CWS Recap: Day 2
Obviously, I was greatly anticipating Sunday’s games. No surprise there, as I wanted to see how the Defending National Champion Gamecocks would hold up under the pressure to make a repeat run for the title. I also wanted to see if UVA was, in fact, as overrated as I had assumed for most of the season. Unfortunately for my bracket, UVA proved better than Cal on Sunday. Fortunately, after losing 10 years off of my life in the late innings, the Gamecocks made me proud.
Cal/UVA: I had picked Cal to win this game. The Golden Bears had the drive, determination, the emotional factor, and certainly the talent to come out on top. Unfortunately, they never quite figured out UVA’s pitching staff. They came close a couple of times, even against UVA’s ace (and #2 overall pick in the draft), Danny Hultzen. Fortunately for Cal, UVA didn’t manage to figure out starter Erik Johnson or reliever Logan Scott. In fact, the game was scoreless until the 6th inning. Not for lack of trying, but rather because of some stellar defense from both teams and their inability to hit with runners in scoring position. UVA finally broke open the game with a few hits and walks in the 7th, putting them on top for good. Cal fought hard, but they just couldn’t get past UVA’s pitching. They scored one run late in the game, but it wasn’t enough. I wouldn’t count Cal out though. This team has overcome some crazy obstacles (their program was actually cancelled in September, but the team rallied and contacted various Cal baseball alumni to raise the funds to keep the program going), and I think that being down is only going to make them play harder. Final Score: UVA 4, Cal 1
South Carolina/Texas A&M: Much to my disappointment, this game was sloppy for both teams through the first inning. Through a combination of errors and shaky pitching, both teams scored 4 runs in the inning. And that was that. From that point on, this was a pitching matchup for the ages. A&M’s Ross Stipling proved a worth opponent of Carolina’s Michael Roth. Even though Carolina tallied 10 hits over the course of the game, they couldn’t push any runs across after the first inning. Stripling managed 6 strikeouts against the Gamecocks, and got the ground ball or fly out when he needed it. Roth was, after the 1st, exactly what we’ve come to expect from Roth. He even lowered his ERA to 0.97 while striking out 8. And, like we expected, John Taylor and Matt Price came in to close the game, looking as untouchable as ever. USC’s prayers were answered when A&M lifted Stripling in the 9th. Two hits and one walk later, the bases were loaded in the bottom of the 9th, with no outs, and the score tied at 4 for Scott Wingo. The same Scott Wingo who has been a consistent leader of this team, who scored the National Championship winning run in 2010, the 4 year player who will be sorely missed next year. Two strikes later, Wingo launched a pitch into right field, missing a walk-off grand slam by mere feet. Instead, the ball ricocheted off the base of the wall, scoring Robert Beary from 3rd, and giving the Gamecocks the victory. Final Score: USC 5, Texas A&M 4
A few random observations: Jackie Bradley, Jr. made his return on Sunday night. Though his defense looks as awesome as ever, his hitting is still up in the air. His first AB was not promising. He looked uncomfortable and not quite as confident as normal. His second and third ABs were a little bit better. He looked a little more confident, and at least put the ball in play. His fourth AB went sailing into the outfield, setting up Wingo’s game winning it. I expect that JBJ will look better the longer the CWS goes on. I don’t there is anyone on this team who works quite as hard as he does at getting better.
Scott Wingo. What in the world are we going to do without Wingo to anchor us next year? Gullinkambi put up a nice Wingo tribute (apparently trying to steal my job as baseball writer), and you should check it out here. This kid has been invaluable, and will hopefully lead us to some more greatness before he retires the Gamecock uniform for good.
The state of my bracket. I picked 3 of 4 games correctly. We’ll see how I do for the rest of the tournament. My one incorrect answer doesn’t hurt me too much, but it’s still annoying.
Monday’s games. I was out of town and didn’t get to see the UNC/Texas game, but I’m watching it now (thanks ESPN3.com!). I saw the beginning of the Florida/Vandy game while I was out to dinner, but that one ended up in a weather delay and will resume today at 11 a.m. I believe the game is in the bottom of the 6th. Stay tuned for the recaps, and the first team knocked out of the CWS.
Tuesday’s schedule: End of Florida/Vandy at 11 a.m. Cal/Texas A&M at 2 p.m. (I picked A&M to win, but this one should be close). USC & UVA at 7 p.m. Colby Holmes should be getting the start for Carolina.