North Carolina 8

LSU 4

LSU has made a habit all season of falling behind early and rallying late to win ballgames, but Sunday afternoon, the Tigers met their match in a 8-4 loss against No. 2 North Carolina.

LSU struck with a leadoff solo home run in the top of the first inning by senior Michael Hollander, but junior pitcher Ryan Verdugo was unable to build on the Tigers’ momentum, giving up three runs in the first frame.

Verdugo’s struggles were the story of LSU’s night as the lefthander gave up 6 runs in his three and two thirds innings.

North Carolina’s top three hitters: Dustin Ackley, Kyle Shelton and Tim Fedroff victimized LSU throughout the night, going 7-14, putting themselves on base for the Tar Heels’ sluggers to knock them in.

The Tigers tried to work some of their voodoo again in the 8th inning and behind a 8-2 score, but freshman Leon Landry grounded into a double play with the bases loaded and a 8-4 score to end the Tigers’ rally.

I’d like to congratulate first base umpire Jack Cox for totally blowing two calls in a row in the inning as replay showed Landry clearly beat the throw to first base by more than a step. On the previous play, Cox called LSU shortstop DJ LeMahieu safe on a similar play. Replays on that play showed LeMahieu probably did not beat the throw. So way to go, Mr. Cox. 0/2 in the biggest portion of the game. It’s good to see the NCAA finds the best of the best for the postseason: See also: LSU/UC Irvine crew. Instant replay, anyone?

LSU will return to the field on Tuesday at 1 and will take on No. 6 seed Rice. Like North Carolina, the Owls will be no cake walk and LSU will need to show up to play if they want to have any chance to advance.

The major thing the Tigers have to do is play nine innings. LSU needs to abandon the David Copperfield magician baseball they have tried to play the past two weekends, because there is no way the Tigers will win the national championship having to rally from three and four runs behind every game.

LSU also needs to get efficient pitching. I don’t care who is on the hill at what times in the game, but LSU is in desperate need of some solid pitching. The Tigers have given up at least seven runs in each of the past four games and that has to change if LSU wants any chance to continue playing.

All-in-all, I think LSU’s sore thumbs will be a bit too much for LSU to overcome and I expect the Tigers’ season to come to an end either in Tuesday’s game against Rice or in the following game against the loser of Fresno State and North Carolina. Poor pitching and inexperience are not exactly good traits for a College World Series team to exhibit. I’ve been wrong before and I’d certainly love to be wrong here, but I just think LSU is a year ahead of its success.

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Tiger Does It Again:

(photo courtesy of the AP)

After four fabulous days of golf, the golf Gods decided the best way to decide the US Open would be to let the most exciting major of recent memory extend to a fifth day.

Thanks to a 15 foot putt at the 18th green, Tiger Woods forced an 18 hole playoff today beginning at 11 a.m., finishing off a two-over par 73 score.

Woods will face off with fellow American Rocco Mediate who was better than Tiger on Sunday with a level par 71, but missed several opportunities down the stretch to put away Woods and Lee Westwood who pared the final hole to finish one shot behind the duo.

Woods was not sharp at all in his final round, giving back multiple shots to par through the first 3 holes for the fourth straight day. But Woods seemed to find a rhythm from his barking left knee on the back nine as the winces seemed to go away the final 13 or so holes of the day.

The final pairing will be a matchup of polar opposites.

Woods is the world’s No. 1 player. Mediate is No. 158 in the world rankings. Woods is all business at all times, rarely smiling or talking on the course. Mediate is a chatter box with a “what do I have to lose?” mentality. Woods has 13 majors. Mediate 0.

But the X-Factor may be the knee. Woods admitted following Sunday’s round that he is not cleared medically to play golf and playing his 90th hole of the week may be a tough go.

But all-in-all, it’s one thing for Rocco to be cool and collected when he is a group ahead of Tiger, or a group behind Tiger, but another ballpark to do it in his pairing. Tiger will be less than stellar, but Mediate will be worse and Tiger wins by 4 tomorrow.

It was a long and exciting week of golf. Here is how my picks fared for the week.

1. Tiger Woods: -1 (T1)
2. Justin Leonard: +9 (T36)
3. Phil Mickelson: +6 (T18 )
4. Sergio Garcia: +6 (T18 )
5. Retief Goosen: +5 (T14)

Eight Sleepers:
1. Boo Weekley: +7 (T26)
2. Bubba Watson: MC
3. KJ Choi: MC
4. Miguel Angel Jimenez: +3 (T6)
5. Ian Poulter: MC
6. David Toms: +13 (T61)
7. Rory Sabbatini: +12 (T58 )
8. Colin Montgomerie: MC

So all-in-all, not great, but not horrible. 13 picks and five of them in the Top 18.

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Celtics 3

Lakers 2

The Lakers extended the NBA Finals to a sixth game on Sunday (or prolonged the agony, depending on who you talk to), with a 103-98 win.

The Lakers again speed-raced out to a 19 point first-half lead and then blew it all in the second quarter. But the Lakers finally overcame third quarter demons and did just enough in the fourth quarter to win.

But while yes, the Lakers did win, let’s not kid ourselves here: They will be steamrolled in Boston. I picked the Lakers to win this series. I will be the first person to tell you I was wrong. The Celtics have dictated tempo and played with much more energy than the Lakers in every game of this series.

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers in scoring with 25 points, but the NBA’s MVP was again far from spectacular after the first quarter and shot just 8-21 for the game thanks to a swarming Boston defensive attack.

But Bryant made the biggest play of the night with the Lakers leading by two points and with the Celtics in possession, stripping Paul Pierce of the basketball and making an uncontested slam dunk at the other end to begin to put the game on ice for the Lakers.

The Celtics’ bench was short-handed Sunday without Leon Powe, who started in place of injured starter Kendrick Perkins who missed the game with a strained left shoulder. But even without Powe, the Celtics’ bench again dominated that of the Lakers, outscoring their counterparts 28-17.

Paul Pierce led the game with 38 points and was fabulous, but Pierce did not receive much help from his fellow starters who scored just 32 combined points.

The series resumes (and probably ends) on Tuesday in Boston. For the Lakers to have any chance, they will need a masterful performance from Bryant and a more dominant defensive effort than they’ve gotten. The Celtics can get any shot they want at any spot on the floor and in Boston, they’ll most likely knock them down.

Gisclair’s Gamer of the Night:
Pau Gasol:
19 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists.

It’s easy to give this to Bryant, but Gasol awakening from his hibernation was the big key in the win tonight. Gasol was still “Ga-soft” at several points in this game, but the big Spaniard did a better job on the glass and also was not afraid to pass the ball out of the post, recording six assists. Gasol takes a lot of flack for not dominating in this series, but let us not forget he is being guarded by the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, too.

Gisclair’s Goat of the Night:
Rajon Rondo:
3 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists

Rondo nudges out Kevin Garnett, who was a close second thanks to his two critical free throw misses down the stretch, but I gave it to Rondo, because he gave the Celtics nothing tonight. When Rondo is doing his thing, he is making things easier for the Celtics’ offense, but tonight the former Kentucky star was off balance and off rhythm all night, going just 1-7 from the field (with the Lakers not guarding him). The play of Sam Cassell and Eddie House of the bench in this series has made Doc Rivers rethink his point guard rotation and with good reason.

That’s all for me. Enjoy your Monday. Hope all of you golf fans who have to work are able to watch the festivities.

Peace,

Casey

P.S. Here is my picture of the day. It’s from the US Open. What a scene. They say pictures say 1,000 words. This one proves that.

(photo courtesy of the AP)

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