The bad news is the Florida Gators lost their first game of the College World Series to Coastal Carolina, 2-1, Sunday night, which means if they’re going to advance to the championship round in Omaha, they’ll have to do it through the loser’s bracket.
The good news is nobody in Omaha has better pitching than the Gators, who will need all their arms the rest of this week if they hope to make it to the championship round. The task moving forward is to win four straight games because that’s what it takes to advance. Florida went to the loser’s bracket in game two last year, falling to eventual NCAA champ Virginia. They knocked off Miami to get to the bracket championship, then beat Virginia 10-5 before losing in the bracket championship game, 5-4. This year will be a little harder because in losing game one, the Gators had to bring in Dane Dunning and Shaun Anderson from the bullpen. That puts all the pressure squarely on the shoulders of sophomore Alex Faedo (13-2, 3.25 ERA), who will face Texas Tech Tuesday night in the first loser go home game. The Red Raiders lost to TCU, 5-3, Sunday afternoon.
Sunday night, the Gators were handcuffed by Coastal Carolina’s Andrew Beckwith, who scattered 7 hits, struck out 7 and didn’t walk a batter while needing just 98 pitches, most of them dropping down submarine style. Beckwith induced the Gators into 15 ground ball outs including 2 rally killing double play grounders.
Coastal broke through against Florida starter Logan Shore in the third on a double to left by Anthony Marks, a walk to Connor Owings and a double to right field by Zach Remillard. Remillard’s double was originally called a foul ball, but instant replay reversed the call and only Paez was allowed to score. Shore, who lost his first game of the season and saw his 17-game winning streak come to an end, got Young to ground out to end the inning.
Florida tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth when Deacon Liput hit a 1-out double down the right field line, advanced to third on a ground out and scored on a single to center field by pinch hitter Jeremy Vasquez. Coastal came back with the game-winning run in the sixth when Owings led off with a walk and came home when Remillard tripled off the fence in center field.
The Gators got a leadoff single by Buddy Reed in the bottom of the sixth but he was wiped out when Peter Alonso hit into a double play. JJ Schwarz followed with a single but the inning ended when Mike Rivera struck out looking.
That was it for the Gators who went down 1-2-3 in each of the last three innings as Beckwith seemed to get stronger as the game wore on.
With the Gators needing to win four straight to advance out of their bracket, expect a rotation of Faedo, A.J. Puk, Dane Dunning or Scott Moss and then perhaps Shore if the Gators can force a game four.
THE CURSE IS BROKEN IN CLEVELAND
The MVP of the NBA Championship Finals had a game 7 stat line of 27 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocked shots.
The MVP of the regular season took more shots (19) than he had points (17).
When the Cleveland Cavaliers were down 3-1 to the Golden State Warriors, LeBron James put the team on his back and carried them to the first professional championship by a Cleveland team since the 1964 when the Cleveland Browns got an NFL championship by shocking the Baltimore Colts in Don Shula’s second year on the job. Since then it’s been one heartbreak after another for the city of Cleveland. That is, until Sunday night when James played superman for the third straight game to lift the Cavaliers.
While James came up big when Cleveland needed him the most, regular season MVP Stephen Curry couldn’t hit the big shots when the Warriors needed them the worst. If either Curry (6-19 shooting, 4-14 on 3-balls) or Klay Thompson (6-17, 2-10 on 3-balls) had played to the same level they played in the regular season or their previous playoff series wins, Golden State probably would have repeated. They weren’t at their best, but even with the two of them off their games, the Warriors probably would have repeated as champions if not for Draymond Green getting suspended for game 5. Green and others can whine all they want about a double standard for LeBron James and they would probably be right, but it doesn’t excuse Green losing his head and getting a 1-game suspension just when his team had all the momentum and a home court advantage for game 5.
Right now, I’d say Green has a lock on Bonehead of the Year.
DUSTIN JOHNSON FINALLY BREAKS THROUGH
You can eliminate that “best player to never win a major” tag off Dustin Johnson, who made it a daily double for Conway, South Carolina on Sunday. Johnson is a Coastal Carolina grad who is officially listed as the winner of the US Open, but considering the way the course played at Oakmont, maybe survivor is a better term. Watching this weekend, I was reminded of the 1970 US Open at Hazeltine, which Tony Jacklin won with a 7-under 281. Dave Hill, who on Friday said the only thing missing from Hazeltine was “80 acres of corn and cows,” finished second at even par. No one will ever say that about Oakmont, but most of the time, the US Open turns into a man vs. the course war in which the course usually wins. Just as Jacklin was the last man standing at Hazeltine in 1970, Johnson was the last man standing Sunday.
This is the same course where Johnny Miller went comatose in 1973 and shot a final round 63 but that was just one round. Heading into the fourth round, Miller was 2-over par so it’s not like the 63 was indicative of the way he played that week. In the subsequent Opens at Oakmont since Miller won by a stroke with a 5-under, Larry Nelson won in 1983 at 4-under, Ernie Els won in 1994 at 5-under and Angel Cabrera won in 2007 at 5-over.
For the most part, you win at Oakmont by playing steady and letting everyone else implode, which is what Johnson did. Shane Lowery lost his 3-stroke lead at the turn and was fortunate to finish at 1-under. Jim Furyk almost went Johnny Miller (final round 66) but he went even par from 12 through 16 when he needed to make a move and washed his birdie on 17 with a bogey on 18. Scott Piercy got to 16 and realized where he was, then bogeyed 16 and 18 to drop from 3-under to 1-under.
The next major is The Open Championship at Royal Troon in Scotland where the last three winners have torn the course up. Todd Hamilton won in a playoff in 2004 after going 10-under in regulation. Justin Leonard was 12-under in 1997 and former Gator Mark Calcavecchia won in a playoff in 1989 after going 13-under in regulation.
BEST 10 QUARTERBACKS IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL 2016
While it’s a year with more questions than answers at quarterback in the SEC, the rest of the country is swimming in talented, experienced QBs. Here are my top 10 quarterbacks:
1. DeShaun Watson, Clemson, JR (333-491 for 4,104 passing yards, 35 TDs; 1,105 rushing yards, 12 TDs)
2. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, JR (269-395 for 3,700 passing yards, 36 TDs; 405 rushing yards, 7 TDs
3. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State, JR (93-147 for 992 passing yards, 11 TDs; 682 rushing yards, 11 TDs)
4. Chad Kelly, Ole Miss, SR (298-458 for 4,042 passing yards, 31 TDs; 500 rushing yards, 10 TDs)
5. Greg Ward Jr., Houston, SR (232-345 for 2,828 passing yards, 17 TDs; 1,108 rushing yards 21 TDs)
6. Luke Falk, Washigton State
7. DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame, JR (210-334 for 2,880 passing yards, 21 TDs; 520 rushing yards, 10 TDs)
8. Lamar Jackson, Louisville, SO (135-247 for 1,840 passing yards, 12 TDs; 960 rushing yards, 11 TDs)
9. Nick Mullens, Southern Miss, SR (331-521 for 4,476 passing yards, 38 TDs; 3 rushing TDs)
10. Zack Terrell, Western Michiganm SR (262-391 for 3,526 yards, 29 TDs, 3 rushing TDs)
Just missed: Seth Russell, Baylor; Brad Kaaya, Miami; Brett Rypien, Boise State; Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee; Anu Solomon, Arizona
Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Vandenburg was found guilty on five counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of unlawful photography by a Nashville jury. The jury deliberated four hours and came back with a guilty verdict that Vandenburg had assaulted an unconscious woman and had encouraged three teammates to also take advantage of her. Vandenburg’s defense tried to convince the jury that Vandenburg was drunk and shouldn’t be held responsible for what his teammates did.
Former Baylor coach Art Briles accepted a financial settlement with the school. He had 8 years and $40 million remaining on his contract. No details of the settlement were released.
The NBA holds its draft this week and at least 12 of the first round picks are expected to be one-and-done freshmen.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
With Tiger Woods not even playing, Rory McIlRoy and Phil Mickelson missing the cut and Jordan Spieth way off his game, did you even bother to watch the US Open on television?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Twiddle is a Vermont-based band that I recently discovered when a friend asked me to listen to their CD “Plump: Chapter One” and tell me what I thought. I liked it enough that I found this live performance by the band in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that I thought I would share with you. I’m told that in person the band typically does about 90-120 minutes with long guitar solos by lead Mihali Savoulidis.