Sorenson: Super Regional Wrap, Day 3Analysis
We have found the college baseball version of Rudy. His name is Sam Cohen.
The seldom-used UC Santa Barbara bullpen catcher saw his number called today against the national No. 2 seed Louisville Cardinals with the bases loaded and a 3-0 deficit. A freshman with 26 at-bats to his stat line going into today and he was facing Zack Burdi, the first round draft pick of the White Sox earlier this week.
Can you imagine how you would react to being a pinch hitter in that situation? With your team’s season on the line?
And then of course, the most amazing finish since Warren Morris happens. Down 1-and-2 in the count, Cohen did what every kid imagines doing in their daydream games they play out in their den… he crushes a game winning grand slam.
Yep, that tater left the yard in no time flat over the right field fence, sending his team into a frenzy. Meanwhile the Patterson Stadium crowd just went quiet as a mausoleum. Stunned.
“I really just buckled down and choked up a little bit and got on top of the dish and from that point on I was just looking for anything over the middle and just try to elevate it,” said Cohen still in a fog over his own heroics. “Right when I hit it I didn’t realize until I touched home plate that I hit one out.”
He must’ve thought he was in a dream floating around those bases. To me that’s better than Rudy getting a sack in a meaningless game against Georgia Tech.
All hail he new Rudy.
THEME FOR THE DAY:
– The most exciting day in Super Regionals history.
Yes, I’m calling my shot right now. There were upsets, crazy endings, grand slams and heartbreaks. This was the most compelling day in Super Regional history, and it’s not even close if you ask me. From Cohen’s grand slam, to Miami and BC having to be separated by police, to Coastal Carolina’s sprint-off win at LSU, I’m not sure I’ve seen a day that has kept me more locked-in than this one has. In hind sight, thank God there were no Super Regionals out here on the West Coast, I had too much fun watching this all transpire on TV.
THEME FOR THE DAY II:
– Winning in a volatile atmosphere.
Think about what happened today. Then think about the traditional powers that lost on their own turf today. TCU went into Blue Bell Park to win. Oklahoma State fought the fans, the heat and the Gamecocks to win at Founders Park, UC Santa Barbara handed Louisville just its third home loss of the season. And Coastal Carolina overcame the both Tigers and Rally Possums to win at LSU. Holy Toledo, this was freakin’ nuts man. Just insane zaniness.
BEST PLAY OF THE DAY:
– Sam Cohen’s grand salami to beat Louisville.
I also forgot to mention that this was UCSB’s sixth jog-off win of the season. Against Washington in the Nashville Regional, Devon Bradford hit a game-tying home run in the 12th inning and that was followed by an Austin Bush salvo in the 14th inning, accounting for the 3-2 win in the winner’s bracket game. Today’s epic home run from the scruffy and unassuming Cohen was the most epic four-bagger in the history of the Super Regionals. In fact, move over Warren Morris, you have company in the historic home run department.
– Still no SEC teams in Omaha… yet.
The southern monster got five National Seeds and seven home Regionals and despite five teams scanning their tickets to Omaha already, the stunning part is that none of them are SEC teams. South Carolina was swept at home by Oklahoma State, Texas A&M lost its game three with TCU today 4-1 and LSU was swept at home in a Super Regional for the first time ever with tonight’s 4-3 loss to Coastal Carolina.
That leaves Florida as the last remaining hope for the SEC, staving off elimination with a 5-0 win over FSU to force a third game. The last time the College World Series was played without an SEC team was in 1992.
– Coastal Carolina’s 4-3 win over LSU
The Chanticleers have been close too many times. Gary Gilmore has been close too many times. Guess what? The Chants are – finally – going to Omaha. Today’s one-run win in Alex Box Stadium had to be the most satisfying win of Gilmore’s tenure. Given a 2-seed in the Regionals, CCU felt slighted by the NCAA Selection Committee, having to go on the road to Raleigh, and not playing at home in one of their own Regionals. Six years ago was the last time the Chants were in the Supers and got eliminated by South Carolina.
Gary Gilmore has said that it has kept him up at night wondering when he was going to get the chance to go to Omaha again. Sleep well sweet prince.
– South Carolina’s 3-1 loss to Oklahoma State.
Man alive. You know those fans in Columbia aren’t going to cotton to losing a Super Regional to a team from the hated Big 12, especially when they out-hit the Cowboys and Clarke Schmidt and Tyler Johnson combined for 10 strikeouts. I can just hear those rabid Cock fans getting on local radio shows tomorrow and bemoaning getting this close to Omaha and losing because of a series of bone-head plays. Even though Chad Holbrook led the Gamecocks back to the NCAA tournament this season, nothing short of a national championship will do in this job.
– At around 11:15pm central time.
It was at this time of the night where LSU was starting its ninth inning comeback and TCU was putting it’s clamps on Texas A&M’s ninth inning last hopes. It was great drama having the LSU game on my DIRECTV and the TCU win on my laptop. Thank you ESPN.
TOUR DE FORCE:
– Logan Shore, Florida.
A day after his teammates were held to two hits by FSU’s Drew Carlton, Shore went out and flipped the script on the Seminoles, holding them to two hits today as the Gators evened up the series at a game each. Shore went 8.0 innings, giving up those two hits and striking out nine in the 114-pitch effort. Shore also improved to 12-0 with the win.
TOUR DE FORCE II:
– Edgar Michelangeli, Miami
The Hurricane third baseman was unconscious at the dish today, going 3-for-3 with two home runs, one a grand slam, and seven RBI. So yes, seven of the Hurricanes’ nine runs were knocked in by Michelangeli. But then this happened…
THE KARMA’S GONNA GET YOU AWARD:
– Edgar Michelangeli, Miami
Yes the Canes’ nine-hole hitter crushed a seventh-inning grand slam to salt away the 9-4 win over Boston College. But the problem was that Michelangeli carried his bat nearly to first base with him and then gave the bat a grand flip. As he was running down the line from third base he grandstanded in front of BC catcher Nick Sciortino and that caused a big shoving match between the two teams as they met behind home plate.
NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME PLAYERS:
– South Carolina defense
The Gamecocks had one inning of Bad News Bears-type defense and it cost them. Oklahoma State scored all three of its runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, and all with the help of some errant throws from the Gamecock infield. They also flubbed a safety squeeze play when they couldn’t field the ball for a throw to get a Cowboy runner out at the plate. Because of those hiccups, Oklahoma State is heading to Omaha now.
The teams that scanned their tickets to the CWS today:
– UC Santa Barbara, first appearance.
I think we’ve written enough about these guys already.
– Oklahoma State, 20th appearance, first since 1999.
How bad-arse are these guys? After giving up just four runs in the Regionals, they go into South Carolina and give up just two runs in 18 innings.
– Texas Tech, second appearance, first since 2014.
After losing Friday’s opener to East Carolina, the Red Raiders outscored the Pirates 14-1 in taking the next two games.
– TCU, fourth appearance, third year in a row.
For the second year in a row the Frogs rip out the hearts of the Aggies, eliminating them in a third winner-take-all game. Today, Brian Howard and Durbin Feltman combined on a two-hitter.
– Coastal Carolina, first appearance
It could be argued these guys had the toughest assignment, going into Baton Rouge and overcoming the rally-friendly Tigers, who never lose at home… till now.
– Miami, 25th appearance, second year in a row.
It’s been since 2001 that the Hurricanes have won the national title. The batting order is still “potentially” the best 1-thru-9 remaining in the field. Dangerous.
– ESPN color commentator Mike Rooney on Louisville baseball and the culture they have established:
“Louisville baseball is the best run company in America. Players want to come here to play and coaches want to come here to coach.”
– New rule: If your conference goes better than .750 winning percentage in the NCAA tournament, the next season you get an extra team into the Big Dance, regardless what their RPI is.
The Big 12 is now sporting a record of 15-3 in this year’s NCAA Tournament, as all three of their teams have advanced to Omaha. You heard right, Texas Tech, TCU and Oklahoma State are three-for-three this post-season for the Big 12.
– New rule: If you readjust your batting gloves more than twice during an at-bat, it’s an automatic strike added to your count.
– This will be the fifth straight season where at least half the College World Series field will be made up of non-National Seeds. The last time there were more than four National Seeds still alive in omaha was in 2011. According to Jeremy Mills of ESPN, from 1999 to 2009 64% of the teams that reached Omaha were National Seeds.
– This year’s College World Series field will already include such unique nicknames as “Gauchos” and “Chanticleers” as UC Santa Barbara and Coastal Carolina reach The O for the first time ever.
– The pain just gets deeper.
With today’s 11-0 loss to Texas Tech, East Carolina has now gone to 28 NCAA Tournaments without reaching the College World Series, the most of any other program. The next closest bride’s maid is South Alabama, who has made 26 NCAA Tournament appearances without the promised land.