Now I know some of you long-haired, shroom eating, Putin loving, Jai-Lai worshipping anarchists are out there saying "Come on Mike, this is baseball, no one cares." Well to you rabble rousers I'd just like to say that I have the FREEDOM to write about whatever I please. And if I want to eat APPLE PIE while I'm at my computer, then I'm going to do it. And if I feel like getting REALLY FAT and making myself totally UNEDUCATED ABOUT FOREIGN COUNTRIES, then you try and stop me Commie.
Baseball is really American, I guess is what I'm getting at.
Whether you're a fan of America's pastime or not, if you're a Louisville Cardinal fan then you should at least be paying a little attention to the world of college baseball today. The Cards are making just their second NCAA Tournament appearance ever, and will be looking for their first NCAA Regional win (U of L went 0-2 in 2002) when they take the field against perennial powerhouse Miami this afternoon at 2 p.m.
The second-seeded Hurricanes are making their NCAA record 35th consecutive Tournament appearance, and have won four national championships in the last 25 years. U of L has already defeated UM in football and basketball this season...ya-huh it was pertinent.
Here's everything else you need to know about today's opening round matchup in the Columbia Regional:
#2 Miami (36-22) vs. #3 Louisville (40-20)
Taylor Stadium; Columbia, MO
2 p.m. EST
Miami leads 1-0
The 'Canes stomped the Cards 13-4 in Coral Gables last year.
Lefty Scott Maine (5-5, 3.03 ERA) will be on the bump for UM today. The junior, who has command of four pitches, was selected in the 23rd round of last summer's Amateur Draft after a 12-3 sophomore campaign, but chose to return to school for one more year. Coming out of high school he was ranked as the seventh best prospect in the country by Baseball America. As a junior, Maine has hurled a team-high 92 innings and struck out a team-high 73 batters while allowing opponents to hit an average of .255.
The Big East Pitcher of the Year, junior right-hander Zack Pitts (8-3, 1.78 ERA) is the obvious choice for Dan McDonnell to hand the ball to in his team's NCAA opener. The E'Town graduate has allowed just 21 earned runs in 106 innings of work, and opponents are hitting an unheard of .204 against him.
First baseman Yonder Alonso is not only the best hitter in the Regional, but he's one of the best hitters in college baseball. The sophomore enters the Columbia Regional hitting a team-leading .378 with 18 home runs and 74 RBIs. He's also slugging .724 and has a .519 on-base percentage. In addition, Alonso has stolen 13 bases and has 12 doubles in 196 at bats.
Center fielder Boomer Whiting is third on the team in average at .358, but where he really hurts opponents is on the base paths where his 69 stolen bases lead the nation.
Probable Starting Lineups
- Blake Tekotte (CF), .345
- Roger Tomas (SS), .349
- Yonder Alonso (1B), .378
- Dennis Raben (RF), .286
- Jemile Weeks (2B), .305
- Mark Sobolewski (LF), .346
- Gus Menendez (3B), .256
- Richard O'Brien (C), .221
- Dave DiNatale (DH), .223
- Boomer Whiting (CF), .358
- Logan Johnson (2B), .372
- Daniel Burton (1B), .307
- Isaiah Howes (LF), .387
- Jorge Castillo (DH), .291
- Chris Dominguez (3B), .251
- Pete Rodriguez (RF), .264
- Derrick Alfonso (C), .266
- Chris Cates (SS), .289
The loser will play the loser of #1 Missouri vs. #2 Kent State at 2 p.m. on Saturday, while the winner will play the winner of the same game at 7:30 p.m.
Where To Watch
You can watch live webcasts of all the Regional games on Mizzou's Columbia Regional page. All webcasts will begin 15 minutes before the game's first pitch.
Notable Numbers and Quotable, uh, Quotes
--Miami is making its 36th regional appearance and is hoping to make its 23rd appearance in the College World Series. The other three teams combined have appeared in 29 regionals and one College World Series.
--The Hurricanes have won all 13 regionals they've appeared in under current head coach Jim Morris, and have won 27 of their past 29 regional games.
--Louisville's absurdly low team ERA of 2.89 is the best in the region. Miami's staff ERA is 3.47.
--The Cards played just 11 games against teams participating in the NCAA Tournament, while Miami played 26.
--U of L is 34-4 when they out-hit their opponent, and just 4-14 when they are out-hit.
--Miami comes into the game having won 10 of 13, including a 9-3 win over #6 national seed Florida State in which Scott Maine pitched tremendously.
--Though not ranked in the Associated Press' or Baseball America's Top 25, the Hurricanes have a current RPI of 17.
--Louisville has not lost three straight games all season. They are coming off of consecutive losses to Rutgers.
--The Hurricanes are 105-32 (.766) all-time in NCAA Regional play, and have won 10 consecutive regional openers. Louisville is 0-2 all-time in regional play.
--Louisville is 29-2 when they score six or more runs.
--Thanks in large part to Boomer Whiting, Louisville established a Big East record with 141 steals this season, easily the most of the four teams in the regional.
--Miami hasn't lost the first game of a Regional since a 5-4 loss to Sam Houston St. in the Austin Regional on May 23, 1996.
--"Most people think this is the time of the year for Miami. Our players do. I hope they're still thinking that 10 years from now." (Miami HC Jim Morris)
--"You have to respect what they've done. I don't think our kids are in awe of them, but they have been one of the very top programs." (Missouri HC Tim Jamieson on Miami)
--"It's exciting for the entire program, but it's really special for the seniors. The younger guys think they're going to be here forever and do this every year. The seniors knew this was it. The emotion from the seniors is different relative to the rest of the team. They appreciate it in a different way." (U of L HC Dan McDonnell on the Cards earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament)