The Many Faces of College Baseball are On View in Omaha

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball late Sunday, June 17, 2018.

Saturday’s two games and game 1  on Sunday brought forth 3 faces of the game that is baseball-the bad, the excellent and the absurd.  Game 1 yesterday was “War and Peace,” game 2 “The Postman Always Rings Twice.” after getting off to a good start, game 3 has fallen victim to NCAA stupidity as an unseemly and pointless delay hijacked the Texas-Arkansas game and  delayed the Florida-Texas Tech game beyond my most pessimistic dread.
To open the great tournament, the organizers couldn’t have hoped for a better matchup on paper. Oregon State’s mercurial and very troubled lefty Luke Heimlich figured to choke out the hitters of the North Carolina Tarheels while their star Gianluca Dalatri hoped to win as he did in the ACC tournament and the regional. Dalatri, who lost 3 months to a sore elbow might have been warned when he didn’t win the super regional against lowly Stetson and only lasted 3.2 innings. In spite of this, he hoped, prayed, started … and lasted all of 15 pitches. He gave up a run on 2 hits and a walk to Oregon State and had to give it up, thus ending his season if his coach Mike Fox is to be believed.
Oregon State’s hitters were sharks smelling blood when Dalatri left. But the overconfident Beavers scored no more in the first or second. Meantime the Tarheels tied the game in the second and blew it open with 5 in the third, banishing Heimlich to an early shower. In that nightmare inning he hit two batters and threw two pitches beyond his catcher’s reach. The ‘Heels scored on each of those passed balls. The Beavers were playing “catch up” from then on, all in vain as they lost 8–6 to land in the loser’s bracket. It’s possible to win the championship from there but it takes a lot of pitching depth to manage it. Coastal Carolina did that in 2016 but it didn’t come easy for the Conway 9 back then.
When the Beavers play Monday afternoon, they will meet the Washington Huskies. In a rare quick baseball game in the postseason the Mississippi State Bulldogs beat the Huskies 1–0, scoring the game’s only run in the last of the 9th. The Bulldogs’ Ethan Small and the Huskies’ Joe Demers duked it out, neither giving an inch through 7 innings. Small was removed in the top of the 8th for JP France, who left an inning later for winning pitcher Joe Wainhouse. Demers left in the 8th in favor of losing pitcher Alex Hardy. In the home 9th, Hunter Stovall and Elijah MacNamee both singled. After a failed bunt, Luke Alexander ripped one to deepest right to end it. As big as the present stadium is, a walk-off home run is next to impossible so Alexander’s shot was the next best thing. The Bulldogs, who never made Omaha even when college baseball Hall of Famer Will Clark was there had made it and won their first College World Series game.
It has been customary for Sunday games in Omaha to start an hour earlier than Saturday games. In keeping with the tradition, today’s early game started at 2 PM Eastern as the Arkansas Razorbacks faced the Texas Longhorns. The game got off to a good start with Texas leading early 2-1, then the Hogs flipping the script and taking a 5-2 lead. But at 3:27 PM, with no rain falling the game was needlessly pointlessly stopped. The NCAA has an idiotic rule that a game can’t continue if there’s lightning within 8 miles of the stadium. Worse than that, once the game is stopped it can’t resume until there has been a 30-minute stretch with no lightning.
If MLB put that rule in, no game would ever get played in summer when lightning can happen almost any night. But the rule exists, so the teams dealt with  a non-rain delay of over 2 and a half hours.   The Arkansas broadcasters were as bent as I was having little material to fill the gap. If there was a sunny side for them, coming off the delay the Hogs almost instantly scored 6 more runs leaving the score at 11–2 Hogs as of 7:31 PM Eastern. The final was 11–5  but the scheduled 7 PM game  between Florida and Texas Tech didn’t start until 10 PM Eastern.  There are no “official” games at this level, so the delayed game had to be played to a 9-inning conclusion.  When Texas Tech finally beat Florida in the last game,  almost nobody in person or on TV saw it.



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