June 25, 2007

CWS: Tar Heels Fall Again

Omaha- When North Carolina left Omaha in 2006, they went home to Chapel Hill as the second to last team standing in the nation.

In 2007, they will return home to N.C. with the same title, national runner-up.

It's also the second straight year that they fell to Oregon State in the CWS Finals, and with the loss on Sunday, they fell to 1-3 against the Beavers in the last two years.

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June 24, 2007

CWS: Back-To-Back Beavs

They did it. When everyone counted them out, they have done it. Oregon State is your 2007 national champion, and becomes the fifth program ever to repeat as national champs, joining LSU, Stanford, USC, and Texas to do so. The final score from Rosenblatt was Oregon State 9, North Carolina 3.

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CWS: It's a Beaver Nation afterall.

quick hits:

- For the 6th straight year, a team from west of the Mississippi River wins the title.

- For the 4th straight year a team outside of the top 8 national seeds wins the title.

- Hell, for the 4th straight year a team wearing orange as a dominant color wins the title.

- For the 3rd straight year a team that did NOT dogpile in the Regionals or Super Regionals wins the title.

- For the first time ever a No. 3 seeded team wins the national title.

- For the 52nd straight year, the ACC fails to win a national championship.

CWS: The 6th place team in the Pac 10 wins the title

Domination. Ugly domination.

I've always claimed that the NCAA baseball tournament should do as Dick Vitale advocates for the NCAA basketball tournament, no teams should be given bids if they don't finish in the top five of their conference.

Yet, here we are with Oregon Freakin' State winning its second straight national title... putting a huge hole in my theory. Nonetheless, this is the best team in the country. Obviously, nobody played better baseball in the month of June than did the Beavers.

So the 6th best team in the Pac 10 whips the 2nd place team from the ACC... in a no-brainer.

CWS: Okay TV peeps, enough gushing over Oregon State

ESPN is making OSU the most hated college athletic team since the "is this the greatest team in college football history?" 2005 USC team.

Every side story, every dugout report, every additional bonus feature has been about Oregon State tonight. If I see the camera following Darwin Barney to the bathroom, then I'll KNOW it's not just me wondering about this.

Didn't they have anything to show for North Carolina?

CWS: In the words of Mike Patrick, "Ho-lee Cow!"

Ball game.

That's right, I said it. Ball game. It's over.

Barney's relay throw to get Fedroff out at home just took every bit of wind out of UNC's sails. Too bad too. UNC is worthy of a championship, but has just been out-fundamental'd by Oregon State. Incredible play.

Tell you what, if UNC comes back to win this one, I'll walk naked from Omaha to L.A.

CWS: Fundamentals. Fundamentals. Fundamentals.

Another bunt, another air-mail throw to first from a Carolina pitcher.

Then a Frosh 1B runs to nowhere on a routine groundout that would've ended the inning.

Both those plays cost the Heels a pair of runs. Now they've got into a four-run hole with nine outs to go.

Ouch.

(By the way ESPN, enough with the sappy side stories... but that's what you get when you have a network that doesn't pay attention to the game the full season long.)

CWS: Karma alert.

If there is such a thing as karma, Oregon State will win.

Since Andrew Carignan was shown barking at the OSU 3rd base coach as he walked off the field. That also immediately qualifies him for the "Jerk List" too.

Then again, maybe the 3rd base coach started it by waving all those runners toward home plate.

CWS: Typical Carolina luck... or lack thereof

You saw the stat on the screen, when teams get the bases loaded and no outs, there's a 76% chance of scoring two runs or more. Sure enough, UNC gets only one run in that situation.

But let it be noted that Mike Stutes threw a LOT of pitches, including two walks to load the bases. So he may be joining Putkonen on the sidelines here soon.

Just getting only one run was really, really bad for Carolina. Their psyche needed more than that.

By the way, I love Orel Hershiser as a commentator on these games, but he talks way over my simpleton arse at times. All that "hip breaks over the knee and he's pitching uphill" stuff is tough to understand. (Please don't call me stupid.)

CWS: Not what Carolina wanted, but they're making the right moves now.

I was encouraged by UNC's 1st inning... getting OSU to go a quick 3-and-out and then jumping out on top with a run in the bottom half of the inning.

But that throw-out at home by Jordan Lennerton of Josh Horton was a big blow.

Then, the three runs, including one helped by another defensive faux pas, here in the top half of the 2nd is terrible. Putkonen throwing 34 pitches already cost him his spot on the mound.

And yes, Carignan entering the game here in the 2nd is proof that Mike Fox isn't leaving anything to chance. I loved Mike Patrick's referrence to Yogi Berra's "It gets late out here early" too. Nice strikeout for Carignan leaves Carolina in a better frame of mind, down "only" 3-1.

CWS: Beavs One Win Away

Oregon State has never been in this position before. The one that has them only having to win one of two games to win the national title. Of course last season saw them lose the first game, making the final two games must wins.

We'll see how OSU comes out tonight. My guess would be real loose, just like we've seen them in their four wins here in Omaha in 2007.

They'll have their workhorse on the mound tonight as they try and seal the deal, as righty Mike Stutes takes the bump. Stutes is 11-4 with a 4.03 ERA in 21 starts. He's tossed 127 1/3 innings, giving up 104 hits, 57 walks, and striking out 124. He's definitely a power guy. Opponents are hitting .224 against him.

For the Tar Heels, they'll also throw a righty as Luke Putkonen gets handed the ball. Putkonen is 8-1 with a 4.44 ERA in 16 starts. He's tossed 81 innings, given up 87 hits, while walking only 22, and striking out 59. Opponents are hitting .272 against him.

The redshirt sophomore was excellent in his first CWS appearance of '07, giving up only three hits and one run while striking out seven in seven innings against a very strong and hot Louisville batting order.

Meanwhile Stutes pitched very well in the win against Arizona State, as he went six innings, allowing four runs, but seemed to tire in the seventh. As always, a win's a win.

Another gorgeous day here in Omaha, as North Carolina will be tonight's home team, and with that, they are wearing their home whites with cut off sleeves that expose their Carolina blue t-shirts underneath with white caps and blue bills.

The Beavers will hope to dogpile for the first time since last year, in their road grey's with dark pinstripes and orange numbers and white OSU lettering ont he front. They were black hats with them. Personally, not a fan.

The crowd is settling in, as another large crowd is expected. Lots of orange looking for the first back-to-back champion in baseball since 1996/1997 when LSU won the title.

The wind is nearly calm for the first time in the last two weeks, and the temperature is in the upper '80's. We're set for baseball from Rosenblatt, as the team's lineup for their pregame introductions, as always, enjoy the game, and follow right along with Gametracker.

We'll either be back with a championship press conference, or a happy UNC bunch after this one.

June 23, 2007

CWS: Fox Aint Happy

I feel like we've seen this before. The team out of the loser's bracket between these two clubs has lost the first game of the CWS Finals. Last year it was UNC beating Oregon State, this year it was the opposite. But if there's one thing that Tar Heels head coach Mike Fox can look at it, they came back to win the next two against his squad a year ago. The bottom line on Saturday night, Oregon State was a better team than North Carolina. Plain and simple.

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CWS: Champs Roll

Man, errors have really cost North Carolina against Oregon State . They did last year, and they did again today. The Beavers, with the help of two UNC errors, defeated the Tar Heels, 11-4 in front of the largest CWS Finals crowd in history.

The crowd of 26,887 saw OSU get on the board first in the second inning on behalf of a Jordan Lennerton two-run homer. Then in the bottom of the third, Mitch Canham added a SAC Fly to build the lead to 3-0.

The top of the fith saw UNC make a game of it, as Reid Fronk drove in his 57th and 58th runs of the season with a 2-run double that cut the lead to 3-2. But OSU, as resiliant as they have been, made sure the Tar Heels wouldn't even think they stood a shot.

The Beavers tacked on a run with Chris Hopkins RBI single in the bottom of the 5th, and then two more in the sixth with a John Wallace SAC Fly, and a Scott Santschi RBI single to make it 6-2. After the Tar Heels got a run back in the top of the 7th to make it 6-3, OSU put the game away in the bottom of the inning, with a four spot.

With two runners on and Joey Wong at the plate (one getting on a Tyler Trice throwing error), UNC's pitcher Trice fielded the SAC bunt attempt, and again, threw it away, but this time up the rightfield line, which allowed BOTH runs to score, and it turned it into a three base error, with Wong ending up on third base.

We'll be back with more from Rosenblatt following the press conferences.

CWS: Ready To Go

The sun is shining, it's only about 80 degrees, and Oregon State and North Carolina are ready to start the 2007 CWS Finals. Oregon State is your home team, while the Tar Heels will be the road.

The Beavers are in their home off-white uniforms with black hats, while UNC is wearing its black tops with Carolina blue piping and numbers, with white pants and dark hats as well.The crowd is filing in, and we're expected to have just about another sellout in this year that will likely see the CWS attendance record that was set in 2006, fall.

The teams are being introduced, the Tar Heel fans behind first are up and waving their pom-poms, while the orange mass behind third is ready to do the same.

Baseball from Omaha, up next, we'll be back after the game with analysis and a whole bunch more, but for now, stay tuned to Gametracker for live scoring updates.

CWS: Saturday's Pitching Preview

Here's a quick look at Saturday night's pitching matchup in game one of the CWS Finals.

North Carolina:
RHP Alex White 6-6, 4.74 ERA, 18 G, 17 GS, 93 IP, 92 H, 46 BB, 81 K, .269 BAA

Freshman Alex White has struggled mightily in the postseason, but just like Robert Woodard and Luke Putkonen have done, White is due for a big time start here in Omaha.

White last pitched in the 14-4 loss to Rice that sent the Tar Heels into the loser's bracket. White went just 1 1/3 innings, giving up five hits and six runs by walking one and striking out one. It was White's sixth loss of the year.

Then going back to his start against South Carolina in the super regionals, in that game, White gave up five hits, six runs (five earned), in 3 1/3 innings, while walking three and striking out two.

His start against East Carolina in the regionals really wasn't that much better, although he went five innings, he gave up nine hits, and seven runs, while walking one and striking out only one.

Like I stated earlier, he's due for a big time game in the postseason, and I'm sure head coach Mike Fox is thinking, "Tonight is as good a time as any."

Oregon State:
RHP Jorge Reyes 6-3, 3.00 ERA, 23 G, 10 GS, 75 IP, 65 H, 17 BB, 61 K, .232 BAA

Jorge Reyes is also a freshman, but he's had much better results in the postseason, as he's become the Beavers No. 1 starter. In his first CWS start of his career against Fullerton, Reyes recorded the win by giving up just three hits and one run, while walking two and striking three.

In his super regionals against Michigan, Reyes picked up the no decision after throwing seven shutout innings, allowing only three hits, and walking none. He also struck out one in the Beavers' 1-0 victory.

The regionals saw Reyes start in the second game against Rutgers, an elimination game, and in six innings, he allowed only two runs while striking out four to pick up his fifth win of the season.

So we have two freshmen that are going to go at it, but they've each pitched here at the CWS this season, so the jitters should be gone. And like OSU head coach Pat Casey said in the press conference yesterday, these guys aren't really freshmen anymore.

I'll tend to agree. See you tonight from Johnny Rosenblatt. First pitch schedule for 7:10 Eastern.

CWS: What To Do On An Off Day...

Ever wonder what that big dome structure is over the rightfield wall at Rosenblatt Stadium? If you're like me, I sure did for years watching the CWS, and even when they would tell me it's part of the zoo, I still didn't know what was actually inside the crystal looking mammoth dome.

Friday was an off day here in Omaha, and after the press conferences were over, it was off to Zesto's to have "The Best Cheeseburger In Town" and a world-famous milkshake. The Going Yard guys profiled the place yesterday, and you can see just how they do it, by clicking here.

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June 22, 2007

CWS: Different Roles For The Same Folks

OMAHA- Deja Vu all over again Yogi Berra always has told us. This weekend in Omaha, it will be just that, as North Carolina and Oregon State will meet once again to decide the national championship.

This is certainly not the national championship that anyone predicted at the beginning of the season, let alone the beginning of the postseason, and even for that matter, when we all got here at the end of last week.

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June 21, 2007

CWS: Same Place, Different Time

If the CWS finals sounds familiar, it's because it should. For the second straight season, North Carolina and Oregon State will meet in a best two-of-three to decide who the national champion is after the Tar Heels knocked off Rice, 7-4 today. It's really remarkable if you think about it. Nobody would have had these guys in here again. I mean let's be serious, only one time before has the final series featured the same two teams in back-to-back years, as the last time was in 1972 and 1973 when USC beat Arizona State each year. Well, maybe North Carolina, but Oregon State? Unbelievable. We certainly have to give them credit where credit is due, and there's a lot to be due. But let's talk about North Carolina.

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CWS: On To The Finals

The scoring opened in the bottom of the second, with a what would you know it? A UNC homerun!! Freshman phenom Dustin Ackley hit his ninth homerun of the season that hit off the top of the batter's eye in centerfield, awfully close to the Rice flagpole. He definitely planned it that way.

Rice, though, came right back with a two run single by Diego Seastrunk in the top of the third that put the Owls up by one. But never fear, those UNC bats have found the power stroke, as Tim Fedroff launched a two run homerun that put the Tar Heels up for good, 3-2.

Seth Williams added a solo shot in the fourth to make it 4-2, Josh Horton added a solo homer in the fifth, and Kyle Seager rocketed a two-run single that made it 7-2.

So that was four straight innings in which UNC hit a homerun. Not bad considering they had two all postseason coming into the game.

Rice would put up a two spot in the seventh with a Jordan Dodson RBI single and a Tyler Henley double, but with second and third and two outs and All-American Joe Savery at the plate, home plate umpire David Buck called out Savery on strikes on a pitch that was about two feet off the plate.

It caused Rice fans and players and coaches alike to start yelling words that rhymed with Buck's last name.

Rice didn't do much of anything the rest of the way against Andrew Carignan who closed it out for the final 2 1-3 innings for his 18th save of the year.

We'll be back with more from Rosenblatt.

CWS: Since we're officially able to blog again

In celebration of that, here's a shot of Dustin Ackley rounding the bases during his 3rd inning home run.

AckleyHR.jpg

The second part of the celebration will come when the NCAA - now in it's happy mood to be more lenient - starts allowing beer in the press box.

CWS: One More To Go

We're one team away from our Championship Series, as Rice and North Carolina are preparing for what basically turns into a one game playoff to determine who will face Oregon State this weekend for the title. We have a great starting matchup on tap, as Rice will send out righty Matt Langwell comes in with an 8-1 record with a 2.11 ERA. While for UNC, it will be righty Adam Warren, who is 11-0 with a 1.95 ERA.

We saw each of these pitchers at some point in the CWS, out of relief. Langwell got rocked a bit in 1 2/3 innings against Louisville, but Warren pitched very well against Mississippi State, picking up the victory for the Heels.

Warren has only allowed more than two runs once this year in his starts. Looking forward to a great matchup in front of another great crowd, including my dad who has flown out from New York to see some of the greatest baseball fans in America.

It's a nice night but very hot, temperature is still 87, but it feels more like 97 walking around out there. Enjoy the game everybody.

CWS: It's time for the NCAA to return the love

Yesterday I took my family and camera to the awesome Henry Doorly Zoo, right next to Rosenblatt Stadium, then to two College World Series games.

The zoo was incredible, the weather was perfect and the baseball was top notch.

It looked like another perfect day in Omaha.

Looks, however, can be deceiving.

Mostly because there is a group of suits that just don't seem to get it.

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CWS: It's time for the NCAA to return the love

Yesterday I took my family and camera to the awesome Henry Doorly Zoo, right next to Rosenblatt Stadium, then to two College World Series games.

The zoo was incredible, the weather was perfect and the baseball was top notch.

It looked like another perfect day in Omaha.

Looks, however, can be deceiving.

Mostly because there is a group of suits that just don't seem to get it.

Continue reading "CWS: It's time for the NCAA to return the love" »

June 20, 2007

CWS: The End Of A Run

UC Irvine's run through the 2007 NCAA Tournament is definitely one of the highlights. Unfortunately the Anteaters' run has come to an end after a 7-1 loss to defending national champion Oregon State. The Beavers now move on to the Championship Series for the second consecutive season, and need just two wins to become back-to-back national champions.

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CWS: Another One Bites The Dust

Unfortunately, another team has left us here in Omaha, and it's those loveable Anteaters. Oregon State ended UC Irvine's run in the 2007 College World Series, with a 7-1 victory on Wednesday night. With the win, the Beavers advance to the Championship Series for the second straight season, where of course, they won it last year

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CWS: Eat This

Welcome to the nigtcap, as UC Irvine gets set to try and stay alive against Oregon State. With a win, the Beavers would return to the championship series after winning it all last year. A beautiful night is on tap, with temperatures still in the 80s.

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CWS: They'll Meet Again

North Carolina homerun? Could it be? It is! UNC finally hit a homerun, only its second of the postseason today against Rice, as of all people, Dustin Ackley hit a three run homerun that put today's game out of reach, and kept the Tar Heels' hopes alive.

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CWS: Welcome To The Postseason, Dustin Ackley

North Carolina's Dustin Ackley has officially arrived in the 2007 postseason, as he hit his first postseason homerun and broke out of a brutally tough stretch to keep the Tar Heels alive, as they won 6-1 over Rice. The two teams will now meet on Thursday to decide who will move on to the championship series.

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CWS: Owls And Heels Again

Welcome back to Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium as North Carolina gets set to take on Rice. It's a gorgeous day, a little bit warmer than it has been the last couple of days, with temperatures expected to get up near 90, but there's not a cloud in the sky.

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June 19, 2007

CWS: Wild Night In Omaha

So you want to be a national seed? There's now only two remaining after Arizona State was knocked off by Cinderella UC Irvine on Tuesday night, 8-7 in 10 innings in front of the second largest crowd in CWS history, 29,034. Where to start with this game? Might as well begin back when it all began.

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CWS: Anteaters Live

UC Irvine has eliminated Arizona State by the final score of 8-7 in 11 innings. Much more to come but UC Irvine trailed 7-3 heading into the bottom of the 8th inning and came back to win it on an Ollie Linton RBI single with the bases loaded. Crazy scene as the Anteaters move on to play Oregon State tomorrow night.

CWS: Feels Like '81 In Here

When you turn on your television sets tonight and see Arizona State's high gold socks and bright gold hats, we're not back in 1981. The Sun Devils have brought back their uniforms from yester-year as they get set to play UC Irvine tonight in our second elimination game of the day.

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CWS: Louisville's Run Comes To An End

No one expected them to be here. No one expected them to make the NCAA Tournament for that matter. What the Louisville Cardinals accomplished in not only making it to Omaha as one of the final eight teams left in 2007, but also winning a game here, is something that first year head coach Dan McDonnell can now use with his program for years to come. Remember the name, becuase they'll be back.

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CWS: Tar Heels Alive

North Carolina lives on to see another day, as they defeated Louisville by the final score of 3-1. This was the quickest game by far of the week, as it featured only six hits. There was actually one less HBP than hit, as there were five on the day.

The scoring happened early, and nothing came across after the second inning. Logan Johnson hit his fourth homerun of the College World Series in the first inning, which tied the CWS record for most by an individual in the CWS. That gave the Cardinals a quick 1-0 lead.

North Carolina then came right back in the top of the second, with a Seth Williams RBI single to tie the game at 1-1. With runners on first and third and two outs, the next batter Garrett Gore grounded a ball to third, and Chris Dominguez threw it away, allowing not only the runner on third to score, but also Seth Williams all the way from first. That made it 3-1, and that's where it stayed the whole rest of the way.

UNC finally got a good pitching performance out of a starter, as Luke Putkonen picked up his eighth win of the season, while Colby Wark is your loser, falling to 3-4.

Much more to come from Rosenblatt, as we're down to five teams remaining in the 2007 season.

CWS: Kroll is MIA, guess I'll write a quick "preview"

I think Doug Kroll is still trying to shake off the hair of the dog that bit him last night or face down in the gutter somewhere. (Although I was the one that pulled an all-nighter in order to take a friend to the airport for his 5am flight). So I'll just let you know that North Carolina and Louisville are just about ready to throw out the first pitch in game 9 today from Rosenblatt.

First big thing I notice is that the wind is blowing straight in from center field, so that will play a huge factor in Louisville's "bash and pop" offense they've been relying on since they've been here in Omaha. Carolina hs hit just one home run the entire post-season, so they'll be less effected by this.

(Then again Chris Dominguez has been hitting some of these balls to that non-planet called "Pluto" anyway, so we may have some yard calls yet.)

On the mound:
North Carolina: Luke Putkonen (7-1, 4.74 and not so hot lately)
Louisville: Colby Wark (3-3, 3.63 and pitched decent against heavy-hitting Okie State last week)

Even with the North wind blowing in, it's still a pretty warm day. Hopefully the cloud cover we're experiencing now will stick around, since I'll be spending a good portion of the day in the stands.

Oh wait, there's Doug. He just walked in looking like the wreck of the Hesperus.

CWS: Is this heaven? No, it's Omaha

For one week of the year, though, this really does feel like heaven.

Especially since I'm not spending all my time in the press box with Kroll and Sorenson.

Witness...

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CWS: Beavers Dig Omaha

The Beavers just seem to love Omaha. Obviously after winning it last year, they know how to play here and showed it, winning big 12-6 after leading 12-1 after six innings. The Beavers scored in every one of the first six innings, as they blasted Brian Flores and Josh Satow.

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CWS: OSU Rolls

Oregon State defeated Arizona State by the final sscore of 12-6 on Monday night, capping a really eally long day of baseball. We finished up just about ten hours after we started.

The Beavers scored in every inning from the first through the sixth, putting up a two spot in the first, four spot in the second, one in the the third, fourth and fifth, and finally a three spot in the sixth.

Mike Lissman had four RBI in the first two innings, after driving in a run with a single in the first, and launching a three run shot to left in the second to get things rolling, as the Beavers never looked back.

Mike Stutes picks up the win after going six plus innings, allowing three hits, four runs, while walking five and striking out four. He didnt have his best stuff, but he battled and ran out of gas in that 7th inning.

Brian Flores gets hit with the loss, but we may see him again tomorrow night. The Sun Devils have another date with UC Irvine, who they beat 5-4 on Saturday, while Oregon State has tomorrow off, and will play tomorrow's winner in that game, on Wednesday.

Be back with more from Rosenblatt.

June 18, 2007

CWS: Change In Plans

Instead of starting lefty Josh Satow, Arizona State head coach Pat Murphy elected to start lefty Brian Flores. I'm not sure why.

Gotta love Murphy, he's a thinking man that will try anything to win. Flores is 11-1 this year with a 3.74 ERA and pitched well against Ole Miss last week. Let's see if his decision was a good one.

CWS: It Had To End Some Time

There were times during UC Irvine's 13 inning 5:40 win that some people never thought this thing was going to end. I was ctually surpised there's never been a longer game in CWS history, as we beat the record by 40 minutes. I have to give credit to Mark Etheridge for being right about seeing a really lon ggame. That's the reputation for West Coast baseball, especially in the Big West. The guys step out, the coaches change signs, they make their fair share of pitching changes and mound visits. Next thing you know we're in the 13th 5 hours and 40 minutes later.

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CWS: As Long As It Gets

We just completed the longest game in College World Series history, as UC Irvine lives to see another day, as they defeated Big West rival Cal State Fullerton, by the final score of 5-4 in 13 innings. This one would have been long even without the extra innings, as we were at about the four hour mark when we headed to extra innings, and we finished at 5:40, surpassing the previous record from 1981 when Oklahoma State beat Arizona State, 11-10 in 13 innings, that took exactly 5 hours.

The winning run scored on a Bryan Petersen basehit in the bottom of the 13th, after Fullerton had lived another out when Matt Morris singled to left and leftfielder Josh Fellhauer gunned down Taylor Holiday at homeplate, but on the plate, runners moved to 2nd and 3rd, and Dustin Birosak gave up the gamewinner after coming into the game to face Petersen.

More to come from Rosenblatt, as Fullerton heads back to the West Coast, while UC Irvine now waits to play the loser of Oregon State/Arizona State.

CWS: Friends And Foes

They're the best of friends, UC Irvine head coach Dave Serrano and Fullerton head coach George Horton. Serrano used to be the pitching coach with the Titans, but on this day, they are foes. I'm sure they even went out and had a steak last night, but unfortunately for the Big West, somebody is heading back home to California after this one today. In our second elimination game of the week, The Anteaters and Titans will meet for the right to stay alive another day.

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June 17, 2007

CWS: Three Hour Tour

I'm convinced every game here these two weeks will be three hours! Another three hour game tonight, as Rice defeated North Carolina, 14-4. Part of the reason why the game lasted as long as it did, was the fact the Tar Heels used eight pitchers. And that ladies and gentleman, is an CWS record for pitchers used in a game.

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CWS: Rice For Real

The Rice Owls are here to win it all. Plain and simple. They beat up on the North Carolina pitching staff and won it running away, 14-4. The Tar Heels used a College World Series record eight pitchers in the defeat, with Alex White proving ineffective once again, only lasting 1.1 innings giving up six earned runs and five hits.

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CWS: Planting A Seed

This is the one a lot of us have been waiting for. Two national seeds are getting set to get underway here in Omaha as North Carolina and Rice will do battle with the right to remain in the winner's bracket. It's got the makings of being a CWS classic.

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CWS: Louisville Wins First CWS Game

In a year of firsts for Louisville, first year head coach Dan McDonnell has won the program's first CWS game, by defeating the Bulldogs of Mississippi State, 12-4. A power display is all that can be said about this Louisville team. They threw up 18 more hits on the board, and launched four homeruns, including two by third baseman Chris Dominguez.

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CWS: Louisville's Marks OK

Louisville starter Justin Marks got nailed in the knee with a linedrive in the bottom of the sixth inning in a very scary moment. The ball actually hit him in the inside of the knee, and he went down and rolled around writhing in pain for a couple of minutes, but got back up and took a couple of practice tosses before continuing on.

Marks walked a batter, then gave up a three-run homer to Brandon Turner before he was pulled by head coach Dan McDonnell. Marks was examined by doctors in the lockerroom where it was determined he would NOT need x-rays and it was labeled as only a bruise.

Definitely good news for the Cardinals.

CWS: Red Hot Cards Win

Chicks dig the longball. Not sure if I do anymore, but we saw five more homeruns today, four by Louisville, en route to a blowout 12-4 win over Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are the first team to leave us here in Omaha, as they will head home after going 0-2. Without further ado, here's how the scoring went down this afternoon, again with the wind blowing straight out to leftfield.

Louisville's bats continue to stay hot, as they put up 18 hits on the afternoon, and put up crooked numbers in each of the first four innings. Logan Johnson hit his third homerun in two games in the first inning, a long bomb to centerfield, for his 16th of the season to make it 2-0. In the next inning, Chris Dominguez continued his unbelievable postseason success, launching his 14th homerun of the year, a no doubt about it shot to leftcenter to make it 3-0.

In the top of the third, Isaiah Howes hit a two run double to really break the game open, making the score 5-0 in favor of the Cards. In the top of the fourth, Daniel Burton launched a three run shot for his 8th homer of the year that made it 8-0. If you're wondering, that was the shortest homer of the day.

Mississippi State got on the board in the sixth with a three run shot by Brandon Turner, his third of the season, to cut the lead to five. But then Chris Dominguez came up again in the next half inning, and this time hit a homerun to leftfield that I still don't think has landed yet. It came about two feet from hitting that big scoreboard up there. An absolute mammoth blast, for his 15th of the year to give the Cards a seven run lead. Chris Cates followed with an RBI groundout in the inning, while Mitch Moreland added an RBI double off the top of the fence, one of those yellow partitions.

Logan Johnson capped the scoring for Louisville with a run scoring single, but no RBI in the ninth.

I can't believe how hot this team is. Louisville has been unbelievably hot, and they live to see another day.

Justin Marks is your winner, as he moves to 9-2, while Chad Crosswhite is your loser at 8-5. Time of the game was 3:18 in front of a crowd of 18,187 here at Johnny Rosenblatt.

More details to follow after the press conferences.

CWS: Everyone Knows It's Windy

Story of today...The Wind! A stiff southerly breeze has swept over Omaha, and you know what that means? A wind that is blowing straight out to leftcenter. And I mean, the wind is blowing so hard that the flagpole is moving, and bent towards left. The forecast calls for temperatures right around 90 again, and wind gusts up to 35 MPH. Bottom line? Expect some high scoring affairs.

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June 16, 2007

CWS: Champs For A Reason

Oregon State is showing people why they are still defending national champs. It's one thing to win the title last year, and finish this season sixth in their conference. The Beavers proved the naysayers wrong once again, defeating Fullerton, 3-2 in a game that featured some homers and some pretty good pitching.

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CWS: How 'Bout Them Champs?

Don't count them out yet. Oregon State used a great pitching performance from starter Jorge Reyes, who went six innings giving up just one run and three hits, en route to a 3-2 win over Cal State Fullerton.

Oregon State got on the board first, and led this thing the whole way, with DH Mike Lissman rocketing a homerun to leftfield off Wes Roemer to make it 1-0, it was his tenth homer of the year.

The Beavers added a run in the secondas rightfielder Scott Santschi (making just his 22nd start of the year, roped an RBI single to make it 2-0. Then in the third, Fullerton's Scott Mahin got the Titans on the board with his tenth homerun of the year to cut the lead in half.

We went through the middle innings unscathed, until the top of the seventh when Santschi struck again. This time with a solo homerun, his first of the season to pad the lead and make it 3-1. The bottom of the 8th is an inning that coach Horton is going to want back. His Titans had 1st and 3rd with nobody out when Josh Fellhauer laid down a squeeze bunt to try and plate Joe Scott, but Scott stopped and was caught in between third and home. The rundown allowed Fellhauer to go to 2nd, and Hardman to third. A supplement fly ball to left by Mahin cut the lead to 3-2, but that's all they would get.

That's an inning where OSU handed them some runs, after an infield single that was a borderline error at third, but they just couldn't come through.

Things did get hairy in the ninth, as Wallach popped up to left with two outs, and LF John Wallace and SS Darwin Barney each looked at eah other at the ball fell in as an error was charged to Wallace. Patterson was pulled from the game for Eddie Kunz. OSU's closer came in and gave up a single to Jon Wilhite to put runners on first and third with two outs before getting a groundout to end things, and send home the huge Beaver contingent to their hotels, very happy.

More to come from Rosenblatt, where once againt he final score, Oregon State 3, Cal State Fullerton 2.

CWS: Bleacher creatures

Well, I can't talk about the game of course (6th inning, 7:49 PM CDT), but that turns out to be a good thing during Game 4 of the College World Series. I'm comfortably ensconced (if a little cramped) in the left-center-field bleachers, three rows from the top of a packed Rosenblatt Stadium. And let me tell you, the focus here is not necessarily on the game.

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CWS: Day Two, Game Two

As the day for any West Coast college baseball fan continues, we have another great one set to begin here from Rosenblatt Stadium, as defending national champion Oregon State makes its Omaha return against a Fullerton team that was here in '06 as well.

Continue reading "CWS: Day Two, Game Two" »

CWS: Bright Lights And Long Balls

First of all, give Pat Murphy the award for best press conference. It's always a good time, and he didn't disappoint today. Luckily, his team won for our sake, 5-4 in a great baseball game that featured real good pitching, and the longball.

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CWS: Sun Devils Use Long Ball

Finally not a slugfest. In today's opening game, Arizona State defeated UC Irvine by the final score of 5-4. Shockingly, a team didn't hit double digits in the hit department!! Pitching, what a concept!

Like yesterday, though, this one was all about "momentum," or like a basketball game, it was a game of runs (figuratively speaking). Arizona State got on the board first in the second inning with Matt Spencer's three-run homerun, his ninth homerun of the year. It was an absolute no doubt abouter. But then the Anteaters showed some fight.

In the top of the fourth, Bryan Petersen hit a two run triple to leftfield to cut the lead to 3-2. Sean Madigan followed with an RBI double to tie the game. Ollie Linton connected on an RBI single to take the lead 4-3, but the at-bat Irvine may want to remember is Tyler Vaughn who left runners on 2nd and 3rd as he grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.

The longball continued then for ASU, as CJ Retherford hit a solo homer, his fourth of the year to tie the game, and then the big blow by Ike Davis in the bottom of the 8th sealed the deal for the Sun Devils, sending them into the winner's bracket on Monday.

Your winning pitcher is Jason Jarvis, who improves to 2-2 on the year.

Your losing pitcher is Scott Gorgen, who falls to 12-3 on the season.

The attendance in the first session here at Rosenblatt, 19,368. Off to the press room, be back with much more.

CWS: Another Day, Two More Games

As one might expect, it's hot in middle America in the middle of June, and today's no exception. Current gametime temperature is 88 degrees, with the high expected to end up right at about 90. If you needed one word to describe what it's like outside, i'd use, blistering. Arizona State and UC Irvine are set to go, and here's a quick look.

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CWS: Game three about to throw it out.

UC Irvine (45-15-1)
Arizona State (48-13)

It will be Matt Gorgen (12-2, 2.68), who has to be the hottest pitcher in the country the last few weeks matching up with Mike Leake (13-1, 3.59), who has only one loss of the year (but you knew that from reading the stats after his name, sorry, my fault.).

UCI is coached by Dave Serrano, who according to the press guide, graduated from some place called Trinity College. ASU is coached by Pat Murphy, who you either love or hate, and is a grad of Florida Atlantic.

Should be a wicked game, considering UCI's many underlying storylines (great pitching, rock-solid/spectacular defense, first time in Omaha) going up against Arizona State's Heavy Metal offense (think more Metallica-like than Winger).


The Sign of the Weekend---
DorkSign.jpg

(The sign reads "Management reserves the right to bend your hat if you look like a dork!" It's hangin' on the door of the Stadium View Card/Memorabilia shop right across the street from Rosenblatt. It's a beauty.)

June 15, 2007

CWS: Another Comeback

Game two, much like the first except without as many runs and hits, but still, a lot of scoring and a comeback was involved. North Carolina defeats Mississippi State by the final score of 8-5.

The Tar Heels fell behind 4-0 in the second after Robert Woodard had absolutely nothing, giving up seven hits in the process, including six in the second inning. He lasted just 1.2 innings.

But a two spot in the fourth, and a six spot in the sixth turned things around, and the Tar Heels were able to jump in front where the bullpen was able to hold things.

In that second inning for the Bulldogs, Russ Sneed knocked in two with a double, Connor Powers hit a SAC Fly, and Brandon Turner had an RBI single to give MSU the lead. But in the fourth, UNC started to chip away as Chad Flack hit an RBI single to score Dustin Ackley, while Benji Johnson followed with an RBI single of his own to cut the lead in half and made it 4-2. Then all heck broke loose in the bottom of the sixth. Seth Williams reached on an error by third baseman Russ Sneed and on the play a run scored to make it 4-3. Then Benji Johnson followed with a double literally off the top of the fence to tie the game at 4-4. After the Bulldogs loaded the bases, Reid Fronk was hit by a pitch to take the lead 5-4, Tim Fedroff hit a SAC Fly to make it 6-4, and finally Dustin Ackley followed with a two-run single to make it 8-4.

Mitch Moreland of the Bulldogs hit an absolute monster shot to straight away center that definitely pushed 450 feet to add another run in the seventh. But the Bulldogs were shut down in the ninth by UNC closer Andrew Carignan.

More to come from Rosenblatt.

CWS: Game Two

Back again. That's what North Carolina's mission has been since the final out was made last year against Oregon State in the championship series. They are back and ready to go. The Heels will take on the Bulldogs of Mississippi State.

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CWS: Quite The Way To Open

Who would have told thought that two teams, top ten in ERA, would combine for 25 tickets and 34 hits between them. That's what Lousiville and Rice combined to do, as Rice defeated Louisville 15-10 in the first game of the 2007 College World Series.

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CWS: Slugfest, Wow

I had everything all typed out praising Louisville for staying hot and continuing their roll from the Regionals into the Super Regionals and straight here to Omaha. But that serves me right for counting out a team in a college baseball game. Rice used three mult-run innings to overcome a 10-4 deficit, and defeated Louisville 15-10 in the first game of the 2007 College World Series.

Who would have thought this one would be a slugfest, when two of the best pitching staffs matched up against one another. But 25 runs and 34 hits later, that's what we're left with.

Louisville scored in each of the first five innings, and led 5-0, and led 10-4 after four and a half. But then the Rice bats REALLY woke up against Lousiville starter Zack Pitts. The Owls put up a three spot in the fifth, a run in each the sixth and seventh, followed by a huge six spot in the 8th to win the thing after trailing going into the 8th.

Will have details coming right after the press conference.

CWS: Rice wins game one 15-10

Louisville - 10 15 4
RIce - 15 19 0

Time of game 3:28

WP: Bobby Bramhall, 7-2
LP: Trystan Magnuson, 3-3

RiceWins.jpg
Danny Lehman and Joe Savery get fives after being knocked in by Jordan Dodson

CWS- The College World Series is about to start

This blog entry is NOT posted during game time.


CWSpre-game.jpg

This is the view from the press box at Rosenblatt as Rice and Louisville line up for the national anthem before the first game of the College World Series.

CWS: Game One Notes

Welcome to Omaha everybody as game one of the 2007 College World Series is set to begin. Louisville and Rice have each finished their BP and infield practice and the groudscrew is set to put the lines here on the field at Rosenblatt. Let's take a look at the Cardinals and Owls lineups.

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Rice: Analysis you can't get anywhere else

Everybody's been breaking down the opening-day CWS matchups all week. We all know Rice is playing Louisville, we now know that it will be Rice freshman righthander Ryan Berry against Louisville junior righthander Zach Pitts. Louisville has been en fuego at the plate and runs like crazy on the bases, especially the ridiculous Boomer Whiting, who has 73 stolen bases on the year. That's more than the entire Rice roster has attempted (70). Rice has been so-so at the plate but filthy dominant on the mound, allowing less than two earned runs per game in the postseason.

So what new information can I give you in the scant hours before the 1 p.m. CT opener Friday? How about a karma report on the assembled teams, a Rice baseball history lesson and some tales from the real Road to Omaha.

Continue reading "Rice: Analysis you can't get anywhere else" »

Who takes the title in Omaha?

It's been a tournament of remarkable surprises so far, but I think that Omaha is where things will start to level out. We were asked to submit our picks, and I only saw three teams in person this year--Arizona State, Mississippi State and Rice--this year, yet I feel pretty confident in picking Wayne Graham's Owls to take home another title.

Why? Three reasons: Rice's ability to consistently get on base, to pitch as well as anyone in America and a hot streak that's unmatched by any team in America.

Let's start with the hitting. The Owls won't necessarily frighten anyone with their big bats (only two players slugging over .500) but what they do is wear pitchers down with the ability to work opposing arms deep in the count. Every hitter in the lineup by Diego Seastrunk have an on-base percentage over .400, and that enables the Owls to scatter men all over the diamond until the big hit comes.

And putting that kind of pressure on pitching makes other teams go to the 'pen, and even in Omaha, many teams don't have more than four or five good arms on the team, period. So, that patience will help Rice get some looks against six and seven-ERA pitchers as the games and tourney move along, where the odds really favor Rice.

Second, no one has got the mix of arms the Owls have. They've got a staff ERA of 2.83, and about eight quality arms who saw significant action this year (and a few more waiting behind them, just in case). They'll also have Cole St. Clair, one of their better arms, ready for Omaha. St. Clair threw just 21 innings all year after suffering a shoulder injury lifting weights, and the dominant lefty closer, who appeared on Team USA last summer, should be rounding into form as things get started in Omaha.

If that's not enough, consider this: The Owls have lost TWICE since a March 27 defeat at Texas, and one of those was an April 14 loss at Houston. Yes, that's winning 36 of 38 games in that stretch, including 27 of the last 28. Granted, Conference USA is not the ACC or the SEC, but there are some reasonably-good teams there, and no one challenged themselves out of the league like Rice.

Finally, baseball's a funny game where teams can lose or win a number of close games and allow their record to obscure how good a team they generally are. Assuming a team doesn't load up on patsies (and the Owls didn't), a team's overall runs scored and given up are a great indicator of how good a team they really are. Rice passes the test there, too, having scored over twice as many runs as their opponents (477 to 233).

If I had to go with a team besides the Owls, it would be Arizona State. Brett Wallace and the Sun Devils have what may be America's best offense (they slug .537 as a team), and a good rotation of Josh Satow, Mike Leake and Brian Flores. But teams need pitching depth to win a tourney like Omaha, and although those three can all go nine innings, I just don't see the depth behind them.

And, I'd be remiss if I left out North Carolina. The Tar Heels are built similarly to Rice, as they get on base and beat you with a lot of hitters who have some power, and a deep pitching staff as well. But I'll give the edge to the Owls here, too, because I don't think that the 'Heels have the arms at the very top of the rotation like Rice.

So there you have it: I like the Owls to be the last ones standing in Omaha this week in a tourney where five of the eight national seeds didn't make it to Omaha.

June 14, 2007

CWS: Fullerton Playing Like Titans of Old

Don't look at Fullerton's regular season statistics when gauging its chances at the College World Series.

You can't judge the Titans by their .280 team batting average. You can't judge them by their 38-23 record. You can't judge them by their lack of a double-digit home run hitter. This is not the same team now that struggled to a fifth-place finish in the Big West.

Like Head Coach George Horton said after beating UCLA in the Super Regionals; there's just something about those uniforms.

Continue reading "CWS: Fullerton Playing Like Titans of Old" »

June 13, 2007

Mississippi State Preview

With a knick knack paddy whack give the Dogs a bone, this old man came rolling home. The same could be said for Ron Polk and his Mississippi State Bulldogs as they roll into Omaha for the first time in 10 years. What will the results be? Soon, we shall see.

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CWS: Guess who's back?

The champs are back for the third straight season and are riding a wave of success into Omaha. Oregon State knocked off regional host Virginia twice, Big East Champions Rutgers two times and then took two from Big Ten Champs Michigan during Super's.

The Beavers are as hot as any team entering the CWS, having gone 10-14 in Pac-10 play and just sliding into the tournament, the Beavers have put together a string of outstanding pitching performances to get into the final eight.

Here is a preview of the defending national champs, enjoy.

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CWS: The Right Cards

The Louisville Cardinals arrive on Wednesday at the College World Series as one of the biggest stories. No one expected them to be here. Heck, no one ever has. The Cardinals, under first-year head coach Dan McDonnell, make their first appearance in the College World Series, in only their second postseason appearance in school history. Here's a look at one of the hottest teams in the nation.

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June 12, 2007

CWS: Devils eye second chance at dogpile

After beating Ole Miss Sunday to punch their ticket to Omaha, the Arizona State Sun Devils executed the lamest dogpile I have ever seen.

They first just gathered together and hugged each other.

Then, as if someone realized, "Hey, we're supposed to dogpile!" they began to very orderly climb on top of each other until they created a pile.

As far as dogpiles go, this one was barely chihuahua-worthy.

"As soon as [the final out] happened, I looked at [SS Andrew] Romine because he's already been there, and I didn't know what to do," confessed first baseman Brett Wallace. "He started jumping up and down and he came over and gave me a hug. I honestly didn't know what to do."

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Tar Heels Try To Take The Next Step

There's a new sheriff in town in the Carolinas, and his name is Mike Fox. The North Carolina Tar Heels, who were eliminated from post-season play by South Carolina in 2002-2004, faced down their old nemesis and advanced to the College World Series for the second straight year. Having come oh so close last year before a heartbreaking loss to Oregon State in the national championship game, the Tar Heels weathered the loss of standout pitchers Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard in the first round of last year's draft, and head to Omaha for an encore performance.

Here's a look at the Tar Heels around the diamond:

POSITION PLAYERS:
C Tim Federowicz, So (.357-4-64)
1B Dustin Ackley, Fr (.416-7-66, 11 SB)
2B Garrett Gore, So (.333-2-26)
SS Josh Horton, Jr (.331-8-50)
3B Chad Flack, Jr (.251-7-44)
LF Reid Fronk, Jr (.327-11-54)
CF Seth Williams, Jr (.301-8-40)
RF Tim Fedroff, Fr (.344-4-36)
DH Kyle Seager, Fr (.311-2-28)

The Tar Heels lost only Jay Cox from the every day lineup from last year's team, and after plugging in a couple of impressive freshmen haven't missed a beat. And they haven't even missed Matt Spencer, who started 46 games last year and has had a big year at Arizona State after transferring. Although they have hit fewer home runs (64 vs 83) and stolen fewer bases (46 vs 91) compared to last year's team, they have still managed enough offense to get things done.

Ackley, Collegiate Baseball's Freshman Player of the Year leads the team in batting average, RBI, stolen bases, and hits. He's struggled in NCAA tournament play (.182 BA), but had the game winning hit in the bottom of the ninth against East Carolina to win the Chapel Hill Regional. Gore and Seager shared second base until Gore settled in there, and he is a difficult out in the nine hole. Seager has been productive since taking over at DH. Horton was drafted in the second round by the Oakland A's, and although he's committed 17 errors, has made some outstanding defensive plays and has a great arm, not to mention that he's probably the best clutch hitter on the team. Flack has had a down year offensively, but it was his two-run home run on Sunday night which broke a 4-4 tie (and a 9 game homerless streak for UNC) to give them the lead for good on the way to a Super Regional Championship. That homer came exactly one year after his two home runs beat Alabama to send UNC to last year's CWS. Fronk played third base his first two seasons, but after struggling there at times has made the move to left field and excelled both defensively and as the leadoff hitter. Williams has been impressive defensively in centerfield and leads the Tar Heels in hitting in NCAA play (.444). A big year at the plate allowed Tim Fedroff (yes, it's easy to get him confused with Tim Federowicz) to take over right field. Federowicz is the clean up hitter and second on the team in RBI; he'll occasionally come out from behind the plate to pitch in relief as well.

STARTING PITCHERS:
Robert Woodard, Sr (10-2, 3.01)
Alex White, Fr (6-5, 4.22)
Luke Putkonen, So (7-1, 4.74)
Adam Warren, So (10-0, 2.09)

Woodard is the stabilizing force and rudder of the team; he is 33-5 for his career and went 22-0 at home. He had a complete game shutout against Clemson in last year's CWS. White is legit- he has great tools but only two wins in his last eight starts; he's gone 0-1 with a 12.96 ERA in his two NCAA starts so far. Putkonen is a talented draft-eligible sophomore, taken in the third round by Detroit. He has also been inconsistent late in the year, with only one win in his last six starts (0-0, 9.00 ERA in NCAA play). Still, he's 13-1 for his career. How good was UNC's bullpen in the Regionals and Super Regionals? Warren went 10-0 as the midweek starter and didn't see the mound in either round. If UNC gets off to a good start in Omaha, having him as a fourth starter could be huge.

BULLPEN:
Andrew Carignan, Jr (2-1, 1.36, 15 saves)
Rob Wooten, Jr (6-1, 2.15)
Matt Danford, Sr (5-0, 2.83, 1 save)
Tim Federowicz, SO (2-2, 4.05, 3 saves)

Carignan throws smoke and has been UNC's nearly flawless closer the past two seasons, getting 15 saves each year. He had a gutty 4 inning relief appearance Sunday night against South Carolina, holding them scoreless as UNC's offense took control of the game. Wooten has 41 relief appearances and really emerged in the post-season; he appeared in all 6 UNC games of the first two rounds, winning three. He didn't allow a run and struck out 14 batters in 9 2/3 innings. Danford has done a little bit of everything in the bullpen and is 19-5 in his UNC career. His action in the first two rounds has been limited only because Wooten has been throwing so well.

North Carolina has come from behind in the sixth inning or later in each of their past five victories, and hope that experience in winning close games will get them to the top of the hill at Rosenblatt. At a school with such high profile coaches as Roy Williams and Butch Davis, baseball coach Mike Fox has quietly built UNC into one of the top programs in the country. Annual trips to Omaha may become a common occurrence for Tar Heel fans. Hopefully with the growing of the baseball fan base and construction of a new, larger stadium it will remain a special treat and not an expectation.

CWS: Wallace Award Choices

I was given the privilege to cast a ballot in this year's 2007 Brooks Wallace Award. The award, named after the former Texas Tech shortstop and assistant coach, is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate baseball player. With the list trimmed to 10 players, it was my job to select the top three, so here's who I selected.

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CWS: Fear the Mighty 'Eater

Make no mistake, UC Irvine is not headed to Omaha to sightsee.

"We're not going to Omaha just to go," said Coach Dave Serrano. "We're going to Omaha to try and win a national championship, and we've got as good a shot as anyone else."

Serrano's right about that. The Anteaters are a loaded team, and here are five reasons why one shouldn't overlook UC Irvine.

Continue reading "CWS: Fear the Mighty 'Eater" »

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