Well, that ended it. Wise, not so wise, lets two hittable balls go right down the plate and then swings at an absurd high pitch to end the Hogs's journey to Omaha and write yet another chapter of a Hog team coming close to something great, but then not getting it done. Down by seven in the 4th quarter at LSU last year, then get blown out. Just scoop and score at the Sugar Bowl, but it ends instead with Mallett throwing it to the wrong jersey. I am sure you can think of many more, but try not to do so, for tonight's loss is painful enough by itself. It hurts even more to know that in this 3-2 loss the Hogs's venerable pitching staff walked two of those runs in. Take those away, and it is 2-1 Hogs. ESPN's stat of 19 out of the last 22 CWS winners having first gone 2-0 seems like even more salt on the wound. One does really marvel at and respect more how we managed to win the 1994 National Championship in basketball.
But you can't take those walks for runs away, and you can't do anything about the poor calls from behind the plate by Costello. His strike zone was a comedy routine all night. Though it seemed his zone worked more against the Hogs, if I am a South Carolina fan, I am not happy about his call of out on Astin's tag at the plate. In such a crucial game, you would hope for the most competent of umps, but that wasn't the case. Yet, it also isn't by itself why the Hogs lost.
It did not help that the Hogs's offensive was once again such a weakness. Dave Van Horn can keep throwing scholarships at pitchers, but if he can't get himself some hitters, he is going to see more and more games just like these last two vs. South Carolina.
I think I'll hold off on my excitement in the future when the Hogs get to the CWS until I know that there are no other SEC teams, haha, in the damn tournament with them. I thought the Hogs got a big break this year with LSU staying home. But it was not a good break at all that we landed on the same side of the bracket as two time defending national champion, South Carolina. They have gotten it down on how to win these games in Omaha, and the Hogs are still learning. They got some breathing room with the two win start, but it turned out not to be enough against a team determined to make CWS history with a three-peat. And I wouldn't be surprised if they end up doing just that against Arizona here in the next few days.
So, Hogs, go home to Fayetteville. But don't hang your head too low. Instead, be proud of making it to the bronze medal, but don't for a minute be satisfied with that. Let this fuel you towards improving your hitting and getting ready to make another run at it next year. As for me, I am attending my younger brother's wedding tomorrow where I'll be his best man. A wedding serves as a great reminder that there are bigger things in life than the Hogs. But, you know, I sure would like to be standing there in the church tomorrow, sweating in my tux, thinking about the prospect of taking down Arizona for a national title.