Just a few loose ends from a terrific Tuesday, and looking ahead . . .
- For the second straight year, the final four teams standing in college baseball are Oregon State, North Carolina, Rice and a Big West team (UC Irvine replaces Cal State Fullerton this year). If the Tar Heels and Beavers both reach the championship series, it will be the first time the same two teams will play for the national championship two years in a row since Southern California beat Arizona State in 1972-73.
- How bad was Brett Wallace’s CWS for Arizona State? Pat Murphy actually considered pinch-hitting for his first-team All-America first baseman with the bases loaded in the 10th inning last night. You’ve got to feel for Wallace, who had such an amazing season but finished just 0-for-12 with four strikeouts in Omaha. He’s a great guy and a hard worker, and I’m sure he’ll bounce back.
- Arizona State’s lack of pitching depth was its Achilles’ heel, and Murphy was right when he said that lack of depth was exposed yesterday. But I’m still surprised Matt Spencer and Ike Davis didn’t get on the mound for the Sun Devils. I guess that might be partly because Murphy used up all of his reserves, leaving no one to play the outfield if he wanted to move Spencer or Davis to the mound. I thought the way he used Jarred Bogany was particularly vexing. In the 10th inning, Murphy allowed Bogany to reach the batter’s box and start digging in before he called him back and pinch-hit with Raoul Torrez. Against Oregon State, Murphy started Bogany in center field but pinch-hit for him in the second inning. This stuff can’t be good for the kid’s psyche.
- I went across the street from Rosenblatt Stadium to King Kong for lunch today, and I must say, they make a hell of a burger. Huge, too.
- I think it’s hard to bet against UC Irvine because of its toughness and willingness to do whatever it takes to win, but Oregon State is the one team where you can’t really give the Anteaters a mental edge. I believe the ‘Eaters and Beavers were both mentally tougher than Arizona State, which hadn’t been punched in the mouth all season and didn’t know how to respond when Oregon State slugged them between the eyes. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Anteaters find a way to get past the Beavers, because UCI always just finds a way. But one of the Anteaters’ biggest advantages over most of their opponents is their superior toughness and resilience, and they won’t have that advantage against OSU. Whoever wins, both of these teams are an awful lot of fun to watch, and to write about.