Maryland has hired Vanderbilt assistant coach Erik Bakich as its new head baseball coach, a source close to the situation confirmed Saturday. The hire will be announced officially on Monday. Bakich replaces Terry Rupp, who resigned in late May.
Bakich is a rising star in college coaching circles, known for his exceptional talent as a recruiter, his sharp baseball mind, his gregarious personality and his tireless work ethic. As Vandy’s recruiting coordinator, he brought in the nation’s top-ranked class in 2005 (highlighed by third baseman Pedro Alvarez) and the No. 2 class in 2008 (highlighed by righthander Sonny Gray). Each of Bakich’s last four recruiting classes have ranked among the top 25 in the nation, and his efforts are a significant reason the Commodores have become regular contenders in the Southeastern Conference.
Bakich is the latest member of the Jack Leggett/Keith LeClair coaching tree to get a head job (other former Leggett assistants currently serving as head coaches include Vandy’s Tim Corbin, Florida’s Kevin O’Sullivan, Tennessee’s Todd Raleigh and Auburn’s John Pawlowski). He played for LeClair at East Carolina, graduating in 2000, and he started his coaching career as a volunteer under Leggett at Clemson in 2002. Bakich has his work cut out for him at Maryland, which needs significant facility upgrades and lacks winning tradition. But Vanderbilt was in a similar position when Bakich and Corbin arrived there after the 2002 season, and Bakich’s experience as a part of that turnaround should help him at Maryland.
Other finalists for the Maryland job included assistant coach (and former William & Mary head coach) Jim Farr, Indiana coach Tracy Smith and Radford coach Joe Raccuia, according to one source. But Bakich was an inspired choice if Maryland is serious about building a winning baseball program. This is not the first time he has received a head coaching offer at a Division I school, but he was waiting for the right job to come along before leaving a very good situation at Vanderbilt. For him to take the Maryland job, it must mean he is confident he can win there, and it likely signals that the administration is ready to ramp up its commitment to the program.
USA Baseball announced its 22-player roster for the college national team, with Cal State Fullerton shortstop Christian Colon highlighting the team as the lone returnee from last year’s club.
Coach Rick Jones (Tulane) kept a bit of an unusual roster in that there is no true third baseman or second baseman on the team. Colon is one of three regular shortstops on the roster, joined by Rice’s Rick Hague—a fellow sophomore—and Clemson freshman Brad Miller. With a 22-player roster, though, flexibility is always at a premium for Team USA, and this team has several flexible players on the roster.
Hawaii freshman Kolten Wong, for example, can catch, play all three outfield positions and give second base a try. Two of the team’s outfielders, Middle Tennessee State’s Bryce Brentz and Arizona State’s Matt Newman, are both pitchers and hitters.
The team’s strength, however, is on the mound. Want hard throwers? Try UCLA’s freshman tandem of Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole, or Vanderbilt freshman Sonny Gray, or Texas Tech’s Chad Bettis. Want college performance? Lefthander Drew Pomeranz, a top candidate to be top-10 pick in 2010, had a stellar postseason for Mississippi, nearly getting the Rebels to Omaha on his own. He had 124 strikeouts in 95 innings while going 8-4, 3.40. And the team has several emerging pitchers, such as Coastal Carolina’s Cody Wheeler and Kansas’ T.J. Walz.
USA Baseball also announced Utah’s Bill Kinneberg—a two-time Team USA assistant—as the head coach for 2010. Kinneberg’s pitching coach will be Cal State Fullerton head coach Dave Serrano, in his first stint with Team USA.
Here is the roster for this summer’s Team USA College National Team.
|Chad Bettis||So.||R-R||6-0||193||Texas Tech|
|Cody Wheeler||So.||L-L||5-11||160||Coastal Caro.|
|Asher Wojciechowski||So.||R-R||6-4||205||The Citadel|
|Christian Colon||So.||R-R||6-0||185||CS Fullerton|
|Bryce Brentz (RHP)||So.||R-R||6-0||180||Middle Tenn.|
|Michael Choice||So.||R-R||6-0||180||UT Arlington|
|Tyler Holt||So.||R-R||6-0||190||Florida State|
|Casey McGrew||Jr.||L-R||6-0||175||Wright State|
|Matt Newman (LHP)||So.||L-L||5-10||170||Arizona State|
|Alternates: Jeremy Schaffer, c, Tulane; Rob Segedin, 3b/rhp, Tulane|
OMAHA—Augie Garrido finished second at the 1992 College World Series with a Cal State Fullerton team led by future big leaguer Phil Nevin.
"I know this: That 1992 team with Nevin and those guys that finished second, more of them have gone on to different professions—real estate, banking, dentistry," Garrido said. "They have a higher level of success rate in life than teams that won. I honestly believe it’s because they never want to finish second in anything again. I have that experience—I know that to be true."
Garrido’s 2004 Texas team also finished as the national runner-up, and the Longhorns returned to Omaha in 2005 and won the CWS. Texas did not even win a regional the next three years before getting back to Omaha and pushing Louisiana State to the third game of the CWS Finals in 2009. Even though the Longhorns fell short of a national title, there is reason to believe they could follow the example of the ’05 team next year. [...] Continue Reading »
OMAHA—Louis Coleman’s strikeout of Texas’ Connor Rowe delivered LSU its sixth national championship, setting off a celebration that began with the requisite dogpile on the pitcher’s mound.
Amid the jubilation, the Tigers players literally planted their flag in center field at Roseblatt Stadium before making a beeline to the left-field bleachers to high-five fans.
LSU head coach Paul Mainieri then took the time to say a few words of thanks during the postgame trophy presentation and awards ceremony.
OMAHA—After watching Louisiana State win its sixth national championship with an 11-4 win against Texas, Kirk Kenney and I offered our parting thoughts from Rosenblatt Stadium.
The Mutual of Omaha building downtown had it right all along.
OMAHA—Louisiana State has beaten Texas 11-4 to claim its sixth national championship.
The Tigers jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Jared Mitchell’s first-inning, three-run homer, then stretched the lead to 4-0 with a run in the second. Texas stormed back against LSU righthander Anthony Ranaudo to tie the game at 4-4 in the fifth, but the Tigers roared back with five runs in the top of the sixth to put it out of reach. Mitchell started the rally with an eight-pitch walk to lead off the inning against UT reliever Brandon Workman, who had retired the previous nine LSU batters. After a passed ball, Mitchell scored the go-ahead run on Mikie Mahtook’s RBI double to right-center.
The Longhorns pulled Workman at that point, but pitchers Austin Dicharry and Austin Wood provided no relief. Dicharry’s throwing error on Micah Gibbs’ sacrifice bunt put runners on the corners with no outs, and Derek Helenihi’s sacrifice fly made it 6-4. After a groundout, Dicharry walked D.J. LeMahieu, Wood came on and hit the next two batters, then surrendered a two-run single to Sean Ochinko to break the game open.
Senior righty Louis Coleman finished the game off with two scoreless innings, striking out the side to end the game.
The Tigers have now tied Texas with their sixth championship, second-most all-time behind Southern California (12).
We’ll have much more reaction and analysis from Rosenblatt after postgame.
OMAHA—After Texas tied the score at 4-4 in the bottom of the fifth, Louisiana State responded in a big way, exploding for five runs on two hits in the top of the sixth. This rally felt a lot like Texas’ ninth-inning rally against Southern Miss on Sunday, when the Longhorns scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth without the benefit of a hit (thanks to three walks and a hit batsman), and Arizona State’s eight-run seventh inning Tuesday, when the North Carolina bullpen couldn’t find the strike zone. Texas pitchers issued two walks, hit two batters and made a costly error in the five-run sixth tonight. But the big blow was Sean Ochinko’s two-run single through the left side of the infield, which stretched LSU’s lead to 9-4.
For the second time in three days, I think Augie Garrido has mismanaged his bullpen. Brandon Workman was cruising along, having retired nine straight batters heading into the sixth. He walked Jared Mitchell to lead off the frame, then lost a battle with Mikie Mahtook, who hit a soft two-run double into the right-center gap to drive in Mitchell. But Workman has great stuff, a fresh arm and had thrown just 49 pitches (he’s a starter by trade, so that’s not much). His fastball and curveball are good enough to get swings and misses, and he had the best chance to get out of that jam. [...] Continue Reading »
OMAHA—Texas catcher Cameron Rupp led off the fifth inning with a single up the middle, and Kirk Kenney leaned over and said, "Someone’s gonna go yard and tie this one up."
Not five seconds later, Kevin Keyes made Kirk look prophetic. Keyes blasted a first-pitch 90 mph fastball from Anthony Ranaudo into the left-center-field bleachers for a game-tying home run. Brand new ballgame—but still no action in the LSU bullpen, though Ranaudo is about to throw his 100th pitch.
OMAHA—The third inning was very costly for LSU’s Anthony Ranaudo. Not so much because he allowed Texas to score a pair of runs and cut LSU’s four-run lead in half, but because the Longhorns forced him to throw 43 pitches. He issued walks to Brandon Belt, Keven Keyes, Connor Rowe and Preston Clark (a 10-pitch walk that drove in a run), and his pitch count is up to 77 already. Ranaudo is really struggling to throw his curveball for strikes, and his fastball command has been spotty as well. It’s 4-2, and LSU went quietly in the top of the fourth. Momentum has shifted.
OMAHA—Texas righthander Cole Green lasted just two innings today, allowing four runs on five hits—and it could have been worse, as Blake Dean popped up to end the second with runners on the corners. Green just wasn’t fooling the LSU hitters today, and the Longhorns will now hope Brandon Workman fares better.
It’s already 4-0 Tigers, and the Longhorns came up empty with a critical bases-loaded opportunity in the first, as Anthony Ranaudo struck out Kevin Keyes on a high fastball to end the threat. The ability to elevate his fastball really makes Ranaudo special. I’ve heard it from coaches all year: To have a chance against Ranaudo, you have to lay off the high heat, because his fastball has so much life up in the zone that it is extremely difficult to hit.
OMAHA—LSU coach Paul Mainieri made a slight lineup tweak today, putting first baseman Sean Ochinko in the cleanup spot (after benching him for Leon Landry yesterday) and moving right fielder Jared Mitchell into the No. 5 hole. The move paid immediate dividends; after Blake Dean was hit by a pitch with two outs, Ochinko singled to left, and Mitchell blasted a three-run homer down the right-field line on what looked like a 2-and-2 changeup up and in.
As Mitchell jogged to his position between innings, the LSU fans lining the bleachers on both sides bowed to him in a "we’re not worthy" kind of way, and Mitchell acknowledged them all with a doff of his hat. He hammed it up a bit, but it was clear he’s having a good time. He’s a fun player to watch—definitely the most glaring oversight from the All-Fitt team.
OMAHA—After two weeks in town, I’m leaving Omaha tomorrow, so I had to squeeze in one more lunch at Lo Sole Mio this afternoon. Texas coach Augie Garrido had the same notion; he was enjoying the best Italian food in town when we walked in.
It’s been another memorable College World Series, and I’d like to thank the city of Omaha and the NCAA for the hospitality. It’s a privilege to spend two weeks every June covering the best sporting event in the world.
Let’s get to our picks for today’s winner-take-all showdown: [...] Continue Reading »
By Kirk Kenney
OMAHA—LSU had won 14 straight games and was one victory away from claiming the school’s sixth national championship coming into Game Two of the CWS Finals. Texas starter Taylor Jungmann had his way with the Tigers on Tuesday night, however, pitching the Longhorns to a 5-1 victory at Rosenblatt Stadium that knotted the best-of-three series at one game apiece.
Jungmann tossed a five-hitter—nicked only for an unearned run in the second inning—for the first complete game at the CWS in three years.
Aaron Fitt and Kirk Kenney discussed the game’s highlights. Aaron also broke down Wednesday’s Game Three pitching matchups and what to expect when the teams take the field for the decisive game.
OMAHA—Texas jumped out to a four-run lead through three innings Tuesday, and Taylor Jungmann took care of the rest. Jungmann, the Longhorns’ freshman righthander, was magnificent in a 5-1 win, striking out nine and allowing just five hits in his first career complete game. It was the first complete game in the College World Series since North Carolina’s Robert Woodard and Clemson’s Stephen Faris did it in the same game in 2006.
Texas survived its first elimination game of the 2009 College World Series. Now the national championship will be decided in a winner-take-all Game Three of the CWS Finals on Wednesday night.
More to come on Jungmann’s masterpiece after postgame.
OMAHA—This blog has been conspicuously quiet since the third inning tonight, but that’s because nothing of note has happened since then. Taylor Jungmann has simply rocked LSU to sleep. The Texas freshman righthander is bearing down on his record-tying third win of the CWS, having shut out the Tigers since the second inning. He has allowed just one hit since escaping a first-and-third jam unscathed in the third, and he now has seven strikeouts through eight brilliant innings of work.
Of course, LSU relievers Nolan Cain and Daniel Bradshaw have kept the Longhorns off the board since the third inning also, but by that point Jungmann had all the support it appears he’ll need. It’s 5-1 Texas heading into the ninth, and it sure doesn’t feel like LSU is about to go on some magical run. The Tigers have just plain looked flat tonight against the overpowering Jungmann.
OMAHA—Well, the Austin Ross gambit didn’t work out for LSU today, but Paul Mainieri recognized that Ross didn’t have it and got him out of the game before it was too late. Ross allowed just two runs on four hits over two innings, but he had trouble with his control and command, and just 22 of his 41 pitches were strikes. Trailing just 2-1 heading into the third inning, Mainieri called upon lefty Ryan Byrd to relieve Ross.
Unlike last night, Texas coach Augie Garrido elected not to pinch-hit for Russell Moldenhauer against a lefthanded pitcher. Moldenhauer responded with his fourth home run of the CWS (tying a single-Series record), a solo shot with one out in the third. It’s now 3-1 Longhorns.
UPDATE: Well, the Byrd move didn’t work out, either. Texas tacked on another run on Connor Rowe’s RBI double down the left-field line, scoring Cameron Rupp. That was it for Byrd. Now we’ll see if Nolan Cain can slow down this hot-hitting Texas lineup, or if LSU’s middle relief will finally be exposed.
OMAHA—Texas struck first today, manufacturing a run in the top of the first inning. Michael Torres led off with a walk, then reached second when Micah Gibbs threw errantly behind the runner after Torres took a big secondary lead. Gibbs did airmail the throw a bit, but it seemed to me that Gibbs and first baseman Ryan Schimpf weren’t on the same page—not surprising given that Schimpf has spent most of this season in left field and second base. But today, the Tigers moved him to first, benching Sean Ochinko, and inserted Leon Landry in left field. We’ll see if the move pays off. Torres, meanwhile, scored on Brandon Belt’s RBI single after a sacrifice bunt by Travis Tucker.
Texas starter Taylor Jungmann was very sharp in the first, working a quick one-two-three inning. He struck out Schimpf looking on a fastball over the inside corner for the second out, then got Blake Dean chasing a vicious 79 mph changeup down and in for the third out. It’s early, but Texas must be encouraged by that first inning.
OMAHA—The tarp is off the field, the rain has ceased, and first pitch for Game Two of the CWS Finals is now scheduled for 8:43 p.m. Eastern. That’s the good news; the bad news is that another batch of thunderstorms might be passing through between 11 and 12 Eastern. This could be a very late night.
OMAHA—Well, the tarp is on the field, and a thunderstorm is passing over Rosenblatt Stadium, so we’re going to be delayed at least 90 minutes or so from the scheduled 7:08 ET or so start time. So to pass the time, I figured this is a good time to unveil the 2009 version of everyone’s favorite exercise in self-indulgence, the All-Fitt team. This list is essentially just my favorite players of the year—the ones I had the most fun watching and interviewing in 2009. Those are the only criteria. Please don’t confuse this team with the All-America team, which is based on things like talent and production. Without further ado:
C: Cameron Rupp, Texas
Built like a fullback with a neck that evokes former New England Patriot Sam Gash, Rupp won me over not only for his tape-measure home runs but for his thoughtful quotes and sharp sense of humor. Honorable mention goes to LSU’s Micah Gibbs, another quotable sophomore backstop.
1B: Dustin Ackley, North Carolina
It’s just fun to watch this guy hit.
2B: James Ewing, Southern Mississippi
This fifth-year senior showed veteran poise in press conferences. Thoughtful, articulate, insightful, entertaining—the whole package. Honorable mention to little Virginia sparkplug freshman Keith Werman. [...] Continue Reading »
Thousands of fans lined up Tuesday in heat pushing 100 degrees several hours before Game Two of the CWS Finals.
By Kirk Kenney
OMAHA—It was blazing like a Stephen Strasburg fastball here three hours before Louisiana State and Texas were set to take the field Tuesday for Game Two of the CWS Finals.
Leaving our hotel about eight miles northwest of the ballpark, we turned left at Dodge and 90th streets and drove past four businesses with signs flashing the temperature—95, 96 and 99 were the readings for three of them. The Bank of the West topped them all at 102 degrees.
As we made our way to the ballpark, my thoughts immediately turned to the fans who sit in general admission. I could see them lined up as we made our way down 10th Street before turning into the Rosenblatt Stadium parking lot. Since no seats are guaranteed, GA fans line up several hours before the game to ensure themselves a seat in the bleachers.
The fans are corralled like cattle, although they need no prodding to move forward through this chute. As the clocked ticked toward 4 p.m. (when the gates open), they began to get impatient.
Only one security guard was stationed in front of the line to hold them back. The fans surged forward at one point. I was waiting for the security guard to be overrun, kind of like Kevin Bacon was in the parade scene of "Animal House."
Somehow the guard maintained order.
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