I never thought I'd say it,
But I genuinely love Tom Hicks.
Despite two inexcusable throwing errors in the top of the 1st inning which dug the Frogs into a 1-0 hole, the boys never lost focus and POUNDED Florida State 8-1 for the school's first ever College World Series victory. Tom Hicks' Bifocaled Blunder got off to a bit of a shaky start, allowing a hit on his very first pitch of the game, but Matt Purke immediately shook off any freshman jitters he may have had and kept the Seminoles off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game. For the day, he tossed 7 innings, racking up 7 strike outs while allowing only 4 hits. The four walks were a bit out of character, but the way he pitched his way out of some unfavorable counts shows why the Rangers should've mortgaged the Ballpark in order to sign him. I don't know jack about baseball, but if I were an opposing batter knowing I was going to have to try and size up those breaking balls, I would probably have my mom write me a sick note.
But, despite Purke's big game, you can't deny that he had to have been SLIGHTLY inflated by the embarrassment of run support he received. The Frogs set the tone with a five run first inning, with a lot of thanks to Jason Coats' two run scoring double, which allowed the team to ease into a groove and play their game without having to worry about making up lost ground. That sound you hear? It's Florida State's bullpen phone ringing yet again. In case you lost count - and I did, but math was never my strong point - Florida State cycled through SIX pitchers... and still couldn't get it right. And while in hindsight the game was officially over after the first inning, Bryan Holaday's fourth inning dong to left probably took the fire out of the Seminole's water for the afternoon. Seriously, our hitting would have caused any of our opponents confidence to go off the reservation. Peace pipe. Oklahoma. Winstar Casino. Fin.
I could sit here dishing out thinly veiled Native American References or other superlatives - and before I move on: How ironic is it that our first run was scored by Jerome Pena who has a Mohawk and whose nickname is Tonto?? - but I have a feeling you guys saw it just as I did. After watching the Texas series, I'll be honest - I wasn't sure how bolstering our run support would be. Given, Texas may have been the best team in college baseball before last weekend, and certainly had some of the best pitching, but having only scored 8 runs over 3 games, I certainly assumed pitching was going to be the difference. In a way it was, but in most ways it really wasn't at all. Matt Purke was certainly the player of the game, but I think the offense deserves as much credit as anyone. The fielding may not have been up to scratch for a team of our caliber - except the conversion Featherston made at first after the ball bounced off of Witte- but it obviously didn't matter.
I'll be very interested to hear from our colleagues who attended the game - bucknasty? Counselor? - but perhaps the best part of the entire game was the insane amount of crowd support we received. I kept reading that the Omaha crowd typically embraces the new kid on the block, but I don't think any assurances could've prepared me for that reaction. It sure sounded like a game at Lupton. Or Amon G for that matter.
Next up for the Frogs is the Monday night winners bracket game vs. the winner of Florida/UCLA, which Florida presently leads 2-1 at the bottom of the second. With UCLA being the overall 6 seed and Florida the 3, expect that game to be significantly tougher. I wish Purke could be available, but after Maxwell's troubling performance against Texas, I would certainly expect for him to come out with a chip on his shoulder and pitch his best game of the year. I can't wait.
So the Frogs get the opening game of the 2010 Series, the opening game of the last opener ever at Rosenblatt Stadium, the first CWS victory in school history, the first team since 1994 to win their very first game in Omaha, a fact Nomar was quick to remind us as his Georgia Tech Yellowjackets were the previous team, and the first time Andy Dalton was ever recognized on an ESPN broadcast. ESPN recognizing TCU's Football team? And knowing the the team's fearless leader? Maybe things are looking up! Even Nomar was giving him props, and he's a bastard Red Sock! But, perhaps the biggest first of all, my very first time watching the entirety of a baseball game of any level on television. Truly a history day!
See you guys Monday with a bunch of unsubstantiated facts about our next victim via wikipedia. Go Frogs! Enjoy this one.