Streaks and taters come to die in the Great MidWest.
Texas CF Mark Payton had reached base in a stunning 101 consecutive outings. Until he and his fellow Longhorns snatched defeat from victory in a fall-from-ahead 3-1 L to Cal Irvine’s Anteaters in the 2014 circus’s opening act.
Fly balls, which would go yard in other venues, slow and droop in the pitcher-friendly confines of The Stadium That Replaced Rosenblatt. Only home boy Grant Kay of all the players on the four opening day rosters came close to clearing the fence. Instead, after his smack fell a foot or so short, the scorebook merely read 7, with a Cardinal LOB.
Pitchers taught to keep it low, and force grounders, must rethink; throw high, forcing harmless fly balls.
“Welcome to Omaha” read the signs, “Where Bases on Balls are the New Home Runs.”
* * * * *
For the second time in the post season, a U of L foe tried a crafty move, peculiar to the use of the DH.1
Vandy coach Tim Corbin listed pitching ace Tyler Beede as the DH in the 8 spot in his opening lineup, knowing he’d pinch hit for him for the first at bat, but not sure who he’d want to send to the plate.
When Cardinal starter Kyle Funkhouser issued a two-out walk to John Norwood, Coburn handed the bat to diminutive, baby-faced Rio Coleman. Who immediately smacked a single to right. Karl Ellison took a walk to first, loading the bases.
After a visit from his pitching coach, Funkhouser wild pitched in a run, then, ahead 0-2 in the count, gave up a RBI double to Dansby Swanson, allowing two more Commodores to cross the plate.
Welcome to Omaha, Where Bases on Balls are the New Home Runs.
Corbin’s move was funky. Card ace Funkhouser was not.
Down 3 nil, Louisville never recovered.
* * * * *
After two quick outs, Vandy tallied again in the bottom of the fourth for a 4 zed lead.
Another free pass to Vandy in the bottom of 7th gave the Commodores some breathing room, an insurance run for a 5-3 lead, after the Cardinals had scratched and crawled their way back to within a run.
Louisville outhit the winners, but the scorebook read 9 LOB.
More important, U of L gave up 9 walks, while working Vandy hurlers for only two freebies.
* * * * *
In its third CWS appearance, U of L now stands 1-5 in Omaha.
To attain some modicum of success in this year’s Elite Eight, the Cards must best Texas in a loser-leaves-town elimination game tomorrow (Monday) afternoon.
— Seedy K