CWS Recap: Day 1
What a start to the CWS! In the inaugural game in TD Ameritrade Park (TDAP), Vanderbilt crushed UNC. In the second game, Florida did the same to Texas.
Vandy/UNC: In their very first CWS game, Vandy didn’t look the least bit nervous. They made some killer defensive plays, with starting pitcher Sonny Gray fielding his position superbly. No one had any qualms about diving for a ball, and that may have mad the difference for Vandy. Gray certainly didn’t look as sharp as he had throughout the season, and was actually chased from the game in the 5th inning. But it didn’t matter how much Gray struggled – his team backed him up with stellar defense and some excellent hitting.
Despite being down a run for the first part of the game, Vandy went on to score several with two outs. It started in the 6th with a Conrad Gregor double off the wall to tie the game. It was followed by a shot over the wall by Connor Harrell to put the Dores up for good. The home run was equally impressive because, as we heard 987 times from the announcers, the new bats aren’t conducive to hitting home runs in TDAP because of it’s huge outfield dimensions (it’s 408′ to straightaway centerfield). Clearly they were wrong. Or maybe it’s just the SEC because Florida had quite a few that touched the wall in the late game.
Harrell’s HR put the Dores up for good, as UNC kept stranding base runners. The Heels definitely touched up Gray, scoring all three runs against him, but once the Vandy bullpen stepped in, it was all over. The Heels are going to need to find a way to drive in the runs if they want to make a run for the title. Vandy is going to have to play flawlessly if they want to stay in the winners bracket. Final Score: Vandy 7, UNC 3.
Florida/Texas: Florida started this game on the bottom. Texas came out swinging, knowing that they had to get under starter Hudson Randall’s skin early if they wanted to win. It was a good strategy in theory, but the Horns forgot to account for Florida’s offense. The Gators jumped all over Texas starter Taylor Jungmann (who was also the #12 overall pick in the draft), and ran him out of the game in the 5th.
There were a few controversial calls in the game, most seeming to go against Florida, including the hit that was ruled a double, but as the replay showed, absolutely should have been a home run. Apparently, the head umpire for the CWS admitted this after the game. Hopefully they’ll get it right if it happens again. It didn’t really matter, as the Gators still went on to win 8-4, but I bet Brian Johnson, playing in his first game in three weeks (he was recovering from a concussion), would much rather have hit a HR than a double.
The Longhorns kept threatening, but somehow Florida’s pitchers got the job done. It wasn’t spectacular defensed – the Gators made a couple of uncharacteristic errors – but rather some crafty pitching from the bullpen. It helped that Hudson Randall worked into the 7th, but the bullpen did a great job in closing out the game. The Gators are going to need to stop making silly errors if they want to keep winning. Texas will need to get their bullpen ready and hope their starters can go deep if they want to climb out of the loser’s bracket. If they Longhorns can do that, they can battle back. Certainly their brand of small ball will help. No one plays small ball like Texas. People who don’t like bunting should watch a Texas game. The Horns have elevated it to an art form. Final Score: Florida 8, Texas 4.
Florida and Vandy will play Monday at 7 p.m. Texas and UNC will play at 2 p.m. The loser of the Texas/UNC game will be eliminated from the CWS.
Bracket two starts play today. UVA and Cal play at 2 p.m. and South Carolina and Texas A&M play at 7 p.m. I’ll be live tweeting all of the games in the CWS – except for Monday because I’ll be out of town and won’t be able to watch – so follow along here (@ThoughtfulCock).
Should be a great day of games today. I know I’m certainly ready to watch the Gamecocks. Especially after listening to this: