OMAHA–North Carolina coach Mike Fox and Louisiana State coach Paul Mainieri had an impromptu press conference to address tonight’s game, which was suspended after a three-hour, five-minute weather delay. Play will resume Friday at 6:08 p.m. Central time, with UNC leading 2-0 in the top of the first inning. The Tar Heels have the bases loaded, one out and an 0-1 count to Garrett Gore.
"I’d like to announce that Mike Fox has agreed to give us a mulligan, and we can start the game over tomorrow," Mainieri said at the start of the press conference. Then he turned to Fox and said, "Didn’t you agree to that?"
Fox quickly and firmly responded, "No."
Mainieri said he was prepared to take starter Blake Martin out of the game after the lefthander hit two batters and issued a four-pitch walk with the bases loaded. He said that it’s possible he could send Martin back out there Friday, but that it’s more likely that a reliever will take over.
"It was a rough start for us, and it’s going to be a long night for us knowing we’ve got the bases loaded and we’re in a 2-0 hole," Mainieri said. "It was a long night, and Mike and I had a nice visit in the dugout together. We solved some of life’s problems."
The coaches said they had no input on whether to postpone the game or not, but they were asked whether they’d like to resume play at 1 p.m. or 6. They said they had no preference, so 6 p.m. it is. The entire schedule has been pushed back 24 hours, so there will be two games Saturday. If needed, the final bracket championship games will be played Sunday. The TV schedule for Saturday and for the rest of the CWS is TBA. This is the first time a game has been postponed at the CWS since 2000, so there’s not a great recent model to follow.
"While our desire was to play Game 10 tonight, we decided we could not ask our student-athletes to start a game after 10 p.m. and return to play on Friday night," Division I Baseball Committee chairman Larry Templeton said in a statement. "We put a bracket together with the understanding that we could use Sunday as an extra day for rain outs on schedule with the championship finals on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday."
Fox said he and pitching coach Scott Forbes were uncertain whether they will stick with scheduled starter Matt Harvey or go with ace Alex White, who has gotten plenty of rest since last pitching Sunday.
"Matt warmed up and did his thing, so he’s in the game," Fox said. "Coach Forbes and I will talk tomorrow night. We didn’t really get to talk during this delay, so I’m not sure what we’ll do either."
It would make sense to start with Harvey, so they could bring in White as a stopgap solution if something goes wrong. Since Harvey is already in the game as the starter, he wouldn’t be able to come back in a relief role behind White, even though Harvey has yet to throw a pitch. Whatever the Tar Heels decide, you’ve got to like their options better than LSU’s. I’m betting on junior lefthander Ryan Verdugo to pitch the bulk of Friday’s game for the Tigers, but LSU might not want to throw him right into the fire. Bases loaded and one out might qualify as a moment of truth, so don’t be shocked if Louis Coleman or Jared Bradford takes the mound when play resumes, because they give LSU the best chance to get out of the jam with minimal damage. On the other hand, it’s awfully nice to have Coleman as a security blanket late in the game. At times like these, coaches really earn their paychecks.
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