Another Thudder at CWS, UCSB Cinderella Story Ends; Yanks Win Slugfest in the Bronx

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Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Thursday, June 23.

This year’s College World Series has been remarkably devoid of the kind of action that makes college baseball worth watching. No back-and-forth battles, no slugfests.  Once a team gets the lead, that’s it, at least up to now.  Last night was another thumper, as Arizona scored 3 in the third and cruised to a 3-0 win over the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, ending their Cinderella run.  The Gauchos, who advanced to Omaha on a walkoff pinch-hit grand slam by Sam Cohen in the super regional did win a game at Omaha, knocking out Miami but last night was the end of the line.  JC Cloney, a lefty starter for Arizona worked into the 8th with only two Gauchos getting into scoring position.  Cameron Meng took it from there. As for the Wildcats’ offense, it amounted to one third-inning rally. Cody Ramer singled and Zach Gibbons walked to start things off. Bobby Dalbec, one of Arizona’s starting pitchers who also takes a spot in the batting order flied to left, advancing Ramer to third.  From there he brought in the first run when Ryan Aguilar hit a scoring fly ball. One pitch later, Jared Oliva launched one out of the lot, a 2-run home run that ended the offense for the night.  Even winning coach Jay Johnson was joking about the large size of the ball park and what it was doing to the offenses.  He could joke-his team lives to play tomorrow afternoon against the Cowboys of Oklahoma State who beat Arizona on Saturday.  Arizona would have to beat the Cowboys twice to advance to the championship round. Tonight, Texas Tech faces Coastal Carolina.  The Red Raiders from Lubbock, Texas knocked the Florida Gators out of the tournament in their last game.  Coastal Carolina lost to TCU, their first loss of the tournament after upsetting Florida on Sunday night.  Whoever wins tonight would have to beat TCU twice to get to the final round.  I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if we saw Andrew Beckwith, the pitcher who threw the complete game to beat Florida.  Needing to win or go home I’d say the only man unavailable is pitcher Alex Cunningham who started Tuesday night. Even without a win tonight, college baseball fans know now that there is another team from South Carolina to talk about besides Clemson and the University of South Carolina, both of whom have been to the College World Series many times.  The small school from Conway will have its chance to go even farther tonight.

The Yankees and Rockies played the game of  the day yesterday in the Bronx.  It went back and forth until Starlin Castro won it for the Yankees  with a walk-off home run on the second pitch of the 9th inning. Early on it looked like the Yankees finally would beat the Rockies who swept them in Colorado  and defeated them on Tuesday night.  A single and two walks by Rockies’ starter Jon Gray brought Chase Headley to the plate. He’s taken his share of heat during this season of Yankee fans’ discontent, but this was his moment.  He unleashed a mighty home run to dead center, the Bombers’ first grand slam of the year. The last few outings, starter CC Sabathia had looked like the CC the Yankees brought in to be their ace.  But in the third and fourth he regressed to the CC of the last few seasons. After Nick Hundley singled, Sabathia air-mailed the throw on a sacrifice bunt, putting runners on second and third.  They came home on a hit by Charlie Blacmon. An inning later Sabathia  walked Trevor Story, gave a single to Mark Reynolds and gave up the lead when Nick Hundley hit a 3-run home run. CC left after walking a man with one out in the fifth. In came Anthony Swarzak from the pen, and he gave up a hit to Trevor Story for a run and a gigantic home run to Ryan Raburn which left the lot over the center field fence. Normally an 8-4 lead is safe against the Yankees offense, which is nonexistent all too often.  But this time they tied the game in the last of the 7th. The rally started when Rob Refsnyder was awarded first base on catcher’s interference, a play you almost never see in the majors.  Brett Gardner singled and Carlos Beltran made it a one-run game by belting a 3-run shot. Brian McCann ignited a new rally with a ground-rule double. Starlin Castro beat out an infield hit and Didi Gregorias singled home the tying run, setting up Castro’s big fly in the 9th. It was his 10th dinger of the year, while Beltran’s home run was his 19th.

For the first 4 innings, Cubs fans assumed Jake Arrieta would continue what he does-pitching like a machine.  Neither his Cubs nor the Cardinals scored until the fifth when the visiting Cards struck. With one out in the top of the 5th, Matt Carpenter walked and Almedys  Diaz singled him to third. After a walk to Matt Adams to fill the bases, Steven Piscotty hit what could have been an inning-ending double play.  Instead it went down as a fielder’s choice and a throwing error on Ben Zobrist at second. Both Carpenter and Diaz scored on the play. Michael Wacha continued to keep the Cubs quiet in their half and the Cardinals struck again in the visiting 6th. By now Arrieta was gone and Justin Grimm was pitching. He was a good choice because the outlook got grim for the home team. Brandon Moss, the first man he saw hit a long double and took third on a wild pitch. He scored on an infield grounder. Colton Wong lined a sharp single through the middle and Carpenter doubled both men home to make it 5-0 Cardinals. Carl Edwards JR. came in to pitch and promptly gave up a gopher ball to Diaz for the final 2 Cardinals runs. Both of these pitchers, Grimm and Edwards came to the Cubs in the trade with the Rangers for Matt Garza in 2013. Edwards JR. is from Newbury, South Carolina and no relative to the NASCAR racer Carl Edwards.

The Mets were in a state of near-panic late last night, just before  they start a 4-game series with the Braves in Atlanta.  This shouldn’t be the case, considering they just took two from the Royals.  But their ace, Noah Syndergaard had to be removed because of pain in his elbow and their power hitter Yoenis Cespedes left with an apparent  wrist injury. But as we go to press, all appears well. Syndergaard is being given anti-inflamatory medicine for his elbow.  Only if it should fail would he be in serious trouble.  That’s what happened with David Wright, their captain and third baseman. Anti-inflamatories did no good for his neck, so he had season-ending surgery. Cespedes is day-to-day. Meantime, it appears that Zack Wheeler will be able to continue his rehab from last year’s Tommy John surgery.  He was tested and not shown to have any new structural damage.  The Mets are counting on having him back at some point in 2016.  Bartolo Colon hopes to start Sunday as scheduled in spite of taking a line drive off his thumb from the first batter on Tuesday night.

There is a matinee in Pittsburgh this afternoon as the Giants close out their series with the Pirates. The Phillies and Twins also have a day game in Minnesota at 1:10 Eastern. At the same hour, Seattle and Detroit meet in MoTown. At Fenway, the White and Red Sox play their series finale  at 1:35. The White Sox are still waiting for the reliable James Shields of years gone by to show up.  He’s had a couple of dreadful starts for the Pale Hose. All other games are under the lights.

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson is all of 23 today.  He made his debut barely two weeks ago on June 10 and hit his first home run earlier this week.  He’s a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama who the Cubs drafted in round 1 of the 2013 draft. He has hit at every level of pro ball where he’s been, and you can’t say that very often.  Most players struggle with the change from metal mallets to wooden bats used in the pro ranks.


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