Today I spent 10 hours in college baseball heaven. I got to see two California powers meet in UC Irvine and UCLA. I got to see Baylor and Rice clash for the tournament championship. I got to see Texas A&M (and their awful fans) play a close game with Houston. To top it off, I come home to find Michigan has scored 5 runs in the last inning (8th due to time constraints) to beat Akron.
A cold front blew through Houston yesterday knocking temperatures into the 40s and low 50s for much of today, which made the first game between the California teams one to bundle up for. The game was pretty close, but the highlight of it had to be the UCI jersey’s.
This was actually my first day game at Minute Maid that the roof was open. Normally, if the temperature is over 80 (read: all MLB season) the roof is kept closed, at least until late in the game when the temperatures have dropped off at night. My dad and I grabbed a pair of seats way down in front, 3 rows off the Anteater (UCI) dugout, the few seats already exposed by sun and dug in. The sun felt great.
UCLA just couldn’t hang with the Anteaters. Yet again, it was the defense that lead to problems. UCLA had a few more errors cost them some big runs early and late in the game, sealing their fate. It was a good entertaining game. Both teams will be in the tournament barring any fatal collapses.
After a brief trip out to lunch, we made it back to catch the end of the first inning of the Baylor/Rice game. The jerks closed the roof while we were gone taking away the sun but leaving the cold. It was awful.
The place was packed for this game… or at least as packed as the games would get. Baylor’s yellow jersey’s were pretty sweet. The game itself would be the decisive game of the Classic; both teams entered at 2-0 for the weekend, Rice defeating UCLA and Texas A&M, Baylor defeating Houston and UCLA.
The game was a good one. Rice took and early lead, and Baylor never could put a big inning together. The closest thing to a rally ended quickly when on a soft fly ball to left, the left fielder dove forward for the ball. The umpire on the third base side never saw the play and motioned safe. The home umpire motioned out. The runners at first and second advanced to avoid being forced out, as they thought a catch never happened.
In reality, the catch was made, the Owl left fielder threw in to second to get the double play. The umpires had a conference, and decided the ball was definitely caught, and the runner was out. This was pretty crappy for Baylor as they were just doing what the field umpire called. In reality, the double up should have been negated and the catch upheld. The umpires didn’t negate the double up and the Owls came in to bat. It was a bad call by the umpires.
On a side note, the umpire in the field was the same umpire that blew 4 calls at first base in the Rice/UCLA game on Friday that all hurt Rice. Perhaps this was a make up call for all his crappy calls this weekend? Perhaps not. It was ugly nonetheless.
Game three on the schedule was Houston versus Texas A&M. This game never should have been close, but the Houston starting pitcher kept it close. The Houston team looked to be VERY young and very overmatched. Texas A&M probably had a 5 inch and 45 pound advantage on average. They also had an extra 10-15 mph on their pitches. Houston was just playing out of their league in this tournament. As the only team not in the top ten, not to mention the top 50 or so, they stood little chance in upsetting anyone.
The game was actually quite close, and Houston held the lead until the 5th inning or so. The turning point happened when the UH catcher was hit by a fastball on his cheek in the 3rd inning. The game was suspended for 30 minutes as the catcher Wallace as carted off the field to the hospital. He remained conscious after the hit, but was obviously hurt and bleeding. He was taken to the hospital for stitches and an MRI. Thank god he’s ok.
From that point on, Houston lost its edge and pitching slowly dwindled. Baylor bats came alive in the 5th to tie the game at 3, and eventually take over the game. I left a in the 8th to miss what little traffic there was, and to get home as I’m beat. Also, I couldn’t take this A&M fan behind me. Aggie fans are generally different anyways, but this guy thought he was funny by yelling every 2 minutes at either the opposing base coach, the opposing third baseman, or the guy warming up the right fielder (and a few at the umpire for good measure).
If I ever hear any of these phrases yelled any time soon, it will have been too soon:
- Hey Coach, get in the box, Coach!
- Coach, GET OUT OF THE BOX, COACH, it’s not safe!
- Coach, get in the box, its only 2 feet that way!
- Way to stay out of the play third base
- Quit playing with the dirt 2-6!
- Coach, the game is that way, coach!
- Hey 3-6, throw him a grounder, burn it in there 3-6!
The guy was a total douche and I wanted to throw a beer at him all game. Luckily he was there with some friends, some of which were Cougar fans. The true saving grace was the little girl with their group who kept pointing out that Aggies are generally stupid, and that this kid didn’t even make it in to A&M, therefore making him an absolute idiot. I liked that little girl (in a totally not pedophile sort of way).
It was a great day, and now I’ve got to wait another year for it to come back around again. And while I think college baseball should stick in college stadiums, the Classic does a good job of drawing fans who wouldn’t normally go to games in. It also does a great job getting together arguably the best non-post season tournament in all of college sports. It’s hard to argue when 5 of 6 teams are in the top ten in most major polls.
As for Michigan, I’m glad they won, and as stated earlier, I’m also happy Coach Maloney helped lend toward my credibility as a baseball fan by switching Dufek and McLouth. It didn’t have a big effect on the game, but it was a small sample size. This trend of late inning comebacks, while exciting, isn’t where I’d hope we’d be at this point in the season. I was really hoping we’d come in and just take care of business. As a fan, I have to remember that this isn’t last year’s team. We are going to struggle at times. I just hope we get all the pieces together, espeically on the mound, before the conference season starts. As it stands, unless we sweep the rest of our OOC, we will have to win the BigTen regular season impressively to get into the NCAA tournament. That may not be easy.
I’ll be busy tomorrow catching up after a pretty busy Thursday through Sunday. I hope to get out my Weekend Recap by Monday night, but no promises. I should have ample time Tuesday to get it out if necessary. See you then.