One of my simple pleasures in life

By Eric Sorenson. Posted on March 3rd, 2012 in Friday first-takes
 

I quickly discovered that one of my favorite things about moving out to the west coast a number of years ago was the fact that on college football Saturdays, no matter how late I stayed out, whether it was covering a USC or UCLA game or a night of sampling some of the finer whiskeys in this town, I could always count on coming home and catching the second half of the late-night Hawaii home football game on Fox Sports.

Tonight, after discovering the Wichita State-Hawaii baseball game was on Fox College Sports, it was deja vu.

This was on my TV screen at 10:38pm tonight. Mike Trapasso (the one wearing the watch in the middle of the huddle) extols his team after the win over Wichita State.

As I was finishing my write-up of all the things that went on across the country, I was treated to the last few innings of the WSU-UH game, accompanied by the wonderful voice of play-by-play man Jim Leahey, who is also the football voice for all those late-night Warrior football games. Ahhhhh, that’s the endorphin rush I love.

In case you went to bed early and didn’t know, Hawaii got the timely hits, 7.2 innings of decent pitching from Jarrett Arakawa and spotless defense to beat Wichita State 2-1 in Manoa out on the islands.

Here’s one of the gems that announcer Jim Leahey spouted in the latter stages of the game:

“In case you’re just tuning in, the difference in the game was a home run hit by Kaeo Aliviado, the smallest player on the field. And it was a double-fencer. He just ripped it high, wide and handsome.”

Kaeo Aliviado gives a fist-pump after slamming his 6th inning home run which ended up being the winning run.

After starting the season 1-3 vs. Oregon, the Rainbows have now won seven straight games, including a 2-0 weekend so far vs. the Wheatshockers.

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Here’s a whirl around the country to look at the good and bad that jumped out at me on this weekend lidlifter…

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THREE UP

The best of the day in college baseball.

1- Mad kudos to South Carolina and Clemson.

NOW do you guys see why us fans think it’s a good idea for these teams to play three games instead of just two? A couple years ago the two schools abandoned the home-and-home two-game series for a more traditional three-game set. Today’s game was played in Charleston (the next two will switch between home sites) and saw a classic played out. In the 11th inning, SoCar’s Christian Walker got a base-on-balls to lead off the inning. A couple batters later Sean Sullivan knocked him in with a single to left. An insurance run was provided when Connor Bright stroked an RBI single. The beauty part is that the Gamecocks would need that extra run. Richie Shaffer led off the bottom of the 11th with a double and would come around the score on an error by frosh SS Joey Pankake. Eventually, the drama would reach a fever pitch (no pun intended… well, sort of) when Jason Stoltz would make his way to 3rd base on another error from the Cocks’ infield. But the game would end when freshman pinch hitter Jay Baum lined a screamer right to centerfielder Evan Marzilli. Game over… even though the adrenaline rush is still going.

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2- Texas State pitching and defense.

The Bobcats beat Notre Dame 6-0 today in front of their fourth-largest home crowd in school history: 1,882. But the reason the ‘Cats get the No. 2 nod here is ‘coz this was their third straight shutout, after pulling the trick at Houston on Sunday (also a 6-0 score) and a mid-week win at TCU (by 1-0). TXST has now posted 32.0 scoreless innings in a row an has actually not allowed an earned run in 36.0 straight innings. The defense has committed just three errors in that stretch and has been able to leave 30 opposing baserunners stranded in those three games.

Texas State is also now 6-3 as Notre Dame dips to 5-2.

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3- Anthony Montefusco, pitcher, George Mason

In one of the better pitched games of this young season, the Patriot starter went 8.0 innings, picking up 12 strikeouts and giving up just three hits in a 1-0 win over Bryant University. Mick Foley’s home run in the 6th inning was one of only two hits the Patriots were able to get the entire game (Jake Leonardo’s 5th inning single was the only other hit for GMU) as BU got good pitching from Peter Kelich (7.0inns, 2hits) and Jonathan Cohen (1.0inn, 0hits) pitched a fairly solid game as well, even though it wasn’t enough.

George Mason's Anthony Montefusco was dead-nuts on today for the Patriots. (And yes, this photo is courtesy of GMU, I wasn't at the game)

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

- Them Dogs.

The biggest “Wow” of the night beside that uber-competitve South Carolina-Clemson game had to be Fresno State’s 7-4 win over Stanford. Sophomore centerfielder Aaron Judge paced the Bulldog upset with a 2HR night, which also included two walks and three runs scored for the 6’7″ gazelle. Damn… now I’m thinking I should’ve made the drive up to see this one.

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- The Mad-Ox

Florida’s Austin Maddox continues to be lights out in relief. In tonight’s 7-5 win over Miami, the righty threw the final 3.1 innings, getting seven strikeouts along the way. This was Maddox’s third save of the season as the Gators hand the Hurricanes’ their first loss of the campaign.

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- The Big Chett Engine.

Iowa’s Chett Zeine blasted two home runs as part of a 3-for-5, 4RBI day in the Hawkeye’s 17-3 win over Akron. Perhaps the biggest story of all was the fact that this game was played in Akron, Ohio, where it was 75 degrees, even under cloudy skies. Talk about a mild winter.

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- Gunning down the Duke.

Gotta give a hat’s off to Arkansas. In the Houston College Classic opener today the Razorbacks withstood a really good effort by Texas Tech pitcher Duke von Schamann, which included a career-high 7Ks, and scraped together enough runs to beat the Raiders 3-1. Ryne Stanek and Barrett Astin combined for 11Ks as both teams had seven hits, but the Hogs were able to get TT to strand eight baserunners while leaving only three on bases themselves.

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- TJ gets another W.

Minnesota’s TJ Oakes improved to 3-0 on the young season as he handcuffed heavy-hitting New Mexico State to just two hits in 5.2 innings of work, including seven Ks in an 8-1 rout. The remarkable stat that jumped off the page for me was that the Aggies only earned three walks and no HBPs in the game. Usually, one of the underrated stats of the year is how the Aggies are routinely one of the best teams in terms of getting free bases.

At this time I'd just like to point out that Minnesota basketball TV hostess Natalie Kane is quite fetching. That is all.

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- Bringing the big steel hammers.

Purdue’s offense has been well-lauded and today it showed. The Boilers pounded out 17 hits off of five Auburn pitchers, winning 9-8 at Plainsmen Park. The one-two punch at the top of the order led the charge as Tyler Spillner and Eric Charles, who both went 4-for-6 and combined to score five of the nine runs. But PU had to hold on for dear life as the Tigers scored three bottom-of-the-9th runs to make it a white-knuckler. Purdue is now 6-1 and will face Southern Miss tomorrow in a great matchup.

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- Adventure on the high seas.

The Pirates slay the Seawolves! East Carolina and Stony Brook put on a pretty good pitching clinic as well in the Pirates’ 1-0 win in Greenville. Kevin Brandt went 8.0 innings, giving up just four hits against a talented Seawolves lineup. SB starter Tyler Johnson was pretty stout as well, going 8.0 innings, giving up six hits. ECU reliever Drew Reynolds picked up his 4th save with a scoreless 9th.

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- Air Jordano

Pitt head coach Joe Jordano picked up his 403rd win at the helm of the Panther program, making him the all-time winningest coach in school history with today’s 3-1 win at Coastal Carolina. Overall, with his 10 years at Mercyhurst thrown in, Jordano now has 686 total wins as a college skipper. Good win for the Panthers too, albeit we know that CCU is in a rebuilding season.

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- Speaking of school-records for wins, here’s Coach G.

San Francisco’s Nino Giarratano picked up his 374th win in his Dons coaching career with today’s 6-5, 10-inning win over Cal State Northridge. With the win he surpasses the legendary Dante Benedetti for the most wins in program history.

Coach Nino would say afterward, “It’s a great feeling and it’s an honor to be mentioned in the same breath with Dante Benedetti. I’m proud to have withstood everything and built a winning program at USF.”

His staff ace Kyle Zimmer was brilliant once again, striking out seven, giving up just one run and no walks. His strikeout-to-walk ratio so far this year is now 15-to-0 and has a 0.60 ERA for the early season.

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- The Big 600.

Towson head coach Mike Gottlieb picked up career win No. 600 with today’s doubleheader sweep of Central Connecticut, 9-2 and 6-0. In the second game, pitchers Taylor Clarke and Tyler Austin combined on a one-hitter with 6Ks. Shortstop Hunter Bennett, hitting out of the 9-hole, went 4-for-5 with two walks in the two games.

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THREE DOWN

The worst of the day in college baseball.

1- Connecticut.

The Huskies almost had a banner day in Starkville as they beat Lipscomb 4-2 on the strength of a combined three-hitter from Jordan Tabakman, Will Jolin and Scott Oberg. Then, they had a 4-3 lead going into the 9th inning against the hometown Bulldogs. But a pair of ill-timed errors (and good pressure by the MSU offense, of course) allowed two unearned runs to score for Mississippi State in the final frame, sinking UConn to a 5-4 loss. What’s worse? The Huskies actually had a 4-1 lead going into the 8th, but another infield error was followed by a Trey Porter two-run home run to pull MSU within a run, setting up the 9th inning heroics… or, nightmare (depending on which team you cheer for).

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2- USC

That best start since 1988 has hit a pair of speed bumps. On Tuesday, the Men of Troy dropped a 7-2 decision at Pepperdine, then today took a tough one on the chin in an 11-1 whitewashing at the hands of North Carolina. Despite having to dodge rain drops all day, Tar Heel pitcher Kent Emanuel picked up his third win on the season with 8Ks in 6.0 innings of work.

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3- My Upset Pick

Maine went to Florida State with a lot of confidence, having beaten Clemson in last week’s opener and playing pretty closely with the Tigers the rest of the weekend. But today was a different story as Florida State was pretty authoritative in a 6-0 shutout. Credit Brandon Leibrandt, who went 5.0 inning, striking out six and giving up just four hits, and his relievers Hunter Scantling and Kyle Bird, who combined for the remaining 4.0 of hitless pitching. Maine didn’t help itself much, committing five errors in the process.

The remainder of the series has been switched to a Sunday doubleheader since the Tallahassee weather will be a wicked-bitch tomorrow.

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DISHONORABLE MENTIONS

- Rice is steamed.

Who would’ve thunk it: Texas uses its offense to hand Rice its first loss. Weird, right? But it’s true. Owl starter Austin Kubitza only lasted 1.2 innings, walking five and giving up two runs after facing just 11 batters. Taylor Wall relieved him and was just as ineffective, going 2.2 innings and giving up five hits and four runs. Aye! Even Chase McDowell, the well-regarded reliever, had a rough time of things, giving up two hits and a run in his one inning of work. Texas improved to 4-5 with the win.

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- To the schedule-makers of the Big 10.

Regardless of sport, what is a season in the Big 10 without an Ohio State-Michigan donnybrook? Well today’s non-conference game between the two played down in Port Charlotte, Florida will be the only matchup between the two as somehow the Big 10 decided these two should skip each other in the conference rotation. For the record, Woody Hayes U. beat Bo Schembechler U. 9-4. Soph phenom Josh Dezse was the winning pitcher (though he was a little shaky in his 1.2 innings of work), but the offense helped out with a 5-run top of the 9th inning topped off by a Joe Ciamacco 2-run double.

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- Ole Miss.

As much as we’ve glossed on Ole Miss ace Bobby Wahl, it was a flipped script tonight as the big horse wasn’t sharp. In the Rebels’ surprising 9-8 loss to Miami Univ. (yes, that’s Miami of Ohio, not Florida), Wahl was pocked for nine hits, seven runs (four earned) and two walks in just 5.0 innings of work. In all, Rebel pitchers gave up 14 hits to the Redhawks, including a 4-for-5 night from Alex Johnson and a 3RBI night from catcher John Crummy (I just love that name).

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- Georgia Southern.

It’s been a sad tale of late for the Eagles, who dropped tonight’s game with North Florida 7-4. Ever since the injury to All World power-stick Victor Roache, the Eagles have gone 0-4, losing the final game to Radford last weekend, before dropping a game vs. Mercer in the mid-week and so far going 0-2 at UNF this weekend.

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- The big Viking

It was a big comeuppance for Miami ace Eric Erickson, who had been lights out in two starts already this season. But tonight, he faced a whole different monster as Florida brought it’s gold-medal offense to Mark Light Stadium and he got roped for nine hits and six runs (all earned) in his 5.0 innings of work.

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- The killer walks for UWM.

Milwaukee looked to have an upset win over San Diego State in their hip pocket, leading 4-2 in the 8th inning. But then the Panther pitchers just couldn’t find the strike zone as they walked in three runs as part of a 5-run meltdown as the Aztecs came from behind to win 7-4.

This was also SDSUs third win of the young season where they won the game in their final at-bats, improving to 5-6 in the won-loss column.

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Okay, that’s enough garb for you guys tonight. Hope you enjoyed your baseball Friday. We’ve got more to come tomorrow… or today, now that it’s well past midnight.

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G’night.

 

COMMENTS:

March 3, 2012 at 8:59 am
steve says:

Great game tonight at Beiden Field. Appel was dominant at times with his fastball up to 98 on several occasions and 11ks. Aaron Judge absolutely crushed his two home runs and played a great centerfield all night. Probably the best attended and best atmosphere for a game at Beiden Field in the past several years too. Great night for the Bulldogs!


March 4, 2012 at 3:10 am
tim says:

Not to be nckpicky,stitch, but that screamer right to centerfielder Evan Marzilli was actually a screaming liner tailing away from him (strong breeze and all) that Marzilli made a great game saving dive on to end the game. That being said it was a thrilling game and glad it made the top of your list.