College World Series 2017 scores and bracket: LSU upends Florida State out of Omaha

The Beach still trailed in the bottom of the ninth, but mustachioed leadoff hitter Brock Lundquist cracked a beauty of a double to left center to get the buildup going. Designated hitter Luke Rasmussen then popped up in the infield for the first out, followed by an Alex Muzzi dribbler to second for the next out. David Banuelos then struck out swinging and Fullerton punched its ticket to Omaha.

Just fives games separate first place and last place in the division, and while they aren’t the only one where things are that close-ish the Blue Jays are in last place in the AL East and six back, and the Pirates are 5.5 back in the NL Central the AL Central is where things seem the weirdest. The Jays, at 29-31, would be ahead of the Royals and White Sox. And the Pirates at least have the excuse of having a series of terrible things happen to them that put them in this situation.

The White Sox were supposed to be bad, and there was a high chance of the Royals being even worse, and yet, they’re both oddly close to the division leader. It’s only June, of course, so these sorts of things can clear up in a hurry. The Indians are about to face the White Sox, even, so we could see some separation in two directions after that series concludes. As of right now, though, the AL Central is a mess, and things are close enough that it could be anyone’s division.

Maybe if we’re lucky, the AL Central will give us what the 1994 strike robbed us of: a division winner with a record under .500. Come on, Twins and Indians and Tigers: you can all just be a little bit worse, for history’s sake.

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Minor league baseball game settles ‘Star Wars’ vs. ‘Star Trek’ with a dance battle

The best way to settle Star Wars vs. Star Trek is to have a massive three-hour film featuring characters from both franchises battling it out for sci-fi supremacy. That will probably never happen. So the second-best way to settle Star Wars vs. Star Trek is at a minor league baseball game.

The Fresno Grizzlies, Triple-A affiliate of the Astros, had Star Wars night on Saturday, giving everyone free rein to dress up as their favorite Jedi, Stormtrooper, Sith Lord, or whatever the hell Yoda is. It was supposed to be a good time, until people dressed up in Star Trek costumes walked in, so they confronted each other while Ennio Morricone’s theme from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly played. (You know what, we’re already mixing franchises; we might as well add western movie theme music.)

But fans are affected, too, and the truest test of one’s dedication to the cause is one’s willingness to sit out getting shat on by rain for hours on end, just to witness a potential advancement to the College World Series.

Some might describe this as cavalier folly. Others might cite the Gators’ dramatic walkoff victory on Saturday night again, after a four-hour rain delay as factual evidence that the end of this game bears witnessing. Wherever you land on these fans’ collective decision to stick it out, one thing is indisputable: they’re getting absolutely drenched on purpose.

I used Baseball-Reference to search for shortstops from the last 20 years, and I used their quick-‘n’-dirty guide on what WAR totals usually mean, which is this:

The Yankees have enjoyed, at a minimum, starting-caliber seasons from their shortstop in 17 of the past 20 seasons. This is not a surprise. Derek Jeter had 15 of those seasons, And Didi Gregorius had two. There have not been a lot of seasons in which the Yankees have wondered what they were going to do about their shortstop.

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You should be keeping an eye on the Diamondbacks this year

Earlier this week, we implored you to start paying attention to the Colorado Rockies. All the reasons you need to do so are in that article. But there’s another team in the NL West that you need to start paying attention to. In fact, the entire National League only has five teams with a winning record right now – three of them are in the NL West, and one of those teams just happens to be the Arizona Diamondbacks.

If this feels a little like shuffling deck chairs, that’s because it is. Changes to the coaching staff is the last thing a team can try before just firing its manager. And Mozeliak essentially said that the future is in manager Mike Matheny’s hands. He gave a four-to-six-week timeline for improvement and didn’t give any assurances to Matheny that his job was safe in the future. The only vote of confidence? Mozeliak said I want him to feel confident we trust him to do his job, but we need to do better. Yikes.

It’s not like there’s no hope for the Cardinals. They may be fourth in the division, but they’re just 4 1/2 games out of first place. They’re behind the Reds, who are supposed to be deep into their rebuild. And the Brewers are at the top of the NL Central, somehow. There are still a lot of games left to play, and that division is going to change a lot over the next three-plus months. This team may not be the best one the Cardinals have fielded in the past decade, but there’s still time for them to figure it out. And time for Matheny to save his job.

Charlotte Wilder found out that Noah Syndergaard loves hot sauce a lot. Like, a whole lot. Really, really, really a lot. And also: A hot dog is not a sandwich. Noah says so.

The super regionals for the 2017 NCAA baseball tournament started yesterday, and that means we’re even closer to the exciting College World Series.

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Darren Baker, the child batboy who nearly got crushed in the World Series, was drafted by the Nationals

The Washington Nationals used their 27th round pick in the MLB draft to pick Darren Baker, son of Nationals manager Dusty Baker and one-time very small, very cute batboy.

Darren became famous after he was saved by Giants first baseman J.T. Snow during the 2002 World Series. Darren, who was tasked with picking up bats larger than himself at the age of 3, almost got hit by a baserunner at home plate. Everyone was safe but the situation was a scary one:

And that was almost 15 years ago! Wanna feel even older? Darren just finished high school and had committed to play college baseball at the University of California before the draft.

This isn’t the first time a team has sold organic material to fans at a premium price. In 2014 Notre Dame decided to move from grass to turf and sold 2-foot-by-5-foot chunks of the field for $150 each. That grass didn’t commemorate a championship, but it’s still a big hunk of grass vs. a leaf like the Cubs are selling.

Fans are being allowed to purchase a maximum of 10 leaves from the Wrigley Field ivy, and have to pay a $15 shipping fee. If you’re the kind of person who would ever contemplate buying leaves of ivy for $200 here’s a few suggestions on better memorabilia you could get for the money.

Addison Russell came closest for the Cubs, with a defense-heavy 4.3 WAR last year, but the rest of the list is more amusing than amazing. Starlin Castro gave them four solid years, but before that was Ryan Theriot for two, a fluky .274 season from Neifi Perez, two from the OK-est shortstop from the last two decades, Ricky Gutierrez, and one from Jose Hernandez, a dinger-and-whiff oddball who was just a little ahead of his time.

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The Astros have won 10 in a row

The Astros just completed their third consecutive sweep, and have won 10 games in a row. They’re 15-4 over their last five series, and they only dropped one during the entire month of May: a three-game sweep at the hands of the Indians that somehow accounted for three of the four losses in the stretch mentioned above. They’ve basically been unstoppable outside of that Cleveland set.

Houston is 13.5 games up on the second-place Angels, who are only two games under .500 and just 2.5 out of a wild card spot. There’s only one other team outside the AL West this season that’s at least 13.5 games out from the division leader, and that’s the NL East’s last-place Phillies, who sit 15.5 back of the Nationals. And as good as the Nats have been, they’ve notched six fewer victories than the ‘Stros, and lost four more games.

Rosario now has eight home runs on the season, only five off his previous high of 13 from his rookie season in 2015. He has only had three hits, let alone bombs, in a game twice this season. However, in his short career, Rosario’s BABIP usually hangs around the .330 mark. Currently, it’s at .295. Never mind that the Twins’ offensive output was deviant, Rosario’s output could be a sign, especially if his BABIP resets to his average, that his numbers will only go up from here.

Never mind that Rosario’s third home run was knock off of position-player-pitcher Carlos Ruiz. Across the diamond, the Mariners ERA per game is 4.55, 21st in MLB. The Twins cared not that Mariners starting pitcher Christian Bergman had previously held them to one earned run on four hits June 9, just a week earlier. Thursday’s game was a stark contrast to Tuesday’s 11-run 2.2 innings pitched. The Mariners have three injured starters, but will send Sam Gaviglio to the mound Wednesday as the Twins look to sustain the unsustainable.

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Florida vs. LSU 2017, College World Series score: Gators topple Tigers, 6-1

Florida and LSU met yet again for Game 2 of the College World Series final Tuesday, and Florida beat LSU, 6-1, to win their first NCAA baseball championship in program history.

LSU started flamethrower lefty Jared Poch on the hill, opposite the Gators’ Tyler Dyson. On the first batter he faced, Poch surrendered a hit on a quirky fielding error by first baseman Nick Coomes, then another to Dalton Guthrie, who looped a fine ball into right center. That then was followed by a JJ Schwarz drive into left, which plated Deacon Liput down from third.

So, with runners at first and second, big bat Nelson Maldonado bashed a fly ball into deep right, which Greg Deichmann fielded on a spectacular leaping catch, and that moved everyone forward one base. That was merely the first out of the inning, and Poch had already received a mound visit from his pitching coach. He managed to get himself out of the jam on a pop fly to shallow left, and to the second they went with Florida holding a 1-0 advantage.

In the bottom of the second, Coomes again experienced some throwing and catching ailments as he fumbled a toss from Poch, which advanced Ryan Larson over to second. He then reached home on a single by Nick Horvath, and suddenly the Gators were working their way back through the top of the order. It was by then 2-0 Florida’s advantage, but Poch forced a grounder to the shortstop with men on first and second to get himself out of the jam.

He was the kind of talent who could miss a season, come back unexpectedly for the postseason, and help his team win a World Series, after all.

So the fall is dramatic and terrifying. But I’m going to guess that the slump is extending this far because he’s not really sure how to reverse it mentally, more than the rest of the league discovering what his kryptonite is.

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There is so much facial hair in Long Beach State-Cal State Fullerton Super Regional game

College baseball facial hair is an important, if rather niche, internet genre. Bethune-Cookman’s Austin Garcia knows well the importance of keeping a sanitary beardscape, and Texas A&M’s pitching staff is famous for sporting playoff mustaches during tournament time.

So, Long Beach State is hosting Cal State Fullerton in a west coast super regional this weekend, and both teams’ facial hair is here to see and be seen. Long Beach right fielder Brock Lundquist’s robber baron mustache is straight out of the Gilded Age, for instance.

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time phantoms and specters from beyond the grave have interfered with the living human sport called baseball:

So I can’t think of any reason for this unexplained phenomenon other than supernatural involvement. Not a single one.

When there’s something strange … in the stadium… who you gonna call? The grounds crew!

The Braves would go on to win the game, 3-1, giving knuckleballer R.A. Dickey his first victory in over a month so maybe there was something otherworldly about this game after all.

In many respects, college baseball media coverage has yet to provide consistent, adroit analysis over the span of an entire season, but D1Baseball has made great strides in treating the sport in a systematic, general way. All eight of this year’s CWS teams, in fact, ranked in D1B’s preseason top 25, the lowest being Cal State Fullerton at No. 20. Kendall Rogers and Aaron Fitt are must-follows on Twitter, especially come tournament time.

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