will, where Kendall Rogers said he would never want to visit.

On an off-day from the West Regional in San Jose, I made it out to Evans Diamond on the California campus to see the "Turn on, tune in, drop out" Bears take on the "If I don't raise 10 million dollars, God will call me home" Eagles. (That's Cal vs. Oral Roberts, in case you lacked any historical perspective.)

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March 17, 2007

Friday First Takes - The Friday Heartbreak Edition

I guess you could say that I'm heartbroken over not spending a Friday with college baseball. But to be honest, the first day of the NCAA tournament here in New Orleans was pretty cool. Granted the only game that was worth a damn in the end was the Nevada OT win over Creighton. But I got great inspiration from watching Jackson State's first half performance against the National Champion Florida Gators (as well as the crowd's intensity during the 41-35 game).

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March 10, 2007

Friday First Takes - The ECU-is-West-coast-killer edition


Clark-LeClair Stadium is a sparkling gem in college baseball facilities. In a word, wow.

The Super Bowl Shuffle Bears over New England. The '95 Cornhuskers over Florida. The Dream Team Olympic basketball team over everybody.

Now you get the idea of how East Carolina dominated Cal State Fullerton tonight. Alright, maybe not to that dire extent, but this was a beat-down. The Chris Fowler "behind the woodshed" type of thing. Last Friday, they edged Pepperdine. Today, it was a pasting.

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March 03, 2007

Friday First Takes

The tragic accident of the Bluffton University baseball team, whose bus crashed in Atlanta early this morning and caused the death of four players, was terrible news to wake up to this morning. I can't imagine what that team must be going through at this time.

And you know what's weird? Do you ever stop and think about the endless amount of college and high school athletic teams that travel on buses and airplanes each and every weekend? I don't mean to sound morbid about it, but thank the travel gods that incidents like this don't happen more often. Especially considering so many overnight bus rides in the horrible weather that this winter has wrought across the country.

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February 24, 2007

Friday First Takes

Spent the evening out at Goodwin Field in Fullerton watching the Titans take on UCLA in a great college baseball game, but also got the chance to take in a game with one of the better ambassadors of college baseball, one Kendall Rogers, who was in town from Nashville to check out some of the games in SoCal this weekend.

Or maybe I should say, to check out just about the only area of the country that has something remotely interesting in non-conference games in February.

For more on the day nationally, read on...

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February 17, 2007

Friday First Takes - The just-got-internet-back-up version

A pair of great games and a convo with Missouri coach Tim Jamieson. Could life get any better?

Well the Surprise Coca-Cola Classic lived up to its name. No, not the sticky, syrupy crap that gets kids fat when they drink it night after night with their dinner. But the "surprise" part of the name, as we saw Gonzaga lace the first loss of the season on defending national champion Oregon State in today's first game and then saw Missouri tame Arizona State's offense just enough to pull out a W in the second game.

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February 10, 2007

Friday First Takes - The Houston Edition

You see that monstrously-huge picture of me above, beaming into the camera with a sprite look and hopeful demeanor? Add a few more bags under the eyes, a tad more of a shadow to my beard and a strikingly obvious need of a shower. That's how I look/feel right now.

After taking the red-eye flight from Los Angeles with no sleep, taking a rickety shuttle from the airport to downtown, not being able to check in early to my hotel and falling asleep for a scant few minutes at a breakfast restaurant like a railyard hobo, you could label this for me as a long, long day... or two.

Let's discuss today's action across the country...

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February 03, 2007

Friday First Takes

A quick look around what happened in college baseball on the first full Friday of the regular season. Read on...

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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