Gamecocks fall to Arizona, 5-1, in Game 1 of CWS Championship Series
In case you missed the memo….Arizona is the real deal. They have one of the best offenses in the country, with 8 players boasting a batting average of over .300, to make for a team average of .331. As a team, they have 23 home runs and have drawn 232 walks. They also have a .969 fielding percentage. Their team ERA is 3.74, a stat that has been inflated due to a not so awesome bullpen. Their starter for tonight’s game, Kurt Heyer, has a 13-2 record and a 2.24 ERA. He’s thrown 153 innings this year, walked 28, and struck out 113. Last night’s starter, Konner Wade, has pitched two complete games in this year’s CWS, has an 11-3 record (prior to last night’s game), 105 Ks and 37 walks. He’s thrown 136.1 innings this season.
Everything in that paragraph points to why the Gamecocks didn’t win last night. Against a team like Arizona, the ‘Cocks need to be flawless, essentially playing the single best series of the entire season. They didn’t have it yesterday. A throwing error from Grayson Greiner (which, btw, does not mean that Coach Tanner should immediately pull him from the game in favor of Dante Rosenberg), a base running blunder by Adam Matthews (whose decision would have paid off if Arizona’s defense wasn’t so good), an error by Joey Pankake (which seemed to me to be more of a bad hop that he couldn’t handle), and a shaky pitching performance from Forrest Koumas (who hadn’t thrown in a month), set the tone for the night. Altogether, these miscues aren’t necessarily cause for alarm. The problem stems from the fact that our offense can’t seem to string hits together to atone for those mistakes.
There were a few high points – Koumas struck out the side in the 2nd, Evan Beal pitched 5 solid innings of relief, and Nolan Belcher (who, in my opinion, is extremely under-used) got out of huge jam in the 8th by quickly retiring the two batters he faced. Greiner had a nice double in the 6th, and ultimately went on to score on a single from Marzilli. But everything else? Mediocre at best.
Not that Arizona is invincible. If the Gamecocks can be patient, work the count, and run up the pitch count, the Wildcats will be forced to go to their bullpen, which hasn’t exactly been rock steady this season. Michael Roth will start for the Gamecocks tonight. If he can get a little run support, and some perfectly executed defense, the Gamecocks will be in a position to win this one. But there is no room for error. At all. As the Wildcats showed last night.
- Fun things to do while your team is losing? Play the Mike Patrick drinking game. Make up your own rules, but some of my favorites are repeated stories like what LB stands for, that Pankake went to IHOP on National Pancake Day, or that Tanner English has excellent speed on the base paths.
- There’s a Fear the Fish song. Check it out here:
- And just to get you pumped up…
Tonight’s game is on ESPN and ESPN3.com at 8 p.m. The Gamecocks will be the home team.