Big 12; A&M adds two, BU adds three... plus random runner-up thoughts
A dropped pop fly by BU's Ben Booker and a Dane Carter RBI screamer to right field helped spark A&M to two more runs here in the 5th, making it 7-2.
But Baylor came back with a home run by Shaver Hansen here in the bottom half of the 5th, followed by an RBI single from Beamer Weems and an RBI double from Chase Gerdes. BU has now pulled to within 7-5 going into the 6th.
After seeing Minnesota get eliminated in the title round by Ohio State, it made me wonder about some runner-up teams' NCAA hopes.
- If things stayed as they are here, I still think Baylor is into the field of 64, no prob. They've played really well down the stretch.
- The Gophers dont' have the greatest RPI (No. 54 as of last week), but wins over Arkansas, Pepperdine, Ole Miss, show they're legit. The Big 10 anchor effect hurts.
- Wake Forest came up short in the ACC, but they're stock rose with a good week in J-Ville. They already had a good RPI anyway (No. 24)
- If Gonzaga should lose to San Diego today... wow! Whaddya' do about the Zags? I've seen them beat Oregon State and will have beaten Pepperdine (2-1) and San Diego (3-2 going into today) amongst others. The WCC is always underrated, but they got three in last year. So it could happen again.
Big 12: It's good to be an Aggie right now, up 5-0.
Texas A&M just scored three more runs in the top of the 3rd, got Baylor to already make a pitching change and then just had their Regional hosting assignment announced over the P.A. here, to the joy of the fans down the 1st base side.
Brian Ruggiano started things off with a double and came around to score on a double steal from third base. Brandon Hicks and Blake Stouffer hit an RBI double and an RBI triple respectively to account for two of the runs.
Baylor looks lethargic and - obviously - didn't get the start they were hoping for from Wade Mackey, who was pulled after 1.2 innings.
It's Texas A&M vs. Baylor for the Big 12. Can't imagine too much other than hardware is on the line. Both teams should make the NCAA tournament. I suppose A&M might have an arguement to host regionals if they win this one. That's if they don't have an arguement already.
It's completely overcast with an occasional dark patch of clouds overhead. The temp is right around 70 degrees. I'm wearing jeans today. Thank you Mother Nature.
Oh, and I got to park behind the stadium today on Flaming Lips Alley. Yes, the seminal alt-rock band from right here in Oklahoma City (http://www.flaminglips.com/main.php). I feel it's an honor to park on such a prestigious byway today.
Big 12: What, you thought the Sooners would go quietly?
Baylor - 7 9 3
Oklahoma - 6 11 1
Another wicked comeback, this time falling a smidge short.
With every fan left in the stands pounding their feet and clapping their hands, the rain falling down in a steady sprinkle and the home plate ump Bob Homolka not making friends on either side, the Sooners load the bases in the 9th, push across two more runs, but then see Mike Gosse bouce into a fielder's choice to end the game, stranding three base-runners.
Not exactly Wichita State-Creighton intense, but for the second night in a row, OU supplies enough drama to turn a coach's hair gray.
Too bad OU won't be in the title game tomorrow, this team's got a helluva lot of moxie. They're a freakin' blast to watch. Will probably get an at-large bid to the NCAAs, and rightfully so.
Baylor will now face Texas A&M for the title tomorrow.
Just like last night, the Sooners, once left for dead ar making a late run. Their fans here also just cheered when the Wichita State loss in the MoValley final was announced.
Sooners have scored two more runs here in the 8th, an RBI single from Joseph Hughes, who later came around to score on a throwing error by Bears 3Bman Raynor Campbell. But Randall Linebaugh came in to get the final two outs and calm things down for BU.
Sooners break through for a run here in the 6th. But leave the bases juiced when Aljay Davis goes down looking. Earlier in the at-bat, Davis was called for a check swing strike that really wasn't. The OU 1st base coach came charging in toward homeplate ump Bob Homolka. Instantly, he was tossed out of the game.
Then OU head coach Sunny Galloway went nose-to-nose with Homolka and unsurprisingly was tossed as well. That got the ire of the entire Sooner Nation. Homolka was at fault here too 'coz he called the half-swing, nay, one-eighth swing a swinging strike without checking with the 1st base ump.
Not good umping... if that's a word.
Oh, and on top of all that, it's starting to rain here again, messing up my hair.
Big 12: Baylor making this one ugly... coyote ugly.
Baylor - 7
Oklahoma - 0 (top 6th)
Matt Czinsky has belted another home run, this one a two-run jobbie in the 4th inning and BU starter Kendall Volz has a three-hitter going through 5.0 innings. And if I'm keeping my book correctly, he's also racked up nine strikeouts along the way.
There's still plenty of time and all, but Baylor has dominated things from the word go tonight. They look like the team that has been boiling hot the second half of the season.
And I know I've harped on it before, but Bricktown Ballpark LOVES AC/DC... and I'm not upset about this. Right now their blasting Shook Me All Night Long over the P.A. Little kids are dancing in revelry. Old ladies are singing along. And the gaggle of bikers down the right field line is slam dancing.
(halucinating here... we're on game No. 4, ya' know?)
Big 12: Baylor increases lead. I channel Stacy Hamilton from Fast Times
Baylor now up 4-zip.
Tim Jackson hit a blooper down the left field line to put increase the Bears lead to 4-0 here in Oklahoma City, midway through the 3rd inning. Thanks to five OU walks issued, BU has already been through their lineup twice in three innings.
In reference to all the responses to the food at ballparks and in press boxes, it brings to mind what Stacy Hamilton said in Fast Times at Ridgemont High while trailing her finger through some marinara sauce, "I'm gonna get so fat working here."
I've been eating absolute crap for three days. I must say, I haven't eaten a whole hell of a lot, but what I have eaten is a collection of things that you don't want to know the Carbon 14 dating results to. And a good portion of beers too. Bad crutch.
When I get home, I'm going to run for hours. Or until I feel my own Carbon 14 dating measure begin to subside.
The Tigers completed the run-rule win in a big time manner. The last inning of the game was played in a steady rain.
The tarp is being pulled back off the field as we speak. It has been said that if rain puts a damper on things, they'll pick up the Baylor-Oklahoma game tomorrow morning. 11 o'clock is the cutoff time. If they can't get it started before then, it's on to tomorrow. Right now it looks like things will get kicked off on time. More soon.
After a three-spot here in the top of the 5th, Missouri now leads 12-1.
So if this holds up, we may just be blessed with a run-rule game. So it will only go seven innings, right? Beauty. I've become a Missouri fan in this game that doesn't mean anything since both teams are 0-2 in the tournament.
OSU coming to bat in the bottom of the 5th now.
Oap!... one pitch, one out. YES! It's going faster than expected.
Okay, first off, this third game is currently an ugly one. Mizzou is up 9-1 after four complete innings in Bricktown. The big blow came from Jacob Priday's two-run bomb in the 4th. MU has also strung together a bunch of key hits to pick away at OSU, who is on its third pitcher of the night.
The reason I haven't blogged in a while is because I took one look at the moldy-looking pasta and waxy salad that they had laid out for the media to eat up here in the press box and said, "That does it... I'm going to finally try to eat SOMETHING good on this trip."
So I went to Coach's Restaurant that sits down the left field line and ordered the rack of ribs. Much to Mark Etheridge's delight, they're referred to as the "Bear Bryant Rack of Ribs." They were very, very peppery, maybe overly-so. But they weren't bad. I also had cole slaw (isn't it funny how cole slaw is either REALLY good or REALLY bad?) and baked beans.
Had to wash it down with a Red River Pale Ale. As usual, these micor-brew brews are too bitter. Poor after-taste. You know how those are. Went with a regular Miller Lite for round two.
Rumor in the press box is that there is a line of rain clouds about 30 minutes away from here to the West. So that means it's moving this way. Just what we needed.
NU fought and scratched enough to make this a white-knuckler, but the Longhorns Randy Boone was able to make enough good pitches and get enough outs to pull out the one-run win. Austin Wood pitched 3.2 innings of 1-hit, zero-run ball to improve his record to 8-1. Boone's save was his 13th of the year.
A couple of interesting comments in the post-game.
Big 12: Longhorns escape bases-loaded jam, go to the 9th
Still Texas 5 - Nebraska 4 going into the 9th.
First NU scored a run on a single where UT right fielder Kyle Russell misplayed the ball, then dropped it trying to pick it up. That error allowed Andy Gerch to score all the way from 1st base on a routine single.
NU worked the baes loaded with two out and had Jeff Lanning at the dish. Unfortunately for him, he weakly chopped a ball off the plate and the catcher caught the bounce and touched home for the last out.
Big 12: From the Jorts capital of the world, it's still UT 4-3.
We're going through a pitching change here in OKC as Nebraska has men at 1st and 2nd and two outs here in the bottom of the 7th. Austin Wood has been replaced by Randy Boone, who is warming up as I write this.
By the way I forgot to mention, Adrian Alaniz only lasted 3.0 innings before giving way to Wood. He gave up 4hits, 3runs and 1 walk. So it wasn't the AA I was hoping to see this weekend.
Two more quick observations...
1- AC/DC has to be the most played band in college baseball. I've heard Back in Black, Thunderstruck and, surprisingly, Girl's Got Rythym so far today. I'm not sure I've been to a stadium that didn't play the Australian band.
and 2- I've seen more jean shorts this weekend than ever before.
Big 12: Good game here, but I had one eye on that Big East title game
After Texas scores two in the top of the 3rd, Nebraska matches that in the bottom of the 3rd to keep this a one-run game. Going into the 4th, it's 4-3 Longhorns.
Adrian Alaniz hasn't been pinpoint sharpe, giving up two singles and a walk before Jake Opitz came on to bloop a "Texas Leaguer" into short center and bring home both Jeff Lanning and DJ Belafonte.
So this game remains close and should be a beauty. But I can't get over the unbelievable finish to the Big East Final between UConn and Rutgers. The TVs up here in the press box were showing it. What a comeback by Connecticut. Just came up a tad short. Todd Frazier is pretty freakin' impressive too.
State made things interesting at the end by loading the bases in the 9th, but could make it no more interesting than that.
Blake Stouffer had quite an odd day at the dish, going 0-for-2, but in each of those at-bats he knocked in a run. Then, he went walk, walk, walk in his last three at-bats. He also had a stolen base and scored twice. Good small-ball player there.
Kyle Colligan's second inning triple was a thing of beauty also. My overall impression of the Aggies is that they also run very, very well. Very aggressive. No. 2 hitter Ben Feltner had three stolen bases.
With the win, the Aggies are now 2-1 in this tournament. They'll advance to the championship game if Texas can beat Nebraska. (Sooooooo, lemme get this right. A&M has to cheer for Texas. Right.). Kansas State falls to 1-2 and awaits their NCAA tournament fate. Again, as mentioned before the game, Coach Brad Hill believed his Cats would need to win the Big 12 tournament to make the field of 64. So we'll see.
Big 12: THAT'S what this game needs, a 6-pitch inning
K-State's Chase Bayuk just threw a six-pitch top of the 6th to help this game move along a bit. After a 60-pitch first inning and a half, this was needed.
We're in the bottom of the 6th now and it's A&M 5-1.
Craig Stinson continues his hot hitting, knocking in an RBI single in the 5th to bring the score to where we are now.
Texas A&M's David Newmann didn't have a picture-perfect outing as he was pulled after five innings and gave up five hits, five walks and hit a batter. Still, he gave up just a single run. Kyle Thebeau has replaced him on the mound and has now walked two of the first three batters he's face.
The Aggies have jumped out on K-State for three runs in the first two innings, answered by a solo home run from KSU's Rob Vaughn.
To start the second inning, Luke Anders was hit by the first Bayuk offering. Then, Kyle Colligan ripped a triple off the right field wall, scoring Anders and getting his parents all fired up in the stands. Fist-pumpin' papa was getting patted on the back by other A&M parents like he hit the thing himself.
Colligan came roaring in to score on a beautiful safety squeeze bunt by Parker Dalton, who out-ran the second baseman that was going to cover the bag on the throw from pitcher Chase Bayuk.
But I've gotta say, A&M's David Newmann has struggled so far. State just left the bases loaded here in the 2nd and have out-hit the Aggies 4-3.
Aggies up 3-1 as we go to the top of the 3rd. And man, am I ever hungry.
So get this... OU comes back from an 8-2 deficit with two seemingly harmless runs in the 8th inning and then five absolutely stunning runs in the 9th. And furthermore, the tying and winning runs both came - are you ready for this? - on wild pitches by OSU shortstop-turned-reliever Jordy Mercer. Yes, two straight wild pitches!
OSU -300 000 230- 8 15 0
OU - 010 100 025- 9 18 0
The 9th inning saw OU go like this:
Aaron Ivey - single.
Joe Dunigan - fielder's choice (outlegged the double-play attempt)
Cory Williamson - single
Jackson Williams - single
Aaron Reza - Strikeout
Aaron Baker - RBI single.
Joseph Hughes - 2 RBI single.
Mike Gosse - walk.
Then, with the bases loaded, pinch hitter Brendan Moss (a .217 hitter) gets to an 0-2 count. Everybody in the stadium is standing. Some are yelling. Most are frozen in anticipation. And I'm sitting here thinking, "This guy's a .217 hitter. Mercer's gonna make quick work of him."
That's when Jordy Mercer uncorks one wild pitch. The place goes nuts! Then, after everything calms down, he unleashes his second straight wild pitche. In-freakin-credible!
The OU bench explodes and a dogpile like a Super Regional ensues. After the celebration, OU lines up to shake hands, but the 'Pokes poke their lip out and just walk into the locker room. A short yelling match between a couple of Sooner and Cowboy players starts up. But stadium security and the coaching staffs separate things quickly.
Tell you what... I wanted to finally experience the Bedlam Rivalry in person. Well, that magic genie I made a wish with earlier today just delivered exactly what I wanted. To quote Chris Issak, Wicked Game!
Three more runs (and another pitching change) here in the top of the 8th means that OSU is now up 8-2 with six outs remaining.
Ty Wright (who is hitting like a mad-man since the first two innings), Corey Brown and Tyler Mach slapped back-to-back RBI hits supplying the three runs and exacerbating the pitching change.
Nebraska SID Shamus McKnight just reminded me that OSU must be relishing this game, considering last year's 21-4 track meet that OU administered on them. Glenn Tanner had to sit through that one. I wish he was sitting through this one too 'coz this game has come to a painfully grinding halt.
Big 12: Oh God! The Long Game Monster just bit us in the arse!
Okie State now up 5-2.
The top of the 7th here in OKC saw the Cowpokes score two runs on three hits and two walks. OU also went through three freakin' pitching changes in that half-inning. Damn.
By the way, here's a shot of the crowd. Like I said, good attendance for tonight's Bedlam showdown. Great atmosphere.
Ty Wright got things cookin' with a one-out triple, showing mercurial speed along the way. Tyler Mach and Matt Mangini then hit back-to-back RBI singles to account for the two runs. OSU left the bases loaded.
The Bears look like a team that is fighting for its at-large life here. And they looked good doing it too. Everything seemed to go their way from that 5th inning on, holding the MU bats in check and never giving them much hope for a comeback.
Matt Czinsky was the straw that stirred the drink, going 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and a two-run single. Beamer Weems also had a pair of doubles and a single along with two RBI.
The Tigers are now 0-2 and playing like a team that has an at-large bid locked up. The only thing is, do they still stay in the running for a Regional hosting slot. Hopefully the committee won't put a lot of stock in this post-season tournament here.
I remember at last year's ACC tournament, the video board showed that damn Chick-Fila "Eat More Chicken" dance/jingle so much that it vexed the ears and eyes by the end of the week. Since Chick-Fila is a corporate sponsor of the Big 12 tournament, I kept waiting (re: cringing) for it to show its ugly face. And here before the 8th, there was the video.
Mizzou cut the Bears lead with a run in the top of the 7th, but the Bears plated two runs in the bottom of the inning to go up 10-5 now.
The Tigers are now batting in the top of the 8th. Nick Cassavechia has come on to pitch for the Bears.
Big 12: Mizzou - Baylor coming up at The Bricktown joint
Game time is scheduled to be 4:35. Sprinkles and scattered showers are in the forecast for later on tonight. But with only two games to play today, hopefully it won't turn into one of those days I had at the ACC tournament last year where the last game ended at 2:15am. (Knock on wood).
After seeing them early in the season at the Astros College Classic, I look forward to seeing how the much-ballyhood Baylor Frosh class plays today here at the end of the season. Dustin Dickerson is starting at 1st and hitting .295 coming in, Raynor Campbell (.337) is hitting second and playing 3rd base. Another infielder, Shaver Hansen, will start at 2nd base (he's hitting in the 9-hole at .283).
Big 12: Karma? Good over Evil?... don't believe it.
If there were such a thing as karma or Good triumphing over evil, K-State would be losing this game by two or three touchdowns now. (Although Nebraska pitcher Aaron Jarosh just plunked Eli Rumler a few batters ago, causing a couple more ejections, so maybe it should be just NU by a single touchdown).
But instead, the Wildcats have increased their lead to four runs at the end of eight full innings and have just three outs left to put NU away.
An RBI single by Eddie Vasquez scored the much-hated Jordan Cruz from 2nd to put KSU up by three. Then, an infield single by Adam Muenster plated anotehr run to leave us where we are now; Cats 5, Huskers 1, entering the 9th.
If things stay like this, all four teams in Pool 1 will have a 1-1 record entering Saturday's games.
Big 12: Punk play... and I don't mean that cool music genre
Well things have exploded here in the bottom of the 6th. With the bases loaded and no outs, NU got a ground out and a throw to home. But K-State's Jordan Cruz needlessly slid into the foot of NU catcher Mitch Abieta, taking him out on the play as he was trying to throw to 1st base.
Cruz calmly walked to the Wildcat dugout, looking cheaper than A-Rod wearing Chanel No. 5.
A large throng from each team spilled onto the field, some NU assistants had to be restrained and NU head coach Mike Anderson was reading the Riot Acto to home plate ump Tom Svehla.
Well, while Abieta was still writhing in pain on the plate, Anderson got the boot from Svehla. The umpires all congregated, but nothing came from it as Cruz stayed in the game Anderson stayed up the ramp toward the locker room.
Things eventually calmed down amidst numerous warnings from the umpiring crew over retaliation. Ironically, the very next play was a re-play force at home, but KSU's Eli Rumler avoided contact with new catcher Jeff Lanning.
It's still K-State 3-1 as the 7th inning stench is now playing among the continued howls of the Husker fans.
KSU's lead has been cut to 3-1 after pulling a "Nebraska" and allowing a run thanks to a defensive error in the top of the 6th inning. (as I write this NU just committed another error and K-State has men on 1st and 2nd with no outs)
I only brought one long sleeve shirt with me on this trip, thinking it would be Satan setting the thermostat here in Oklahoma City. But to my shock, and pleasant surprise, I'm actually cold here tonight. I'm sitting in the luxury suite next to the press box with a bunch of other overflow media. So I'm outside. And my Scandanavian blood couldn't be happier.
We'll see if this cool front sticks around. As long as the rain doesn't stay with it, that is. It rained like a mother on my drive up from Dallas this morning.
Big 12: NU 1983 football- Scoring Explosion. NU 2007 Baseball- Infield Implosioin.
It's now 3-0 K-State here at Bricktown.
The Huskers defense has as many errors as this game has gone in innings. Four. In the 4th inning, after NU switched pitchers and brought in Aaron Jarosh, KSU went:
E5 (on what would've been another sure double-play to escape the inning)
E6 (ditto... but this time no run scored)
Bases-loaded line-out/doubled up off 1st.
So NU was able to escape some damage with the fortuitous sharp liner. But other than that play, they're making some bone-head plays on what would be routine outs and even routine double-plays, leading to Wildcat runs.
Huskers are still in this game, but just like that '83 football team against Miami, they look like they took bribes to lose.
Big 12: Speaking of Joe Perry and the C-USA ground crew...
Joe Perry is a brilliant guitarist for Aerosmith. Easily worthy of Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame placement. Well... not that the Hall of Fame should ever be the be-all and end-all of respectability. Hell no.
Joe's best work was probably early on in the career of the Boston band. I'd venture to say songs like "Train Kept A Rollin'" and "Back in the Saddle Again" were the type of guitar blitzkrieg that has inspired generations of axe-grinders. His later work can't be taken for granted either.
But his biggest mistake was that damn collaboration with Run DMC. I mean, that spawed that whole horrible rock-rap genre and further exaserbated the over-use and total reliance of some "artists" to go over-the-top with the sampling thing. (Are you listening Tone Loc?... hell, EVERY rapper for that matter)
Texas is now up 2-1 as we go to the bottom of the 3rd inning.
I was talking on an Omaha radio show for the past 15 minutes or so. Sorry, gotta give my hometown the love people. Me and the talk-show host, Matt Perrault, were going back-and-forth about the need for a new baseball stadium to replace Rosenblatt. YOU got an opinion on it? Drop a line here.
It's still dark and overcast here in OKC. I took off my boxing gloves and am back to watching the game now.
Things are about to start here at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.
Today's first game will see the two biggest rivals go at each other, Texas A&M vs. Texas.
Okay, who here would rather see this game played at Olsen Field and all the Aggie students going nuts? Hmmm. That's a lot of raised hands.
The weather has obviously kept the crowd to a minimum.
On the bump:
Texas- James Russell (8-3, 3.66, .252 opponents average)
A&M- Kirkland Rivers (1-3, 5.87, .299 opponents average)
I find it strange that the Aggies have yet to start either of their studs, David Nicholson or David Newmann. Guess they're going to bite the bullet here and hope for the best. But since this isn't a 2-loss elimination tournament, you'd figure they'd try to get their best pitcher against the best hitting team.
Adrian Alaniz is also being saved by Augie Garrido for a Saturday or Sunday appearance.
(the baseball gods have answered me) It's overcast and cool here today. In fact, on the drive up from Dallas this morning it rained like buckets on my freakin' head the whole way. The rain eventually stopped and now it's just cool. But I'll be damned if I didn't bring but one (1) long sleeve shirt. I do have a rain pullover though.
The p.a. is now playing Pheonix, Arizona's very own Gin Blossoms "Found Out About You". Good song.
In the smartest move short of eliminating the post-season tournament altogether, the Big 12 went to four-team pool play last year. That allows teams to play three games each and then only the two top teams from each pool play each other for the Big 12 Championship.
No team plays less than three. No team plays more than four. Also throw in the luxury of knowing that each team gets one day off during the tournament, so that also helps in making sure no team wears its pitching staff to ribbons mere days before the start of the NCAA tournament - the tournament that really matters.