Keeping Score: Characters at the College World Series

Published: 6/23/2023 4:53:51 PM
Modified: 6/23/2023 4:50:54 PM

Good morning!
Rules changes and FanDuel have made this a fun major league and college baseball season. The only thing better would be if the NCAA switched to wooden bats for the College World Series in Omaha. It’s hard getting used to the sound of the ping of the bat.

At this writing Wake Forest and LSU were playing for the right to meet Florida in the best-of-three finals starting tonight. LSU pitching coach Wes Johnson left the Minnesota Twins last June to come to Baton Rouge and the Tigers have the second best ERA in the NCAA.

Johnson signed a guaranteed three-year deal for $1.14 million, which after incentives will be more than the $400,000 the Twins were paying him. Wake Forest under coach Tom Walter had the best staff ERA in the country this season (2.82). The Demon Deacons started Rhett Lowder against LSU, a probable top 10 pick who went into the game with a 15-0 record.

Lowder had to face LSU’s Dylan Crews who batted .429 this season and had hit 58 home runs in 192 games. After his first collegiate home run, LSU alum Alex Bregman tweeted, 1/1 in 3 years. 

If the Pirates don’t take Crews with the first overall pick, they could opt for his teammate Paul Skenes who started for the Tigers on Thursday night. “You’re going down (with) Skenes on the mound,” said a sign in the stands.

Earlier against Tennessee, the 6-6, 247-pound righthander threw 46 pitches over 100 mph. “He gets compared to Strasburg but I think he’s more Verlander,” said scouting guru Grant Paulsen. “He has wipeout stuff.”

MLB players are as expressionless as PGA golfers, but college players let it all hang out— literally in the case of Wake Forest players who’ve unbuttoned their jerseys and gone upper body commando.

The most noticeable is reliever Cole Roland of Duxbury. A grad transfer from Dartmouth, Roland likes to bounce the ball off the back of his hand and into his mitt and then stomp off the mound like King Kong.

CWS Notes: Tickets cost between $116 and $808 on the secondary market. Leave now and you’ll be at Charles Schwab Field in 20 hours. … The only New England team to win a CWS was Holy Cross in 1952 with Ronnie Perry and Jack Concannon. Coached by Jack Barry, the Crusaders’ only regular season losses that year were to Dartmouth and Amherst College. … This year’s CWS winner will be the 12th different champion in 12 years. …  Faces in the Crowd: Peyton Manning rooting for Tennessee. … Wake Forest left fielder Adam Cecere refused to wear shades even after he lost a fly ball in the sun. “Things that make me speak Spanish,” uttered ESPN’s Eduardo Perez.


A reliable source says the MIAA paid UMass $5,500 to use Sortino Field for last week’s D-5 state championship game between Greenfield and Turners Falls high schools.

Speaking of which, here’s a correction regarding an item in last week’s column about Murphy Park. “The Murphy Park softball complex is named after my Dad, Mike Murphy,” wrote Jenn Murphy. “Uncle Bob did help with the construction and he wore his Murphy Park T-shirt proudly! 

“Dad would have been very proud of all the Franklin County teams in the state tournament, knowing most got their start on the fields of his pride and joy. One of his favorite tournaments is coming soon. The Coaches Classic on July 7-9. Stop and watch, it’s fantastic competition!”

It was a nice gesture and a touching moment when PA announcer Sherry Webb asked for a moment of silence to honor the late Donna Woodcock before the first pitch.


Last week’s mention of former Yankees hurler Jim Beattie prompted Hinsdale’s Joe Sarsfield to write: “I got two hits off Beattie when he was at Dartmouth and I was at Springfield College. We beat them up in Hanover. He struck out 18 in 9 innings but we had five hits, Paul Nadeau had three and I had a double and triple off the right center field fence that drove in the winning run in the top of the ninth.”


SQUIBBERS: UMass defenseman Scott Morrow told Greg Carvel he decided to stay at UMass for another season because, “I’m not quite ready for Conor McGregor.” … NFL podcaster Ross Tucker after Jack Jones was arrested with two loaded guns at Logan Airport: “It reinforces what scouts have told me over the years, that if a guy comes into the draft with a red flag, it almost always comes back to haunt him.” Jones served 45 days house arrest in 2018 for burgling a Panda Express. … Gavin Williams made his career debut for the Guardians on Wednesday and allowed four runs in 5.2 innings of a no-decision. Williams struck out 81 batters in 60 innings in the minors this year. “They basically wouldn’t let me see the kid in spring training,” said skipper Terry Francona. … Miguel Cabrera needs 23 hits to move past Tony Gwynn into the top 20 on the all-time list. … Deposed West Va. basketball coach Bob Huggins had garbage bags of empties in his SUV and didn’t know what town he was in when Morgantown police arrested him for DUI. The university helped the third-winningest coach in college hoops history by firing him and giving him the opportunity to seek treatment. … U.S. Open winner Wyndham Clark and 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey were schoolmates at Valor Christian H.S. in Colorado. … Attn. Billy Phelps: Your namesake Phelpsy ran out of the money in his maiden debut at Belmont Park last Saturday. … Caller to WFAN’s Richard Neer, on the Yanks and Mets: “I’m an equal opportunity hater. I hate ‘em both.” … The Orioles will be legitimate pennant contenders for as long as catcher Adley Rutschman is healthy, just like the Red Sox were in ’74 until Leron Lee tore up Pudge Fisk’s knee at homeplate on June 28. … If you’re in Kansas City on July 17,  get a free Bo Jackson bobblehead at Kauffman Stadium. … Jacob deGrom had Tommy John surgery on June 12 and has begun rehabbing five days a week. He told the NY Post he expects to be back in August, 2024. … …Billy Andrade teed off at the Mohawk Golf Club in Albany on Tuesday. “Fabulous old school golf course,” said the 12-time PGA winner to Chris Russo. …  The BC football team is 110/1 to win the ACC. The Eagles open with three straight home games starting on Sept. 2 against Northern Illinois, followed by Holy Cross and Fla. State, the 8/5 conference favorite. … Can’t help wondering how those triathletes felt a day or two after their 1.2-mile swim in the Connecticut River. … Reprising the late Garry Brown’s penchant for favorite sports names, here’s a few from the CWS he’d have liked: Maui Ahuna (Tennessee), Blaze Brothers (Oral Roberts), and Blake Money (LSU) who has a brother named Cash.

Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for decades in the Pioneer Valley. He can be reached at


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