Prior to their Monday night loss to Virginia at the College World Series in Omaha, the last time the Gators lost a baseball game they responded with a vengeance. After losing to Arkansas in the first game of the SEC Tournament, the Gators came back to win their next four to capture the SEC title, then breezed through the NCAA Gainesville Regional and Super Regional unscathed. When Virginia beat the Gators, 1-0, it ended a 10-game winning streak but it might have been a very good thing because UF responded with a vengeance. The Gators hammered four home runs, the most ever in a College World Series Game at TD Ameritrade Park, and all four traveled more than 400 feet. The homers by Harrison Bader (led off the game) and Peter Alonso went out of the yard in dead center field, the first two balls ever hit out in dead center since the CWS moved from Rosenblatt Stadium to TDA.
The big win kept the Gators (51-17) alive and forced a Friday night rematch with Virginia, which will try the same formula that deadened Gator bats Monday night by throwing lefty Nathan Kirby (5-2, 2.28 ERA). Kirby is a sinker-slider pitcher who will try to replicate the success of lefty Brandon Waddell, who held UF to two hits over seven innings Monday night by rarely throwing anything higher than the kneecaps or over the heart of the plate. Florida will counter with sophomore righty Logan Shore (10-6, 2.55 ERA) who got the Gators’ initial win in the CWS last Saturday when he held Miami to seven hits and only two unearned runs over five innings.
Waddell and reliever Josh Sborz threw 23 ground ball outs against Florida in the first go round. Miami tried the exact same strategy Wednesday night, but the Gators adjusted and knocked starter Enrique Sosa and relievers Andrew Suarez and Danny Garcia out of the box. The difference Wednesday was the Gators didn’t chase balls out of the strike zone which forced the Canes to throw the ball over the plate. The results were 14 hits and long balls from Bader, Alonso, Buddy Reed and Richie Martin.
Getting past Virginia Friday is only half the battle. Should the Gators stave off elimination, they’ll have to repeat the process Saturday to make it to the championship round. That’s a difficult task but the Gators have the deepest pitching staff remaining in the tournament with plenty of live arms that throw in the 90s.
CWS Update: The SEC is down to two teams now – Florida and Vanderbilt – after LSU was eliminated by TCU Thursday night, 8-4. Vanderbilt only has to beat TCU once to advance to the championship round while the Gators will have to knock off Virginia twice to create the first all-SEC final since the Gators and South Carolina played for the title in 2011.
The decision about who is going to quarterback LSU this fall might have become less complicated Thursday when starter Anthony Jennings was arrested on a felony charge of unauthorized entry of a dwelling. Jennings and two other Tigers were arrested and three other men were allegedly involved in an attempt to reclaim items (MacBook Air; Play Station 4) that were stolen from Jennings apartment early in the month. If the felony charges aren’t reduced or dropped, it is highly doubtful Jennings will play in the fall, which means Brandon Allen might have to play, ready or not.
These three arrests came on the heels of redshirt freshman Trey Lealaimatafao’s arrest for beating a man unconscious then punching the man’s girlfriend in the face. Although the four arrests won’t vault LSU into the SEC lead for most arrests of athletes since January 1, 2015 (Florida and Alabama are tied with five each), it is the silly season when athletes have little supervision, so things could heat up in a hurry and the Tigers could take the outright lead.
Here are the SEC arrests since January 1, 2015:
Alabama: 5 football arrests; none since April 28, 2015
Arkansas: 2 golf and 1 football arrest; none since May 6, 2015
Auburn: 1 football arrest; none since April 29, 2015
Florida: 2 baseball, 1 women’s basketball and 2 football arrests; none since April 18, 2015
Georgia: 0 arrests since October 5, 2014
Kentucky: 0 arrests since October 7, 2014
LSU: 4 football arrests; none since yesterday
Mississippi State: 1 basketball and 3 football arrests; none since April 26, 2015
Missouri: 0 arrests since November 7, 2014
Ole Miss: 2 football arrests; none since January 22, 2015
South Carolina: 0 arrests since March 23, 2014
Tennessee: 2 football arrests; none since March 25, 2015 Texas A&M: 1 football arrest; none since March 10, 2015
Vanderbilt: 0 arrests since January 16, 2014
You can track arrests of college and pro athletes at arrestnation.com.
It’s not just a rumor. These things do happen in college athletics, just nobody really talks about it because they don’t want to be the one who stops the goose that is alumni from laying golden eggs. Former Texas QB Chris Simms, who made All-Big 12 in 2001-02, admitted on a CBSSports Radio show Thursday that he got a few $100 handshakes during his career in Austin. Some of the $100 rewards were from alumni who were simply happy, some of the others were for signing autographs. The statute of limitations has long expired for Simms, but don’t think the practice of spreading bucks around has come and gone.
And speaking of hanky panky at Texas, the university has hired an outside investigator to examine academics for athletes after a Chronicle of Higher Education report alleges that at least three UT basketball players received improper academic benefits while Rick Barnes was the coach. The university says there is no evidence that Barnes actually knew of the improprieties.
This is not good news for the NCAA, particularly in light of what’s going on at North Carolina, where the NCAA has handed out a 59-page Notice of Allegations. Two high profile athletic programs being investigated for academic scandals is not what the NCAA needs at a time when it’s having to deal with the Ed O’Bannon trial, concussions and power conferences that demand more autonomy.
You might be hearing that at Texas football games in the fall. Texas has made the decision to sell beer and wine at home Darrell Royal-Memorial Stadium. Texas already sells beer and wine at basketball, softball and baseball games so there are plans in place how to offer alcohol with a measure of responsibility. With a stadium that seats 100,000, it’s estimated that the Texas athletic department will profit by more than $1 million just from beer and wine sales at football games. Texas is the fifth public university in the state to offer beer and wine sales. SMU (private) also sells beer and wine at its football games.
Even though they really don’t need the money thanks to the SEC Network cash cow, figure it’s only a matter of a year or two before you’ll see beer sales at 13 SEC schools and wine sales (with their cheese, of course) at Vanderbilt.
Texas A&M’s first Heisman Trophy winner, John David Crow, died Thursday. He was 79. Crow played his college football for Bear Bryant although he was not one of the Junction Boys since he was just a freshman in 1954. Crow won the 1957 Heisman playing two ways and defining toughness on both sides of the field (running back and middle linebacker). Even though he missed three games because of injury, Crow ran for 562 yards and 6 touchdowns, passed for 5 more and picked off 5 passes. Bryant said if Crow hadn’t won the Heisman in 1957 “then they ought to quit giving it.” Crow was the only Heisman Trophy winner Bryant ever coached.
Crow went on to the NFL and played 11 seasons, going to the Pro Bowl four times and then spent time as the head coach and athletic director at Louisiana-Monroe and later as AD at Texas A&M. When he resigned as the Aggies AD in 1993, the school was under NCAA investigation that resulted in a 5-year probation for football players and other athletes taking money from boosters for jobs they never performed.
The golfer formerly known as Tiger Woods’ quest for a fourth US Open championship hit a teensy snag at Chambers Bay Thursday when he shot 10-over par 80 in the first round, finishing the day a mere 15 shots off the -5 pace set by co-leaders Henrik Stenson and Dustin Johnson. Perhaps the most memorable shot of the day for Eldrick (his real name) Woods was on the par 5 seventh hole when he tried to hack his way out of deep rough and sent his club flying – in the opposite direction no less – further than his golf ball.
There is a screenplay waiting to be written here because it seems the only thing that can save Eldrick Woods is a golf exorcist.
Asked Tuesday if he thought he had a chance to win the Open, Woods told a reporter that he felt very confident. I would feel confident with Woods’ game because I would love to shoot in the 80s and don’t mind playing Grandmother’s House (over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go) golf.
Can the Gators beat Virginia twice to advance to the championship round of the College World Series?
“East-West” was not a commercial success (peaked at #65 on the Billboard album charts in 1966) but it has become a true blues classic over the years. This was the best collaboration of Buttfield, Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop and it featured covers of some old blues standards such as “Walkin Blues” (Robert Johnson) and “Two Trains Running” (Muddy Waters).