VS.

With their backs against the wall and with no room for error, LSU returns to the field today at 1 p.m. and will meet No. 6 Rice.

Both teams come into today’s matchup with no leeway and the loser’s season will come crashing and burning in the plains of Omaha, Nebraska with a two-and-out College World Series.

LSU coach Paul Mainieri will hand the ball to Jared Bradford (10-4 4.50 ERA). Bradford has been LSU’s hammer throughout the entire season, but the senior right hander has been less than stellar in postseason, allowing 7 runs in 6 innings in his only outing two Sunday’s ago against UC Irvine.

Rice will counter with senior right hander Chris Kelley (5-1 3.28).

The Owls are coming into Tuesday’s game after being buffaloed 17-5 by Fresno State in the opening round. It is not often you see a Wayne Graham coached team allow 17 runs in a weekend series, much less than in one game, so I expect the Tigers will see the best the Owls have to offer.

I’ll be honest. I don’t like LSU’s chances. Sure, they may win this game, but I don’t like their chances in the grand scheme of things in the chase for the national championship.

I just don’t see LSU having enough arms and I do not think LSU’s crash and burn style of relying on five and six run innings is enough to win 4-5 straight games against the best teams in the country.

The Tigers are a year or two ahead of their time to shine, but hell, no trip to Omaha is ever wasted and I suspect down the road, this season will be a huge building block for the Tigers, regardless of how the rest of the season plays out.

But for the time being, LSU is still alive, so let’s take a look at the Tigers’ Tuesday opponent, the Rice Owls.

Starting lineup: (as of Rice’s opening round loss)

1. Jared Gayhart CF .312 6 HR 46 RBI
2. Rick Hague SS .343 8 HR 52 RBI
3. J.P. Padron 1B .356 5 HR 41 RBI
4. Aaron Luna LF .309 9 HR 52 RBI
5. Adam Zornes C .307 12 HR 55 RBI
6. Jimmy Comerota 2B .290 0 HR 28 RBI
7. Diego Seastrunk 3B .356 6 HR 60 RBI
8. Chad Mozingo RF .298 2 HR 30 RBI
9. Jordan Dodson DH .202 0 HR 19 RBI

Starting Pitcher:
Chris Kelley: 5-1 3.28 ERA in 68.2 innings 59 strikeouts 19 BB

Closer:
Cole St. Clair: 10-2 2.56 ERA 5 saves in 59.2 innings

These are not your father’s Rice Owls. They have a very steady hitting team from top-to-bottom and if Bradford is not on his game, this can maybe become a high scoring game. Chris Kelley has a 3.28 ERA for the Owls, but opponents are hitting better than .300 against the Owl hurler, so he is hardly invincible and I suspect he will have a short leash with the season on the line.

Much more on this game tomorrow.

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Georgia took control of Bracket 1 yesterday with a 4-3 win. I am happy for the Bulldogs and the SEC and if the Tigers cannot take home the title, I’d love to see it back in the Southeastern Conference. The Bulldogs will have to be beaten twice by the winner of Wednesday’s contest between Miami and Stanford. The Hurricanes advanced to the next round of the loser’s bracket with an elimination game win over arch rival Florida State.

Control over Bracket 2 will be determined tomorrow at 6 when Fresno State takes on North Carolina.
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72 holes and an 18 hole playoff were in the books and we still did not have a winner in the 2008 US Open. But with the chips on the table and the golf Gods watching, Tiger Woods parred the first sudden death hole, leaving counterpart Rocco Mediate with a 20-foot par putt to extend the match. Mediate gave the putt his best run, but came just short, handing Woods his 14th major championship.

Tiger avoided the slow start that plagued him through each of his four regulation rounds and actually led by three strokes through 10 holes. But the fan favorite and heavy underdog Mediate never backed down and birdied 13, 14 and 15 to take a one-shot lead all the way to the 18th green.

But like in the final round, Mediate was unable to birdie the final hole and Woods made his four, pushing the championship to a 91st hole, where an arrant drive by Mediate virtually ended the championship.

(photo courtesy of the AP)

Obviously, we’re seen some miraculous things from Tiger in his 13 or so years on the tour, but you’d be hard pressed to find a victory more special than this one for Woods, because it brought several firsts for the world’s greatest athlete.

1. First time the opponent didn’t back down- Rocco Mediate did what no other golfer really has ever done to Tiger in the back 9 of a major: Challenge him. The one knock on Tiger is that he cannot win when he is behind on Sunday (or Monday) — until now. Game over, haters.

2. The knee- Shot after shot, Tiger was brought nearly to his knees in pain. And outside of the pain, Woods also won in his first start since a two month layoff. Any other golfer who tries to ‘play hurt’ normally ends up at home with a missed cut, but Tiger found a way to make his “C-game” work itself to a win.

3. Home-Town Hero- Much was made about this being Phil Mickelson’s home course, and yes, it was, but Tiger wasn’t exactly on foreign turf, either growing up a California boy. Torrey Pines always brings out the best in Tiger (just look at his trophy case) and playing on the weekend of his first Father’s Day as a dad himself obviously meant a lot to the 32-year-old Woods.

What a championship. Sad to see it go. But Beginning tomorrow, I will break down my 10 greatest athletes of all-time, so I’m sure you’ll be seeing Tiger on this site sometime soon.
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My first two stories ran a little bit long, so to save space, I will just briefly run through 2-3 other things that caught my eye on Monday. Let’s call this rapid-fire Tuesday.

Wang out until September for Yankees after injuring himself running bases– Ouch for the Yankees. Let’s see which overpaid ace the Yanks ruin their farm system on this time before the break.

Raiders’ Javon Walker found unconscious after robbery– Another sad twist for what is becoming a tragic career. Walker has all of the talent in the world, and also apparently all of the bad luck in the world to match it. Thoughts and prayers with the Raider family and we all hope Walker will be OK.

Mariners fire general manager Bavasi– The Mariners are a mess. I picked them as a World Series sleeper and they have proved me to be a fool. They are a mess. Ichiro is getting long in the tooth. Would you trade him at the deadline for the right price?

Lawson, Ellington, Green to stay at UNC– Write it down in ink right now. North Carolina will cake walk to the 2009 National Championship. Possibly even with an undefeated or one-loss season. That entire team back for another season? Wow.

That’s all for me, but the rest of the week will be fun. Beginning tomm, I will break down my Top 10 list of the best athletes of all-time. I will also recap LSU’s game and the NBA Finals game.

God Bless!

-Casey

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