Sunday, June 24, 2007
We could know who won the College World Series as soon as tonight. The second game of the three-game series starts at 6pm central time, and Oregon State already has a one-game lead over the North Carolina Tarheels. If OSU can back that up with another win today, they will boast back-to-back championships. If they lose, there will be a Monday night game for all the marbles. We'll do some small-town readin' after the jump, as we visit Omaha, Corvallis, and Chapel Hill.
I absolutely love these kinds of stories. What are the OSU players doing to keep loose in between games? Fishing in the ce-ment pond.
And so boys who grew up casting in the Willamette Valley and off the Snake River banks in Oregon pace around litter-infested water with their dime-store poles and bait: sausage, bacon and potatoes from hotel breakfast.
and then there's this Stuart Smalley positive thinking quote from coach Pat Casey:
"Think about how you felt about yourself a month ago and how you feel about yourself now," Casey told his players before Wednesday's win. "You're doing things maybe even above and beyond what you should be doing, but it's all because mentally you like yourself."
What about the Tar Heels? Their ace, Robert Woodard, pitched Wednesday, and UNC coach Mike Fox isn't pitching him without adequate rest, even if it might cost him the trophy.
"Our coaching staff is not easily swayed," Woodard said. "They're going to do not only what is best for this program but also what's best for me as a pitcher. They know the last game I pitch is not going to be in the College World Series. They're not going to do anything that will jeopardize my future in professional baseball."
And it's been a black-and-blue week for everyone who made the trip to Omaha. They're calling this "The Year of the Hit Batsman" down at Rosenblatt Stadium:
Through 13 games at Rosenblatt Stadium, pitchers have plunked 47 batters. The old record of 36, set in 16 games in 2003, was eclipsed in the 10th game of this tournament. UC Irvine alone was hit by a team-record 12 pitches in four games, including a single-game record six Tuesday in a 13-inning win over Cal State Fullerton.
Now we'll go into the upper-left hand corner of your USA map and look at the Corvallis Gazette-Times. Remember how we read that UNC's ace was sitting this one out? Not so much for OSU, who send Mike Stutes to the mound for what they hope will be the deciding game.
“It’s every pitcher’s dream to win the national title with the ball in your hand,” Stutes said. “It would be a great way to go out. It would be unbelievable to get back-to-back national titles for the school. It would be great to end it like this.”
And Albany (OR) Democrat-Herald writer Cliff Kirkpatrick also reminds us that this is a pretty big deal, since the Beavers almost whiffed on making the postseason at all.
Lonnie Lechelt had a breakout game, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
“We’ve always had the capability of all the guys getting it done, and it’s falling into place more,” Lechelt said. “We are relaxed. Coach is letting us play more. Guys are coming together at the right time.”
Is there panic in Chapel Hill? Not yet. They've made a habit of rallying when they need to. Eddy Landreth oozes confidence in his column for the Chapel Hill News:
So, when Rice whipped UNC 14-4 in the second game of the CWS, the Tar Heels wanted in the worst way to get play the Owls again. Two victories against the Owls later, we see the guys from Chapel Hill meant just what they said.
And that means they get a second chance at Oregon State, the team that snatched the title from Carolina just when it seemed the Tar Heels were about to seize it last year.
Everyone is itching to see if UNC can do to the Beavers what it did to the Owls.
There's at least one guy on the Tar Heel team who might be nervous, however. Catcher Benji Johnson is looking to get hitched to a female airman from nearby Offut Air Force Base, whom he met at last year's CWS:
Johnson had originally planned to wait to pop the question until June 18, the one-year anniversary of the meeting, but said, "I just couldn't wait." He made the proposal on bended knee on the day before the Series started after handing her another baseball that said, "It all started here, June 18th, 2006." Needless to say, Ammerman said "yes."
No word yet as to whether a wedding on the pitching mound at Rosenblatt is in the cards, a la "Bull Durham."
I mean, damn. We're all manly and stuff here at Awful Announcing, but I just gotta say "Awwwwww!" to that one. Good luck, you crazy kids.
Check back next week to see a true test of my abilities, as we begin the long march to the beginning of football season. Will I crack if I have to write next week's column about the MLS? Wait and see!