College World Series Finals Game 1

June 29, 2010

Gamecocks Take Game One Of CWS Finals From Bruins

A few notes and thoughts on Monday’s 7-1 South Carolina win over UCLA to open the last CWS Finals at Rosenblatt Stadium with CB360 Editor Sean Stires.

  • Prior to tonight’s CWS Championship Series game the banners of the 23 schools that have won CWS titles were paraded and displayed on the edge of the infield/outfield.
  • Participants from the 1950 CWS title game between Texas and Washington State were recognized before the game.  The ’50 CWS was the first one played here at Rosenblatt after spending two years in Kalamazoo, MI and one year in Wichita, KS.
  • South Carolina’s Blake Cooper made his CWS leading third start in the last eight days tonight.  In his two previous starts (both vs. Oklahoma) Cooper combined to pitch 10 2/3 innings with 4 ER on 10 hits, 3 BB, and 11 strikeouts.
  • Cooper (12-2) lost for just the second time this season when the Gamecocks fell 4-3 to Oklahoma in their CWS opener back on June 20th.  He had a no decision last Thursday in SC’s 3-2 elimination game win over the Sooners.
  • Cooper held UCLA hitless through his first 4 1/3 innings before catcher Steve Rodriguez broke it up with a blooper up the leftfield line.  Jimmy Ehrler of Texas is still the only man to fire a no-hitter at the CWS.  Ehrler did it against Tufts in 1950.

CWS Finals Game 1 Postgame Video

  • Saw ESPN’s Orel Hershiser in the press box tonight.  The former LA Dodger said “That looks like a good wiener”, when he saw the hot dog I had on my plate.
  • I just looked down to my left and noticed ESPN has a 3-man broadcast booth tonight with Hershiser and Robin Ventura as the analysts and Mike Patrick doing play by play.  We can’t hear the audio in the press box, so I have no idea how they sound.  I really like Ventura in the booth, and I like what I heard of Nomar Garciaparra during the games I was away from Omaha over the weekend.  I have to say I really like Sean McDounough doing PBP.  It would be great if he and Patrick could work Super Regional games in the future.  You could even throw Karl Ravech into that mix.  It would really up the level of anticipation for games in Omaha with pros like that working the mics a week before the CWS begins.
  • South Carolina got its first two runs of the night after there were two outs in the first inning thanks to a bunt, a bloop, a check swing, and an error.  Jackie Bradley, Jr. started it with the bunt, followed by a bloop to left centerfield by Christian Walker, a check swing RBI single up the left field line by Brady Thomas, and then an error by UCLA 2B Cody Regis, who moved over from 3B at the start of the CWS after Tyler Rahmatulla broke his wrist in the Super Regional dog pile.
  • Bradley’s bunt extended his current hitting streak to 22 games.  He came into the night hitting .421 in his first five CWS games.
  • Just saw South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier grabbing a cup full of pretzels in the press box snack area.  I had never seen him in person before, and I kind of did the double take when he walked by.  He looked at me like I might be a stalker and kept going.  He just made the same face when ESPN showed him sitting in his booth.
  • I know it’s been talked about plenty that UCLA has never won a baseball national championship, despite the fact that the school has won an NCAA record 106 titles.  Included in that haul is the softball team’s 11th title this year.  So UCLA is not only trying to win both the men’s and women’s CWS Championships this year, but it is also trying to become the first school to ever with both of those titles in the same year.  The Women’s CWS began in 1982.
  • UCLA starter Gerrit Cole’s 100th pitch of the night was his first pitch in the top of the 6th inning.  He had never given-up more than five runs or double digit hits prior to tonight’s game.  His line at the end of the night:  7 IP, 11 hits, 6 runs, 4 earned runs, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 127 pitches, 86 strikes.  Cole is now 11-4 this season.
  • Blake Cooper’s 100th pitch of the night was his first pitch of the 7th inning – a tapper back to the mound to retire Dean Espy.
  • Cooper finished his night with 8+ IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 2 BB, and 10 Ks.  After giving-up two hits and issuing a walk in the 9th inning he exited to a chorus of both cheers (Gamecock fans) and boos (Bruin fans).  Cooper threw 136 pitches, including 89 strikes.  He is now 13-2.
  • There were a handful of balls that were hit on the screws tonight, but the ball just was not carrying at Rosenblatt.  The flags in centerfield were blowing in most of the night.
  • Attendance for tonight’s game was 23,181 – or slightly below the combined two game total of 23,500 that saw Saturday’s TCU vs. UCLA and South Carolina vs. Clemson elimination games (games 13 & 14 of the CWS).  The total draw for this year’s CWS is 306,532 for an average of 20,425.  On day one of last year’s CWS Finals the total attendance was 294,219 for an average of 22,405 per game (games 13 & 14 were not played/needed in 2009).
  • CB360’s Paul Fiarkoski did an interview tonight with the local PBS station, which is shooting a documentary to be titled The Final Inning.  The program will be similar to the documentary The Long Home Run, which has aired on ESPN, but it will focus on the entire history of Rosenblatt Stadium, not just as it pertains to the CWS.
  • When UCLA leftfielder Jeff Gelalich was hit by pitch in the 4th inning it was the school record 101st time a Bruin batter was hit this season.  Niko Gallego was also HBP in the 1st inning, but home plate umpire AlJ. Lostaglio did not award him the base.  Gallego eventually struckout.
  • Trevor Brown pinch-hit and hit into a 4-6-3 double play in the 9th inning, but it plated UCLA’s only run of the night.  With the run the Bruins avoided being shutout for the first time since May 22, 2009 – a stretch of 68 straight games.

Our coverage of the 2010 College World Series is brought to you by The Dugout in Omaha, with everything you’re looking for when it comes to officially-licensed CWS hats and shirts. If you can’t make it to Rosenblatt, be sure to follow the link for all of your CWS gear!

Cool Hand Blake Dominates Bruins

Analysis of game one with CB360’s Chase Titleman

The one thing we have learned over the 61 years that Rosenblatt Stadium has hosted the College World Series is to expect the unexpected.

That was the main reason I picked South Carolina to defeat UCLA over the course of the three game series for the national championship here in Omaha.

The other reason was Blake Cooper, who is accustomed to taking on similar, GarrIt Cole-like big time performers, within the SEC Conference on a weekly basis.

Late Sunday night, Gamecock head coach Ray Tanner approached Cooper outside his hotel room to explain his rationale for starting Cooper in Game #2, trying unsuccessfully to sell the concept that an extra day of rest will be needed to help South Carolina bring home its first national championship.

Cooper would have none of it, saying “What are we really getting after the extra day of rest?”  “I want the ball!”

Coming into the ballgame, Cole was the pitcher who brought a repertoire of pitches in collecting 151 strikeouts on the season as all the talk was focused on the UCLA Friday starter due to his brilliant performance versus TCU.

Running his fastball in the 94-97 mph range, who would question his superior arm strength in the match-up with Cooper, especially considering he tops out at 86 on the fastball and 79 on the cutter?

But Cooper is accustomed to being over-shadowed in a marquee match-up for he knows all too well that pitching success is not all about the velocity or reputation of the pitcher. If you don’t give up any runs, how can a team beat you?

For example, on April 16th this spring, Cooper took on another first round draft pick, Drew Pomeranz of Ole Miss, and calmly went out and blanked the Rebels for a 5-0 victory. Here is his line of production from that particular ballgame, reminiscent of tonight’s effort at Rosenblatt Stadium.

South Carolina ip h r er bb so wp bk hbp ibb ab bf fo go np
Blake Cooper W,7-0 9.0 4 0 0 1 10 0 0 1 0 31 34 4 12 120

Cooper was masterful tonight, spinning a one-hitter through 8 complete innings with 10 strike-outs, while out-competing Bauer with a string of cutters that was hell on earth for left-handed hitters and a bevy of spinners that sunk towards the bottom of the strike-zone versus the right-handed hitters.

His curveball got even better, with more bite, as the game moved into the late innings.

All of this on three days rest.

To say the kid is an bulldog on the mound would be quite the understatement, and it is a good thing Ray Tanner puts a great deal of trust in his players, for he could have easily disregarded Cooper’s pleading, opting instead to stick with his game plan.

Destiny cultivates mysterious mannerisms for the effort is the stuff of legends here in Omaha. With all the attention on Bauer coming in, few people realized that Cooper actually had the better numbers.

Cooper vs Cole

(RHP) Blake Cooper (S.C.)2.86.23012-220129.010851413811615012
(RHP) Gerrit Cole (UCLA)3.26.19411-319116814542511511534

The similarity between the two marquee match-ups versus Pomeranz and Cole being that Cooper spun a complete game shut-out on four hits in the game against Ole Miss, while giving up only one run on three hits after being relieved with the bases loaded and no outs in the ninth inning versus UCLA in the College World Series.

Both efforts were unexpected, the perfect formula for picking South Carolina to win its first championship in 2010.

Think about it…he has out-dueled two players that will likely sign for a cool $10 Million between them, now giving his Carolina faithful the upper-hand in the series. The performance is reminiscent of Oregon State’s masterful run to the title in 2006, overcoming a slew of elimination games with quality pitching from a few unsung heroes.

Cooper appeared to hardly break a sweat as his effort stymied a hot-hitting UCLA team that destroyed TCU on Saturday.

Cooper gives his teammates such a lift in terms of confidence that the team played cool, calm and collective, just like their leader on the hill throughout the ballgame, shockingly to most, winning the game with ease (7-1) to take Game #1 of the championship best of three.

For much of the tournament here at Rosenblatt in 2010, South Carolina has been a team on the edge of elimination. Now the Bruins must find a comfort zone with the threat of elimination hovering in the background. Carolina must be basking in the freedom, knowing they are just one more gutty effort away from accomplishing their goal.

The mark of a champion in college baseball is often determined by how a team performs when things don’t go according to plan. Now, UCLA is the team that will have to overcome adversity so prevalent in the game of baseball.

South Carolina has answered those championship questions that only a grinding effort through the journey of a season can answer. They must feel they are a team of destiny, which together with the bulldog tenacity of Cooper is the main reason why I am picking South Carolina to win its first championship in the final year of Rosenblatt’s splendid run.

With a pitching staff like South Carolina that can match UCLA, the Bruins must find some offense as, overall, the team took far too many pitches tonight versus a quality competitor like Cooper.

It wasn’t as if Cooper didn’t offer anything up to hit, but when the ball did get elevated within the strike-zone, the Bruins never took the bat off their shoulders. As a matter of fact, the only thing that has beaten Cooper at the 2010 College World Series in Omaha is the weather.

If it hadn’t been for a violent thunderstorm last Sunday afternoon, in a game that was delayed a total of 6 and a half hours, Cooper may have picked up his third win of the week versus Oklahoma, Arizona State and UCLA, three of the best teams in the country to close the season.

That will need to change in a hurry if the baseball program at UCLA expects to add to its Division I leading 116 national titles.

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