Friday Regional Baseball Notebook

June 5, 2010

Notes & Thoughts From Day 1 NCAA Action (updated)

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(note – this page now has a couple additional notes added around 9:45 a.m. eastern on Saturday – PL) …


  • Minnesota was the only #4 seed that won on Friday (3-1 at Cal State Fullerton, see notes below), while the collective #3 seeds went 9-7 vs. the #2s. The #3 seeds that posted the “minor upsets” (some may have been considered the favorites?) included: Louisiana-Lafayette 1, Rice 0 (in Austin) … The Citadel 7, Virginia Tech 2 (in Columbia) … Washington State 8, Kansas State 6 (in Fayetteville) … Arizona 10, Baylor 9 (in Ft. Worth) … New Mexico 9, Stanford 5 (in Fullerton, which also had the 4-vs.-1 upset) … Oregon State 6, Florida Atlantic 4 (in Gainesville) … North Carolina 12, California 3 (in Norman) … Oregon 5, Connecticut 3 (in Norwich) … and Hawaii 4, San Diego 2 (in Tempe). See bullet notes below for some highlights from Friday’s nine “upsets” (along with info. from the other games).
  • Regional host teams have the option to take the first or second game on Day-1 of NCAA Regional play. The hosts traditionally take the second or “Prime Time” game, and this year was no different with 12 of 16 Regional hosts opting for game two. Coastal Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, and Oklahoma were the only Regional hosts to opt for the early game rather than the night cap (some coaches prefer to get the game out of the way, avoid risk of rain delays, get their team a few hours more rest, etc.). All four of those teams won.

    11 year MLB veteran turned college baseball analyst Eric Byrnes

  • Disclaimer: I (Sean Stires … Pete LaFleur ditto) like Eric Byrnes. That said, Byrnes was considered by many to be more style than substance in his playing days, so it’s only fitting that ESPNU has continued its tradition of going with style over substance by using the newly-retired Byrnes in the broadcast booth during the Coral Gables Regional. Case in point:  Texas A&M was trailing FIU 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning. After Aggie leadoff man Jaoquin Hinojosa reached base safely, 2-hole batter Tyler Naquin tried (unsuccessfully) to bunt him over. This prompted Byrnes to question why A&M was playing for only onw run so early in the game…. An inning later, with #9 batter Andrew Collazo at the plate in the same situation, Byrnes said, “We’re not bunting again are we?” Uh, yes Eric they were, and after Collazo executed his 8th sac-bunt of the season a graphic popped-up on the screen that showed that A&M had just tied a school record with its 59th sac-bunt of the season. The Aggies entered the day tied for 14th nationally in that department. Apparently game preparation was not high on Byrnes’ list of things to do prior to his college baseball broadcasting debut.
  • Byrnes, who played at the 1997 College World Series for UCLA, again showed his lack of knowledge of the current college game later in the broadcast when the subject of NCAA bids came up. Minnesota was mentioned as the only Big Ten representative in the tournament, while the Pac-10 was one of three conferences to get eight bids. “How does that happen, though,” Byrnes asked. “We’re talking one team from the Big Ten and eight from the Pac.” Um…do I really need to say more? Thankfully, Kyle Peterson was there to keep Byrnes pointed in the right direction.
  • In fairness to Byrnes, he did provide some needed entertainment when the game turned into a blowout in the middle innings.
  • When Florida International pitcher Daniel DeSimone hit Caleb Shofner with a pitch in the bottom of the 5th inning, it marked the 100th HBP by the Golden Panther pitching staff this season. The dubious mark sets an NCAA single-season record.
  • Garrett Wittels extended hit hitting streak to 55 games in FIU’s loss to Texas A&M. He doubled to right-center field by swinging at a 3-0 pitch to lead off the top of the 6th inning. A smattering of boos were directed at A&M pitcher Barret Loux when the count reached 3-0 and it looked like Wittels might not have a chance to swing in his third at-bat of the day.
  • The hit by Wittels marked the 16th time he extended the streak with a hit between the 4th and 6th innings this season. He’s kept the streak going 25 times in the first three innings of a game, 13 times from the 7th through 9th innings, and once (March 26 vs. Arkansas-Little Rock) in the 12th inning.
  • Five different Texas A&M players hit home runs in the 17-3 win, while Aggie winning pitcher Loux (11-2) struck out 10 in 8 IP. He’s now fanned 136 in 104 innings this season.
  • The Aggies have won seven straight, 13 of their past 14 and 19 of 22 games dating back to April 27.
  • Southern Mississippi’s got some work to do if they’re going to make a return trip to the College World Series (and possibly extend Brett Favre’s NFL career … although something tells us he’s coming back anyway!). The Golden Eagles fell 10-1 to Clemson in their Regional opener. USM ace Scott Copeland dropped to 11-1 with his first loss of the season, after winning as a starter and deep reliever at the C-USA Tournament (to earn CB360 national Primetime Pitcher of the Week honors).

    Brett Eibner hit 3 HR in Arkansas' Friday win over Grambling St. (Arkansas photo)

  • Brett Eibner smacked 3 HR to help Arkansas rout Grambling State 19-7.  Eibner was 4-for-5 with 7 RBIs and 5 runs. Look for the two-way talent on the mound this weekend as well. Collin Kuhn and Andy Wilkins each homered twice for the Hogs.
  • The Citadel pulled-off a minor upset as the #3-seeded Bulldogs beat #2 Virginia Tech, 7-2. The win is the 13th straight for The Citadel, but the best news is they didn’t even use ace Asher Wojciechowski (3.25 ERA, 12-2. 144 Ks in 119 IP). Lefty Matt Talley (8-3) tossed 7.0 innings and won, while 3B David Greene had a 2-run HR from the 7-hole. The jr. RHP “Wojo” is slated to be opposed on Saturday by South Carolina’s ace, sr. RHP Blake Cooper (2.94, 10-1, 88 Ks in 104 IP). Justin Wright was the losing pitcher on Friday vs. Citadel (5.1IP-6R-10H-BB-5K), as VT’s #1-3 hitters combined to hit only 2-for-14 (CF/leadoff Sean Ryan has a 2-run HR in the 7th).
  • Zach Osborne registered Louisiana-Lafayette’s first NCAA Tournament shutout since 2002 by blanking Rice, 1-0. Catcher/cleanup hitter Chad Keefer’s 2-out single in the 8th inning plated the game’s lone run.
  • Baylor scored five runs in the bottom of the 9th inning, but they came up short in a 10-9 loss to Arizona at the Ft. Worth Regional. The Bears left runners at first and third to end the game. They committed three errors to give the Wildcats five unearned runs in the 6th inning. Steve Selsky & DH/6-hole Josh Garcia (2RBI-2R-HBP) homered for the Wildcats, while SS Alex Mejia was 3-for-4 with 4 RBI, a double & run scored from the bottom of the order.
  • Baylor’s Logan Vick walked twice to set a single-season school record with 56 BBs this year. The Bears left 12 men on base (including the two in the 9th), with Gregg Glime‘s home run and 3 RBI pacing the Baylor offense. Logan Verrett had no-decision (3.1IP-3R-5H-BB-2K) and Shawn Tolleson (2-7) was let down by his defense in the hard-luck loss (3.2IP-6R/1ER-5H-BB-2K).
  • Closing in on 200: … Friday’s win by Coastal Carolina (6-0 vs. Stony Brook) is the 199th victory for the Chanticleers over past four seasons (199-50-0, from 2007-10).

    Oklahoma's Chris Ellison

  • Chris Ellison drove in Cody Reine in the bottom of the 10th inning to give Oklahoma a 7-6 win over Oral Roberts. Reine had homered two innings earlier to tie the game (6-6) and ultimately force extra innings.
  • One-time Little League World series participant Michael Broad hit one of Miami’s two 1st-inning, 3-run home runs to help the Hurricanes beat Dartmouth, 12-8. The ‘Canes held on after leading 11-0 thru five innings. Joe Sclafani homered twice for the Big Green.
  • Oregon State beat Florida Atlantic, 6-4, in Gainesville, Fla. The start of the game was delayed a total of 3:15 by rain. Tyler Smith hit his first home run in nearly two months in the win.
  • “Lobos fight scratch and claw baby, we’ll play anybody, anywhere anytime and we’re trying to spend a lot of our effort trying to prove that we can play with anybody in the country.” – Those were New Mexico third-year head coach Ray Birmingham’s comments during his in-game interview on ESPNU while his team was playing Stanford. Is it any wonder UNM is making its first NCAA appearance since 1962?
  • New Mexico won that game, 9-5, for the second NCAA Tournament win in school history. Willy Kesler had no-decision (5.2IP-4R-11H-BB-5K) and Jason Oatman (1-2) picked up the relief win (3.1IP-R-3H-2K). RF Chris Juarez went 3-for-4 (3RBI-2B) from the 5-hole, while the 2-hole-batting catcher Rafael Neda homered and scored 4 times (1B/2-hole Justin Howard had 3R).
  • Don’t know how to say his name, but Pi’ikea Kitamura was hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded in the top of the 9th inning to give Hawaii a 4-3 win over San Diego in Tempe, Ariz. San Diego ace Kyle Blair had another solid outing but did not figure into the decisions (8IP-3R/1ER-7H-8K). USD’s Mike Ferraro homered from the 7-hole and had 2 RBI, but USD’s #1-5 hitters combined for only 4 hits.

    LSU's Trey Watkins

  • In his only at-bat of the night, LSU’s Trey Watkins smacked a 2-strike, 2-out double in the bottom of the 11th to lift LSU to an 11-10 over UC-Irvine. LSU’s Austin Nola forced extra innings when his blooper to right with 2 outs in the 9th scored Johnny Dishon, who motored all the way  aroundfrom first base.
  • Jack Armstrong’s pinch-hit single scored Andrew Giobbi to give Vanderbilt an 8-7 win over Illinois State at the Louisville Regional opener. If the name of the offensive hero sounds familiar, it’s because Armstrong has been one of Vandy’s top starting pitchers this season and we’re sure to see him make a start over the weekend.
  • Oregon beat Connecticut, 5-3, in Norwich, Conn., thanks to three runs in the top of the 9th inning.
  • TCU didn’t use freshman ace Matt Purke (12-0), but the Horned Frogs still cruised to a 16-3 win over Lamar. Kyle Winkler and Greg Holle combined for 11 strikeouts to improve TCU to 20-0 this year when its pitchers have at least 10 K in a game. Purke will go Saturday vs. Arizona.
  • Louisville also sat its ace, Thomas Royse (9-1), in its 11-2 win over Saint Louis. Head coach Dan McDonnell was not in the dugout, as he served the first game of his three-game suspension for last week’s dustup with an umpire at the Big East Tournament.
  • Minnesota pulled-off the biggest Day-1 upset, as the #4 seed Golden Gophers downed #1 seed andnd host Cal State Fullerton, 3-1 in Fullerton. Jr. RHP  Seth Rosin (9-4) faced only 26 batters and struck out 7 with no walks in 8.0 innings to move his season totals to 95 Ks and only 12 BB. All the Gophers runs came in the opening frame, with RBI singles from Kyle Knudson and Matt Puhl scoring AJ Pettersen & AndyHenkmeryer (other run scores on error/unearned).
  • Washington State registered its 19th come-from-behind win of the season, an 8-6 victory over Kansas State in Fayetteville, Ark. Adam Conley postedhis 19th save, while the Cougar bullpen notched its 18th win of the year (one away from tyingthe school record set in 1987). Cody Barlett’s 2-run HR in the 8th inning proved to be the game-winner.
  • It took a 5-run 8th inning for South Carolina to rally to a 9-5 home win over Bucknell. It’s the Gamecock’s 12th straight postseason home win.
  • Texas scored all 11 of its runs with 2-outs in an 11-0 win over Rider in Austin. Brandon Workman (12-1) tossed a complete game.
  • Ole Miss held off St. John’s, 10-5, in Charlottesville, Va. The Red Storm scored all five of their runs in the last two innings.
  • Tony Plagman was 5-for-5 in Georgia Tech’s 10-0 win over Mercer in Atlanta.
  • Florida freshman Hudson Randall notched a career-best 10 strikeouts in 7.1 innings to help the Gators beat Bethune-Cookman, 7-3. Randall didn’t allow a hit until the 5th inning.
  • UCLA routed Kent State, 15-1 in L.A., for the Bruins 25th home win of the season. Their 44 total wins are one away from tying the program’s single-season record set in 1997.
  • North Carolina validated its NCAA berth with a 12-3 win over Cal in Norman, Okla. The Tar Heels have scored eight or more runs in 16 of their past 24 first- or second0round NCAA Tournament games.
  • 5,684 fans saw Oregon beat UConn, 5-3 at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Conn. The Ducks rallied for three runs in the top of the 9th. Reliever Madison Boer has notched a save in Oregon’s past four wins. An attendance of 1,948 was on hand earlier in the day to see Florida State beat Central Connecticut, 11-3.
  • Kole Calhoun hit his team-leading 14th HR to help overall #1 seed Arizona State beat Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 6-2 in Tempe.

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