Sorenson: Off The Top Of My Head, ThursdayColumns
Ah, the Thursday of conference tournament week is always hectic on the diamond. It is usually followed by a Friday “rest day”. A day where some tournaments are at least smart enough not to schedule four games and the teams and tournament schedules can seem to take a little bit of a breather. But the people that are most appreciative of an easy Friday are the people like the p.a. announcers, the grounds crews, the scoreboard operators and the interns who have been showing up at the park each day at 8am and staying till the final out, which usually happens at 1:45am.
Anyway, yes I also realize out D1baseball site has been on the blink for most of the day. So if you’re reading this tonight, kudos. If you’re finally reading this on the Thursday before the Super Regionals, my sincere apologies. These things happen in our digital world from time to time. It sucks, yes, but we’ll get through it.
Look at the bright side, at least it happened today and not during the Regionals weekend when our viewership is at its highest. Oh but before I move on, please feel free to subscribe to our site… especially before the REAL postseason starts.
Okay, now on to what happened in our sport today…
FIVE QUICK HITS
A few things that jumped out to me about the day in college baseball.
– Not a good day for No. 1 seeds.
Today, these conference regular season champions packed their bags for the remainder of the week:
Louisville: 0-2 in the ACC Tournament, ousted by Clemson 7-1.
Indiana: 0-2 in the Big 10 Tournament, eliminated by Minnesota 9-4.
FGCU: 0-2 in the Atlantic Sun Tournament, beaten by North Florida 10-5.
Sam Houston State: 0-2 in the Southland Tournament, tagged by Incarnate Word, 3-2.
FYI, here is how the Bearkats lost in the bottom of the ninth:
BSB: The @UIWBaseball Cardinals ADVANCE on Garza's RBI single in bottom 9th, scoring Gutierrez.
— Southland Conference (@SouthlandSports) May 23, 2019
– What do we think of Texas State?
Is the regular season champion of the Sun Belt a team that lost its chance for an at-large bid? Is the Sun Belt Tournament Champion going to be a “stolen bid”? Or were the Bobcats already on the way out unless they won the tournament title? The Bobcats lost by a resounding 13-4 score to the homestanding Coastal Carolina Chanticleers today, ending their run in the SBC tourney. FYI, TxState started the week at No. 46 in the RPI and now sit at No. 52. I can’t imagine that number will improve between now and selection Monday either. Damn, it I had an “Ouch List” for this week, the Bobcats would be on it.
– Arizona State wins a deal with the Devil.
Great Hades! What the Devil happened between Arizona State and Stanford tonight? The Cardinal looked like they were doing just fine, taking a comfy 5-2 lead into the final frame of the night. Next thing you know, the Sun Devils put up a four-spot in the ninth to pull off the unlikely 6-5 win. The final two batters of the night were ASU’s Cole Austin and Myles Denson, who both hit deep sac fly RBI shots to the outfield to provide the winning runs.
And in case you were wondering, yes, all these runs came against Stanford All American Jack Little, who came into the game with nine saves on the season, good for second in the Pac 12.
– Separation in the SEC
The more I watch of the SEC Tournament I am starting to think there is real separation between the top four and the rest. While Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Arkansas and Georgia all won their first game of the SEC Tournament and to me they seem to be head and shoulders above the rest of the field. Yeah, I know, all four of these teams lost to some of the other 10 teams a time or two during the regular season, but these four are the ones that deserve home field next week during the Regionals. The rest of the crowd seems to be good teams who have their boats raised by the rising tide.
– Have you guys heard about Central Michigan?
This is going way way way way off the beaten path, I know. But the nation’s longest winning streak belongs to the Chippewas at 16 games. Their last loss was, quite oddly, to Division II Davenport University in a 26-19 slugfest back on April 23rd. Prior to that, the last D1 game the Chips lost was to Toledo 4-3 on April 19th. CMU is currently 44-12 on the season and won the MAC regular season crown with a stellar 22-5 mark. Today they beat Ohio 18-9 in a woodshed fashion at the MAC Tournament.
Oh, one more thing. Head coach Jordan Bischel is in his first year in Mount Pleasant and was already named the MAC Coach of the Year. And rightfully so. This dude has had one remarkable season, winning 41 of their 52 games so far. The RPI is still way down at No. 85, so it’s still a win-or-else for the Chips in the MAC Tournament.
WHO HELPED THEIR CAUSE.
A day after losing to rival Ohio State and having the Wolverines show up on my “Who Hurt Their Cause” list for Wednesday, the Wolverines turn around and beat No. 28-ranked Illioins 5-4. Even better, the Maize & Blue got a bottom-of-the-ninth game-winning two-run double from Jordan Nwogu to pull off the jog-off win. This pulls them up to No. 41 in the RPI. Considering they started the week at No. 49 in the RPI, this is huge.
— Michigan Baseball (@umichbaseball) May 23, 2019
For the fourth time this season the Tigers won a baseball game in jog-off fashion. Well, make that sprint-off fashion in this one. Two men came around to score on, of all things, a wild pitch as the Auburn catcher couldn’t locate the ball after he blocked the pitch in the dirt. With the 4-3 win, the Purple Tigers are again keeping their post-season hosting hopes alive. They entered the week at No. 21 in the RPI and now move up to No. 20. They’ll still need to win a game (or two) against the top four of the SEC.
The Tigers came into today’s game with Louisville on an 8-16 skid, which also caused their RPI to dip down to No. 36. That’s usually not great range for an ACC team. But today they were able to eliminate the ACC champions with a 7-1 blitz in which Jacob Hennessy and Mat Clark combined to hold the Cards to just one hit. The win should give the Tigers a little bit of a bump in the RPI, which should be enough to put them in the field of 64.
– West Virginia.
The Mountaineers saved their big hoss Alek Manoah for tonight’s game against Texas Tech, resulting in a very useful 5-1 win over the Red Raiders. The ‘Neers also improved their RPI to No. 11, putting their hopes for a home Regional at Mongolia County Ballpark. Not sure if the NCAA Selection Committee will be impressed, but the Mountaineers are on a six-game win streak, including a 2-0 start in OKC.
Here is Mr. Manoah after the game…
"When we step on that field we're playing for 1.8 million people back home in West Virginia, and that's what we're focused on doing is bringing them back a Championship…"@WVUBaseball's @Alek_Manoah47 said it all and then some after their win tonight. ⬇️ #Big12BSB | #HailWV pic.twitter.com/mHPvDNlwt0
— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) May 24, 2019
(By the way, also check out the nuts-crazy catches by WVU centerfielder Brandon White in the highlights. #SCTop10 worthy)
– Oklahoma State.
Like WVU above, the Pokes won their first two games of the Big 12 Tournament and will advance to Saturday in the driver’s seat of their bracket. Tonight’s 5-0 skunking of Baylor was pretty impressive, especially when you consider Cowboy arms Jensen Elliot and Payton Battenfield held the best-hitting team in the Big 12 to just three hits with 10 Ks and just one walk. That’s solid stuff man. The Cowboys stay at the No. 7 position in the RPI keeping their hopes of holding down at top eight position in the NCAA Tournament still intact. Strong win boys.
WHO HURT THEIR CAUSE
How did the Plainsmen lose THAT game? The catcher blocks a pitch in the dirt, then can’t find it, then allows two runs to score. Too hard to explain. Here’s the video…
Not sure if we’ve seen anything quite like this LSU-Auburn finish ? pic.twitter.com/JwnfWK1W20
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) May 23, 2019
AU’s chances of having a home Regional wasn’t very broad to begin with but this certainly has to deal the final blow to that. I think Aaron and Kendall had it right, Auburn is a three seed in the NCAAs. Even with that RPI that was just outside the top 16. And with the pitching injuries and issues they’ve had, things don’t look promising on the Plains.
– UC Santa Barbara
The Gauchos dropped a 3-0 decision to Cal Poly to open their three-game stand at Cesar Uyesaka Stadium. The Mustangs started this series needing to sweep the Gauchos in order to tie them for the Big West championship, which is their only path to reach the NCAA Tournament since the Big West does not have a post-season tournament. The Gauchos drop from No. 12 to No. 15 in the RPI, doing further damage to their Regional hosting hopes. My guess is they’ll have to sweep the next two games to put them back in solid position
Man alive, the Sooners did NOT need to go 0-2 at the Big 12 Tournament. But guess what?… today’s horrible-looking 15-3 loss to TCU that was stopped after seven innings due to the Big 12 Tournament run rule. Coupled with the Wednesday 8-2 loss to Baylor, the Sooners look like a team that has lost its fight. The Sooners also dropped down to No. 42 in the RPI and their Big 12 record drops to 11-15. That won’t play well in the committee’s eyes.
The Rams were held to five hits and dropped a 2-1 decision at Fordham in their first game in the Atlantic 10 tournament. VCU beat Fordham two-of-three in mid-April but couldn’t overcome the other Rams this time on their home field. With the loss, VCU is now down to No. 56, which you would presume would be out of the at-large consideration. Which is too bad since VCU won the A-10 regular season crown.
After a gut-wrenching 3-2 loss to North Carolina on Wednesday night the Cavaliers took a tough 10-3 rout on the chin to Miami today, dropping them from No. 44 at the beginning of the week to their new spot at No. 48. And again, with that ACC record now falling to 14-18, it doesn’t look good for the Cavaliers, who made a serious push at the end of the season.
– Louisiana Tech.
Holy crap the Bulldogs have been through a lot the last two weeks or so. A tornado destroyed their stadium, they had to play the rest of their games on the road and their perch on the bubble completely burst today. After going 0-2 in the Conference USA tournament (thanks to today’s 4-3 loss to Rice), the Techsters drop to No. 60 in the RPI. So in essence, season done. Even though the Bulldogs deserve so much better.
Okay, enough for now.