OMAHA–If the College World Series were a game of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire," Stanford would just have used its first life Cord, err, life line. The Cardinal phoned a friend for help, and Cord Phelps answered. (Am I taking this forced, dated reference too far?)
Phelps tripled home Jake Schlander and scored on a wild pitch to cut Georgia’s lead to 6-3 in the fourth inning. It was the second triple in two games for Phelps, who has now reached base safely in all three plate appearances today. He walked in the first and singled in the third, though he was stranded on third base. If not for Phelps, Georgia would be on its way to a blowout win right now.
Of course, right as I was about to submit this post, Ryan Peisel did his best to ensure the blowout is back on. Georgia’s leadoff man trumped Stanford’s leadoff man with a wind-aided three-run homer to right field, giving Georgia a 9-3 lead. It was the third hit of the game for Peisel, who has scored all three times. Like Phelps, Peisel has put on quite a show all week; entering the game he led the Bulldogs with a .444 average in the CWS. He also has both of Georgia’s home runs in Omaha. What a great value pick in the 12th round for the Rockies. (And I feel obliged to mention that Colorado’s area scout in Georgia is former BA writer Alan Matthews. He’s got to be feeling good right now.)
OMAHA–Going to Drew Storen was the right move, but Mark Marquess could have gone to Mariano Rivera and it might not have mattered against Rich Poythress. The Georgia cleanup hitter is red-hot, and he came through again with the bases loaded, lining a two-run single to center field to give the Bulldogs a 6-1 lead.
Storen got out of the inning without any further damage, getting Bryce Massanari to pop out to third and striking out Matt Cerione, who has looked just terrible in this game. Cerione is Georgia’s leading hitter in the postseason, and maybe he’s trying too hard to be the hero today, because he’s come up three times with runners on base and taken enormous hacks, stepping in the bucket after each swing. Incidentally, he has struck out three straight times, failing each time to catch up with a fastball.
OMAHA–Stanford has called upon closer Drew Storen with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth inning. I think this is the right move–the Cardinal cannot afford to let this game get out of hand, especially after it managed just one run out of its own bases-loaded threat last inning.
OMAHA–Through two and a half innings, it’s been all Georgia here at Rosenblatt Stadium. More specifically, it’s been all Rich Poythress and Joey Lewis.
Poythress, who was 1-for-6 in Georgia’s first two CWS games, has double twice and scored twice in the first three innings. He led off the second with a double down the left-field line, and he drove in Ryan Peisel with a double off the right-field wall in the third. Both times, Poythress was driven in by Lewis, who lined singles to left field in both of his at-bats. His third-inning single drove in two runs to make it 4-0 Georgia. Lewis is now 4-for-6 in Omaha.
Of course, Nathan Moreau did exactly the opposite of what he needed to do in the bottom of the third. Instead of pounding the strike zone with a four-run lead, Moreau walked No. 9 hitter Jake Schlander (he of the .231 average) to lead off the frame. Cord Phelps reached on an infield single, and Toby Gerhart walked to load the bases with no outs. Moreau struck out the dangerous Jason Castro on a fastball up and in with a full count, but coach David Perno just pulled him in favor of righthander Dean Weaver with the righthanded-hitting Brent Milleville coming up. It’s imperative for Stanford that it at least gets a couple of runs here, because failing to capitalize on a bases-loaded, no-out situation would be very demoralizing.
OMAHA–North Carolina coach Mike Fox didn’t have a lot of time to think ahead after his team’s breathless win over Louisiana State on Friday night, but he did give some indication about his thinking for Saturday’s rematch against Fresno State. Fox seemed to be leaning toward starting freshman righthander Matt Harvey again, a day after Harvey threw 29 pitches in two innings against LSU before a weather delay ended his outing. When asked if Adam Warren was an option, Fox initially responded that Warren would not be available, before softening his stance and saying he would have to talk to the junior righty. Ace righthander Alex White threw 29 pitches at the end of the game and should be available again either today or tomorrow. Let’s get to the picks: [...] Continue Reading »
OMAHA–North Carolina picked a heck of a time to hit its first home run of the College World Series. With two outs and the score tied 3-3 in the ninth, cleanup man Tim Federowicz launched a hanging, 1-and-1 breaking ball to left field for a game-winning grand slam. Alex White slammed the door with a game-ending 6-4-3 double play in the bottom of the ninth, and UNC pulled out a 7-3 win.
Federowicz now has three career CWS homers, but this was his first since the 2006 championship series. It was the first grand slam at the College World Series since 2001, when Georgia’s David Coffey hit one against Tennessee.
What an exciting game this has been. The atmosphere has been the most intense of any CWS game this year, even with a lot of empty seats. Certainly the atmosphere will take a hit with LSU going home tonight.
OMAHA–North Carolina has called upon ace righty Alex White with a runner on first and no outs in the eighth. There’s no tomorrow, so you need to do what you have to do in order to win tonight–I get that. But Wooten really was pitching very well; unless he simply had nothing left in the tank, I would have stuck with him as long as he continued to look good, and done everything I could to save White for tomorrow. Maybe this will serve as a bullpen session for White and he’ll be able to come back this weekend, but better to have him at full strength.
White looks great so far–he struck out Blake Dean with an 86 mph split-finger away after setting him up with a 96 mph fastball. These teams have combined to strike out 20 times so far–10 for each team. At least part of the reason for that is the very wide zone of home-plate umpire Bill Speck. Just five of the strikeouts have been called, but the wide zone forces hitters to chase pitches off the plate, as well.
And we’ve got a streaker! After leaping over the left-field fence and frolicking around in right-center, a buck-naked 20-something-year-old, long-haired blonde guy took a knee in shallow center field and appeared to pray for a moment. He stood up, and a security card made a perfect clothesline tackle, then put him in a headlock. As a team of security guards handcuffed the idiot and walked him back toward the third-base line, they forgot to cover up his private parts for about five more seconds. Um, that’s kind of an important detail, fellas . . .
Steve Pivovar from the Omaha World-Herald says this is the first streaker at the CWS since 1974. That’s quite a streak.
OMAHA–The crowd for the Louisiana State-North Carolina game has set an all-time College World Series attendance record and is the second-largest crowd in NCAA history.
Then why, you ask, are there so many empty seats? Call it creative counting.
The official crowd of 30,422 counts fans who attended the start of the game Thursday as well as the resumption of the game Friday. Seems like cheating to me, but if Lou Spry announces it over the press box PA system, it must be true.
The only larger crowd for a college baseball game, Lou says, was the March 2006 game between San Diego State and Houston at Petco Park.
In case you’re wondering, the cumulative total for the CWS is now 216,376, which is just more than 10,000 fans behind last year’s record pace.
OMAHA–North Carolina lefthander Brian Moran made Matt Clark look silly in a key spot on Sunday, striking him out on a breaking ball well off the plate with the bases loaded in the eighth inning. He faced Clark again with a runner on first in the sixth inning tonight, and Clark got his revenge. Moran tried to get Clark to chase another breaking ball away, but Clark laid off. When Moran tried to sneak an 87 mph fastball by him on the inner half, Clark made him pay, launching a two-run homer to right field that tied the score 3-3. That’s the thing about Clark: You can beat him with a good fastball, but good luck sneaking an 87 mph heater by him on the inner half. Clark now has a nation-leading 28 homers on the year, and John Manuel texted to say UNC’s lack of power may do it in; the Tar Heels remain the only team that has yet to hit a home run in Omaha this year.
Other thoughts: [...] Continue Reading »
It’s been a busy day on the coaching carousel. Auburn’s hire of John Pawlowski was the headliner, but we’ve got some other nuggets to pass along as well.
North Dakota, which is transitioning from Division II to D-I, named Southeast Missouri State assistant Jeff Dodson as its head coach on Friday. Dodson has spent the last five seasons as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator under Redhawks head coach Mark Hogan.
"I am thrilled to be the new head coach at the University of North Dakota," Dodson said in a statement. "It is not often that you get to be on the ground floor of building a Division I program, and I look forward to the challenge."
At Miami, longtime assistant Gino DiMare has stepped down after 12 years on the Hurricanes’ staff. DiMare, who served as Miami’s hitting coach and recruiting coordinator, said he wanted to spend more time with his family. Head coach Jim Morris said he was "very saddened to hear that he wanted to step down."
And at Arizona State, Pat Murphy isn’t going anywhere, despite speculation to the contrary on the Internet and in the media. Sun Devils vice president of athletics Lisa Love gave Murphy a public display of support in a statement released Friday. [...] Continue Reading »
OMAHA–Play resumed at 8:05 after a one-hour, 27-minute weather delay, and Jared Bradford picked up where he left off, getting two quick outs on a ground ball and a liner to center field to end the UNC third.
As Steve Pivovar of the Omaha World-Herald points out, we’ve now played 27 minutes of baseball in 26 hours. To think, we could have had this game in the books hours ago if the powers-that-be had actually looked at the forecast when deciding whether to play at 1 p.m. today or 6 p.m. The weather was picture perfect all day until about 6:30 this evening.
As expected, Colin Bates has taken over for Matt Harvey. He hasn’t pitched well down the stretch, but maybe the extra rest he’s gotten in the postseason will have done him some good. Harvey should be able to come back as needed this weekend, should UNC survive tonight.
OMAHA–Just in case ESPN hasn’t already shown you a half-dozen images of Roy Williams sitting in Rosenblatt Stadium tonight, allow me to report that the North Carolina basketball coach is indeed in the house. I just ran into him in the press box men’s room, grabbing some paper towels to dry his seat off.
OMAHA–Well, 7:40 came and went without baseball being played at Rosenblatt Stadium, but we’ve got some good news. The tarp has been removed from the infield, the players are stretching and jogging in the outfield, and the game is slated to resume at 8:05 CT.
I’ve got to think this delay hurts North Carolina more than it hurts LSU. The Tigers probably weren’t planning to stick with Jared Bradford for too long anyway, but the Tar Heels certainly hoped for a long outing from Matt Harvey. Now it appears Colin Bates is likely to enter for North Carolina in the bottom of the third. Bradford was warming up and might actually stay in the game for LSU, but his rhythm has been disrupted. We’ll see how much that affects him, if in fact he comes back out in the top of the third.
John Pawlowski’s first words after being introduced as Auburn’s new head coach in a press conference/teleconference this evening should help endear him to the Auburn faithful right off the bat.
"War Eagle, War Eagle, that is the chant," Pawlowski said.
Not surprisingly, he sounded genuinely excited and honored to have the opportunity to lead the Tigers. [...] Continue Reading »
OMAHA–We’re told the current projected resumption time is 7:40 p.m. CT. The skies to the north and west are clear, and hopefully we’ll be able to get the rest of this game in tonight.
OMAHA–While we wait for the latest lightning delay to end, let’s look ahead to tomorrow’s Georgia-Stanford matchup. It’s been a while since we’ve written about the Bulldogs, who last played Monday against the Cardinal. Ace righty Trevor Holder is fully rested for Georgia, but coach David Perno announced today that he plans to start lefthander Nathan Moreau. That could work out very well if the Bulldogs can clinch their bracket Saturday, because then they’ll have Holder set to go in the finals opener. Otherwise, they can bring Holder back Sunday in a decisive game against Stanford. But this decision also means Holder is very unlikely to pitch twice more out here.
"We’ve decided to go with Nathan Moreau on Saturday," Perno said in a release. "He needs to get out there and pitch because it’s been almost two weeks for him. He has won some big games for us in his career including clinching the SEC title this year at Vanderbilt." [...] Continue Reading »
OMAHA–And things were going so smoothly. A lightning strike at 6:39 p.m. CT has forced a mandatory 30-minute delay. The sky looks much less threatening than it did last night, so I don’t expect this to be another marathon delay, but then, I’m no Al Roker. Official scorekeeper Lou Spry informs us that we’ve played 11 minutes longer tonight than we played last night before play was stopped. Great.
It’s 2-1 North Carolina with one out and none on in the top of the third.
OMAHA–Matt Harvey’s familiar bugaboo reared its head at the start of the second, as he issued back-to-back walks with no outs. But after D.J. LeMahieu put LSU on the board with an RBI single up the middle, Harvey relied upon his changeup to get himself out of trouble. He threw three in a row to lefthanded-hitting Leon Landry, and the third one resulted in a foul pop-up for the first out. Then he threw another to the righthanded-hitting Derek Helenihi to get an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
OMAHA–Just like Paul Mainieri drew it up. Jared Bradford entered that bases-loaded jam and threw two pitches: a strike to Garrett Gore, followed by a tailor-made 5-4-3 double play. Inning over.
Of course, maybe I’m the genius, and Mainieri just took my advice. I suggested he go with Bradford or Louis Coleman in last night’s blog.
Hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day.
UNC starter Matt Harvey followed with a strong 1-2-3 inning, and he used a terrific 82 mph changeup to strike out Jared Mitchell. That’s the key pitch for him tonight against all those LSU lefties.
OMAHA–Louisiana State is in a pickle as we prepare to resume yesterday’s suspended game, so it only makes sense that the Tigers will try to get out of it with their moment-of-truth stopper, Jared Bradford. After working 6 2/3 innings Tuesday against Rice, Bradford doesn’t figure to work more than a couple of innings today, but he keeps the ball down and gets a lot of ground balls, which is exactly what LSU needs to get out of its bases-loaded, one-out jam. Lefthander Ryan Verdugo was loosening up in the bullpen before the game, so expect him to take over for Bradford in the second, third or fourth inning.
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