OMAHA, Neb. — Sometimes adversity and simplicity pay off. Fresno State coach Mike Batesole figures both helped put the Bulldogs where they are.
"This is our fifth week in a row on the road and each week has gotten a little more difficult," he said Sunday after a 17-5 win over Rice in the College World Series.
After a 10-12 start to the season, Fresno State has won 10 of 12 with the familiar "one game at a time" mantra.
"That’s what we’ve done for the last five weeks. We’ve finally figured that out," Batesole said.
"Early in the year we thought we were going to be pretty good and we got a little ahead of ourselves," he continued.
"And then the last six weeks with all the injuries we’ve had — and I’m not talking about being dinged up, but real injuries — the way they’ve held it together and the toughness they’ve handled this with is very impressive."
Georgia senior Ryan Peisel was happy for the help, whatever the origin. The third baseman celebrated his 22nd birthday with four RBIs and a 3-for-5 showing in a win over Miami.
"I was hoping I was going to get a lot of text messages. I didn’t know if they were coming for ‘Happy Birthday’ or ‘You blew it."’
His two-run homer in the sixth tied the score at 3 and he had another RBI in the Bulldogs’ four-run ninth.
Georgia lost two straight in its previous CWS appearance two years ago.
"I just got lucky, I guess. I don’t know if it was the birthday gods or what, but whatever it is I’ll take it and hope they stay with us a few more days," Peisel said.
College baseball players improved their academic performance for the third straight year, according to a "state of the game" report from the NCAA and the American Baseball Coaches Association.
Since 2003-04, baseball’s Academic Progress Rate has increased 12 points. The APR is a tool the NCAA developed for every Division I sports team. Every student-athlete is tracked by eligibility and retention, believed to be the two most reliable factors in predicting graduation.
Players who fare well academically and stay in school earn two points. Those who pass but don’t return to school earn one point. If a player fails academically and leaves school, his team loses two points, and if a player returns to school later and graduates, the school earns one bonus point. A team’s APR is calculated by dividing total points earned in a year by the total points possible.
If a team’s APR falls below the 925 benchmark, that team faces possible sanctions such as a loss of scholarships.
Baseball’s APR was 944.4 in 2006-07, up from 932.4 in 2003-04. Of 293 programs, 34 were penalized for lack of academic performance during the 2006-07 period.
Of those 34 teams, 20 will lose scholarships in the next academic year.
Miami and Florida State have a combined 43 appearances in the College World Series, but their game against each other in Monday’s consolation round will be only their fifth meeting in Omaha. They’ve split their games in the CWS.
"We face them in the regular season and it’s always an intense series at that point, so I guess you get that same type of game in this game, but there’s just more on the line," Miami second baseman Jemile Weeks said.
Rice had its 14th consecutive season of at least 40 wins. ... Fresno State has both the WAC freshman of the year, Danny Muno, and the WAC player of the year, Steve Susdorf. Muno went 2-for-6 with five RBIs against Rice; Susdorf was 0-for-4 but scored after being hit by a pitch. ... Stanford’s Mark Marquess will coach his 2,000 game in Monday’s second round. ... Stanford is truly a California team as its entire roster is comprised of players from the state. ... LSU’s Michael Hollander opened Sunday’s final first-round game with a leadoff home run against North Carolina. It’s the first leadoff homer since Tyler Henley hit one for Rice in 2006.