Births clinched Saturday:

Earlier this week, I broke down several keys to victory for both LSU and UC Irvine prior to the two team’s date in the NCAA Super Regionals. For the Anteaters, I said they needed to control Matt Clark and Blake Dean, control the LSU crowd and get timely hits.

Check, check and check. The Anteaters did all three in Saturday’s 11-5 Game 1 win.

Irvine struck for 2 runs in the opening inning, cashing in on a pair of Ryan Verdugo walks to keep LSU’s crowd grounded early. The Anteaters also recorded clutch hit after clutch hit, going .400+ with runners in scoring position. And lastly, UC Irvine did their best to keep Clark and Dean in check, holding them to 2 of 8 with four strikeouts to move one win away from their second straight College World Series birth.

The win was not without controversy as with a 6-2 score and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 6th inning, the Anteaters got the third out of the inning on the “hidden ball” trick at second base. The problem with the play was two things:

1. Both umpires who had angles on the play, the home-plate and 2nd base umpires were out of position and replay showed neither was really paying attention to the play at all.

2. Video replays showed the LSU runner was clearly safe.

The Anteaters got the call sheerly on selling the out as the entire squad ran off the field following the play, but the umpires missed it big-time and it cost LSU.

But let’s not get it twisted, the play in question did not hand UC Irvine the win. The Anteaters kicked LSU’s tails in all aspects of Saturday’s game and for LSU to come back in the series, they must correct that tomorrow. But with the tying run at the plate, anything can happen and LSU was wronged in Saturday’s game.

I give you with this image, which will be forever a part of LSU history if the Tigers indeed lose this series. Thanks to my friends at www.tigerforums.com for the photo.

Safe or out?

What troubled me most about the play in question was that LSU seemed to quit following the play and for the first time in 4 weeks, their inexperience sunk in a little bit. It will be interesting if the team who won more than 20 in a row can win 2 in a row against a very serviceable opponent.

I suspect to see LSU tee off tomorrow in a big win.

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In other College Super Regional action, the home teams struck back a little bit Saturday after whiffing on Friday’s games. Here are Saturday’s results.

Stanford 8 No. 5 Cal State Fullerton 5

Stanford advances to the CWS

No. 4 Florida State 14 Wichita State 4

Series tied 1-1

North Carolina State 10 No. 8 Georgia 6

Series tied 1-1

No. 2 North Carolina 9 Coastal Carolina 4

North Carolina leads best of 3 series 1-0

No. 6 Rice 9 Texas A&M 7

Rice leads best of 3 series 1-0

No. 1 Miami 14 Arizona 10

Series tied 1-1

No. 3 Arizona State 12 Fresno State 4

Series tied 1-1

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The quest for the Triple Crown ended where no one suspected Saturday at the Belmont as Big Brown finished dead last to the race’s winner Da’Tara.

Da’Tara led start-to-finish, jumping out of the starting gates early and controlling the race. Big Brown’s jockey Kent Desormeaux put the horse in position to win the race, but when push came to shove, the undefeated Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner had nothing in the tank and Desormeaux did the right thing rearing him back.

I have no real preference for horse racing, but I am have mixed feelings about Big Brown striking out in his attempt to win the Crown.

On the negative side, I feel bad for Desormeaux and the sport of racing itself, because Desormeaux has been nothing but a class act in his handling of the horse throughout the process and the sport could have really used a jolt of electricity after having not had a Triple Crown winner in 30 years.

But on the other foot, I do not feel bad for Big Brown’s trainer Rick Dutrow, who was nothing but an ego-maniac throughout the entire process. It’s one thing to be confident. Another to be arrogant and I am glad Dutrow couldn’t have his cake and eat it, too.

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The Finals resume tonight in Boston when the Lakers and Celtics tangle at 8.

Celtic starters Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins both said Saturday they will play despite suffering injuries in Game 1. Pierce received a cortisone injection in his knee after sustaining a sprain Thursday and the Celtics will need a 100% Pierce if they want a chance to win the series.

The Lakers were upset with Pierce’s Game 1 antics, and let me tell you, they were rightfully upset. Pierce was on the floor motionless for several minutes and had to be carried off the floor, unable to put weight on either leg before being wheel-chaired into the locker room. But just 5-10 minutes later, Pierce was sprinting back onto the floor and burying big shots to seal the win. Something doesn’t add up to me and I think Mr. Pierce was doing a little acting, but come on, Mr. Pierce, a little less Drama 1001 next time, please.

For the Lakers, they need the Black Mamba and the NBA’s MVP Kobe Bryant to recover off a subpar Game 1 showing. The Lakers also need more output from their bench, which was outscored by the Celtics bench in Thursday’s loss.

The key to the game for the Lakers in my opinion is Lamar Odom. If Odom can rise up and get to the 22 points and 10 rebounds area in any game, it will be a tough-sell for the Celtics to win the game.

All-in-all, I think Kobe rebounds and a squeaky Pierce prohibits the Celtics from winning and I like the Lakers to take home court in Game 2.

Lakers 96

Celtics 90

That’s all for me, folks. Have a fabulous Sunday. A reminder that Monday begins football season here. I will be breaking down Appy St. It’s never too early to think LSU football, right? 🙂

-Casey

P.S. I leave you with one of the bright plays of the day for the Tigers courtesy of Leon Landry.

(photo courtesy of LSUsports.net)

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