Sooooo, the West is Best?

By Eric Sorenson. Posted on June 19th, 2010 in College World Series
 

 

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TCU's Matt Purke put the vice on Florida State today, leaving the dude pumped.

 

About halfway through the second game of the College World Series’ first day in 2010, I got a text message from the Dr. of College Baseball, reading, “This is proof that the RPI is East coast biased.” 

I responded back in a snarky way, “Yeah, and the BCS is great too.”

But he did have a point. TCU of the Mountain West schooled Florida State with one of the seminal pitching performances in College World Series history. And UCLA, the 2nd best team in the Pac 10, was able to completely dismantle the SEC’s best team; Florida. Both games were walks in the park after some early struggles. 

We’ll see what Day Two has in store.

GAME 1

An early deficit was no problem for the Frogs, scoring eight straight runs and getting one of the best freshman performances on the mound in CWS history from Matt Purke. 

TCU catcher Bryan Holaday made a point with his leadership today vs. FSU.

 

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FSU – 100 000 000 -  1   4  0

TCU – 501 100 01x -  8  11  2

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WP: Matt Purke, 15-0

LP: Sean Gilmartin, 9-8

Save: None.

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Top Hitters. 

SEMINOLES:

- Tyler Holt. 1-for-4, but had the only solid hit of the game for FSU

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HORNED FROGS:

- Jason Coats, 2-for-3, 3RBI

- Bryan Holaday, 3-for-5, HR, RBI

- Jerome Pena, 2-for-4

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IN A NUTSHELL.

Matt Purke gave up a solid base hit to leadoff hitter Tyler Holt on the first pitch of the game, then the Frog D made an error – allowing an early run – and then it was clamp down time the rest of the way. Purke never gave up another solid hit, mostly just a couple of dink-and-dunkers, including a 15-foot chopper in front of him. 

Not that he needed a lot of help, but the Frog offense obliged with five runs in the 1st inning, roping ‘Nole starter Sean Gilmartin time and again and going through the entire order in the first fram. Jerome Pena and Bryan Holaday started off with back-to-back singles, then got a two-run double from Jason Coats, putting TCU ahead to stay at 2-1. In all, the Frogs posted six hits off of Gilmartin – two doubles and four singles – in building their big early lead. 

And of course, from there, it was TAPS City – to use an Al McGuire phrase. 

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KEY MOMENT.

In the first inning, both Tyler Holt and Sherman Johnson reached base on singles to start the game, with Holt scoring after a throwing error. But Purke didn’t freak out in the least. He calmly went about striking out the next three batters, including the dangerous Mike McGee, to end the inning. That three-straight K job of the Seminoles indicated to everyone that this guy wasn’t going to play any mental gymnastics with this game. 

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THEIR WORST NIGHTMARE.

One of the things I thought about with Florida State, when I saw them back in April at Duke, was that it was pretty obvious that they didn’t have an overwhelming pitching staff. It was most important for Sean Gilmartin to get off to a solid start and go deep into the game. Obviously, that was far from what they got. Gilmartin giving up a 5-spot in the 1st inning was a worst-case scenario for the ‘Noles. The early 5-1 cushion after the 1st was a lead they’d never relinquish.

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NO FROSH NERVES.

Well, all you out there wondering if Matt Purke, the Horned Frog superfrosh, would show any nerves in his first appearance on the big stage, you got your answer. The strapping flinger went 7.0 innings, giving up just four hits, an unearned run and striking out seven. He did dole out four walks, which head coach Jim Schlossnagle called “very uncharacteristic.”

FSU's Hunter Scantling.

 

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THE BIGGEST SINCE MUNOZ.

FSU reliever Hunter Scantling came on in relief of Sean Gilmartin in the 4th inning. Scantling’s dimensions are 6’8″, 270. That means that he is the biggest pitcher to toe the rubber since USC’s Anthony Munoz in 1978. Yes, THAT Anthony Munoz, hall of fame offensive lineman in the NFL. Munoz went 6’7″, 280 during his days as a Trojan footballer and baseballer. 

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QUOTES.

TCU’s Jim Schlossnagle.

- Opening Statement: 

“Great win for us. I thought Matt threw really well when he had to. That first inning was a difference-maker. You all got the chance to see what we’ve seen all year, when he’s cornered, he plays really well. For a freshman in the College World Series, he did really well. Matt took control of the situation, it was in his hands.” 

- On his team playing loose.

“The practices belong to me, the games belong to them. I want them to go out there and have fun, play with a swagger and enjoy themselves. That’s what we’ve been doing all season and we did that again today.” 

- On his catcher Bryan Holaday.

“When your best player is your hardest worker, you have a chance to have a great season. He can handle any situation. I’m biased, but I think he should win the Johnny Bench Award. Some guys will have a better batting average, more home runs, better stats, but for what he’s done for the team, there’s nobody better. He’s the straw that stirs the drink for us, no doubt about it.” 

- Asked about facing the winner of Florida-UCLA. 

“Bring it. What we went through last weekend (at Texas), there is no tougher situation. I think that just proves we deserved to be a national seed. Doesn’t mean we’re gonna win, doesn’t mean we’re gonna play well. But we will be ready to play. 

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Catcher Bryan Holaday.

- On the fan support he saw:

“I noticed all the fans we had, they’ve been behind us all season. And the support we got from our fans from Ft. Worth and some of the fans from here was really great. I noticed that Coats was getting some love after throwing that beach ball back into the stands.” 

- On the Frogs being ready to play despite this being their first game in Omaha.

“Coach did a good job of separating everything and letting us go around and see Rosenblatt and take in the experience. But when we get between the lines, he gets us focused and ready to play.” 

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Pitcher Matt Purke.

- On skipping pro ball to go to TCU after being a 1st round pick last June.

“I can’t think of having a better year. I knew that I was going to have a few bumps in the road, but our guys have helped me out of them. I’m having one of the best times in my life. (My success) is a true testament to my guys. They play defense behind me. They pick each other up. When one guy has success, we all have success. That’s the way we play.” 

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FSU’s Mike Martin.

- Opening Statement:

“If you’ve told me we would’ve gotten two hits in 27 outs and no runs, I think I would have discussed it with you.But you really gotta take your hat off to TCU. They did a great job of playing defense and making quality pitches. You can look at it from our side and say that we made no errors. So we just got our butts whipped.” 

- On how good he thinks TCU is.

“They’re everything that I saw when I saw them play at Texas. Well-coached. Good defense. They went out today and whipped us. Certainly we’re disappointed. But this TCU club is very good and they whipped us in every way.”

3B Sherman Johnson:

- On playing in Rosenblatt.

“It’s pretty amazing. You’re used to playing in front of 7,000 fans and there are practically 30,000 here. It’s pretty amazing. It’s where you want to be playing at this time of year.”

You knew FSU was in trouble when this early mound visit from Mike Martin took place. FSU's pitching isn't deep.

 

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TCU, already the darling "underdogs" of the CWS, made even more local friends when Brance Rivera returned this beach ball to the outfield bleachers.

 

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This play at the plate was one of the few things that went against TCU today.

 

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Taylor Featherston (on the right) reacts to being called out by home plate ump A.J. Lostaglio.

 

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GAME TWO

The Bruins run the Gators ragged, over-coming an early 2-1 deficit by chipping away with 15 singles in 18 hits, no home runs and a remorseless hitting attack against a good Gator arms staff. This one was a boat race from the 3rd inning onward.

Trevor Bauer's performance vs. Florida rivaled Matt Purke's from game one.

 

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UCLA – 103 121 111 – 11  18  2

U.of F – 200 100 000 -  3   6   1

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WP: Trevor Bauer, 11-3

LP: Alex Panteliodis, 11-3

Save: None

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Top Hitters.

BRUINS:

- Everybody,

but especially Niko Gallego, who went 4-for-5

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GATORS:

- Nolan Fontana, 1-for-2, 3BBs

- Josh Adams, 1-for-3, RBI

- Brian Johnson, 1-for-4, 2RBI

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IN A NUTSHELL.

The new man. 

First, the Bruins helped themselves with a three-run 3rd inning to take the lead for good – on the strength of four singles, a double steal and a wild pitch – and then turned the game over to their “new” ace Trevor Bauer to put the screws on a dangerous Gator lineup. 

It was a formula that worked to perfection for them. 

After being the Saturday starter most of the season, Bruin coach John Savage decided to have his Friday man, Gerrit Cole, move to the second spot in the rotation in favor of Bauer. And the freaky righty responded, big time. The Soph slinger threw a solid, if not spectacular game, striking out 11 and holding the Gators to six hits and three runs in his 7.0 innings of work. In all, he threw 126 pitches, 86 of which went for strikes.

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KEY MOMENT.

None really. 

This game never came down to a do-or-die moment or a grand pitcher-batter showdown. Florida DID go up 2-1 after the 1st inning, But the Bruins struck for three runs in the 3rd, with the help of a double steal, a wild pitch and an “ole” error at 3rd that let another run score. After that key top of the 3rd, the Bruins kept pecking away until the Gators were a moist spot in the dirt. 

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PECKING AWAY UNTIL A SLOW DEATH.

The Bruins offense, which had been in decline the last few weeks of the regular season, kept chipping the UofF arms relentlessly all night. As you can see from the linescore above, the Bruins scored in eight of the nine innings tonight. Only once did they get held without a hit, in their three-up, three-down 2nd inning. 

Trevor Bauer tries to collect himself after his second balk call.

 

BAUER GOOD.

With his 11 strikeouts on the night, Trevor Bauer became the UCLA single season strikeout king in Westwood. He now has 152 K’s, breaking the previous high of 150 set in 1992 by Pete Schinicke.

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BAUER BAD.

He also became the fifth pitcher in College World Series history to balk twice in a game. The second of which came in the bottom of the 7th, where he appeared to start his windup, and then stopped as if he heard time was called or something.

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PRESSURE KILLS.

The Florida defense, one of the best in the country coming in, had some jittery moments, that cost them plenty in the end. pitcher-catcher connection had some problems tonight, particularly when the Bruins had men on base. The Gators had four wild pitches, four hit batsmen, one passed ball and one balk to go with the astounding 18 hits UCLA got.

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QUOTES.

Florida’s Kevin O’Sullivan

- Opening Statement

“I think all the credit needs to go to UCLA. They were outstanding on the mound. Outstanding at the plate. They battled all day long. Got 18 hits. I don’t know how many were two-strikes. They played really, really well and we’ll need to bounce back on Monday.”

- On the key to their struggles tonight.

“One thing we’ve been doing all year long is being able to throw first-pitch strikes. We worked ahead in the count. We’ve been able to change speeds to our breaking ball and change up for strikes at will. For whatever reason, tonight we weren’t able to do it.”

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UCLA’s John Savage

- Opening Statement:

“Obviously, the team is very excited. We obviously have been playing good baseball. We  were battle-tested at the end of the season and I think you saw that tonight. And we had 15 singles out of 18 hits. We pecked away at them. We didn’t have a home run all night, but it was a typical game offensively for us in terms of we used the middle field. We had a bunch of singles. We had some stolen bases.”

- On starting Bauer instead of Gerrit Cole:

“It was a tough decision. Gerrit started off Friday, all season long. That’s the one thing. We’ve been very consistent. We kind of went on a hunch, kind of went with the matchup. It could’ve backfired, I guess you could say. But we know we have a bunch of No. 1s, so we really don’t designate a one, two or three.”

- On his teams’ aggressive approach to the basepaths:

“They had to pitch a little differently. We did steal some bases. There again, there’s a ton of credit that goes to Coach Vanderhook. I think he’s one of the best offensive minds in the country. And he likes to push the ball. He likes to push the tempo. I mean, he’s aggressive. He’s a gambler. I think it got them out of sync a little bit. I don’t think they’re used to that.”

Beau Amaral is dead meat at the plate this time. One of the few examples where Bruin aggressiveness backfired.

 

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Florida's Preston Tucker couldn't get in front of this ball as it scoots into the outfield for another base hit.

 

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Florida center fielder Matt den Dekker made ESPN's No. 1 "Top Play" for this Willie Mays-like over-the-shoulder catch at the warning track.

 

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MISCELLANEOUS. 

Other things to note from today.

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GOOD STARTS. 

After the end of the 1st inning of the second game, official scorekeeper Lou Spry announced over the P.A. that all four teams in today’s two games got their first two men on base to start the game. He was sure to add, “For what it’s worth…” as well.

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WINDS.

Today wasn’t one of those scorching hot days where the winds blow from the South and carry every pop-up over the fence. Instead, today’s mid-afternoon temperature was 84 degrees and the winds were blowing briskly in toward home plate at about 15-to-20mph. That’s why Bryan Holaday’s 4th-inning screaming dinger was the only yard call of the first game. 

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PSYCHODELIC.

The stadium workers and ushers were outfitted in tie-dyed shirts with “College World Series” written on the front. That makes me wonder, was the NCAA trying to give a vintage look to the stadium personnel with the shirts? Especially since this is the last year of the CWS in Rosenblatt? Well, if they wanted it to be reminiscent of the first CWS in Omaha, back in 1950, they missed the boat with a late-60s-like tie dye look. 

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EA for FLA.

As everyone and their brother knows, Erin Andrews went to Florida for school and was on the dance team. Tonight, I noticed that EA spent a large portion of her time in the Florida Gator dugout. Usually, you’ll see here walk between the dugouts a couple of times a game. Tonight, she spent most of her time as a Gator, rarely spending time in the Bruin dugout. 

Just an observation.

 

COMMENTS:

June 20, 2010 at 11:16 am
RPIGuy says:

Kind of hard for me to think of TCU as a beloved underdog. OK, beloved perhaps (I’m rooting for them), but not underdog. They were a #1 seed. Clemson is the only team here that wasn’t, and they have 23 losses and the worst pitching and defense left. That’s an underdog.


June 20, 2010 at 12:56 pm
Steve says:

Can ESPN please get Karl Ravech out of the booth? The guy has no freakin clue what the hell he is talking about. Every year he has been absolutely terrible. It is literally so bad that despite being a huge college baseball fan, I actually dread watching the games that he calls. I have to put the tv on mute just to make the games watchable. I know I can’t be alone in this assessment.

I think the reason why Kyle Peterson always get stuck being the field reporter is that ESPN doesn’t care if you are good at your job like Peterson is. They only care about how good of a pro player you were when they make their decisions who to push. It is really a shame. The guy knows his stuff and yet, he is relegated to adding about 2 minutes of reporting during the games.

Mike Patrick and Robin Ventura are solid. I like that pairing. But for the love of god, GET KARL RAVECH OUT OF THE BOOTH!!!!!!!


June 20, 2010 at 1:09 pm
leoguy says:

Eric, when speaking of the biggest pitchers at the CWS don’t forget Rice’s Jeff Niemann: 6′-9″ and about 260 pounds. Also, Jeff was 17-0 with a 1.70 ERA in 2003, including a national championship at the CWS. Just saying…


June 20, 2010 at 2:48 pm
Bulldog says:

Well I think this proves it even more that TCU should have been a national seed……..they completely dominated yesterday as did UCLA!! Do not know what to expect today but I sure hope the ames are good! It’s 9:48 am and I should be at he satdium shortly!! BOOMER!!


June 20, 2010 at 6:04 pm
RSN says:

The statement that the RPI is East Coast biased may or may not be true but TCU beat a FSU team that was probably the 4th or 5th best team in its conference. Id take UVA, Tech and Miami over FSU and Clemson makes a case because they are also in Omaha and swept FSU in regular season. So tell the “Dr of College Baseball” should not get all fired up when TCU beats heck out of FSU. They did just get done beating Texas 2 of 3 at Texas so beating the 3rd, 4th or 5th best team in ACC in Omaha should not be a shock or example of why the RPI is wrong. not at all

Now Florida that is a little differ story. Sure they are mostly all freshman and have not played like freshman most of season. But going up against Bauer is little differ than what they saw in SEC. Maybe getting blown out was not expected but the 2 results from yesterday dont say a thing about the RPI. NOT AT ALL


June 21, 2010 at 12:57 pm
Ryan says:

Dont kid yourself. The East gets exposed every single season in Omaha outside of LSU and Miami historically. It is an embarrassment that the ACC and SEC get so many undeserving teams in the tournament when teams from the West Coast get left out simply because the RPI ranks them low. Prove it on the field, or in the case of the SEC and ACC, embarrass yourselves on the field.


June 21, 2010 at 2:44 pm
RSN says:

I could not agree with you more, Ryan. Getting 8 and sometimes 9 teams in NCAA’s is a freakin joke. Because teams play and lose to good teams they get rewarded with good RPIs.

But i dont agree that TCU’s win over FSU proves that one bit


June 22, 2010 at 5:02 pm
Ryan says:

RSN: Prove it on the field. The RPI is a joke. If the RPI was accurate in predicting the quality of teams, why the hell hasn’t anyone not named LSU or Georgia 20 years ago EVER EVER EVER won a national title from the SEC? What about the ACC? They haven’t won a national title in over 50 years!!!! You got that?!?!? Over 50 years!!!!!!

As I sit here typing this, the SEC is about to go 0-4 in the CWS. Maybe they will get lucky and will win one game.


June 22, 2010 at 6:33 pm
RSN says:

Ryan,
the best teams, especially in baseball, do not always win.

Actually if you look at the #s right now the RPI proves to be very accurate.

-16 teams in Super Regionals all #18 or lower

-8 teams in CWS #1, #3, #5, #10, #14, #15, #17 and #18

-Only 2 teams in top 16 did not make Super Regionals #7 Louisville and #16 Georgia Tech

Please explain to me how the RPI is so bad? To me it looks like the top RPI teams actually are the ones that advanced.


June 22, 2010 at 9:00 pm
Eric Sorenson says:

Explain why the RPI is so bad?… Oh, Jesus H. Christ on a popsicle stick!

The reason the RPI “works out” and the “top teams” seem to make it to the Supers and Omaha is because the RPI is such a pile of crap and rewards teams that play all home games against pin cushion teams in the pre-conference, that those teams get over-rewarded and tend to play at home in the post-season too. And thus, the teams that are penalized because they choose to play tough schedules or because they have a tough time because of geography, tend to get under-appreciated by that horrid formula, thus they’re RPI is worse and they get sent to tougher regionals or play against teams that should be rated higher – i.e., Fullerton and TCU were better than a lot of teams in the National seeds, but had to go to UCLA and Texas where those teams knocked each other out.

You tend to forget that there was a five-year stretch in the mid-2000s where SEC teams made up 6 of the 10 0-and-2 teams in Omaha, because it was teams that were probably either overrated a little bit or had trouble playing out of their comfort zone because they played so many games at home. That was dictated by over-rewarded RPIs and them getting seeded higher than they should’ve been.


June 22, 2010 at 11:28 pm
RSN says:

I was only really speaking of this year. The numbers right or wrong seemed to work out. Really the only way to see how far off the RPIs are is to go back and look at each individual year.

The RPI may be to fault for those examples but i think the geography part is the biggest hurdle.


June 23, 2010 at 4:29 pm
Fat Sam says:

At this time of the year, the RPI doesn’t mean diddly. As I’ve posted before, if you can’t be the best team in your area of the country, you cannot claim to be the best in the nation.

I get the point about LSU and the SEC, but you also have to point out that other than Oregon State’s magical, if somewhat aberrant, two year run no other PAC-10 team has won a title since USC in 1998. And look at Arizona State bringing their top national seed and getting worked by an SEC team that didn’t even win their division of the conference.