Friday, June 15, 2007

College World Series Game 1 - Of Rallies and WPA 

Took Friday afternoon off of work (sorta, sat with laptop while watching) to watch Game 1 of the College World Series as my heavily favored Owls (now there is a statement I still can't get used to saying) managed to quickly fall into a 5-0 hole to the scrappy "happy to be here, nothing to lose, team of destiny" Louisvill Cardinals.

After two innings of scoreless ball extended our record CWS scoreless streak to 25 innings (thank you Robin Ventura and ESPN for the countless reminders) and falling down 5-0, things appeared bleak. My daughter left the house in a pique of disgust once we were down 2-0, and my sons left after the three run blast made it 5-0.

But, lo and behold, good things began to happen in the bottom of the third. Our good friends arrived, I cracked my first beer of the day, and the Owls bats awakened, as four consecutive two out singles netted a 4 run third to cut the lead to 5-4. But the good times quickly ended as Louisville homered in the fourth and fifth to bring on our third pitcher of the day and heading into the bottom of the fifth the Owls were trying to figure out how to escape the 10-4 dungeon they found themselves in.

Here is where things got interesting. A botched double-play grounder let Rice stay alive in the fifth and scratch out three unearned runs capped by a Jordan Dodson two run double. In the sixth, Phillies first round pick Joe Savery hit his sixth home run of the year to make in 10-8, and in the seventh, Hector Luna homered to make it 10-9. By this time my sons were back riveted to the screen, and my daughter had been banished from the room because all the good things happened while she was gone.

This set up the pivotal 8th inning. Rice's #2 reliever, Bobby Bramhall, came on and promptly gave up a walk, fielders choice, double, intentional walk to find the Cards with the bases loaded and one out. Bramhall got ahead 0-2 on Cards RF Pete Rodriguez before putting three straight fastballs into the dirt. On the critical 3-2 pitch, Bramhall unloads a hellacious breaking pitch that Rodriguez is way out in front of for strike three. The next batter drills a line drive but thankfully it is RIGHT at our leftfielder to end the threat and the Owls enter the bottom of the 8th still just one run down and momentum fully in our favor.

The Cardinals brought out their closer, a fella named Trystan Magnusson. Trystan means "the noisy one", but it was the Owls that made the noise. A single was followed by a spectacular sacrifice bunt that was so good it turned into a single. Joe Savery followed with a RBI single to left (with the Cardinals OF playing at the warning track, no throw was possible) to tie the game. Then, my favorite Owls, catcher Danny Lehmann thankfully failed to bunt twice and on the 2-2 pitch laced a double to the wall to give the Owls their first lead of the game. Jeremy Dodson broke things open with a double of his own, and the Owls cruised to a 15-10 win.

One of the more interesting things I saw in the program, was that as the Owls scratched their way back from 5-0 and 10-4 to the improbable 15-10 win is that ESPN is now featuring "Win Probability" on their broadcasts. Jeff at Lookout Landing would have cringed at Robin Ventura's "I'm no good at math" comments, but fun to see the Owls go from 12 and 16 percent chances to 99% entering the ninth with a five run lead. Looks like ESPN is adopting Win Probability and I would not be surprised to see WPA as an ESPN standard in the next five years.

Another thing that won't surprise me is to see the Owls win their second National Championship in five years, and I hope its a rematch against those irritating Oregon State Beavers who we owe a serious beating to.

Go Owls!!!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?