Friday, June 5, 2009

BACK OUT ON THE LIMB: WHY CHARITABLE MAN WILL WIN THE BELMONT

Short answer: Pace makes the race.
Long answer: Keep reading…

The odds makers have made Mine That Bird and Virginia-bred Charitable Man the two favorites for tomorrow's Belmont Stakes. Charitable Man comes from the same nursery that produced Florida Derby winner and injured Kentucky Derby contender Quality Road.

The two reasons Charitable Man will win the Belmont is because of pace and pedigree. Those two things, plus being the betting favorite, don’t bode well for the hard nosed Mine That Bird.

Because the Belmont is long…longer than the Derby by one-quarter of a mile, many folks believe it’s a closers race off the form of horses that make a mad charge down Churchill Downs very long stretch. But due to the distance and the configuration of the track, the Belmont is not typically a closers race.

It’s a tactical speed race and it’s been won off, or near, the front end many more times than by a last jump closer. Of course, don’t tell Real Quiet’s connections that as they still probably have nightmares about Victory Gallop getting up in the final strides…

But, generally speaking, the long race with a slow pace won’t favor Mine That Bird. While he’s already proved that he is both talented and tough, he will have to prove he is versatile in his running style if he is going to give jockey Calvin Borel a first-ever Jockey Triple Crown.

Charitable Man on the other hand has tactical speed and a stalkers style. That should put him in a better position in a race with limited speed. If it turns into a bicycle race with the frontrunners slowing the pace to a crawl it’s likely to suit Charitable Man better than the Derby winner.

That brings us to pedigree, and in a 12 furlong race pedigree should come into play. Both horses are by Belmont Stakes winners and both of their sires are having good years. Powered by the Derby winner's $1.7 million in earnings, Birdstone is 19th on the General Sire list with two stakes winners. Just two spots back in 21st, Lemon Drop Kid is doing it the old fashion way – he has 9 stakes winners this year and five of them are graded stakes winners. Both stallions have over $2.3 in progeny earnings so far this year, and that ain't chump change.

On the dam side, Charitable Man has more muscle. While the Derby winner’s dam’s family is solid it doesn’t compare on paper to Charitable Man’s. His dam, Charitabledonation is a listed stakes winner and her granddam is a half-sister to Exceller who, among other accomplishments, defeated two Triple Crown winners in the 1 ½ mile Jockey Clug Gold Cup at Belmont. CM's pedigree includes the champion Capote and the very useful Florida stallion Baldski.

Then there is the “favorite thing.” In the past 20 years, only four favorites have won the race – A.P. Indy (1991), Thunder Gulch (1995), Point Given (2001) and Afleet Alex (2005).

Notable disappointments this decade include War Emblem (8th in '02), Funny Cide (3rd in '03), Smarty Jones (2nd in '04), Curlin (2nd in '07) and Big Brown's spectacular flame out last year.

And yes, we know we're ignoring all the other horses. And, yes, Dunkirk, one of Zitos horses or another longshot could win the race, but Kentucky (from whence they come) is not ACC country...so they get no love.

WAHOO HORSEHIDE SQUAD ARRIVES SAFELY IN MISSISSIPPI


The Virginia baseball team takes a trip into uncharted territory this weekend, competing in the program’s first-ever super regional as the Cavaliers travel to Ole Miss to play in the NCAA Oxford Super Regional.

The best-of-three series begins at 2 p.m. Friday on ESPN2. Game two is slated for noon Saturday on ESPN2, while the third game (if necessary) is at 3 p.m. Sunday. The winner of the series earns a trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., beginning next Saturday.

UVa is looking for its first-ever CWS berth, while Ole Miss has not reached the CWS since 1972.

All three games also will be available on ESPN360.com. The Saturday and Sunday games will be a split national broadcast. Viewers in Virginia, the D.C. area and Mississippi will receive exclusive coverage of the Ole Miss-Virginia game, while viewers in the rest of the country will get whiparound coverage of Ole Miss-UVa as well as another game.

Both teams had practice sessions Thursday at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field on the Ole Miss campus.Virginia (46-12-1) has won eight straight games heading into the super regional.

After winning the final game of their series May 16 at Virginia Tech, the Cavaliers ran off four straight wins (including three over NCAA tournament host teams) to win the ACC Baseball Championship before sweeping three contests at the NCAA Irvine Regional last weekend.

Virginia gave up only two runs in the NCAA Irvine Regional – the fewest number of runs allowed in an NCAA regional since the tournament went to a 64-team format in 1999. The previous low was three, set by Arizona State in 2003.

The Cavaliers will start LHP Danny Hultzen (Fr., Bethesda, Md.) in the opener Friday. He will be opposed by RHP Phillip Irwin of Ole Miss. Saturday, the Cavaliers will start RHP Robert Morey (So., Virginia Beach, Va.), while the Rebels have yet to announce a starter.

Ole Miss is 43-18 this season after winning the NCAA Oxford Regional last week. The Rebels defeated Monmouth and Western Kentucky in the regional, then lost to the Hilltoppers before rebounding to top WKU in the second regional championship.

The Rebels earned the SEC West Division title this year after going 20-10 in the SEC. Ole Miss is particularly strong in front of its home fans and has gone 27-9 at home this year. Tim Ferguson leads Ole Miss with a .361 batting average.

Jordan Henry is the motor of the Rebels’ offense, with a .347 batting average and a team-high 35 stolen bases.Virginia is making its first-ever trip to Ole Miss.

The teams have met just two times previously, and ironically both came in the 1972 NCAA District III Playoffs. UVa won the first game, 9-3, before the Rebels took the second, 9-0.

ZIMMERMAN MAKES SIGNIFICANT GIFT TO PROGRAM THAT MADE HIM WHAT HE IS TODAY

We know that your thinking… “Loser?” C'mon, it's the Nats.

However, we were thinking “major league ball player” because we are nicer than you and it is T.A.H. Virginia Baseball Month...

Damn, why didn't we chose February - two, count 'em, TWO fewer days.

But, we digress...

Ryan Zimmerman, a former All-America third baseman at Virginia and currently a member of the Washington Nationals, has made a $250,000 contribution to the Virginia Athletics Foundation for improvements to benefit the UVa baseball program. Zimmerman is currently in his fourth full season with the Nationals.

The gift to VAF from Zimmerman is designated for an expansion project at Davenport Field, home of Virginia baseball. The project includes construction of a team meeting room, weight room, indoor batting cages, training room, a hall of fame area, umpires' locker room and visiting locker room. The project will enhance the University’s ability to secure future NCAA events. A possible second phase of the project would include additional seats and suites and would require additional private gifts to fund it.

“The stadium project is very important to the future of Virginia baseball and the development of players in the program,” Zimmerman said. “The Virginia baseball program was critical in my development into a major league player. I would not be where I am today without the past support of donors to the Virginia baseball program. I now have the opportunity to join that group and help UVa baseball remain among the best programs in the country.

“During my career at Virginia, I was fortunate to play in an NCAA Regional hosted by UVa at Davenport Field. That was a great experience for our team. I want to help ensure that future players at UVa have the same opportunity to play in an NCAA Regional on their home field. I hope others will join me in support of this project.”

The Virginia Athletics Foundation has been in a quiet fund raising phase for this project and this gift pushes the fund raising total over $3 million. The athletics department is currently working with the University administration and an architect to determine the final cost and design of the expansion. Once the final cost is determined, 100 percent of the cost of the project will need to be in place with pledges and 50 percent of the cash will need to be received in order to begin construction. In addition, an operational endowment is required to be in place to handle the annual operational expenses of the new facility.

Zimmerman played three years at Virginia before being drafted by the Nationals as the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 2005 Major League Baseball First-year Player Draft. He was a second-team All-America selection by Baseball America and a third-team All-America selection by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association in 2005. Zimmerman also earned second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors that season and was named to the 2005 ACC All-Tournament Team. He was a first-team All-ACC selection in 2004 and an honorable mention All-America selection by College Baseball Insider that season.

In 2005, Zimmerman started all 61 games for the Cavaliers at either third base (his primary position) or shortstop. He led Virginia with a .393 batting average, 92 hits, 59 runs batted in, 51 runs, 18 doubles, four triples, a .581 slugging percentage, 136 total bases and 17 stolen bases. He also had six home runs.

He ended his Virginia career with a .355 (250-704) batting average and ranked on several of the Cavaliers’ career statistical lists, including fifth in doubles (47), sixth in hits (250) and seventh in runs batted in (140). He also held the school record for hits in a season with 92 in 2005.

Zimmerman was named USA Baseball’s Athlete of the Year in 2004 when he led Team USA to a gold medal finish and earned tournament MVP honors in the World University Games.

“Ryan’s commitment to the Virginia baseball program shows his respect for his career in a Cavalier uniform,” said UVa head baseball coach Brian O’Connor. “I am very excited to have Ryan involved with this important project for the future of our baseball program.”

After playing in 20 games for the Washington Nationals at the end of the 2005 major league season, Zimmerman became the team’s every day third baseman in 2006. He was runner-up for National League Rookie of the Year honors that season after batting .287 with 47 doubles, 20 home runs and 110 runs batted in.

Zimmerman had a 30-game hitting streak earlier this season and was batting .322 (68-211) for the Nationals with 15 doubles, 11 home runs and 37 runs batted in through games of June 3.

Additionally, Zimmerman has his own foundation, ziMS Foundation, which works to find a cure and help those who are affected by multiple sclerosis.

PICTURE OF THE DAY

ZOOM, ZOOM, ZOOM. Ferrari Brazilian's driver Felipe Massa drives at the Istanbul Park circuit on June 5, 2009 in Istanbul, during the first free practice session of the Turkish Formula One Grand Prix.

(Photo by Mustafa Ozer/AFP/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

DON'T TAKE ACID AND TRY TO PLAY TENNIS. Swiss Roger Federer sits during play against Argentinian player Juan Martin Del Potro during a French Open tennis semi-final match on June 5, 2009 at Roland Garros Stadium in Paris.

(Photo by Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 3

IT'S ALL GOOD. Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird sticks out his tongue while he is given a bath after a training session in preparation for The Belmont Stakes on June 5, 2009 in Elmont, New York.

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 4

GARBAGE TIME. The Lakers crushed the Magic in game one of the NBA Finals behind 40 points from Kobe Bryant. The beat down was so bad even J.J. Redick, Stan Van Gundy’s least favorite player, got some p.t. – 7:45, 3 points.

(Photo by Andy Hayt/NBAE via Getty Images)

VIRGINIA-BRED HORSE TO CONTEST BELMONT STAKES

While fans of Virginia-bred racehorses were disappointed when Quality Road’s nagging foot injury prevented him from running in the Kentucky Derby, a new potential hero for the Commonwealth now looms on the horizon in Saturday’s 141st running of the third jewel of horseracing’s Triple Crown – the Belmont Stakes.

Virginia-bred Charitable Man, who has won three previous races in New York and twice on the Belmont track, is considered by many as the horse to beat in grueling 1 ½ mile event. He bids to join 11 Virginia-bred horses that have already won the three-year-old classic. That list includes Algerine (1876), Pasteurized (1938), Bounding Home (1944), Phalanx (1947), Sword Dancer (1959), Sherluck (1961), Quadrangle (1964), Arts and Letters (1969), Secretariat (1973), Hansel (1991) and Colonial Affair (1993).

Charitable Man and Florida Derby winner Quality Road were both born at Spring Hill Farm in Casanova, VA, but the two colts breeder, Edward P. Evans, decided to sell Charitable Man at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Evans annually sells part of his crop of more than 60 foals to offset the expense of operating his Virginia Thoroughbred nursery and of keeping a large number of racehorses in training at various racetracks. The trick is figuring out which ones to sell and which ones to keep – a difficult task with young horses who have never worn a saddle or bridle.

Ultimately, Evans decided to keep Quality Road. The colt just missed a shot at the Derby, but has rewarded his owner/breeder with victories in the $250,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes Gr. 2 and the $750,000 Florida Derby Stakes Gr. 1 while amassing earnings of $632,830. Quality Road is back in training in New York and eyeing major stakes races later in the summer.

His stable mate, Charitable Man was sent to the famous Lexington, KY horse auction where he was purchased for $200,000 by Mike Ryan and then sold privately to his current owners William and Suzanne Warren of Tulsa, OK. He is now trained by Kiaran McLaughlin who won the 2006 Belmont Stakes with Jazil.

Charitable Man enters the third leg of the Triple Crown following a handy win $200,000 Peter Pan Gr.2 in May. He also won the $250,000 Futurity Gr. 2 at Belmont Park as a 2-year-old last September. He has won $307,200 to date, winning three times in four starts.

His only out-of-the money finish was a dismal seventh place finish in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes Gr. 1 where he finished seventh just three weeks prior to the Kentucky Derby. Having bounced back with a victory in his next start, it is clear that the Virginia-bred colt did not like Keeneland’s synthetic racetrack. Belmont Park has a traditional dirt main track.
Such notable trainers as D. Wayne Lukas, Todd Pletcher and Nick Zito are all labeling Charitable Man the horse to beat in Saturday’s race.

Charitable Man’s jockey Alan Garcia is trying to set a record of his own – a record that also involves some prominent horses with Virginia connections. Last year, Garcia guided longshot Da' Tara to a gate-to-wire victory in the Belmont.

On Saturday, he will bid to become the eighth jockey to win back-to-back Belmont Stakes, but the first since Ron Turcotte won with Riva Ridge and Secretariat in 1972-73. Both of those horses were owned by Christopher Chenery’s Meadow Stud in Doswell, VA, and Triple Crown winner Secretariat was born at the Caroline County farm.

In addition, Garcia looks to win two Belmont Stakes in his first two attempts. Hall of Fame jockey Bill Shoemaker was the last jockey to win with his first two Belmont mounts – Gallant Man (1957) and Virginia-bred Sword Dancer (1959). Sword Dancer was born in Fauquier County at Isabel Dodge Sloan’s Brookmeade Farm in Upperville, VA.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

TWO WAHOOS NAMED FRESHMAN ALL-AMERICANS

Virginia’s Danny Hultzen (Bethesda, Md.) and Steven Proscia (Suffern, N.Y.) each have been named to the 2009 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America Team, as chosen by Collegiate Baseball.

Hultzen has been a two-way standout for the Cavaliers this season. The first ACC Freshman of the Year in Virginia history, Hultzen has seen time at pitcher, first base, left field and designated hitter this year.

On the mound, he has a 9-1 record with a 2.01 ERA in 15 games (14 starts). In 80.2 innings, Hultzen has 90 strikeouts, which is a Virginia freshman record.

At the plate, Hultzen has a .335 batting average – tops among ACC freshmen. He also has three home runs and 33 runs batted in. Hultzen has been named to the Irvine All-Regional Team (pitcher) as well as the ACC All-Tournament Team (Utility/DH) this year.

Proscia has been a mainstay at third base all season for Virginia. He ranks second to Hultzen in batting average among ACC freshmen with a .325 mark. He has nine home runs (most by a UVa freshman since Sean Doolittle in 2005) and 56 RBI. Proscia is tied for second on the team with 18 doubles and also has 23 multiple-hit games. In all, he has hits in 44 of 58 games this year. Last week he was named to the Irvine All-Regional Team.

Virginia has had at least one freshman All-American in four of the last five seasons. Last year, Dan Grovatt took home the honor.

Virginia (46-12-1) competes in its first-ever NCAA Super Regional this weekend, battling Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.

To learn more about Hultzen (who has a 103 mph fast ball with either hand and was an Eagle Scout), click here. To learn more about Proscia (who helped invent Facebook), click here.

YOU GOTTA READ THIS…

Duke, be damned, we like Jay Bilas. His column recently for ESPN on the allegations of NCAA violations by Memphis is SPECTACULAR. If you are a fan of college sports, you MUST read it.

Here is a sample (and, today, the items in italics are true):

The NCAA process: Nobody is suggesting that compliance with NCAA rules is not important. It is. But we must also acknowledge that the process is flawed and unfair. We must also acknowledge that the rules are not handed down from Mount Sinai. The rules themselves are horribly flawed.

Many closely involved with college athletics, including the author of this piece, believe the NCAA's rule enforcement is seriously flawed.

The NCAA rule book is gigantic, and it is impossible to properly interpret. One basketball program I know uses an interesting system to determine what to do with regard to the NCAA's archaic rules. When there is a question about an interpretation, three members of the staff separately call the NCAA for an answer. Invariably, there are three different interpretations provided by the NCAA, and the staff then chooses the interpretation it likes the best.

The NCAA is ill-equipped to gather facts and properly adjudicate these matters, and the process is incredibly unfair to those alleged to have violated the rules. As the system works now, you are guilty until you prove yourself innocent. The NCAA does not make its allegations public, and does not comment on investigations, yet the institutions are expected to air everything publicly when accused of rules violations, investigate themselves, and penalize themselves before the NCAA has to do it. While there is an allegation pending, the NCAA rules mandate that any player with a cloud will not compete until that cloud is affirmatively proven to be untrue.

There is no burden of proof for the NCAA to satisfy when it makes allegations. None. The NCAA is investigator, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. The NCAA is allowed to believe or disbelieve anyone involved in the process, and is allowed to consider or disregard whatever evidence it likes, no matter how unreliable it might be. It is a stacked and unfair process; there are legitimate ethical questions at every step.

To read the whole column, and it’s worth it just to find out what the NCAA thinks the Memphis Women’s Golf Team has done wrong, click here.

UNC-ECU SOLD OUT IN PRESALE – COLLEGE BASEBALL LOVIN' GENERAL PUBLIC HOSED AGAIN

What? There is no college baseball lovin' general public?

But, apparently there are enough fans in between Chapel Hill and Greenville to completely sell out the three game series according to ACC Now.

The NCAA Super Regional series between No. 4 national seed North Carolina and East Carolina is sold out, UNC announced this afternoon.

A ticket sale for the general public had been tentatively scheduled for 5 p.m. today, but the UNC ticket office held a private presale for the best-of-three-games series in Chapel Hill. All the tickets were claimed.

The series is scheduled to begin Saturday at noon at UNC's Boshamer Stadium and will be televised live on ESPNU. The second game, scheduled for noon on Sunday, will be televised on ESPN.

If needed, the third game will be played Monday at either 1 p.m. on ESPN or at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.

JACKSON THIRD TIGER CALLED UP TO MAJOR LEAGUES

Former Clemson pitcher Steven Jackson made his Major League debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the New York Mets on June 1, 2009. He made his first appearance just about the time Kyle Parker was knocking in what proved to be the winning runs in Clemson's 6-5 regional win over Oklahoma State.

Jackson came in as a relief pitcher for the Pirates and...STOP THE PRESSES!

Oops, July is T.A.H. Clemson Baseball Month…

PICTURE OF THE DAY

MAKE IT RAIN. Our beloved and horrific Washington Nationals figured out how to keep future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson from getting his 300th win at the expense of the home team.

Here, Assistant General Manager Mike Rizzo of the Nats talks with Jeff Kellogg and the umpire crew during a rain delay at Nationals Park on June 3, 2009 in Washington, DC.

(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

MAJOR WINNERS. Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods walk up a fairway during a skins game prior to the start of the Memorial Tournament at the Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 3, 2009 in Dublin, Ohio.

(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

INCREDIBLY INSPIRATIONAL AND ACCOMPLISHED UVA BASEBALL TEAM ENLIGHTENS AND ENTERTAINS LOCAL MEDIA

(Yesterday, a founding and valuable member of the T.A.H. Society was disappointed by the lack of depth of T.A.H.’s coverage of his beloved Wahoo baseball team’s upset of the nationally ranked U.C. Irvine Anteaters in the first round of the NCAA baseball tournament.

He was right, and we were wrong.

To repent and set the world right, the month of June will now be T.A.H. UVA Baseball Month. Enjoy!)


The Virginia baseball team met with the media Tuesday in preparation for its trip to the NCAA Oxford Super Regional Friday through Sunday to face Ole Miss. The series begins with a 2 p.m. Friday game, followed by a noon game on Saturday. If necessary, the teams will face off at 3 p.m. Sunday for the right to go to the College World Series.

Coach Brian O'Connor on the rarity of having a senior as an impact player: “The ones who are highly thought of by the professional people typically move on to professional baseball after their junior year. Andrew [Carraway] was very highly thought of during the draft last year, but he was so committed to finishing his degree here first, living on the lawn, and having the total experience that he wanted to see this thing through. Right now we are reaping the benefits of that.”

On facing an SEC team with a strong ERA: “Ole Miss has had one of the better consistent college baseball programs in this country for the last decade. They are very talented. To win their division of the SEC is not an easy thing to do. They have done it and they have a great college baseball program. I know they have a number of pitchers that have really good arms, and you better to have the kind of numbers they do on that stat sheet. We are going to face some great pitching, but we have faced that great pitching in our league every weekend.”

On the impact of playing all of the post season games on the road: “When you play at home, all the pressure is on you because you are supposed to advance. There was a tremendous amount of pressure on Irvine this weekend – they were the number one team in the country, they were hosting the regional, and everybody just assumes that because you host, you are supposed to move on. Are the odds a lot greater that when you do host a Super Regional you move on? Sure, six out of eight teams every year in Omaha host Super Regionals, but for this team, I think it is good that we are going on the road. They have had that attitude all year long that they have something to prove and I think they are comfortable away from here. I don’t think that there is anything they will back down from and this weekend is no different."

On being the visitor deeper in the tournament: “The advantage of playing it home is you get to sleep in your own beds, get dressed in your own clubhouse, an play on the field you have played on all year. This weekend there will be 10,000 fans. I think it is one of the top two environments in college baseball – obviously a real advantage for Ole Miss. With that comes pressure. Our team... has been a lot more relaxed than their coach has, and they are the ones who have to do the playing. Hopefully going on the road and trying to prove ourselves is going to be something that is beneficial.”

On the carryover of momentum from the Irvine Regional: “Confidence in the game of baseball is everything because it is completely built around failure. So if you believe in yourself and your team, you have accomplished a big part of the challenge. We are playing our best baseball at the most important time of the year and I think our confidence is at an all time high. It is not misplaced confidence because of what we knew coming out of the ACC Tournament and what we knew coming out of Irvine. What we accomplished in Irvine is something really special that they won’t forget immediately and they won’t forget for the rest of their lives.”

John Hicks on being poised as freshmen: “We have been put in these situations our whole baseball career. I think all of us played travel ball. Especially in the fall with the Blue and Orange World Series, the coaches put all the freshmen in situations where they need to come up big for their team. We all believe that when we get in the box or on the mound that we are going to come up for the team. We all believe in each other.”

On the difference between this freshman class and freshmen across the country: “I think that fall practice has a lot to do with it. Putting yourself in situations where you are usually not going to feel comfortable so that you can feel comfortable in that later.”

On maintaining focus on this season as opposed to looking to greatness in the future: “We don’t even think about it. We know that ages don’t matter. We are all pretty good ballplayers and can perform when we are called on.”

Kevin Arico on helpful advice received: “I’ve gotten a lot of good advice, talking about being one guy on the mound and being another guy off the field – that guy to your teammates. What you really need to do is show them for two innings like it was.”

On the mentality while getting ready: “We have worked so hard to find the rhythm. What I do now – it’s working.”

On the impact of Valdes on the staff: “He is the emotional leader, that guy behind the plate. Day in and day out he gets the job done for us. He brings the energy that we always need, pulling [Andrew] Carraway through seven innings against the number one team in the country and then pulling me through the last two innings. He is the staple of our bullpen, pulling everybody through without a doubt.”

Keith Werman on new-found playing time: “I got some opportunities to play and I took advantage of them, just let it happen.”

On the impact of the freshman class on the team: “We look forward to having this opportunity to come out and see what we can do. We obviously have the talent despite the age that we are. It is all about execution, making pitches, and playing defense. It’s going really well for everybody.”

On the impact of such a grand stage: “The experience is definitely something new. It is being around a big crowd. Just being around it, I am thankful for it. It is one of those opportunities in life that few people get to experience. To take advantage of it and do as well as we have is unbelievable. It’s a great feeling.”

Danny Hultzen on finding time at first base: “I was recruited definitely as a pitcher. Coach [Kuhn] came to see me pitch and that was definitely how I got here, but I guess I hit pretty well that game he came to see. Once I came here to talk about recruiting, they asked me if I thought I could hit here, and honestly, I didn’t think I was able to. I didn’t have the confidence that I do now in my hitting. Once fall ball started, they gave me a chance to hit and I guess I proved myself against our pitching in batting practice. From there, I worked my way into starting at first base.”

On the impact of playing the field on pitching: “During batting practice, I don’t take as many rounds, I don’t base run as much. I save my energy for the days I pitch. The day to day process of playing the field and pitching takes a toll on you, so I try to prevent that as much as possible.”

On following in the steps of Sean Doolittle: “I have not [ever met him]... but he set the standard. A lot of guys have been two-way players, but he is the kind of guy that I wanted to model myself after. He pitched on Friday nights and was able to play first base the next day. Being able to play both positions has been great – a lot of fun.”

On winning an ACC Championship as a freshman: “It is awesome. It has been a great experience. I don’t think it has sunk in for a lot of us. A UVa team hasn’t done that in a while and no UVa team has gotten to where we are right now. It’s been great.”

BC QUARTERBACK TO TRANSFER

Boston College quarterback Dominique Davis is transferring after his academic suspension. The school said Tuesday he has not decided where he will go.

The Eagles are coming off a 9-5 season and Davis was projected to start this fall. He started the last three games as a redshirt freshman following an injury to senior Chris Crane.

In six games, Davis completed 63 of 138 passes for 741 yards. He threw for six touchdowns and four interceptions.

Davis led a 70-yard drive in the final minutes of a 24-21 comeback win over Wake Forest. He completed passes of 36 and 21 yards before scoring on a 1-yard run with 1:12 left.

NCAA GIVES FSU 15 MORE DAYS TO WIGGLE OUT OF CHEATING SCANDAL

The NCAA’s Committee on Infractions responded Tuesday to Florida State’s appeal of sanctions from an academic cheating scandal, but keep its answer secret and gave the school 15 days to respond.

Florida State is challenging a portion of the sanctions announced in March that would force the school to vacate as many as 14 of Bowden’s 382 career wins — just one fewer than Penn State’s Joe Paterno.
The university’s general counsel, Betty Steffens, will prepare a rebuttal that will be made public, at least in part, university officials said.

“Our comment will be the rebuttal,” associate athletic director Rob Wilson said. “We’ll all know a lot more when we send this thing back.”

Two dozen football players were among 61 Florida State athletes involved in the cheating, which occurred mainly through online testing in a music history course at Florida State in 2006 and 2007. It included staffers helping students on the test and in one case asking one athlete to take it for another.

The school did not challenge the loss of scholarships in 10 sports and a four-year probation.
The university’s president, T.K. Wetherell, said in March that sanctions stripping Bowden of coaching wins were “excessive and inappropriate.” He said it was unfair to roughly 500 athletes and 52 coaches who had nothing to do with the cheating...or did they?

PICTURE OF THE DAY

NICE TOSS. Roger Federer of Switzerland in action during the Men's Singles Fourth Round match against Tommy Haas of Germany on day nine of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 1, 2009 in Paris, France.

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

AMAZING WAHOO BASEBALL SQUAD PULLS OFF UNBELIEVABLE UPSET OVER POWERHOUSE TOP SEED REPLETE WITH FUTURE MAJOR LEAGUERS

This story is dedicated to Dr. A.G. Wahoo, a T.A.H. Foundation supporter and founding member.

Irvine, CA -- The Virginia baseball team earned its first-ever NCAA Regional championship as the seventh-ranked Cavaliers defeated No. 1 UC Irvine, 4-1, Sunday night in the championship game of the 2009 NCAA Irvine Regional at Anteater Ballpark in Irvine, Calif. With their second win over the Anteaters, the No. 6 national seed, in as many nights, the second-seeded Cavaliers earn a berth in the NCAA Super Regionals next weekend.Virginia (46-12-1) will play the champion of the Oxford Regional next weekend in a best-of-three series.

UC Irvine, the No. 1 seed in the regional, finishes its season with a 45-15 record. In the regional, Virginia was strong in all phases of the game. The pitching staff dominated, allowing just two earned runs and 20 hits in 27 innings. The defense was flawless and did not commit an error – punctuated by two sensational defensive plays in the ninth inning Sunday.

The Cavaliers did not trail at any point in their three regional games as they pushed their overall winning streak to eight.Andrew Carraway (Sr., Marietta, Ga. who had scrambled eggs for breakfast) put up UVa’s third straight strong starting pitching performance in the regional. Carraway (7-1, English major, 3.9 GPA, My Space savvy) worked seven innings, giving up just one earned run, four hits and one walk while fanning three. Kevin Arico (So., Flemington, N.J. pancakes, Marketing, 2.69 GPA, once rode a bicycle entire length of N.J. Turnpike) retired the final six batters in order to pick up his 11th save of the season.

Franco Valdes (Jr., Miami, Fla., bagels w/ black coffee, History, 3.24 GPA, afraid of heights) went 2-for-4 with a pair of run scoring hits (double, triple). He went 5-for-11 in the regional and was named the Irvine Regional Most Outstanding Player. He was joined on the All-Regional Team by third baseman Steven Proscia (Fr., Suffern, N.Y., waffles, Economics, 1.75 GPA, hates tinkertoys), outfielder Jarrett Parker (So., Stafford, Va., scrapple, History, 2.0 GPA, Civil War reenactor), DH Phil Gosselin (So., West Chester, Pa., Cheerios, Business, 3.54 GPA, whistles Eminem songs) and pitcher Danny Hultzen (Fr., Bethesda, Md., pizza, Recreational Studies, 2.98 GPA, spurned Terp).

Parker was 3-for-5 Sunday and now has 90 hits this year – third most in UVa single-season history. He had a key ninth-inning triple to add a key insurance run to the Virginia lead.

The teams played 3.2 scoreless innings before Virginia snapped the deadlock with a two-out rally in the fourth. John Hicks (Fr., Sandy Hook, Va., crab cakes, Marine Biology, 3.99 GPA, once swam across the Chesapeake Bay naked) coaxed a walk and scored all the way from first when Valdes hit a 1-2 pitch to left field. The high-arching ball dropped just inside the foul line for a double, and Hicks slid in to just beat the throw and give UVa a 1-0 lead.UC Irvine broke a string a 12 straight scoreless innings against UVa with a run in its half of the fourth.

With one out, Casey Stevenson singled to left-center. He advanced to second on a groundout by Ronnie Shaeffer and scored on a single to right by Jeff Cusick.Virginia took the lead for good with a sixth-inning run. Hultzen led off with a single and moved to second on a groundout by Hicks.

Valdes then rocketed a ball down the right-field line and into the corner for a triple to score Hicks. It was Valdes’ first triple of 2009 and just his second career three-bagger.

The Anteaters had a golden opportunity to tie or take the lead in their half of the sixth. Ben Orloff bunted his way on to lead off and moved up on a groundout. After Stevenson was hit by a pitch, the two runners combined on a double steal. Carraway buckled down to strike out Shaeffer looking and then forced Cusick to ground out to Tyler Cannon (Jr., Pigeon Forge, Tenn., Oatmeal, Drama, 4.0 GPA, impersonates Dolly Parton for a summer job) to end the threat.

Carraway again evaded a UCI scoring opportunity in the seventh inning. Francis Larson led off with a single but was erased when Dillon Bell bunted into a force play. Bell, moving on the pitch, advanced on a groundout to Carraway by Jordan Fox. UVa head coach Brian O’Connor, after a visit to the mound, elected to leave Carraway in the game and was rewarded when the senior induced pinch-hitter Ryan Fisher to weakly pop out to Carraway.

Virginia got a bit of breathing room after adding a pair of insurance runs in the ninth inning. Keith Werman (Fr., Vienna, Va., Popeyes chicken, Traffic Engineering, 1.95 GPA, afraid of the Metro) drew a one-out walk against Necke. UCI brought on All-America closer Eric Pettis, who was greeted by Parker with a line-drive triple just inside the first-base line which rolled into the corner. The triple was Parker’s seventh this season – tying the UVa single-season record. Cannon then launched a triple to left-center to score Parker and give the Cavaliers a 4-1 lead.

(Editor’s note: The Wahoos drank Orange Gatorade, rode to (and from) the game in a rented Dodge step van, and used BullFrog 30 sunscreen. They weren’t major leaguers, but they did stay in a Holiday Inn Express. They celebrated at the Macaroni Grill just off I37 (exit 9B) after the game. They flew home coach – U.S. Air through Charlotte.)

*items in italics may not be true.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT A “SUPER REGIONAL” IS?

We didn’t. In fact, we couldn’t figure out the NCAA baseball tournament with it’s Austin Regional and Fort Worth Regional – aren’t they in the same region?

Then there was the Super Regional – are there more of them or are they just bigger – followed by the College World Series. We thought the whole thing was the CWS…

So…we figured it out. We think...

The first round of the NCAA baseball tournament has 64 teams just like the Big Dance. The first round is broken down into 16 regionals with four teams each. Each regional is a mini-double elimination tournament. Only one team advances to the second round – the Sweet Sixteen or the Super Regional as they say in college baseball.

The Super Regional is a best of three game series, with the eight winners advancing to the College World Series which is a double elimination tournament utilizing the best of three series format.

Got it?

The ACC fielded seven teams who went 19-7 in the first round. North Carolina, the #4 seed in the tournament, advanced to the second round as did Florida State, Clemson and Virginia. Georgia Tech, Maimi and Boston College (who was eliminated in a record-breaking 25 inning game – the longest NCAA baseball game ever to #1 overall seed Texas) went home.

TOO BAD IT AIN’T FOOTBALL

FSU football coach Bobby Bowden went into the Ohio State locker room to convince the Buckeyes that this was really football and their NCAA Irvine Regional final was really the BCS Championship game. It must have worked. The OSU boys folded like a cheap tent while the Noles set a bunch of records.

Florida State (45-16) advanced to the Super Regional for the second year in a row and for the ninth time in school history with a 37-6 victory over Ohio State (42-19) Sunday afternoon on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium. The Seminoles set four school records and five NCAA Tournament records in the win over the Buckeyes.

Florida State set school records for runs (37), hits (38), doubles (15) and total bases (66), while the four above mentioned records plus the 51 combined hits by both teams set NCAA Tournament single-game records. The Seminoles also tied a school record for RBI (34) and most combined runs by two teams with 43.

The 15 doubles by the Seminoles also eclipsed the NCAA single-game record of 13 held by three different teams. The previous school record was nine doubles set against Duke back on March 10, 2000. Florida State surpassed the school record with its 10th double of the game when Stephen Cardullo (pictured above) hit a one out double to right center in the third. Cardullo and Stidham each tallied three doubles in the win.

NORTH CAROLINA, CLEMSON, VIRGINIA MOVE ON TO SUPER REGIONAL (SWEET SIXTEEN)


The bat of senior Garrett Gore and the right arm of classmate Adam Warren helped No. 4 national seed North Carolina claim its fourth straight regional title with a 12-1 win over Kansas Sunday in the finale of the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional at Boshamer Stadium. Gore homered twice and drove in a career-high five runs, and Warren struck out eight over 6 2/3 shutout innings.

The Tar Heels (45-16) and their senior class of improved to 12-0 in NCAA regional play over the past four seasons and ran their win total to an NCAA-best 210 victories from 2006-09, also the most wins in a four-year period in school history.

The Virginia baseball team earned its first-ever NCAA Regional championship as the seventh-ranked Cavaliers defeated No. 1 UC Irvine, 4-1, Sunday night in the championship game of the 2009 NCAA Irvine Regional at Anteater Ballpark in Irvine, Calif.
With their second win over the Anteaters, the No. 6 national seed, in as many nights, the second-seeded Cavaliers earn a berth in the NCAA Super Regionals next weekend.

Clemson needed a rally to advance and they got it courtesy of slumping Kyle Parker. Parker got his opportunity and made the most of it, lacing a two-run single into left field in the eighth inning to lift the Tigers to a 6-5 victory over Oklahoma State in the deciding game of the Clemson Regional.

Senior Matt Vaughn (4-1) pitched the final 3 2/3 innings for the Tigers, who rallied from a 5-1 deficit going into the bottom of the seventh.

SUPER CONFUSING: WHAT’S NEXT?

As previously mentioned, four ACC are among the 16 still alive in the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship. Florida State and Virginia open Super Regional play on Friday, while North Carolina and Clemson get back into action on Saturday.

Florida State (45-16) will host Arkansas (37-22) in a best-of-three series, beginning Friday (June 5) at noon, while Virginia (46-12-1) opens a best-of-three series at Mississippi (43-18) at 2 p.m. Those series will continue Saturday, and Sunday (if necessary).

No. 4 national seed North Carolina (45-16) opens a best-of-three set at home against East Carolina (46-18) at noon on Saturday (June 6). Clemson (44-20) opens a best-of-three series at No. 5 national seed Arizona State (47-12) Saturday at 9 pm. Easterm Time. Both of those series will continue Sunday, and Monday (if necessary).

Eight Super Regionals will be played in all (see schedule below), with the eight winners advancing to the College World Series at Omaha, Neb., June 13-24. The ACC placed three teams in the CWS in 2008 and sent a league-record four teams in 2006.

A minimum of 45 hours of Super Regional television will be provided by family of ESPN channels, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. Consult local listings for specific games shown in each area of the country. As many as 15 national broadcast windows could appear on the three ESPN networks from June 5-8.

The following four super regionals will be played Friday, June 5, Saturday, June 6, and Sunday, June 7 (if necessary). The national seed is indicated before the team name, while updated records through the regionals are in parenthesis.


GAMES BEGIN FRIDAY, JUNE 5 – All Times are Eastern
Arkansas (37-22) at FLORIDA STATE (45-16)Noon (ESPN), Noon (ESPN2), Noon (ESPN)

VIRGINIA (46-12-1) at Mississippi (43-18)2 p.m. (ESPN2), Noon (ESPN2), 3 p.m. (ESPN)
The following four best-of-three super regionals will be played Saturday, June 6, Sunday, June 7, and Monday, June 8 (if necessary).

GAMES BEGIN SATURDAY, JUNE 6 - All times are Eastern
CLEMSON (44-20) at No. 5 Arizona State (47-12)9 p.m. (ESPNU), 10 p.m. (ESPN2), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

East Carolina (46-18) at No. 4 NORTH CAROLINA (45-16)Noon (ESPNU), Noon (ESPN), 1/7 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN2)

The determination of the Men’s College World Series order of first-round games both Saturday, June 13, and Sunday, June 14, will be announced Monday, June 8. The ESPN family of networks and www.ncaa.com will release the MCWS game dates and times as soon as they are available.

The 63rd College World Series begins play Saturday, June 13, at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska.

PICTURE OF THE DAY

WE NEED A BIGGER BOAT. Well, at least a bigger scoreboard.

The scoreboard is unable to display all the runs scored by inning in the Tallahassee regional as Florida State had an 11-run fifth inning against Ohio State in an NCAA college baseball tournament game, which Florida State won 37-6 on Sunday, May 31, 2009, in Tallahassee, Fla.

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

DANCING WITH THE SHORTSTOP? Is there “holding” in baseball? What the heck is going on here? We know a lot athletes are excelling on Dancing With The Stars, but are these two conducting an on-field live game audition?

Orlando Hudosn #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers holds on to Stephen Drew of the Arizona Diamondbacks after force out at second during a broken double play in the eight inning of the baseball game at Dodger Stadium on June 1, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 3

REMEMBER THIS GUY – THE ONE ON THE RIGHT? San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers smiles as he sits next to the San Diego Chicken, right, during a news conference held at Qualcomm Stadium, Monday, June 1, 2009, in San Diego. The Chargers gathered former players from the past five decades to mark the 50th season of the football team.

The San Diego Chicken, an icon to this day, was a groundbreaker in the mascot biz…

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