That’s what I yelled as I departed The Ray. The CTU fans within earshot just kept on walking, heads down.
Wow, was that sure a fun weekend of baseball. You would think it would sort of be ho-hum after the last two years, but it isn’t — not by a long shot. It’s never ho-hum to win a regional and to do it by spanking your rival. Again.
Game 1: It was epic, a true classic. I had the (dis)pleasure of sitting in the CTU parents and girlfriends section for that one. Man those are some annoying folks. They pretty much whined and cried about everything. I guess you could say the fans reflect the coach. Oh well, on to the game…..
Roth did not have his best stuff, but great D made up for it. Pankake’s backhand in the hole and throw to third being one example. Others who stood out: Rosenburg with several great stops on pitches in the dirt, and Marzilli with another great catch in center. At for the hitters, I was personally very glad to see Adam Matthews have a big game. Termed a “Tiger Killer” by Tommy Moody, Adam did not disappoint. I had a great seat for the HR and the almost HR (how that did not go out, I’ll never know-it hit the top of the yellow line and bounced up). While the crowd was pretty stunned after Vergason was tagged out in the 9th and after Matthew’s almost won it, there was a feeling in the air that we were gonna win. The CTU fans pretty much shut it down in the extra frames-preparing themselves for the inevitable. And there it was. LB’s blast over Felder (the bat flipper punk) was pretty sweet. One down, one to go.
Game 2: While lacking the drama of Game 1, this one proved to be big fun as well. Sitting with the Gamecock faithful this time (and right under the Rooster-that’s one cool looking bird), it proved to be another day at the ballpark for this team. After a mid-season slump, Freshman left-hander Jordan Montgomery did his best Michael Roth impression. The kid was simply fantastic. What impressed me most was how cool and collected he looked throughout the game. And when Webb came in from the pen throwing strikes, I had the feeling that it was over. Sure, we had a little excitement there in the 9th, but the crowd didn’t really seem that concerned. A confidence, like nothing I have ever experienced, sort of gripped the stadium. After all these years , I think we finally know what it feels like to be the absolute best at something. Sure we may not win it all this year, but our baseball program is the best there is. That’s what Game 2 felt like.
I think Joey Pankake is becoming my favorite player on this team. The dude rarely has a bad at bat and almost always hits the ball hard. I think we are seeing a star in the making with that guy. It sort of reminds me of watching Walker two years ago. Get ready to enjoy the ride.
We have beaten CTU in the last 6 meaningful baseball games we have played against them. They can say all they want about history and such, but we OWN them in baseball (and in pretty much everything else). To be honest, I never thought I would see this day.
Ray Tanner always seems to push the right buttons. It’s freakin uncanny. In Game 1 the guy next to me couldn’t understand why he let Sullivan, a .177 hitter, bat in the 8th down one run with a runner in scoring position. When he said that, I had two thoughts: 1) Ray likes older players in big spots, 2) Ray was saving Kyle Martin, his last lefty bat, for the 9th. Well, guess what happened….Martin pinch hit for English in the 9th and led off with a hit. We tied the game and advanced to extras.
19 wins in a row in the NCAAs. Back to my point about us being the best. I’m gonna go our there and say that this is a streak that may never be broken. Note to Athletic Department: start looking for an artist to create the Ray Tanner statue. Gonna need it.