Monthly Archives: June 2011

Wingo and His Yardcocks


How Relaxed Was Our Team?


This relaxed…..

Back to Back for the Garnet & Black!!!!!


Brady Thomas, Michael Roth, and Scott Wingo posing with the CWS trophy after beating Florida on Tuesday night

We did it y’all.  The University of South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the Florida Gators to bring home their second consecutive College World Series title.  What an amazing piece of history – to win the last CWS ever played at Rosenblatt Stadium, a park steeped in tradition, memory, exultation, and pain, and then to turn around and leave an indelible mark on the history of the new field, TD Ameritrade Park, by becoming not only the first team to win a title there, but to do so in a record-setting and dramatic fashion.  After winning the title last year, I said that I had never been more proud to be a Gamecock.  Turns out I was wrong.  This team, who isn’t necessarily as talented or as deep as last year’s champs, is an inspiration.  They’ve battled and won against every bit of adversity thrown in their path.  They’ve overcome injuries and insanely good opposing pitching.  This team is full of normal guys who fight to do the best they can.  Watching every player step up and do more than was expected uncomplainingly was incredible.  This brotherhood is a thing that you don’t always see.  But this team is family – and they embrace and appreciate every single member of Gamecock Nation who supported them along the way.  At this moment, I truly have never been prouder to be a Gamecock.

Click here for your game recap

CWS Championship Series: Game 1


Matt Price, after beating Florida on Monday night.

 

Y’all.  If the Gamecocks keep playing like this, I’m going to have to find myself an excellent cardiologist.  I had gone out to watch the game, and in the 10th inning, I asked our waitress if it was possible to order blood pressure medicine from the bar. Unfortunately she said no.  But lord, did I think I would need it.  I think everyone knew that it would be a tough game.  I don’t think anyone expected it to be as intense as it was.  I’ve been an avid baseball fan for as long as I can remember, but last night was one of the best baseball games I have ever seen, at any level.

Keep Reading

CWS Recap: Day 6


Friday was the semi-final round of the CWS.  If the 1-loss teams won, they would live to see another day and play for a shot at the title on Saturday.  If the undefeated teams won, we would be baseball free until Monday, when the championship series starts.  In two games that were absolutely worthy of a Final Four situation, fans saw some unbelievable baseball.  These were two games that came down to the wire, and could have gone either way until the bitter end.

Vandy/Floria: I really thought Vandy was going to come out swinging and take this one from the Gators.  Vandy had only beaten Florida once in 5 tries, and they were due.  This was their first CWS appearance, and they had the drive and determination to see it through.  Florida, however, was well-rested thanks to their stay in the winner’s bracket, and refused to let their SEC opponent beat them. Vandy drew first blood on a run in the 1st, just as I expected.  But by the 6th, Florida had scored 4.  Vandy loaded the bases in both the 7th and 8th and manage 3 more runs to tie the game.  Florida responded with 2 more runs in the bottom of the 8th.  The ‘Dores couldn’t get anything going in the 9th, and Florida pulled out the win.  It made for some exciting baseball.  These two teams were so evenly matched, at least on paper, that it seems ridiculous that Vandy hasn’t won more against Florida this season.  But that’s the beauty of baseball.  Like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.  And so Vandy heads back to Nashville, and Florida gets in some more practice before starting the championship series on Monday.  Final score: Florida 6, Vandy 4.

UVA/South Carolina:  I admit it.  I didn’t think USC would win this game.  I felt sure that UVA was furious about getting stomped by the Gamecocks on Tuesday, and wasn’t about to let it happen again.  For awhile it looked like I was right.  Both teams threw their ace pitchers to start the game – Michael Roth for USC and #2 overall draft pick Danny Hultzen for UVA.  Hultzen made the Gamecocks look bad.  And not just bad.  Almost like a little league team.  And not  one of of those little league teams that makes the Little League World Series.  He struck out the first 6 Gamecock batters, gave up a hit to Peter Mooney to start the 3rd, got a fly out, and then 2 more strikeouts.  Yes.  That was 8 strikeouts in 3 innings.  Danny Hultzen – Seattle called.  They would like you to start in their game tomorrow.  It was not looking good for the Gamecocks, as Roth gave up his 1st earned run in something ridiculous like 38 innings in the 2nd.  The Cavaliers were up 1-0, and with Hultzen on the mound, it looked like it was going to be a long night for the Gamecocks.  And then we found out that Hultzen had the flu.  How can you not admire a pitcher who, while feeling like death, still strikes out 8 batters in 3 innings?  And then the unthinkable happened.  UVA lifted Hultzen from the game (his face did match the white pants he was wearing, so maybe it was for the benefit of his health).  Kyle Crockett came in in relief, and the Gamecocks were able to string a couple of hits together in the 4th to take the lead, 2-1.  And all of the cameras panned to Danny Hultzen, sitting in the dugout, shaking his head in disbelief as his hardwork came crashing down around him.  Of all the days to be sick, that poor kid had to be cursing his immune system.  If he had stayed in, I think this game would have had a much different outcome.  UVA tied the game in the 8th after a Gamecock error.  And then it was Matt Price time.  The Gamecocks brought in their closer to finish the 8th, and presumably the game.  Except that they couldn’t score again until the bottom of the 13th.  Price pitched a season high 5.2 innings while striking out 5.  His counterpart on the UVA side was closer Branden Kline.  Kline threw 5 scoreless innings with 7 Ks.  The two closers combined for 202 pitches and 10.2 innings of work. Sounds like numbers you would associate with starters instead.  UVA finally pulled Kline in the 13th, and reliever Cody Winiarski gave up the winning run after he made two throwing errors.  Adam Matthews sailed home for the Gamecocks, and finally, after 13 grueling innings of spectacular baseball, South Carolina took home the victory.  But hats off to UVA.  They looked like a completely different team from the one we played on Tuesday.  They played tough, and it’s almost a shame that they had to end their CWS run on an error.  Almost a shame, because I really needed a Gamecock victory.  Final Score: South Carolina 3, UVA 2 in 13 innings.

A few random observations: CWS Final.  Not only are the 2 teams left standing from the same conference, but they are also from the same division.  That says an awful lot about the strength of the SEC East this year.

Matt Price.  I’d like to send an open letter from Gamecock Nation to Matt Price to beg him not to sign an MLB contract, and instead stay at Carolina for another year.  Anyone who can work through 3 bases-loaded jams in extra innings so that his team wins, should be celebrated.  Maybe we can rename the bullpen as “Matt Price bullpen at Ray Tanner Field at Carolina Stadium.”  You know, after both Price and Tanner leave us.  Despite taking years off of my life every time he pitches, I am constantly grateful that Price is a Gamecock.

South Carolina’s record. USC has a record 14 consecutive NCAA tournament wins.  And 10 straight wins in Omaha.  The teams from the past 2 years are certainly something special.

Monday.  The CWS Championship Series starts Monday at 8 p.m.  USC took 2 of 3 from Florida during the regular season, but both were hard fought games.  I don’t expect this series to be anything less than amazing baseball.  And I fully expect it to go 3 games, as much as I don’t want it to.

CWS Recap: Days 5 & 6


Wednesday and Thursday were elimination days in Omaha.  I love elimination games.  Why?  Because there are two teams fighting for their survival.  They usually bring out the best in pitching, defense, and offense.  They cause shakeups in the lineup, employ serious strategy, and use any tricks they can think of.  Elimination games are usually balls to the wall, knock down drag out fights, full of high drama, intensity, and lots of pacing around the living room when your team’s life is on the line (I know this, because last year during all of USC’s elimination games, I just about managed to wear out the carpet from my pacing).  I was anticipating both of this week’s elimination games to be just like this, despite the fact that both matchups were uneven.  It didn’t work out quite the way I had dreamed, but it was still some fun baseball to watch.

UNC/Vanderbilt: Let’s be honest.  UNC was way outmatched in this game.  Vandy is hands down one of the best teams in the country, and the ‘Dores have been playing ridiculous competition all year (2 of those teams being the only 2 unbeatens left in the CWS).  Vandy went to the final game of the SEC tournament, and shared in the SEC regular season title (although I still think that having “co-champions” is crap, and hope that the SEC will develop some kind of tie breaking rules in the future). UNC just hasn’t really faced the same type of competition all year.  I’m not discounting their season – the ACC plays some good baseball – I just think that Vandy played some tougher teams. UNC couldn’t get anything going against Vandy.  They couldn’t get the hits when they needed them, and that was the difference in this game.  Vandy, on the other hand, displayed some impressive offensive skill.  Connor Harrell hit his second HR of the CWS in the bottom of the 2nd inning, to drive in 3 runs, and cement Vandy’s lead.  The Heels just couldn’t come back from the 4 run deficit, though they tried.  They did manage 1 run off of starter Taylor Hill, who pitched 7 solid innings for the ‘Dores.  Vandy tacked on another run in the 3rd on a solo blast by Curt Casali.    UNC just couldn’t recover, and so we say farewell to the Tar Heels.  Final Score: Vandy 5, UNC 1.

UVA/Cal: As a baseball fan, I can’t help but love Cal.  Not only do they have an incredible story (seriously, if you played a CWS drinking game and drank every time the announcers mentioned Cal’s incredible story/hard road to Omaha, you wouldn’t make it out of the 2nd inning), but they also play solid and scrappy baseball.  They’ve had a magical season, and a great CWS run.  Unfortunately they had to play a UVA team that couldn’t have been too happy after getting stomped by USC the night before.  UVA had everything that they didn’t have in their game against the Gamecocks: solid pitching, timely offense, and pretty solid defense.  Cal’s usually stellar defense made a couple of errors, indeed they looked the way the Cavaliers had looked the previous day.   One of those errors turned a single into three extra bases, as Kenny Swab rounded the bases and kicked off an inning of UVA runs.  Cal just couldn’t recover, and so they are packing their bags to head back to the west coast.  Final Score: UVA 8, Cal 1.

A Few Random Observations: The Final Four.  Three of the final four teams play in the SEC East.  The final four teams were the only teams who were ranked #1 at some point during the year. And this is the 1st time in CWS history that 3 teams from the same conference (not to mention same division) are in the final four.  Looks like the CWS actually has the four best teams playing in the semifinals.

Friday’s games.  Florida and Vandy meet for another rematch at 2 p.m.  I really think Vandy is due to win one against the Gators.  They’ve only one once in the five times they’ve played this season.  Plus I think the ‘Dores are fired up enough to stave off elimination for at least one more game.  They’ll have to beat Florida twice to advance to the final, but I don’t anticipate that happening.  I think Vandy forces a second game, but Florida, and it’s rested pitching staff will win the second game.

USC and UVA play at 7 p.m.  The Gamecocks certainly have the talent to beat UVA tonight and move on the the final, but UVA isn’t going to underestimate USC this time around.  They certainly won’t play as sloppily as they did on Tuesday, so USC is really going to need to play clean, solid baseball to win.  This game could go either way, as both teams have a deep pitching staff.  I expect this game to be decided by one or two runs.  Neither team has formally announced a starting pitcher yet, but UVA is expected to go with their ace, Danny Hultzen.  Hultzen was brilliant in the opening round against Cal, and he was the #2 overall draft pick for a reason.  But he’s thrown quite a few pitches.  And he’s been in the lineup everyday as the DH.  We’ll see how he holds up, but I expect him to go for at least 6 or 7 innings.  On the USC side, the pitching debate is raging.  Will Ray Tanner start freshman Forrest Koumas, who has been the 3rd starter in the weekend rotation for most of the season, or will he give the ball to Michael Roth who threw close to 120 pitches on Sunday night?   There are argument for both, which leads to my next point.

South Carolina pitching.  There’s an argument for putting either Michael Roth or Forrest Koumas on the mound tonight.  Roth is clearly our ace.  He’s been in high pressure situations before.  He’s also had four days rest.  But, he threw close to 120 pitches on Sunday.  He also would probably be the best person for the job on Saturday if we should lose tonight.  Although, if he throws tonight, and we advance to the championship round, he would likely be able to go again on Tuesday.  Koumas is well rested (he actually hasn’t pitched since the beginning of June).  He’s been a pretty solid starter for us all year.  If he falters tonight, we’d have Roth to fall back on tomorrow.  But if he falters tonight, we likely couldn’t rely on John Taylor for a long relief stretch since he pitched 4+ innings on Tuesday.  The rest of the bullpen is fresh though, so we  could still conceivably work ourselves out of a jam.  If Koumas were to start and the Gamecocks were to win, then Roth could go in the opening game of the championship series.   It really could go either way, but I think ultimately Roth will get the start.  He’ll ask for the ball, and I’m sure both pitching coach Jerry Myers and Coach Tanner will be willing to give it to him, as long as he’s ok physically.  If Roth starts, and we lose, I imagine Koumas would get the start on Saturday.

Also. Jenn Brown of ESPN tweeted that USC = South Carolina.  Obvious to those of us in SEC land, as California wasn’t even a state when USC was founded.  But it’s nice to hear/see it from the national media.  

The Movement Has Begun!


The Thoughtful Gamecock’s modest proposal (found here) has managed to find some traction thanks to the good folks over at Gamecockcentral and Cockytalk.  I urgently request that you read our original article, then head over to those sites to join the conversation.

If you are a member of any of the other Gamecock message boards out there, I humbly request you start a thread outlining our proposal and get others involved.

If you listen to any of the local call-in radio shows, I urge you to call in and make them aware of what we have brewing here.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I ask you to sign the petition!

Thank you all for the overwhelming support you have given to our modest proposal, we will have some more comprehensive news regarding this idea later today.

Thank you again, so much!

UPDATE:  Garnet and Black Attack has come out in support of our proposal!

UPDATE #2:  TheBig Spur has a thread linking us in!

CWS Recap: Day 4


Tuesday’s games featured an elimination contest between Cal and Texas A&M and a matchup that put the #1 national seed Virginia against the #4 national seed South Carolina.  I was pretty excited for both of these games – Cal had some crazy momentum going, A&M had put on a good show against USC (and in the Super Regional against FSU), UVA was supposed to be virtually unbeatable, and I just love watching USC.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Cal/Texas A&M: What it really came down to was that A&M just couldn’t push runs across when they needed to.  They managed to plate three runs against freshman lefty Kyle Porter, but that was it, despite having 10 hits over the course of the game.  Cal, on the other hand gave their starting pitcher everything he needed – some great defense (except for one error in the 6th) and enough runs to put the Bears comfortably ahead.  And so we say good-bye to the Aggies.  Final Score: Cal 7, Texas A&M 3.

South Carolina/UVA:  I’ve said all year that UVA was overrated.  I actually picked them to go  2 and out in the CWS.  The Cavaliers were the team that was supposed to strike fear into the hearts of their opponents and steamroll even the most talented teams.  And then I watched them in the Super Regionals, and they looked a little less invincible than the pollsters claimed.  After barely pulling out a 9th inning victory in game 3 against UC-Irvine, I didn’t think they’d do much in Omaha.  Then they went and handily beat Cal in the opening round, which lead them to a matchup with USC.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous that the Gamecocks were starting Colby Holmes.  Not that Holmes is a bad pitcher, he’d just been a little inconsistent throughout the year.  I was just worried that he wasn’t going to be on his game on Tuesday.  Thankfully, I was wrong.  Holmes gave us a solid start, allowing only one run (a home run by John Hicks).  He got into a bit of a jam in the 5th when the defense lost a pop up in the lights, and the bases ended up loaded with one out.  At that point, Ray Tanner went to the bullpen and brought in John Taylor, who got a ground ball back to the mound that lead to a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning.  Taylor did his thing and pitched 4.1 scoreless innings, and then Matt Price came in to get the final out of the game.  The offense did it’s job better than normal.  They put up 3 runs in the first inning after several UVA errors.   Shaking up the lineup a bit seemed to work wonders as the #3-6 hitters (Walker, JBJ, Morales, and Thomas) went 10-20 as the Gamecocks scored 7.  This was probably one of the best games I’ve seen by the Gamecocks all year (and I have season tickets, so I saw a lot of games).  The pitching was solid, the defense was spectacular, and the bats came alive.  I hope that the Gamecocks can keep playing at this level of intensity.  They’re going to need to when they play Friday against either Cal or UVA.  Final Score: South Carolina 7, UVA 1.

A few random observations: This Cal team is definitely something special.  As I was watching the game on Tuesday, it occurred to me that they are scarily similar to last year’s South Carolina CWS team.  The Bears aren’t supposed to be here, they’ve won games that they shouldn’t have, they rely on spectacular defense to keep them in the games, their pitchers are stepping up when they need to (Michael Roth vs. Clemson, anyone?), and they are doing everything the can to get the runs they need.  While I’d love to see UVA lose, I’m a little nervous to see the Golden Bears against USC.

John Taylor.  We know his pitching is spectacular.  We know he gets the outs when he needs them.  But he also defends his position well.  In the 5th inning, he flew off the mound to field the DP ground ball, and didn’t hesitate to throw home.  It’s certainly not the first time Taylor has made an awesome defensive play either.  We’re lucky he pitches for the Gamecocks.

UVA Coach Brian O’Connor.  After admitting that USC played their best game of the year and that UVA beat themselves, he was asked if he thought that it was true that SEC baseball was just better than ACC baseball.  He wasn’t too happy about that question, and got a little defensive.  Guess what, Coach O’Connor?  One of the 2 ACC teams got knocked out by an SEC team, and the other got flattened by an SEC team.  I’d say that at least in this tournament, that means the SEC is playing better baseball.  Probably comes from having stiffer competition throughout the year.

The Gamecocks.  This is why this team is so special.  Taking important practice time off to pay a visit to the Omaha Children’s Hospital is just amazing.  And it’s not just something they do to improve their image.  They actually care about these kids.  Charlie Peters, who the Gamecocks met at the hospital while they were in Omaha in 2003, is now their bat boy for the tournament.  It’s these little things and little connections that elevate this team in my estimation.  Make sure you check out the pictures with the article too.  Looks like Michael Roth may have found himself a new girlfriend.

A Proposal For The Carolina/Clemson Rivalry


Those of us who have grown up in the state of South Carolina know the rivalry between the University of South Carolina Fighting Gamecocks and the Clemson Tigers for what it is:  one of the most bitter, emotionally supercharged and longest-running rivalries in all of college sports.  Those who have not been born into this war, even fans familiar with the college football landscape, are awestruck with the level of passion and intensity it inspires, often comparing it to the great rivalries from across the nation; Miami/Florida State, Texas/Oklahoma and the gold standard of college sports hatred, Alabama/Auburn.  Yet, our annual in-state contest remains something of a secret to most of the nation, despite being the third-longest running rivalry in college football.  Our big game doesn’t even have a proper name, allowing it to be eclipsed by contests with catchy handles like the Iron Bowl, The Red River Rivalry, and the Backyard Brawl.  The Trophy for which we compete is shameful:  The Hardees Trophy, an appallingly commercial award that is steeped in no tradition and says nothing about the State of South Carolina or the passion with which we approach our teams.  The last tradition of the rivalry that was unique and appealing ended half a century ago.  I’m speaking of Big Thursday, an event that combined the biggest game of the year with the state fair, and was uniquely South Carolinian.  One can only imagine a timeline in which Big Thurday was allowed to survive and thrive, perhaps to represent our state AT LEAST as well as the Egg Bowl does Mississippi, but alas, it was not meant to be.

Looking around the country, several rivalries have captured the imagination of the nation, even when played between teams that don’t have the talent or success of our in-state schools.  Teams play for delightfully funky trophies like giant axes, oaken buckets, bejeweled Shillelaghs, a platypus, wagon wheels and golden hats.  Engaging monikers capture the imagination: The Apple Cup, The Backyard Brawl, The Civil War, The Iron Bowl, The Duel in the Desert, Farmageddon.  A full list of rivalry games and trophies can be found here, and a quick look at the fun of these rivalry names and trophies makes clear what is wonderful about college football, and why USC/Clemson is overlooked by the nation at large.  Our big game is listed as “The Battle of the Palmetto State”, a title I’ve heard used to describe the game, but never used as the name of the game itself.  This name is wanting.  Could you not call ANY in-state rivalry “The Battle of the [insert state nickname here] state”?  Where’s the originality?  Where’s the fun?  Even calling the game “The Palmetto Bowl” would be preferable.

Mmmmmmmm.......Trophy.

The most profound shame lies with the Hardee’s Trophy.  I could almost live with such a blatantly commercial corporate monstrosity if THE CORPORATION WAS ACTUALLY BASED IN THE STATE.  A trophy provided by an in-state corporate donor would at least say something about what our state has to offer, but Hardees’ corporate offices are in St. Louis, and can be nothing more than a shabby exploitation of our biggest game perpetrated by out-of-state interests that cannot understand or respect the rivalry.  The very existance of the Hardee’s Trophy cheapens the rivalry.  It should be discontinued immediately.  Winning the Hardees Trophy is like setting an Olympic record and recieving McDonalds gift certificates instead of a gold medal.  It’s like knocking out Mike Tyson and getting a Bud light coozie.  It’s disgraceful.

I offer a solution.  It is a solution in which I ask your help.  Starting a new tradition is a tricky business.  Most college traditions grow out of random circumstance and eventually reach holy status after time.  To conciously create a tradition requires the willingness and support of the fan bases on a grass roots level, coupled with a good idea, of course.  I believe I have such an idea.

The South Carolina State flag is striking in its simplicity, and instantly recognizable to anyone remotely familiar with it.  The lone palmetto tree and crescent moon are the most evocative symbols of our state, and should figure into the symbology of the tradition we are designing.  So, should we make a palmetto tree trophy and let the winner of the USC/Clemson game hold it until the next game?

No, I say.  I’m thinking bigger.

I propose the commission of two bronze palmetto tree statues, one to be located at Williams-Brice Stadum, and the other at Death Valley.  Each tree should be around ten feet tall, and identically cast.  Each tree should have a spot on top where a scale crescent moon, also bronze, could be affixed; and every year, Carolina and Clemson should play for that moon.

Imagine:  Our big game would have a truly unique trophy to compete for, a trophy that could be displayed to the public year round, and even in losing years the lone palmetto still serves as a symbol of the state.  Imagine ceremonies for the removal and presentation of a giant bronze moon to a winning team.  Imagine ceremonies for the affixation of the moon to a previously bare tree.  This could be really fun stuff.

To the best of my knowledge, nobody else in the country would have an arrangement like this.  Suddenly our rivalry would have an identity, and in short order, pundits would begin playing on the crescent moon when describing the rivalry.  “The Battle for the Carolina Moon” has a ring to it, don’t you think?  How about “The Moon Bowl”?  There are many possibilities here.  Losing coaches would “promise the moon” for next year, “the moon rises”  on the victor.  I believe that this proposal would add a much needed bit of originality and fun to our rivalry.

So here is what I ask of you.  Tell everybody.  Spread this idea around your workplaces, your message boards, your local radio call-in shows.  Run it by your family, your friends.  Let’s see if we can retire that Hardee’s embarrassment, and replace it with something more befitting our favorite rivalry.  Can we get the Universities to agree?  Can we raise the funds?  I don’t know, but I’d really like to try.

Thoughtful Gamecock is now dedicated to the replacement of the Hardee’s Trophy with the Carolina Moon, and will accept any support you may have to offer.  We have begun writing letters to the various persons of importance at both universities (Board of Trustees, Presidents, Athletic Directors, booster clubs) and lack only a buzz among fans of both teams.

For this buzz, I come to you.  Share this post with everyone who may care, talk about this proposal wherever you can.  Offer us feedback on the idea, help us get this proposal into the public sports dialogue.

For your support in this matter, I thank you.

 

UPDATE:  Sign the petition!

CWS Recap: Day 3


I was out of town for both of the games on Monday, so I don’t have too much to say.  I did watch the replay of the UNC/Texas game (thanks ESPN3.com!) and saw the beginning of the Florida/Vandy game, so I have a couple of insights, but nothing as detailed as normal.

UNC/Texas: The difference in this game was UNC’s pitcher, Kent Emmanuel.  The freshman threw a complete game shutout, and only allowed four hits.  From what I saw, Texas never quite managed to figure out Emmanuel.  Even their trademark small ball couldn’t push a run across.  A few base running errors certainly didn’t help their cause.  UNC’s offense wasn’t anything spectacular, scattering 9 hits, but managing to do just enough to put up 3 runs.  Turns out that that was all they needed.  Well, that and the left arm of Kent Emmanuel.  Final Score: UNC 3, Texas 0.  Texas eliminated.

Florida/Vandy:  Poor Vandy.  The one team they’ve struggled against all year is Florida, and here they are, having to play the Gators for a shot at a CWS title.  This game should have been an incredible pitching matchup – Florida just has great starters, and Vandy was putting Grayson Garvin, SEC pitcher of the year (although how he beat Michael Roth out for this honor, I will never understand), on the mound.  And for the first few innings, it was all about the pitching.  Florida didn’t get anything going until the 4th inning, with a walk, a single, and then Preston Tucker put one over the fence, putting Florida ahead 3-0.  That was really it for the Florida offense – they scattered a couple more hits over the course of the game – but that was all they needed.  Vandy managed to push across a run in the 5th, but couldn’t do more than that.  And then came the rain.  This game was suspended due to the weather, and resumed on Tuesday morning in the 6th inning.  A 14 hour delay did nothing to help Vandy regroup.  Florida reliever Steven Rodriguez came out and pitched almost flawlessly (he did issue a walk) until the game ended.  There was just nothing to be done.  Vandy now has to play UNC in an elimination game on Wednesday night (7 p.m. on ESPN/ESPN3.com).  Hopefully they can get it together.  Final Score: Florida 3, Vanderbilt 1.

A few random observations: I really thought UNC would be the first one out.  Sad to see the Longhorns go, but after that pitching performance by Emmanuel, UNC definitely deserved that win.

I totally picked Florida to beat Vandy.  I also picked Vandy to win the elimination game, beat Florida, and then lose to the Gators in the final game before the championship series.  I stand by that prediction.  I don’t think UNC will be able to keep up with the Commodores.  But we’ll see.

The pitching in this CWS, on both sides of the bracket, has been something special to watch.  Even the aces who have melted down have paved the way for relievers to have a shot at stemming the bleeding.

Wednesday’s (today’s) game: UNC and Vandy at 7 p.m.  Winner has to play Florida.  Loser goes home.  Do or die time for both teams.  I still like Vandy to win.  I’ll be live tweeting the game (at least until I fall asleep), so follow along at @ThoughtfulCock.  Send me questions or observations – I’d love some interaction.  And I promise that I’m not nearly as annoying as the ESPN commentators.

%d bloggers like this: