Tuesday, June 21, 2005

« Wild ping: ASU 8, Nebraska 7 (11 innings) »

By Suss
It's hard to get into college baseball. The game's players may one day play in the major leagues, but it will take a few years for those players to move through the minor league. Occasionally a phenom will go from college to pro in a year or two. Mark Prior comes to mind.

"As much as I love PTI, two lead changes in the 9th is a skosh more exciting than 'Toss Up!' "
Still, the games can be exciting, as the Arizona State-Nebraska game this afternoon proved to the world.

Both teams were facing elimination from the College World Series, and I was facing a quandary: watch the end of an exciting game -- featuring teams I have no obligation to care about -- or watch "Pardon the Interruption."

And in this epic inner conflict, the game came out victorious.

The game was tied 3-3 going into the 7th, already marking it as exciting. The loser of the game would be done for the season, the winner would stay alive to play Florida.

ASU took the lead in the bottom of the 7th with two runs.

One of the runs may have been averted had the defense communicated well on a Colin Curtis foul ball. Instead, the ball innocently landed in foul territory and Curtis lived to drive in the second run of the inning. ASU was up 5-3.

Nebraska responded in the 9th, down by two with an RBI single by Alex Gordon and took the lead on a 3-run homer by Andy Gerch, taking a 7-5 lead.

At this point I thought the game was over, because Nebraska came out of the dugout to meet Gerch at home plate. So I switched over to "PTI."

But then I got an instant message from my friend, who was also watching the game. "Wow, ASU tied it," he said.


Oh, ASU was the home team.

After Seth Dhaenens reached on an error, he stole second, advanced to third on a bunt single and scored on a double play. With two outs, Jeff Larish went deep to tie the game, 7-all.

As much as I love PTI, two lead changes in the 9th is a skosh more exciting than "Toss Up!"

The game was finally settled in the 11th when a bloop single by J.J. Sferra drove in the decisive 8th run for Arizona.


Games like this just might make me want to ... *gulp* ... care about college baseball.

Basketball and football are the only two college sports the media really exposes. Even when a great college athlete in another sport comes around, it gets minimal coverage.

Many of the playoff games are on TV. I have a sneaking suspicion people will watch it if it's on TV more. It's the media's job to get me interested in a game. Hype it. If they can get people to watch the first game between Shaq and Kobe and the first Pistons-Pacers game after Ron Artest cried over spilled beer, they can get people interested in college baseball.

Here's what they can do:
  • Pitch the product to a national network lacking in sports coverage, like NBC
  • Pitch the sport to Electronic Arts, who can make a video game series out of it
  • Have a selection show similar to that of the college basketball tournaments
ESPN is already throwing their best talent into covering these games. Gary Thorne was the play-by-play man for the ASU-Baylor game, and Harold Reynolds color commentated the following Tulane-Baylor game.

I'll keep my watchful eye out for the CWS's best-of-three final. If this previous round is any barometer of the excitement it may bring, you can count on me shirking responsibility in lieu of aluminum bats.

UPDATE, Wednesday 2:24 AM: I spoke too soon about exciting games. Baylor came back from a 7-0 deficit to win in the final at-bat 8-7. Nutty.