Now THIS is an opening day.

By Eric Sorenson. Posted on February 18th, 2012 in Saturday statements
 

Okay people, it’s now four down, 294 to go.

In my pursuit to see all 298 Division 1 baseball teams (wait… it IS 298 now right?), it’s good that I got over my sickness from yesterday and finally got out of the driveway to catch a glimpse of a few teams on the California coast today. What did I see? One black-and-orange OSU goes up, one black-and-orange OSU goes down.

There is a reason why I've labeled Cal Poly's Baggett Stadium one of the most picturesque settings in the country for baseball.

Made it up to Santa Barbara see Oregon State and UC Santa Barbara tangle into extra innings before OSU won 3-2. Then I caught the slightly chilly night game between Oklahoma State and Cal Poly up in San Luis Obispo, which OSU lost 11-3.

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WHAT I SAW AT CAESAR UYESAKA STADIUM

- SANTA BARBARA, CA

In a game that was scheduled to be a 7-inning affair, Oregon State went to the 8th inning before finally scratching across the winning run and used the pitching of All American closer Tony Bryant to lock down a 3-2 win.

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OSU – 000 020 01 – 3  4  1

UCSB-001 010 00 – 2  9  0

WP- Tony Bryant (1-0)

LP- Jeremy Peterson (0-1)

Save: None

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IN A NUTSHELL:

First things first, I have to say it was a pretty well-played, well-pitched game for this early in the season. Only one error was committed and the pitching was pretty spot on. A back-and-forth game went to extra innings, where OSU was able to get a leadoff walk from John Tommasini, sac bunt him over and then get the game-winning RBI from Tyler Smith a batter later.

With OSU up 3-2, the Beavers actually had Tony Bryant go to bat with Smith standing on second base, but the big righty struck out to end the top half of the 8th. But the best part is that he actually looked a lot more comfortable at the dish than Randy Johnson ever did in his playing career.

Bryant gave up a leadoff single to Ryan Palermo to start the bottom of the 8th, but then got three straight outs including a game-clinching K of Joe Winterburn.

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IT WAS OVER WHEN…

Well of course, when OSU scored in the 8th and had Bryant on the mound.

The big righty was pretty solid in his 1.3 innings of work, mixing his pitches pretty well and gassing his big gun up to 92-93. The one time he was touched was when the aforementioned Palermo stroked a letters-high fastball to right field. But that was the only shaky part of Bryant’s game as he picked up his first win.

Oregon State closer Tony Bryant was gritty on the hill, picking up his first win of 2012.

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KEY STAT

The Beavers only had four hits, but took advantage of their chances, scoring three runs. OSU was able to cull four walks and two plunkings as well, which helped the cause. By contrast, UCSB out-hit the Beavers 9-to-3, but only got one walk on the day.

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KEY MOMENT

Tony Bryant’s only shaky moment came with the leadoff single by Ryan Palermo in the 8th inning. He was then bunted over into scoring position, giving the Gauchos a chance to tie things up with a seeing-eye single. But Bryant was able to get an “elevator shaft” flyout to third and then the game-ending strikeout to secure the second win in as many days.

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… AND ALSO.

I didn’t stick around for it, but the second game of the DH saw the two teams battle to a highly-offensive 12-12 tie through nine innings. Although there are plenty of upgrades due to be completed at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, there still are no lights in the facility, so the game was suspended due to darkness. It will be picked back up at 11am Pacific time tomorrow, followed by a regularly scheduled 9-inning game immediately afterward.

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BACK IN BLACK.

OSU wore black tops for the game and, as weird as it sounds, this was the first time since 2009 that the Beavers were decked out in the black togs.

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MORE PICS

Sometimes a really cool picture can be screwed if the netting is a little on the thick side. This play at the plate where UCSB's Kevin Gelinas tags out OSU's Tyler Smith got a little too much netting in it. Curses!

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One of the things I really liked about what I saw from this Santa Barbara team was a passion and fire that seemed to be missing the last few years. Hopefully that's a sign that new coach Andrew Checketts and his staff have instilled in the Gauchos this year.

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Tony Bryant actually taking an at-bat in the final inning of the game. Here he's fouling a ball off his foot. So he's not Reggie Jackson, give the dude a break.

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In the end, the Beavers were the ones slapping fives in the middle of the field.

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WHAT I SAW AT BAGGETT STADIUM TONIGHT

- SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA.

For the second night in a row, Cal Poly was able to dominate the boys from Big 12-land in a not-so-close 11-3 bombing. Although it wasn’t as lock-down as Friday night’s 6-0 clamper, Poly got enough of everything to break open a close game in the 5th inning and cruise from there.

Just a word of warning here… I know Oklahoma State isn’t exactly going to be Brad Beanblossom-vintage OSU this year, but keep an eye on this Cal Poly team. Coach Larry Lee has had some near-misses the last few years (along with the Big West just being a tad underrated in general) and I also realize it’s really early, but they’re looking pretty stout so far this weekend. We’ll see how this transpires as the weeks and months go by. But you know how I’ve been with my early-season premonitions on teams the last few years, right?

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OSU- 001 000 200 -  3  10  5

Poly- 200 161 10x -  11  11 1

WP: Kyle Anderson (1-0)

LP: Kyle Ottoson (0-1)

Save: None

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IN A NUTSHELL:

Mustang leadoff man Mike Miller would set the tone with a screaming liner to the right field wall in the first Cal Poly at-bat of the night, producing a triple in the process. He would score two batters later on a flyout by Mitch Haniger. The Mustangs would pick up another run in the inning on a throwing error by OSU pitcher Kyle Ottoson, staking the big green to a 2-0 lead. That was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. But it was still a 3-1 game in the 5th inning when all hell broke loose for the Cowboys, who allowed a six-run inning for Poly, busting things apart.

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IT WAS OVER WHEN:

… that fateful sixth inning saw the Pokes get the jitters and Cal Poly capitalized.

As mentioned above, it was still a close game after five-and-a-half innings, when the nightmare began. The Mustangs got a leadoff single, two doubles, two walks and the Cowboys committed two errors, allowing for six runs, four of them of the unearned variety. It was curtains from there.

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KEY STAT:

Take your pick, either the eight walks or the five errors.

It was not a good night for the Pokes in nearly all areas. But the most painful had to be the freebies they gave up in the walks and errors department. Even though the OSU offense managed nearly matched the Cal Poly offense (10 hits to the Mustangs’ 11 hits), they gave away too many outs, which led to their allowing six unearned runs on the night.

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KEY MOMENT:

The big final outs.

It was certainly a case of “what could’ve been” for OSU. In the 1st and 3rd innings of the game, Oklahoma State was able to get two men on base (scoring one run in the 3rd), but each time, starting pitcher Matt Imhoff was able to get five-hole hitter Troy Whaley to meekly ground out (in the 1st inning) and then fly out (in the 3rd inning) to quell both threats. Each of those could’ve been big innings, but kept Poly in the lead. Eventually, OklaState wasn’t able to keep up with its hither-and-yon defense.

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MORE PICS

Shortstop Mike Miller was Superman tonight, hitting for the short-cycle, including a leadoff triple that led to Cal Poly's first run.

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Kyle Anderson got the win in relief, hurling his low-90s heat and working all corners of the dish well.

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This is Cal Poly p.a. announcer C.J. Silas, who I have been told is also a really kick-ass roller derby player.

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ELSEWHERE AROUND THE COUNTRY.

I had to drive 95 miles from San Luis Obispo to the lovely metropolis of King City (apparently there are a LOT of wine country visitors in the San Luis Obispo area so all the hotels are chock-full there tonight), so it’s a little on the late side. This will be another quick breeze around the country of the good and bad. If I missed something, feel free to leave a comment about it. I’ll approve it in the morning when I wake up.

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THREE UP

The best of the day… or at least of what I could find.

1- The jog-off heroes.

- Miami’s Rony Rodriguez.

After struggling to shake unheralded Rutgers (and we’re talking 14 strikeouts-kind-of-struggling here), Rodriguez blasted a three-run dinger in the 12th inning to give the Hurricanes a 4-1 win over the pesky Knights.

- Rice’s Jeremy Rathjen.

The Owl outfielder hit a 12th-inning bomb to pace Rice past Florida International, 5-4. Rice is now 2-0 against the Panthers on the weekend so far.

- Sam Houston State’s Luke Plucheck.

New Bearkat coach David Pierce got his first win as the head coach thanks to his charges overcoming a late 2-0 deficit to San Diego to win 3-2 in the bottom of the 9th. Plucheck singled home Kevin Miller, who had doubled a batter earlier. Prior to that, USD starting pitcher Paul Sewald had a no-hitter going through six innings and left after seven with the Toreros holding a 2-0 lead.

- Georgia’s Brett DeLoach.

The Bulldog pinch hitter came in and knocked in the game-winning two-out, two-run double to give the Silver Britches a 5-4 jog-off win over Presbyterian. The Dogs had trailed by a 4-2 count earlier and had entered the 9th inning down 4-3.

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2- Florida and Stanford.

In the only matchups of Top 25 ranked opponents this weekend, the Gators and Cardinal are 2-0 against Cal State Fullerton and Vanderbilt respectively, thanks to UofF’s 5-2 win over the Titans and Andrew Luck U.’s 9-5 win over the Commodores.

Reliever Austin Maddox would be the hero of the day, holding the Titans to just one hit and no runs over the last four innings after the Gators rallied from a 2-0 deficit with four runs in the 4th inning. Maddox picked up his first save of the season after striking out three and not walking a single Titan batter.

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3- The unscored upons.

So far, through 18 innings of play, Arizona State and Liberty are both pitching shutouts so far.

- Sure, it’s only Western Michigan they’re going against but the Sun Devils have held the Broncos to five hits in each game, while striking out 24 WMU batters and walking just two. And on top of that, there have been no balks, one wild pitch and one plunking.

- Meanwhile, Liberty has posted back-to-back shutouts to start a season for the first time in its 38-year history and first back-to-back shutouts period since 1996. Today the Flames doused Towson by an 8-0 score, getting a second-straight 3-hit/3-RBI performance from Michael Robertson, along with some stout pitching too.

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… AND ONE TO GROW ON.

- Florida Atlantic.

The Owls beat Alabama for the second consecutive day, this time by a not-so-close 9-2 count in Tuscaloosa. It marked the second night in a row that the Blue Waves held the Elephants to two runs, after Friday’s 5-2 win. Today, pitchers Jake Meiers and Kevin Alexander combined for seven Ks (to go along with Friday’s 11Ks) and not a single walk.

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THREE DOWN.

The bad side of the day.

1- Coastal Carolina.

There were sure to be some bumps in the road for the Chanticleers this season, but today was a tire-flattening chuck-hole. The Chants were taken down twice on Saturday, first by Virginia (9-3) and then to Boston College (8-3). Against the Cavs, the CCU pitchers combined for 12 walks and also gave up 11 hits in the process, allowing UVa to score eight runs in the 7th and 8th innings combined. In their second game of the day, the Chanticleers allowed five unearned runs to the Eagles, in addition to gathering just five hits at the dish as they were boat-raced from early-on.

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2- Western Illinois and Nebraska.

Both teams lost late leads with some shoddy play in the waning innings.

- In their 11-9 loss at Georgia State today, the Leathernecks blew a late 7-2 lead by allowing for 12 walks and committing four errors. Four of the Panther runs were unearned. And the score could’ve been much worse as GSU was guilty of stranding seven baserunners in its last three at-bats. Yuck!

- The Cornhuskers allowed Gonzaga to plate five 9th-inning runs, erasing an 8-5 deficit down in Peoria, Arizona. Maxx Garrett slapped a two-run triple to the wall to pull the Zags within 8-7, then Marco Gonzales tied the game by knocking in Garrett with a bleeder up the middle. Finally, a Steven Holcomb double provided the go-ahead run in the top half of the 9th. An insurance run was scored a batter later. GU is now 2-0 over the Huskers so far.

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3- Weak Sticks.

Not sure if it’s just me, but it seems like the pitching and defense are getting the better of the offenses by and large in this first weekend, even though it’s usually the other way around early in the season. But if you consider that such potentially potent offenses like the Oklahoma State team I saw tonight get clamped down pretty well, along with Arizona managing just two runs in a loss to North Dakota State, Oklahoma was blanked by Pepperdine while earning only five hits, South Carolina was held to five runs in the first two games vs. VMI (though they broke out the whip-ass with a 13-1 getaway win in game three), and even heavy-handed Jacksonville has actually committed more errors on defense (seven) than runs scored on offense (five) in its two losses at USC. Lumberjacks Dan Gulbransen and Adam Brett Walker are a combined 1-for-14 so far in that series.

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AND A CLOSE-BUT-NO-CIGAR.

- Texas State lost a 5-4 decision to Santa Clara in 13 innings, but have to be kicking themselves after losing a golden chance to end things in the 11th inning. TXST got the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th with no outs. But SCU’s Paul Twining was able to get two straight strikeouts, followed by a rally-killing pop-up to keep the game tied at four. The Broncos would end it in the 13th after getting two outs, then a strikeout, which was followed by one of those worst-rule-in-sports dropped third strikes. After that, a single, a hit by pitch and a defensive error allowed the winning run to score for the Broncos.

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THE EARLY LEADER FOR THE GOLDEN SPIKES AWARD?

- Florida Atlantic’s Mike Albaladejo.

The catcher-turned-2nd-baseman has been put in the leadoff spot for the Owls in 2012 and has responded quite well, going 6-for-9 with 2RBI and has yet to make an error at his new position. Oh yeah, and as mentioned above, the Owls are 2-0 at Alabama so far.

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THE EARLY RUNNER-UP FOR THE GOLDEN SPIKES AWARD?

- Marshall’s Isaac Ballou.

Today, in a pair of games, Ballou hit a pair of home runs in a 7-5 loss to Canisius and then followed that up with a five-hit attack, along with stealing two bases, in a 16-2 win over Bryant. Ballou also had two of the three runs scored in Friday’s 10-3 loss to N.C. State.

 

COMMENTS:

February 19, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Interesting to say it was over when Bryant got the ball because in the 2nd game All-American Bryant had a chance to get a second win but again Palermo came up but this time he hit the pitch over LF fence to tie the game at 12…

Checkett has his team practicing and playing with motivation and heading in the right direction. The team has the preseason coaches poll of the 6th place finish on the bulletin board. Chip on their shoulder… BTW, all 3 starters have 8 Ks each. They could do something special if healthy and focused.


February 19, 2012 at 3:37 pm
FullertonBaseballFan says:

3 day weekend means lots of people from down here drove up there for vacation. Also, Feb 18 is National Wine Drinking Day (I’m not kidding) so you were in the right area for that as long as you weren’t looking for a hotel reservation. Tues is National Margarita Drinking Day so you have the odd confluence of Taco Tuesday and Mardi Gras. The amazing things you find out on the internet…….

Kyle Anderson is a SR. He’s been CP’s midweek SP/long reliever since he was a FR. Lee would like him to take a step up from that role so maybe he finally will.

Cal Poly COULD BE this good but:

1) OSU has TWENTY-FIVE new players on their roster so it will take a while for them to gel and most projections have them as a middle of the pack team in the Big 12 and a regional bubble team at best (some projections have them in, some out).

2) Cal Poly’s record away from SLO leaves a lot to be desired (40-70 the last four years) and they will need to do something about that to be a contender for a regional.

Good call by you to see that Checketts has lit a fire under the players on that roster, something you rarely saw when Brontsema was the coach.

Haven’t learned much yet from Irvine and Fullerton due the competition on the opposite ends of the spectrum delivering the expected results (same with Pacific vs. Cal).

Long Beach has played two sloppy games against an average opponent with each team getting a comeback win late.

Riverside has to be disappointed dropping 2 of 3 at home against BYU, especially after getting a shutout on Fri.


February 19, 2012 at 4:05 pm
Chris says:

Eric,

I am glad you were feeling better by yesterday. I have to say the OSU game sort of made me sick though! Ooh – it was hard to watch. It’s good you got to see the game. You took that picture right behind where we OSU fans were sitting. Did you catch the Cal Poly fan who stood behind us shouting chortling comments the first 2-3 innings? The OSU fans are mannerly to a fault, but we found ways to let him know his boorish behavior was unwelcome. Anyway, he finally left us to suffer in peace! I think you are right about Cal Poly. They are not the same team we swept in 3 games last year. OSU has some gelling to do this year.


February 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm
Eric Sorenson says:

Gaucho Soul, you’re right. I heard it was a much different story for Bryant in the second game. He seemed to be pretty spot-on in the first – save for that Palermo fella.

Dave. You’re simply the MAN. National wine drinking day? National margarita drinking day? You’re shittin’ me! Anyway, thanks for the analysis on things. Good stuff.

And Chris, I feel your pain. Was expecting better from OSU, but then again, let’s not freak out here. This IS just the first weekend and their lineup looked like it had a lot of athleticism and some good heft. (that’s in a good way, by the way). Hopefully there won’t be many nights like last night for your Pokes.


February 19, 2012 at 6:23 pm
PhxTitan says:

I do hope you do a writeup soon on the planning of your logistical nightmare challenge regarding the execution of 298 teams in 4 months. Three quarters of the reading fun will be HOW you go about actually pulling that feat off. Job One may be to stay healthy. ;-)

Good time to brush up on your inner Travel Writer. Given your style, that would be a hoot to follow as well. Good luck, stay safe.


February 19, 2012 at 9:33 pm
Dirtbags17 says:

Cheers to getting healthy for your quest! I’m looking forward to following your travels, and hope to see you at Blair Field for a Bags game soon!

Keep takin those pix; I love the one of the play at the plate! Even with the perfect-placement of the net, it’s a great shot!


February 20, 2012 at 5:19 am

I keep telling myself it’s only February, it’s only February.


February 20, 2012 at 7:35 am
Eric Sorenson says:

Yes Johnny Law, it was a tough opening weekend for you. Sometimes programs just need a “recharge” season, and it could be one of those for your Chanticleers this year. Again, you never know, but in this cyclical world of college baseball you have to be grateful for the huge recent success you guys have had, albeit just short of Omaha.

Again,we’ll see.