An Unexpected Thriller

I had every intention of watching the White Sox versus the Yankees on ESPN tonight. It was supposed to be Roger Clemens’ first start of the year. The last time Clemens faced the White Sox, he left early because of an injury. He didn’t even make it to Chicago. Jon Garland pitched an 8.1-inning gem and the Sox are going to win.

Just one channel down was an intriguing college baseball matchup. Vanderbilt University has rarely been successful in any sport. They’re the number one baseball team in the country this year. Their top starting pitcher is likely to be the number one overall pick in the upcoming MLB draft. When I turned on the game, Michigan led 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh. This was the final game of the regionals. Vandy tied the game in the bottom of the eighth on a one-out sacrifice fly. In the 9th Price came in, his first relief appearance of the season. The lefty dominated.

Part one of loving college baseball: When Michigan brought in a reliever, it was their third baseman. He stayed in for the ninth. An error by the shortstop, as the starting shortstop moved to third when the original third baseman went to pitch, led to the winning run on first base. A gutsy 0-2 bunt got the man to second. With one out there was a bloop hit to the outfield. The second baseman for Michigan started to his left, then corkscrewed and made a diving catch. It was game over if he dropped it. Michigan got the third out.

In the 10th inning it was the college baseball’s player of the year pitching again. (Warning: bad foreshadowing) He had given up one home run all year. After getting an out, Michigan put in a pinch hitter. The guy hit .188 all year, but was a slugger in high school, hitting 8 homers in 48 at bats. Naturally, he crushed the second pitch out to left. Price left the game, and Michigan took a one-run lead into the bottom of the tenth.

Naturally I change the channel and the White Sox have blown most of their lead. A guy is on first and Jeter’s at the plate. Gimpy Jeter grounds out. Geez.

Back to the real game. With one out in the 10th, the Vandy hitter crushed the ball to left-center, but the very tall Michigan outfielder caught it right at the fence. That’s a heck of a play. It’s not like Vandy’s going to beat Michigan in football. I like the replay of the starting pitcher giving the crotch grab as he watches the ball almost leave the park. As Vandy was one strike away, there’s a hit to left field. It’s not over yet, folks. A check swing ground-out ends it for Vandy. Such is life.

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