Ready for the big must-win showdown between UM and FSU at 2 p.m. here at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha. The winner moves on to play the loser of the Stanford-Georgia game later on. That game would be Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
I'll be here live again during the game, available to chat about the game or anything in general as we both watch Miami try to keep its memorable season from ending sour.
UM is trying to avoid going 0-2 for only the second time in 23 appearances at the CWS. More importantly, it is trying to avoid the added insult of being eliminated from Omaha by their arch rivals from Tallahassee.
UM is trying to rally to win the national title after losing Game 1 for the first time ever. It's a hard task, but it has been done recently as Oregon State did it in 2006 after coincidentally UM beat them in the first game. The hardest one is the first one today. A win and you start believing again, everything feels a little better, and you start picking up momentum.
Plus, if the move by Jim Morris to start David Gutierrez pays off, he'll have his usual 2nd and 3rd starters - Eric Erickson and Enrique Garcia - ready for the next game, and so on.
In six starts this season, Gutierrez is 4-0 with a 3.48 ERA. He's won his past 3 starts (Georgia Tech, North Florida, Virginia), albeit spread out, and has a 3.18 ERA in those games. That's better than Erickson's 6.58 ERA his last 3 starts, but a little worse than Garcia's 2.41 ERA.
Gutierrez, however, has not given up more than 3 earned runs in any of his five starts this season.
Bottom line, Miami needs to hit consistently like they did in Game 2 against Arizona. That and game 3 of the Regional against Ole Miss are the only games where they consistently hammered the ball.
This team hasn't caught fire at the plate for more than one game yet in the playoffs. If they do, suddenly coming back looks a lot more realistic. All the best teams over the years I've watched this event have certainly had good pitching, but they've also had at least a couple of games where they've lit up another team the way Stanford and Fresno State have so far.
It should be a fun game. Jemile Weeks said it would be intense. We'll see soon. I'll be back at game time to follow it with you. For continuous game updates, also check www.ncaasports.com.
1st inning - FSU 1, UM 0: Jason Stidham was caught stealing at 2nd, after a base hit. But Buster Posey singled, Jack Rye walked, and Dennis Guinn hit a double to give the Noles the lead. Yonder doubled with two outs for UM, but Sobo popped up to strand him.
2nd inning - FSU 1, UM 0: David Gutierrez exited after a Tommy Oravetz line drive hit him just below his throwing shoulder. Erickson came in and gave up a single, but no runs. Adan Severino singled for Miami with one out, but Raben and DiNatale each hit liners right at people for outs.
3rd inning - UM 4, FSU 1: Nice glovework by Ryan Jackson on a grounder to short and a clutch strikeout by Erickson of Stuart Tapley got Miami out of a bases loaded jam. Then Jemile Weeks hit his 2nd HR of the young tourney to put UM up after Grandal walked and Tekotte bunted him over. After a fly out by Alonso, Sobo walked, Jackson reached on an infield single to short and Severino walked to load the bases. Mohawk Man...I mean, Dennis Raben, singled in two runs.
4th inning - UM 4, FSU 2: Buster Posey delivered on an RBI double that scored Mike McGee from first base. A walk to Tekotte and a single by Alonso meant the end of the day for FSU starter Elih Villanueva. Ryan Strauss came in and induced Sobolewski to fly out to left.
5th inning - UM 4, FSU 2: A rare error by Ryan Jackson and a bloop single by Oravetz put 2 runners on for FSU. They executed a double steal to each move into scoring position. But Erickson worked his way out of it by striking out Tapley and inducing McGee to ground out to Sobolewski. Jackson led off with a single, but was stranded.
6th inning - UM 4, FSU 2: Great play by Dennis Raben, who made his second tough catch in right field on a liner by Jason Stidham and then he doubled up Tyler Holt at 1st. UM was retired in order in the bottom half.
7th inning - UM 6, FSU 2: Kyle Bellamy came in to relieve Erickson after a leadoff walk to Dennis Guinn. He struck out Delmonico, then gave up a single to Oravetz. Then, he struck out Tapley and got pinch hitter Ohmed Danesh to fly out to deep left. Sobolewski and Jackson singled, prompting an FSU pitching change to righty John Gast. Gast walked Severino to load them up. Jason Hagerty delivered a 2-run single to right that scored Sobolewski and Jackson, barely beating the throw from Rye.
8th inning - UM 7, FSU 2: Tekotte hit a solo shot to right field to extend the lead after FSU stranded its 14th baserunner in the top half of the inning. UM going to Carlos Gutierrez in the 9th.
Final - UM 7, FSU 5: Another scary ninth inning as FSU bats around, scores 3 runs off Carlos Gutierrez, but leaves the bases loaded. FSU left 17 runners on base.