Parker Morgan's live blog from Rosenblatt Stadium
THINGS ARE GOING WELL IF?
The starting pitching lasts into the 6th inning. If Trevor Holder can put in a solid performance, that means a couple of things. For one, he's doing a decent job and Georgia will most likely either be winning or keeping it competitive. It also would mean that the bullpen is not being exerted in Game One - something head coach David Perno wants to avoid in his team's final three-game series of the year.
On the flip side, if Fresno State has to go to the bullpen early, that would be a great plus for the Dawgs. As Fresno's pitching staff has already thrown a lot of pitches just to get to this series, running them out there early would allow Georgia to face either tired or inexperienced arms.
Another good sign for Georgia would be production out of the bottom of the lineup. Georgia's less-heralded hitters, Matt Cerione, Joey Lewis, Lyle Allen, Miles Starr and David Thoms, have all come up big at times so far in Omaha. That has to continue. Georgia can't rely on the top of the lineup only for run production. If Cerione and Lewis are both hitting, which Perno said usually tends to be either one or the other, then things are most likely going well for the team's offensive production.
THINGS ARE GOING NOT SO WELL IF?
Dean Weaver or Alex McRee is pitching before the 5th. Georgia wants to save its bullpen for games 2 or 3 – not use it up in Game One.
Georgia also needs the top of the lineup to produce. While things are going very well if the bottom of the lineup is contributing, that's not always a guarantee. Georgia must have production from its first five hitters or it will lose. Matt Olson has been slumping badly following his outstanding play in Athens, but has been picked up by Ryan Peisel's .500 average in the CWS and consistent play from Gordon Beckham and Rich Poythress.
If the top of the lineup goes into an untimely slump, then Georgia's chances of victory will be extremely unlikely, save for a shutout performance from the pitching staff.
ROOT... ROOT... ROOTSDamon Evans and Mark Richt, both who have roots in Nebraska, will be at the game tonight to pull for the Bulldogs. Earlier this week Evans told the local newspaper in Omaha of his time in Nebraska - even pulling for the Cornhuskers - before moving to Georgia. Richt, the football head coach, was born in Omaha.
NEED A TICKET? As popular an event as the College World Series is in Omaha, tickets have been plentiful this week. Georgia’s game with Stanford Saturday was the lowest attendance for a game since the Dawgs beat Arizona in 2004. Before Sunday night’s Fresno State-North Carolina game scalpers were virtually giving away tickets to the game.
Some has speculated that the NCAA’s change in the format of the dates played has wreaked havoc with crowds. Also, some Nebraska natives are upset that the new downtown stadium, which is host the CWS in coming years, won’t have the feel of Rosenblatt Stadium. They are also upset that the new stadium will be blocked off with the area around it controlled by the NCAA – taking away the atmosphere natives have grown accustomed to. There has never been resentment from locals about the NCAA, they say, until this year.
Weather has also been a real problem for the CWS this season. After Thursday night’s game was rained out crowds fell noticeably at the ballpark. Through Sunday night’s game, the 2008 CWS had 265,940 fans – 17,000 less fans than last year even though the 2007 CWS had two more games played before the start of the championship series. Many have complained that the event is just too long now.
WHY ARE THEY BOOING? CWS fans are picky about their foul balls. If you hear random booing after a foul ball – or even a small cheer – that’s the Rosenblatt crowd jeering or applauding the young ladies responsible for gathering foul balls. After the ball is fouled a girl pops up from behind the backstop to try to gather the ball before it hits the ground after coming off a net, which protects the crowd. If she misses it she hears about it.
NOT THOSE WONDERDAWGS – The Fresno State Bulldogs were a four seed in their regional. Since that time the California school has marched to and through the CWS with wins over several top ten teams. Along with that impressive run has come a phrase from the Fresno team: “Underdogs to Wonderdogs”. The white t-shirts with the school’s logo and that saying have been a popular sell for the vendors outside Rosenblatt Stadium. It seems the Omaha crowd is backing the other Bulldogs.