Posted: Thursday June 2, 2005 3:12PM; Updated: Thursday June 2, 2005 5:31PM
Furman clebrated it's conference title, but faces a tough road to the CWS.
It's time for June Jeopardy, a.k.a., the National Collegiate Division I Baseball Championship -- 64 teams, brackets, regionals. Eight teams will advance to the College World Series in Omaha beginning June 17 and ending June 26 or 27. The usual forecast is for the possibility of a tornado and Hurricanes (Miami is in the field for an NCAA-record 33rd consecutive seasons).
Who will advance to the CWS? I have no idea. I'd rather just play pepper with some fun facts culled from the sports information directors of this year's schools
Cinderella Men, Part I: Furman (30-27) made the unlikeliest trip to the tourney. First the Paladins needed a season-ending three-game sweep of Davidson to grab the final seed in their conference tourney (one of the wins came on a two-out, ninth-inning grand slam). Then at the Southern Conference tournament, Furman went 4-0 against three schools whom it was 0-8 against during the season. The Paladins face No. 2 Georgia Tech first.
Mound Men: Relief pitcher Daniel Best of Southern Miss has a 0.50 ERA with 11 saves, but Texas Christian pitcher Lance Broadway may be better than Best. Broadway leads the nation in wins with a 14-1 record. Then there's Micky Story, the Florida Atlantic frosh who is 9-1 and has won his past eight decisions. And yet a better story than Story's is University of Texas-San Antonio pitcher Steven Vasquez, who suffered a near-fatal broken neck in a car wreck last fall and then broke his pitching hand in January. Vasquez missed the Roadrunners' first 30 games but leads the staff in ERA (3.80) and winning percentage (4-1). Meanwhile, the most impressive staff may be found at Miami of Ohio: The Redhawk trio of John Ely, Graham Taylor and Keith Weiser have a combined record of 26-1 (the lone loss came in a relief appearance) with a 2.54 ERA.
And Your Neighbor Has a Dog Named Williamsport: Florida coach Pat McMahon has a Labrador retriever named Omaha
Cinderella Men, Part II: The aforementioned UTSA Roadrunners began the season 0-11, but earned a bid by winning the Southland Conference tourney. They are the only team in this year's field with a losing record (27-32)
My Typo Guy: Austin Peay pitcher Rowdy Hardy was named his school's Most Outstanding Male Athlete a few weeks back. When the 6-foot-4, 165-pound hurler received the plaque, it was engraved "Rowdy Howdy."
Seed Package The eight top seeds are, in order: 1. Tulane (50-9) 2. Georgia Tech (42-16) 3. Nebraska (51-13) 4. Baylor (39-21) 5. Mississippi (44-18) 6. Cal State Fullerton (41-15) 7. Florida (40-20) 8. Oregon State (41-9)
Of the octet, only Fullerton, the defending national champion, has ever won the whole shootin' match. Fullerton also won in 1979, 1984 and 1995. Oregon State is making its first appearance since 1986.
First-Timers: North Carolina A&T, Quinnipiac and Rhode Island are making their first appearances in the NCAA postseason. The latter two represent half of the New England schools in this year's tourney. Harvard and Maine are also in.
The 1-3 Double Play:Coastal Carolina's Mike Costanzo and Rice's Joe Savery ( Savery Rice? Yummy!) both made all-conference at two different positions. Costanzo, the nation's leader in walks received (62), was All-Big South as a pitcher and first baseman. Savery, a true freshman, was All-WAC at the same two positions. Both were their conference's players of the year.
Kings of the Hill: Louisiana Lafayette pitcher Austin Faught is 12-0 with a 2.45 ERA. Creighton's Scott Reese is 11-0 despite not making a start this season. He has made a school-record 35 appearances out of the bullpen. Nebraska hurler Brian Duensing is 7-0. The absolute king of the hill, though, may be St. John's closer Craig Hansen, who leads the nation in ERA (1.01) and is second in saves with 14.