Wednesday, June 28, 2006

ACC Drought Continues

The Championship Game was a tough loss for the Tar Heels against Oregon St on Monday Night.  After winning the opening game on Friday, the Tar Heels led 5-0 on Saturday before a disastrous 5th inning did them in with 7 runs coming across home plate.  Monday was a pitchers duel, but also a game of mistakes in the field allowing a couple of runs to score that probably should not have.  


Much fodder will be over the error with 2 outs in the 8th inning where the UNC second baseman threw the ball away on a routine grounder allowing the winning run to score.   You have to feel for the kid in a situation like that because who knows what would have happened if that out had been made; Oregon St still might have scored in the bottom of 9 th  or in extra innings. 


The real story should be how Oregon St went from an 11-1 beating from Miami in their opening game to win 6 straight elimination games.  

Monday, June 26, 2006

Let's Rank Something To Pass the Time

Matt Hayes of Sporting News recently ranked the stadiums of the ACC and the SEC. The ACC and SEC are blessed with some of the best atmospheres to watch college football in the country. Right now, the SEC would have to take the cake though. Every school outside of Kentucky and Vanderbilt, lives and breathes football and most every road game in the SEC is going to be a war. However, with the addition of Miami, VT, and BC, the ACC has become a much tougher place to play. The main difference lies in the capacity and passion of the fans though. You will not many more passionate fans than those of Georgia, LSU, Alabama, etc.

I will now take a stab at ranking the stadiums as if they were one conference.

1. LSU - Get some Cajuns together on a day off work where food and drinks are being served...LSU has the best atmosphere for college football in the country
2. Florida - In a couple of years, the Zook era will be over looked and the Swamp will eat opponents alive
3. Virginia Tech - Many will think this is too high, but what else is there to do in western Virginia except pack Lane Stadium
4. Georgia - Not the loudest stadium you will go to, but the success of the team over the last 5 years cannot be over looked
5. Tennessee - Last year was an exception to the rule. You will be singing Rocky Top in your dreams after a game in Knoxville
6. Florida St - The Chop will have you annoyed by the end of they first quarter
7. Auburn - The Eagle flying around Jordan-Hare Stadium before the game; it sends chills up your spine
8. Clemson - The most exciting 25 seconds in college football and maybe the loudest stadium in football.
9. Alabama - Bryant-Denny is getting back to where is used to be
10. South Carolina - The most loyal fans in college football, not the team, make this a tough place to win
11. Miami - Not the best atmosphere all around, but you know you are in for a war with the Canes
12. Arkansas - Wooooo Pig Sooey will leave you wondering if you should have gotten of the bus
13. Georgia Tech - Not too many teams are used to playing in a big city under the big lights
14. Boston College - It's small size actually works to an advantage because of the "comfort factor"

Except for Duke, Wake Forest, and Vanderbilt, I pretty much lump everyone else in the same stature.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Back Home in Omaha

After winning four straight elimination games, the Oregon St Beavers find themselves in the Finals of the 2006 College World Series. They will face the North Carolina Tar Heels who went undefeated in their bracket defeating Cal-State Fullerton twice and Clemson once. The two teams will play a best of 3 series to decide the national champion. In the old format, Oregon St would have needed to beat UNC twice to win the title, but UNC would only have to win once.

The Tar Heels will be trying to accomplish something the ACC has not done since Wake Forest in 1955 – win a National Championship in Baseball. Fatigue should be on the side of the Heels as they have only played three games to Oregon St’s five. Pitching should be the storyline of this series with UNC’s two first round picks and Oregon St’s staff that shutout Rice in two consecutive games.

The Beavers have the momentum coming into the weekend, but will need to continue their stellar pitching and defense to beat the Tar Heels two out of three. UNC has shown the ability to beat with pitching or hitting. I expect the series to go the full three games however due to Oregon St’s resolve already shown in Omaha. In the end, I think UNC has more talent and the extra rest they have will carry them to victory.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

From 4 Down to 1

The College World Series is down to the Final 4 teams.  After sending 4 teams to Omaha, the ACC is now down to 1; although this team is 2-0 and has its two aces rested and ready.   The North Carolina Tar Heels are in control of the top bracket and have their two first round picks headed to the mound against Cal State Fullerton Titans.   The Titans must defeat the Heels twice to advance to the Finals.  However, Fullerton has had a knack for coming from behind in the World Series.   They were down to their last strike against Georgia Tech and fell behind Clemson 6-3 before winning 7-6.  These two teams met in the first round with UNC winning a 13 inning thriller.


I think UNC will be very tough to beat with Daniel Bard (1st rd-Boston) and Andrew Miller (1st rd-Detroit) taking the mound if necessary in a second game.   The Titans play with the motto "Jab… Grind" symbolizing their never say die attitude so evident in their last two games.  I expect the Titans to come out and win game 1, but not have enough gas left in the tank for game 2.


The lone team on the bottom half of the bracket, Miami, lost to Oregon St last night in an elimination game 8-1 after defeating Oregon St 11-1 in the first round.  Though the Hurricanes are disappointed by their elimination, they extended their consecutive trips to the College World Series with at least 1 win to 19.  Rice is the team to beat in the bottom bracket and has two chances to beat Oregon St to advance to the Finals.  Rice looks to be the heavy favorite in the side of the bracket.


If UNC and Rice meet in the Finals, you will see some of the best pitching this side of the Major Leagues.   If Cal-State Fullerton can make it to the Finals, then they will have a rematch with Rice who they lost two games to this year.  Those two losses helped catapult Fullerton to a strong finish and a College World Series run.   However, I think Rice has too much pitching and enough hitting to win this World Series.  I am thinking they should be around a 2:1 favorite right now.


Rice 2:1

UNC 4:1

Cal State Fullerton 5:1

Oregon State 10:1

Sunday, June 18, 2006

CWS From Omaha....Ping!!!!!

The NCAA College Baseball Tournament has its last 8 (actually 7 now) teams remaining in Omaha for the College World Series. The first weekend provided drama in the form of 3 heartbreaking losses and a classic pitchers duel even in the metal bat era.

The storyline for this years College World Series was the strong showing of the ACC, placing 4 teams (Clemson, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Miami) in Omaha. The bracket was set up like the NCAA Basketball Tournament where you played the regional winners by the original 64 team bracket (CWS used to reseed teams once they made it to Omaha). This put 3 ACC teams in the Top bracket (Clemson, Georgia Tech, UNC) with Miami in the bottom bracket.

The first game featured Clemson and Georgia Tech; two teams who split their 6 games during the regular season and the all time series record was tied with each team winning 93 times. The Yellow Jackets looked to be cruising leading 4-0 heading into the 8th inning. That is win the wheels fell off. Tech surrended the lead before an out was even recorded. Coming into the game, Tech's bullpen was very reliable having not surrended a lead after the 7th inning all season. Some Tech fans will say that Head Coach Danny Hall should have gone to Matt Wieters instead of Brad Rulon who was lit up by Clemson last time they faced in the ACC Tournament, but this decision would be played out again on Sunday....

UNC's Andrew Miller took the mound in Game 2 vs Cal-State Fullerton, the favorite to win the World Series. The two teams battled for 13 innings to a 5 all stalement. The Tar Heels got two runs in the top of the 13th after Fullerton had 2 men reach base in each of the extra innings so far including 1st and 3rd with nobody out in the 11th. The loss sent the Titans to an elimination game with Tech.

Once again, Tech jumped out to an early 3-0 lead against Fullerton in the first inning, but eventually lost that lead by the 7th where the Titans had tied it at 4. Then in the 7th, Tech 1st Team All-American All Everything Matt Wieters smashed a home run to left giving the Jackets a 5-4 lead. He would then come on in the 8th inning with 2 outs to hold the lead he gave. Everything looked to be fine in the 9th with 2 outs and 2 strikes when the wheels fell off again. A couple of hits and an intentional walk loaded the bases for Fullerton. Corey Vanderhook, the guy who was the goat of Friday for getting picked off at 3rd base became the hero on the most unlikely of hits. A chopper off the mound, over the 6'5" Wieters which SS Michael Fisher dived for, but could not grab scoring two runs to give the Titans the win. An insurance run was added in the next at bat on a bloop single to left field. A tough way for the Yellow Jackets to end their season knowing they could easily be 2-0 in the World Series. Georgia Tech Post Conference Video

Clemson and UNC met for the first time this season in the night game. Spectacular pitching performances on both sides of the mound, but UNC edged out a 2-0 win. The loss put Clemson, the #1 overall seed in an elimination game with Cal-State Fullerton on Tuesday. The winner of that game will have to go through Pitchers Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard - UNC's two 1st round picks.

Monday's game will feature an elimination game between the SEC's lone rep in the Georgia Bulldogs and the Oregon St Beavers. Oregon St was crushed on Saturday 11-1 by Miami who will face Rice in the evening.

CWS Central from CSTV

Baseball America Coverage of the World Series

ESPN Photo Gallery