Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Titans Ride Hard to Tame Mustangs

Titans at Cal Poly: Lost 2-1 (Friday), Won 10-5 (Saturday), Won 6-4 (Sunday)

By Don Hudson

SAN LUIS OBISPO - If you were part of the large throng that gathered each game this weekend at Baggett Stadium in San Luis Obispo, you were treated to an excellent display of intense, competitive west coast baseball.  The Cal State Fullerton Titans (34-6, 10-2) dropped the opener to the Cal Poly Mustangs, 2-1, but bounced back to win the next two games to win the series and maintain their Big West Conference lead.

The Titans have solidified their standing near the top of the national leader board, albeit a few strokes behind the leaders.  They are ranked either #3 (Collegiate Baseball, NCBWA and USA TODAY coaches poll) or #4 (Baseball America and Perfect Game) in all the major polls and stand #5 in RPI and #2 in ISR as of Tuesday morning.

Game 1: Cal Poly Mustangs 2, Titans 1

(Photo Gallery)

In a much-discussed matchup of Friday aces of two nationally ranked opponents, the Titans sent freshman Thomas Eshelman to the hill to battle senior Joey Wagman, who entered action ranked ninth nationally in strikeouts.

The Titans scored a quick run in the first inning – and were then shut out the rest of the way by Wagman and closer Reed Reilly, who allowed just one base-runner (a walk to J.D. Davis) in notching his tenth save in two innings of relief.

It initially looked like ‘business as usual’ for the Titans, as Richy Pedroza escaped an 0-2 count and hit a 2-2 pitch for a single leading off the game.  Carlos Lopez hit a groundball on a hit-and-run play that advanced Pedroza into scoring position.  Wagman did not look sharp early, as he walked Davis and unleashed a wild pitch that put two runners in scoring position.  Michael Lorenzen hit a sacrifice fly that drove in Pedroza and gave the Titans a quick 1-0 lead.

Eshelman came out looking sharp, hitting his spots – so what’s new?

Lorenzen called out on high tag
The Titans had Wagman on the ropes in the top of the third, but the savvy senior pitched a great game without his best stuff.  He wasn’t getting his normally-deadly curveball over for strikes early, so he relied on an assortment of fastballs, change-ups and good location.  Lopez led off with a walk but was erased on a double-play.  Lorenzen singled but was called out attempting to steal second when he appeared to be draped atop the base when the high tag was applied.

Lorenzen clearly expressed his disagreement to umpire Joe Maiden, who chose to move toward him to escalate the debate rather than retreating back to the foul line where Blue hangs out between innings.

(Anybody who has umpired knows that when an inning ends on a contentious call, you trot out along the foul line, beyond conversational distance with players, coaches and fellow umpires.  If you go over to talk to your brother ump, everybody knows you’re talking about the call, which is a sign of weakness. Maiden seemed to be baiting an argument, but Lorenzen cooled and went out to his position.)

The Mustangs broke through against Eshelman in the bottom of the fourth inning as outfielder Jordan Ellis led off with a triple and scored on an RBI groundout.  Ellis was outstanding, going 6-for-13 in the series.

Austin Kingsolver led off the fifth inning with his second hit of the game, a single up the middle after taking a called strike and then fouling off six pitches. But the Mustangs defended the hit-and-run effectively – they always stood their ground and got the batter out while the runner advanced, rather than the dispiriting base-hit through a vacated hole.  Wagman then retired the dangerous Lopez and Davis on groundballs to the shortstop.

The Mustangs took the lead with a solo tally in the bottom of the sixth.  With one out, Ellis singled and went to second when the third-spot hitter, Jimmy Allen, sacrificed.  This brought up cleanup hitter, Nick Torres, who leads the team in RBI and already had a hit against Eshelman in the fourth inning.

With first-base open, Eshelman appeared willing to walk Torres with an open base and a struggling freshman, Brian Mundell, on deck.  (Mundell has a ton of power and is tied for the BWC lead in home runs, but he was in the midst of a slump that reached 1-for-31 until he broke out on Saturday.)

A walk seemed strategic and inevitable when Eshelman and his pin-point control fell behind 3-1, but Torres swung and missed the next pitch and the battle was back on.  Torres fouled off two pitches before smashing a single into centerfield to drive in Ellis with the go-ahead and eventual winning run.  It’s easy to second-guess why they didn’t intentionally (or semi-intentionally) walk the opponent’s leading RBI man with an open base, but that’s baseball.

Wagman stifles Titans bats
The rest of it was about pitching.  Wagman left after seven innings, giving up just one run on six hits, with two walks and zero strikeouts.  He showed the fans and scouts another dimension of his game – beating a quality opponent like Fullerton without his best stuff and without a single strikeout.  Closer Reilly looked like the real deal, with a dazzling assortment of fastballs, splitters and sliders.

The Titans fell back into their “six hits on Friday blues.”  Kingsolver was the only Titan with multiple hits.  Eshelman allowed just two runs in 7-2/3 innings of work and drew great respect from the Mustangs.  He got a lot of props afterwards from the Mustangs.  Torres told the local press, “He tends to hit the black every time, the very edge of the plate.  With every pitch he throws, you question whether it’s going to be a ball or a strike because it’s perfectly placed.  He’s unbelievable at doing that.
His command is unreal.”  Very classy commentary!

Ellis had three hits and scored both runs for Cal Poly, with Torres contributing two hits, including the game-winning RBI.

Game 2: Titans 10, Cal Poly Mustangs 5

This game also featured a much-anticipated pitching matchup between the Titans’ freshman Justin Garza and Poly’s sophomore lefthander Matt Imhof (who came in to the game with a 4-1 record and 1.51 ERA.)  Unlike Friday, the expected pitchers’ duel never materialized beyond the first couple scoreless innings.

With one out in the top of the third, Imhof walked Lopez and Davis on consecutive full counts.  With Poly coach Larry Lee emphasizing bunt defense, there were a couple rockets that would usually be handled with the infielders playing at normal depth.  Lorenzen hit a hard grounder that third-baseman Jimmy Allen made a horizontal backhand dive attempt, but the ball deflected off his glove and went for a run-scoring double.

Catcher Chad Wallach followed with a hard-hit two-run single to leftfield to give the Titans a 3-0 lead.  Jake Jefferies reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and scored on an RBI single by Matt Chapman.

Garza remains unbeaten
Staked to a 4-0 lead, the first pitch Garza threw in the bottom of the third was hit deep, a home run by David Armendariz to make it 4-1.  Imhof threw a lot of pitches in the fourth, walking one and was the beneficiary of an outstanding play by leftfielder Armendariz to rob Lopez of an RBI double.

The wheels began to wobble for Garza in the bottom of the fourth.  He was dominant in striking out the first two hitters, but paid the price for a two-out walk when Poly designated hitter Mundell crushed a 1-2 pitch for a two-run homer that cut the lead to 4-3.  The capacity crowd was going crazy and momentum was clearly shifting to the Mustangs.

After Imhof and Garza swapped scoreless fifth innings, Chapman doubled with one out in the sixth inning to bring up the recently resurgent Greg Velazquez, one of eight Titans batting right-handed (including switch-hitters Pedroza and Jefferies) against the Poly southpaw.  Velazquez got ahead of the count and hit a bomb on a 2-0 pitch to give the Titans some breathing room, 6-3.  It was his second home run of the season and also of the week – he went deep Tuesday at Pepperdine as part of his single-double-homer performance.

Another Velazquez homer
A single by Austin Diemer ended the evening for Imhof. Reliever Michael Holback retired Pedroza and Diemer was caught stealing to end the uprising.

The Mustangs immediately cut into the Titans’ 6-3 lead with a run of their own in the bottom of the sixth.  Lee’s strategy was slightly befuddling – trailing by three runs against a highly ranked opponent with the wind blowing out and the ball flying around the yard, he had his third hitter, Allen, sacrifice bunt after the first two Mustangs got singles against Garza.  The “small ball” approach delivered a run when Torres followed with a sacrifice fly, but it seemed peculiar to eschew going for a big inning with the middle of your order coming up with nobody out, two runners on and down by three runs.  Go figure.

The Titans broke it open with three unearned runs in the seventh inning.  Lopez led off with a sizzling line drive headed towards the leftfield corner that Allen leaped and deflected to keep it a single.  When Davis flied deep to centerfield, Lopez got a good read that the ball was not going out and he tagged up and advanced to second.  After Lorenzen was retired on a wind-blown foulout, Wallach reached on an error to keep the inning alive.  Jefferies capitalized on the error with an RBI single, followed by Chapman’s two-run double.

The Titans added another run in the ninth on a double by Wallach and an RBI triple by Kingsolver.  Reliever Tyler Peitzmeier was touched for an unearned run in the bottom of the ninth to make the final score 10-5.

The Titans had twelve hits and several other outs that were hit very hard, led by Wallach and Chapman with three hits each, including two doubles apiece.  Chapman had three RBI, while Wallach had two.  Garza improved his record to 8-0 while allowing four runs on four hits and four walks, striking out eight in seven innings of work.  Willie Kuhl and Peitzmeier each worked an inning in relief.

Denver Chavez and Ellis had two each of the Mustangs’ seven hits.

Game 3: Titans 6, Cal Poly Mustangs 4

(Photo Gallery)

This was about as riveting a game as you will ever see, played on a warm, sunny day in a perfect bucolic baseball setting.  In only the second rubber game the Titans have faced in a weekend series this season (the other was a home win over Texas A&M), the Titans won a battle that had both teams looking like gallant, battle-scarred combatants by the time it was over.

The pitching match-up seemed to favor the Titans, with Grahamm Wiest facing sophomore Bryan Granger, who had been up and down in his nine previous starts this season.  But Granger looked good the first couple innings, allowing only a two-out walk to Davis.

Chapman homer evens things up
Meanwhile, Wiest surrendered a run in the bottom of the second to give Poly a 1-0 lead.  After Wiest breezed through the first five hitters, catcher Elliot Stewart launched a flyball deep to leftfield.  With the wind blowing out on a warm day, the ball was carrying well and it bounced off the wall, beyond the grasp of a leaping Anthony Hutting.  Centerfielder Lorenzen may have misjudged how far the ball would carry, because he was late in getting over to back up the play and Stewart was safe at third with a stand-up triple on what would ordinarily have been a double, especially with two outs and a catcher running.  The extra base proved costly, as Wiest’s next pitch was in the dirt and Stewart scored on a wild pitch.

But the Titans quickly counter-punched – their 2013 trademark.  Granger fell behind in the count and Chapman blasted a 3-1 pitch for a home run to tie the score.  Granger didn’t recover: Kingsolver followed with a single, Pedroza walked on four pitches and Lopez beat out a bunt in a pretty obvious sacrifice situation.  With nowhere to put Davis, who walked five times in the series, the Titans’ designated hitter ripped a two-run single up the middle to give the Titans a 3-1 lead.  Lorenzen then delivered an RBI single to score Lopez and give the Titans a 4-1 lead, still with nobody out and two runners on base.

Holback came into the game and completely shut down the Titans’ offense – he escaped the inherited jam in the third and then allowed no hits or runs in the next couple innings.  He faced the minimum nine batters, allowing just one (Lorenzen) to reach on HBP but then picked him off.

Wiest protected the 4-1 lead the next few innings, but not without a couple nervous moments and an increasing pitch count that ultimately impacted how deeply into the game he pitched.  There was an incredible encounter in the bottom of the fourth between Wiest and Stewart. After consecutive one-out singles by Allen and Torres, the dangerous slugger Mundell (who had hit his eighth home run of the season on Saturday night) came up as the potential tying run.  Wiest got him to hit into a force-out, but then had to face Stewart, who had already narrowly missed a home run in his first at-bat.

Wiest wins epic battle
The ensuing 12-pitch battle between Wiest and Stewart was epic.  Stewart took the first four pitches: strike-ball-strike-ball.  He then fouled off five consecutive 2-2 pitches before taking a ball to get to a full count.  After fouling off another pitch, Wiest finally got Stewart to chase a ball in the dirt and struck him out, with the ball momentarily getting past Wallach, who recovered and threw him out.  Rather than returning directly to the dugout, Wiest sought out Stewart and gave him props for engaging in such a ferocious battle.  It was a classy gesture by Wiest, which the Poly fans recognized and appreciated.

The lengthy battle with Stewart might have worn down Wiest, who barely escaped damage in the bottom of the fifth.  After surrendering two hits and a walk to load the bases, Wiest walked the plank when Allen hit a ball deep to left-centerfield.  It looked like it was going out for a grand slam that would have given Poly a lead and turned the stadium into bedlam, but the ball unexpectedly died near the warning track and Lorenzen was able to run it down.

Cal Poly cut the Titans’ lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth.  Wiest had a chance to escape when he induced a routine double-play ball, but the relay throw from second-baseman Keegan Dale was high and umpire Phil Benson ruled Lopez had not tagged the runner.  The failure to execute the double-play proved costly when the next batter, Armedariz, doubled into the left-centerfield gap, just beyond the reach of Lorenzen.

Poly’s middle relievers were outstanding: three scoreless innings by Holback and two by Chris Taylor.  In their combined five innings, they allowed just one hit, no walks and had four strikeouts.  The excellent middle relief pitching allowed the Mustangs a chance to get back in the game, which they ultimately accomplished.

Koby Gauna replaced Wiest in the bottom of the seventh and quickly retired the first two hitters before allowing a single to Ellis, who stole second and scored on an RBI single by Allen to make it 4-3.

Now things got really crazy.

Even though trailing, Coach Lee brought in his hard-throwing closer, Reilly, to start the eighth inning.

With one out, Lorenzen came up and took his time settling into the box and Reilly was in no mood to wait for him.  Lorenzen raised his hand and looked back to plate umpire Joe Maiden to request time-out – permission denied. (How ironic – the umpire who Lorenzen questioned Friday night on the stolen base call refused to grant him time-out on Sunday.) Reilly quickly delivered the pitch – a fastball inside and up near Lorenzen’s head.

After Lorenzen grounded out, Coach Vanderhook came out to question Maiden, who would have no part of it.  The umpire certainly has every right to either grant or deny a time-out request, and it is a split-second decision that must protect the safety of both the pitcher and hitter.  Frankly, I didn’t have any problem with either Maiden’s decision or Reilly buzzing Lorenzen high and tight – if our pitcher had done the same thing, we’d be cheering his tenacity and combativeness.

Hook argues call ...
(Photos by Laura Dickson, The Tribune)
But the coach should also have the right to stand up for his player, which Vanderhook tried to do, and the umpiring crew wanted no part of.

But what happened next was ridiculous.  Hooky did not pursue the debate with Maiden, but was obviously furious in the dugout.  First-base umpire Phil Benson, who has demonstrated notorious ‘rabbit ears’ over the years I’ve seen him officiate games, called time and reignited the situation needlessly.  He approached the Titans’ bench and started screaming at Vanderhook.  When Vanderhook took one step from the dugout, Benson threatened ejection; when Hooky took a second step, he got tossed.  A barrage of F-words ensued – I assure you that none of them was “Fullerton.”

Benson is a so-so umpire: probably a “5” on most 1-to-10 scales of collegiate umpires and perhaps a “7” by Big West Conference standards.  But he is also a megalomaniacal asshole of the highest order.  I’m glad he seldom is assigned games in Southern California – we usually see him only at Poly, Pacific or Davis.

... and gets tossed
With the rabid crowd going bonkers after Hooky’s ejection, they had more cause for excitement when Mundell reached on an infield single to lead off the bottom of the eighth.  Pedroza made a great stop deep in the hole, but there was no way he could throw him out.  The local fans were puzzled when Coach Lee did not opt for a pinch-runner for Mundell, even after he was sacrificed into scoring position.

With one out a runner on second, Gauna was replaced by Willie Kuhl, pitching his third game of the series.  Kuhl’s first pitch was lined into rightfield by Armendariz for a base hit, but Mundell was held at third, even though the throw was up the line.

The decision not to deploy a pinch-runner might have backfired when Lorenzen replaced Kuhl and induced a perfect double-play ball to Dale.  But Dale hitched before throwing wildly to shortstop Pedroza covering second.  Pedroza had to leave the bag to catch the errant throw.  The Titans got a big break when Armendariz, who was sliding hard to break up the double-play, over-slid the base and was tagged out by Pedroza.

With the score tied 4-4, the noose tightened when Lorenzen threw a wild pitch that put the potential go-ahead run in scoring position, but leftfielder Diemer bailed him out with a nice grab of a scalded line-drive to end the inning.

Everything was going Poly’s way: the 4-1 lead had been lost; the coach had been kicked out; the Titans had been shut out five straight innings and Poly had their dominant closer on the mound.  What could possibly go wrong?

With one out in the ninth inning, Diemer bounced back from a 1-2 count to full count before slamming a single into leftfield.  Chapman had pulled several balls hard throughout the weekend, so Reilly pitched him away and Chappy drove a single to rightfield, which allowed Diemer to scamper to third.

Kingsolver scores just in time (L.D. Tribune)
With the speedy, skilled-bunting Kingsolver at the plate, the infield was in at the corners to protect against a squeeze play and back in the middle for a possible double-play.  Kingsolver hit a bouncer to second-base that looked like a possible double-play.  But Chapman made an alert play when he hit the brakes to avoid giving the fielder a chance to tag him and throw to first to complete the twin-killing.

Second-baseman Chavez then threw to second for the force and Kingsolver barely beat the relay, safe on a bang-bang play that gave the Titans’ a 5-4 lead. The play by Chapman bought a split-second for Kingsolver, which was probably the difference between inning over or taking the lead.

It looked like the inning was done when Pedroza grounded out, but Maiden ruled catcher’s interference and Pedroza was awarded first base.  Lopez took advantage with a single to rightfield and Kingsolver slid home just barely ahead of the throw to give the Titans an insurance run, 6-4.

Lorenzen faced the top of the order in the bottom of the ninth.  He got Chavez on a line-drive that stayed up long enough for Diemer to grab it, struck out Ellis and retired Allen to end the game when shortstop Pedroza made an excellent do-or-die play, charging and making the short-hop grab look much easier than it was.

The Titans were outhit, 11-9, with Lopez and Chapman getting two each.  Lorenzen got the win.  Wiest allowed seven hits in six innings, striking out six and walking just one.  Allen, Mundell and Armendariz had two hits each for Cal Poly.


So what did we learn up in wine country?

These were very intense battles, played between two teams with a great deal of mutual respect but without fear or intimidation.  Based strictly on our head-to-head weekend series action this year, the Mustangs played the Titans as well as anybody.  With the series loss at home, the Mustangs dropped out of the Baseball America and Perfect Game rankings, but continued to be ranked by Collegiate Baseball (#18) and both USA TODAY coaches and NCBWA (#23).

But the way the NCAA selection process works and its mind-numbing reliance on RPI while ignoring ISR and other rankings and metrics, Cal Poly is not a post-season lock – even though they seem clearly capable of doing damage if they get invited to the dance.

You’ll go nuts if you’ve already started your “RPI watch” every day.  The Titans lost on Friday to the #66 RPI team (prior to the series) – and yet improved from #8 to #7 overnight.  How does that math work?  The number is obviously impacted by the performance of your previous opponents, but it is maddening at best to be extrapolating April data to figure out what the NCAA committee will do Memorial Day weekend.

Speaking of maddening, how do you explain Pacific beating UC Irvine by 14-13 score on Saturday – including turning a game-ending bases-loaded double-play to avoid blowing a seven-run lead in the ninth inning – and then losing 1-0 on Sunday?  I could understand it in the reverse order – especially having witnessed Pacific’s series finale pitching options.  A 1-0 game on Saturday and 14-13 on Sunday would make sense.

Cal State Northridge swept the Rainbows in Hawai’i and has moved into second place with a record of 8-4.  While I don’t see a reasonable path for them into the postseason – Northridge would need to run the table, including a sweep of the Titans – but they could be a spoiler if they finish ahead of either Cal Poly or Irvine in the conference standings.  If either of those teams finishes lower than third place in conference, it could put a serious blemish on their NCAA resume.

Panoramic view of Baggett Stadium
The games were played before 6,483 spectators – the second highest for a three-game series at Baggett Stadium.  The official capacity limit is 1,734, with 745 chairback seats and the remainder bleacher seating and standing room only.  I’m guessing the fire marshal was imbibing in Krukow’s Korner and looked the other way when they put an average 2,161 fannies through the turnstiles each game.

The Poly fans are passionate and love their team – especially the crazy drunks in the beer pavilion named after Mike Krukow, who pitched at Cal Poly many years ago and still holds the team’s career records for ERA (1.94) and is tied with five complete game shutouts in a season.  He had a successful fourteen year major league pitching career before becoming a beloved announcer for the San Francisco Giants.  His standout season was 1986, when he was 20-9 with an ERA of 3.05 for the Giants, finishing third in the National League Cy Young Award balloting.

Trivia question: who was the head coach at Cal Poly SLO when Krukow played there?

It was nice to see productivity from the bottom of the order in a series where the top and middle of the order were relatively quiet.  Chapman had a great series – 5-for-12 (.412) with two doubles, a home run, four RBI and his usual outstanding defense at third-base.  Kingsolver was 4-for-8 (.500) with two RBI, a triple and a couple big runs scored.  Diemer was 2-for-6 (.333), including the big hit to start the series-winning rally in the ninth inning of the last game.  It helped offset a 5-for-30 (.167) output from the top three in the batting order – albeit with Pedroza playing amazing defense at shortstop, Lopez driving in a huge insurance run on Sunday and Davis drawing five walks.

You’ve got to love the Titans 19-2 road record – they are “just” 15-4 at home.  It was a frenetic and difficult environment at Baggett Stadium – the Mustangs have had a great home record throughout Lee’s tenure there.  But the Titans this season have kicked it up a notch whenever the environment has been the most hostile and challenging.

After losing Friday night, the Titans showed up Saturday knowing that a loss that night would have placed them in a tie with Cal Poly for the BWC lead.  I was interested how they would respond to that pressure – they hadn’t lost a weekend road game yet (their only previous road loss was a midweek game at San Diego) – so it was a good test of their resilience.

About an hour before the Saturday game, a parent of a Poly player told me, “Your guys got off the bus today looking like they had won 10-0 last night – you can just see the confidence of a team that knows how to win because they can put a loss behind them and move on.”  His insight proved to be spot-on.

An important personal milestone happened to me last week: the tenth anniversary of the first Titans game I went to.  I am forever grateful to the circumstances that led to my introduction to something that has become such a central part of my life in the last decade.

Many people have asked how it came about.  As a chronic creature of habit, I ate breakfast nearly every day at The Bagelry in La Verne.  There was a bright young neighborhood kid who worked there in the morning, and he saw me reading the sports section every day and we struck up a sports-centric dialogue.  One day back in 2003, I mentioned to Tom that I was going to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks game (as they were called back then) that evening using my company’s season tickets.  He joked that he would love to see an NHL game, as he had never seen hockey in person.  It stuck in the back of my mind.

Lo and behold, a few weeks later I had the tickets again but couldn’t go to the game because of a last-minute business trip.  Tom was shocked and grateful when I walked in one day and handed him four tickets on the red line for the Ducks’ game that Friday night.

I saw him the next week and asked how he had enjoyed the game.  He was very appreciative of it and wanted to do something in return, which I explained was not necessary.  But he insisted: “I go to a college that has a really great baseball team.  I would like you to be my guest at a game.”  I was thinking to myself, “Dude, I’m a Red Sox fan.  I don’t want to go see no stinkin’ college kids playing baseball.”  But I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so I accepted the invitation.

We were supposed to go to a game at Edison Field (aka The Big “A”) to see the Titans play USC, but it was rained out and I thought I was off the hook.  But alas, young Thomas persisted and we rescheduled to go to a Tuesday night game against UCLA.  I went inside and was struck first by Goodwin Field itself and how devoted the fans were – I expected mostly students and stoners, but saw all these grizzled old farts decked out in “F” gear that clearly had witnessed a lot of baseball action.  It made me curious about what it was that kept fans coming back when they were long-since past their collegiate years.

The second thing that struck me was the caliber of play – far greater than what I had seen growing up watching the now-defunct Providence College baseball team.  And the coaching.  The Titans beat the snot out of the Bruins, 13-2: even though it wasn’t much of a game, the seed had been planted.

I went back to see another game a couple weeks later.  Then another.  Then another.  Then two in a row.  Then the playoffs.  By the end of the 2003 season I was hooked – the rest is history.

The root of “loving Titans baseball” is “loving baseball.”  I quickly recognized that the Titans played baseball the way it was meant to be played: I fell in love with the team that respected the game as much as I did.
Recognize No. 16?

It has been a great journey - my only lament is that I lived out here fifteen years before I discovered Titans baseball.  I know I can’t make up for lost time, but I sure am trying.

Answer to trivia question: when Mike Krukow pitched for the Division II Cal Poly Mustangs, their head coach was an up-and-coming fellow named Augie Garrido.  Augie coached one year for the San Francisco State Gators in 1969 and then coached at Cal Poly from 1970-1972 before shifting to one of their California Collegiate Athletic Association rivals, the Cal State Fullerton Titans.  The rest is history.

The last word this week goes to Big Papi, for his comments during an emotional pregame ceremony last week at Fenway Park – I couldn’t have said it any better.

Now it is on to Hawai’i – with any luck, our flights won’t be delayed or canceled by sequestration-attributed air traffic controller or TSA manpower reductions.  Be there – aloha!

No comments: