Another Midnite Cowboy Page
For the past several years, since Skip Bertman's LSU Fighting Tigers have been dominating NCAA College Baseball, I listened to the play by play over WGGZ FM Eagle 98.1 Radio in Baton Rouge. I also watched the games on COX Cable Television. I have also been lucky enough to be part of the persistent 7,000 fans cheering the Tigers on to OMAHA and the College World Series Championship.
I remember when the 2000 season first started. I felt a mixture of despair and hope as the Team lost the first 5 games. I blamed it on the change to lighter, smaller bats. The fact is the pitching was not consistent and the team was not scoring enough runs to keep up. Still, I did not miss a game. I had not quiet given up on Skip and the boys.
The games were always a source for drama and excitement. At times I could understand why some people actually died of heart failure watching sports. So many times they proved that the Opera ain't over till the Fat Lady sings. Well she is singing now.
During the championship game, I was elated as LSU scored the first 3 runs quickly. I thought, this will be easy. Then I remembered the earlier game when Stanford let ULL get 5 runs on them, them came back to score enough to win by 9 runs. What a list of weapons they had.
Then it happened. Stanford got 3 men on base. and Bang. A grand slam. Oh, I felt the bottom fall out. Then I saw another hitter blast one that looked for sure would leave the yard. In a flash I saw Stanford getting 20 runs and shutting the door on LSU. The next thing I knew, Ray Wright from LSU had leaped up high over the wall, amongst some disappointed souvenir hunting fans and bring that ball back inside the ball park. What a catch. It probably will go down as the most spectacular play in College World Series history.
Well from that point on I figured that LSU had a fighting chance to pull it out. It was 5 to 3 now, Stanford. Somehow Tallent and Hodges had combined their pitching abilities to shut the door on Stanford.
The trouble was that Jason Young and Justin Wayne had handcuffed the Tigers. Somehow I knew, just knew that the boys from Tigerland would pull it out. But how and when. I began to count the outs left. I had watched Brad Cresse hit 1 for 12 in the World Series and to be honest, I hated to see him come to bat. He had just picked a rotten time to have a batting slump. I figured that every time he came up, it was an instant out. I personally felt that he was trying to hard, trying to kill the ball to get those last 2 home runs he needed to win the record for home runs. If I knew his email address, I would have emailed him and said gut trying to kill the ball, just get a hit.
The other batters were taking too many pitches. It reminded me of the Little League Teams I had coached. Everyone was scared that they could not hit the ball. Everyone was hoping for a walk or to get hit by a pitch. They were taking balls that were very close. Some of the pitches were right down the gut, home run pitches. I screamed just swing the bat, be dangerous.
Well, I was counting the outs left. I did not want to get far enough from the TV to get a beer or make a sandwich. In college baseball things happen fast. I was chewing my shirt and my fingers. I could feel my heart rate change.
Then it happened in the eighth inning. Blair Barbier, the team leader and captain, kept fouling off pitches. He had a total of 9 pitches. That is enough to wear a pitcher down. Then Barbier blasted a solo home run. Then I thought Pontiff would repeat his game saving home run that he did in the regional. But Pontiff walked.
It was up to my boy Cedric. Cedric popped out. Then Witten blasted a 2 - run homer. Tears came to my eyes.
I thought we have a chance now if Hodges can only hold them. In horror, I watched the camera follow Mute's ball smashed into right- field. Ray Write made another spectacular catch running into the wall. The final batter made one of my favorite players, Cedric Harris chase it a long ways into shallow center field. Like always Cedric came through, making it look easy.
Then I knew it was a matter of time. LSU was going to win. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Theriot singled. The announcer named Cresse as the in the hole batter. When he said Cresse, I knew in my mind that Cresse would come out of his slump and hit the game winning home run just exactly like I watched Morris do in 96. There was not a doubt in my mind, until I watched Cresse get down on the count. The with the swing of a bat, the game was over. Cresse came through with a fast grounder just out of reach from the third baseman and Theriot Crossed the plate. The fans were elated 24,000 screaming in unison LSU, LSU, LSU. I jumped up and screamed. The announcer screamed LSU WINS, LSU WINS.
The next day, I drove down to the LSU assembly center to see the Tigers in victory. A crowd of about a thousand were on hand. Skip made a nice speech praising the school, the staff, the coaches, the team, the City of Baton Rouge.
I wanted to walk up to the players and say how much they have added to my life with their performances this year. Well I could not get that close to them. Maybe one of them will see this little story. Well, if you are a player or a coach on the College World Series team, or if you were involved with the Television coverage or the radio. Thanks, you have made my life entertaining and happy.
On June 17, 2000, Brad Cresse's game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth capped off one of the best rallies in LSU baseball history and gave the Tigers a 6-5 national title game victory over Stanford. Trey Hodges (5-2) got the win and the College World Series Most Outstanding Player award after working five fabulous innings of relief as LSU finished its season with a fifth national title and a 52-17 record.
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