"I intend to make Georgia howl."
-William Tecumseh Sherman
"That's the night that the lights went out in Georgia/ That's the night that they hung an innocent man/ Well, don't trust your soul to no backwoods southern lawyer/ ‘Cause the judge in the town's got bloodstains on his hands."
-Vicki Lawrence, Reba McEntire,
and every drunk ‘neck down at
Lonnie's at 2am
Entirely too Quick Recap (AKA "You're Never Too Young to Know the Score."):
Tuesday v. Memphis (Home of Elvis and the ancient Greeks): Win 2-1
*See "Honorable Mention" report on Buehler for more on this game.
Friday v. UGA: Win 12-9
Beede was on his way home from Rocky Top
Been two weeks gone and he'd thought he'd stop
Pitching like he did ‘gainst Mississip' State...
Scott Stricklin came and said hello
And Beede said "Hi, what's doin', Coach?"
Said, "Sit down. I got some bad news. It's gonna hurt."
He said, "I'm your best friend and you know that's right
But my boys will hit that fastball tonight
Since your control's been gone, it's been seeing too much of the plate."
Well Beede got mad and he saw red
Went five scoreless, struck out seven instead
And then told Stricklin... he'd slept with his wife.
That's the night when the lights went out against Georgia
In the fifth with Vandy up 10-0
Well, don't trust your game to no next-day bullpen left-hander
‘Cause Jared Miller's got 9 runs on his hands...
Song parody over. Back to the recap: Luckily, Brian Miller came in to record the last out and we hung on like grim death to a 12-9 win. Spoiler alert: Vicki Lawrence shot him.
Saturday v. UGA: Win 11-0
Carson Fulmer. Carson Fulmer. Carson Fulmer. Carson Fulmer. Carson Fulmer. Carson Fulmer. Carson Fulmer. Carson Fulmer. Whoa... Carson Fulmer.
Carson Fulmer. Carson Fulmer.
Sunday v. UGA: Win 6-1
Time for "The Sweep Song."
*See write up immediately below...
Player of the Series: #43 1B Zander "Awesome X/Barnaby Jones" Wiel
Remember, it was in the UGA series last year when Wiel both got his chance and cemented his place in the lineup. In his first career start (4/20/13), Wiel went 3-3 with 2 HR, 1 2B, 4 R, and 5 RBI. He didn't do anything that amazing this series, but he did what we needed when we needed it.
Friday: 1-4, 1 R, 1 RBI (and one downright amazing defensive play)
Saturday: 0-3, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP
Sunday: 2-5, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 HR
As Jeff Winger would say, "It's not just good, it's good enough." On Sunday, in particular, he was a key reason we won that game. For those who didn't catch the game, the box score doesn't tell the whole story. In the bottom of the 5th, with a storm a-brewin', and storm bands moving from Murfreesboro to Franklin, with one out, down 1-0, and Wiseman and Swanson on 2nd and 3rd, Wiel came to the plate. As the storm clouds loomed, he knew he'd have to plate a run or risk losing a rain-shortened game. With two strikes, Wiel abandoned his pull-heavy swing, choked up, looked the other way, and laced a two-run-scoring single to right field. The tension was lifted, the rain clouds went away, and all was right in the world. For good measure, Wiel smacked a solo shot off the scoreboard in left field in the 8th.
The main thing this lineup has been lacking is a productive, feared, power bat in the middle of the order. If this series of clutch hitting, power hitting, and great defense is what he needed to propel him to a late-season surge, I say we schedule Georgia in late April every year. What say you, makers of the schedule?
Pitcher of the Series: #15 RHP Carson "The Florida Flamethrower" Fulmer
Just another ho-hum 7 innings of 2 hit, 0 run, 8 K ball. I could yell WHY HASN'T HE BEEN STARTING THE WHOLE DAMNED SEASON, but I prefer to look at the season as half-full of Fulmer: the most dangerous pitcher in college baseball. Think of it another way... his arm's just starting to stretch out. In two-three weeks, he should be able to give us a full nine of dominance. I'm not sure I've ever seen a more confident pitcher. Oh, and he never faced more than four batters in any of those seven innings. You heard right.
Honorable Mention: #13 RHP Walker "Ferrous/The Iron Man" Buehler
Yep. All he did was throw nine innings of 6 hit, 10 K, 1 R ball, pitching down a run from the 4th to the 8th innings, and never once got rattled. He's 8-1. He's our midweek starter. And yes, that is a divalent iron compound/John Hughes movie/comic book pun for his nickname. Deal with it.
Scouting Report: #43 1B Zander "Awesome X/Barnaby Jones" Wiel
Game Scouted: Sunday v. UGA
Game Line: 2-5, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 HR, 2 K
Season Line: .265 BA, .382 OBP, .404 SLG, 23 R, 36 H, 9 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 22 RBI, 16 BB, 11 HBP, 25 K, 5 GDP, 8-11 SB-ATT, .991 FLD %
Offense: This all depends. If I'd decided to profile Wiel in the pre-season, I'd probably mention his .549 SLG% last year, or his 5 HR and 27 RBI in just 82 ABs, throw in an allusion to his miniscule strike-out percentage (13%) for a power bat, and make a bunch of wild proclamations that he'll lead the league in power numbers, be named first team All-America, win a little thing called the Golden Spikes, and heft us all onto his massive shoulders and personally carry the team to Omaha. You know, carefully considered realism.
I'm being a bit hyperbolic, but still... I did not expect this. Time to pull out the eye of criticism and see what's going on here. Sure, he got hurt a few weeks back, when Jared Miller tried to tear his arm off, but he was already flailing well before that. In short, like a lot of power hitters, he had success, it got into his head, and he became pull happy. If I had clips, I'd show you, but seeing as they don't exactly like to make highlight reels of a college player opening up too soon and pounding an outside pitch into the ground right to the shortstop over and over (I don't know why), you're just going to have to take my word for it. You could also look to his 5 GDPs (tied for the team lead with Xavier Turner, though in 35 fewer ABs) if you want. I'm not the boss of you.
That's why Sunday's game was such a potential turning-point for Awesome X. When he was hot last year, he wasn't just whacking mistake pitches over some fencing they had set up. Rather, as his .305 BA and .406 OB% point to, he was patient at the plate and taking what the pitcher gave him (and, of course, whacking mistake pitches over some fencing they had set up). I'm looking at Sunday's game as a harbinger of things to come. If he can stay on the ball and hit it where it's pitched, I predict he'll heat up with the weather and start acting like the force we need him to be from the 4-hole. We've been lacking a clean-up hitter that strikes fear into the opposing pitchers' minds. It's not because we haven't had one... he just hasn't played the part he was born to play. I think he will.
Defense: He flashed the leather a few times this series, and this has become a strength. He plays first base a lot like Pujols: Nothing flashy, but he gets the job done.
Baserunning: ...let's ignore this part. He's no clod, but his 8 stolen bases thus far this season still reads like a typo.
Scouting Report: #33 RHP Brian "High Life" Miller (The Champagne of Side-winding Relievers)
Game Scouted: Sunday v. UGA
Game Line: 1 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Season Line: 1-0, 0.76 ERA, 4 SV, 23.67 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 23 K, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, .118 B/AVG, 2 WP, 4 HBP, 1 BK, 8.75 K/9, 1.52 BB/9
The Good: It appears Miller has regained the role of closer after Fulmer's reign of dominance proved too much for Corbin to ignore and he was moved to the rotation. Here's the amazing thing... we're not really losing anything with Miller closing games instead of Fulmer. Sure, Miller's no fire-baller, but his 85MPH side-winding two-seam fastballs and 78MPH sweeping sliders are lethal to right-handed batters (and no picnic for lefties, either). For a man with so much movement on the ball, his control is not lacking, which is impressive. I'll stop talking, and defer to a scouting report by a college coach that was posted in Baseball America's Super-Regional Preview of Vandy v. Louisville last year:
"Brian Miller is really tough. He throws the ball from the top of the kneecaps down, and everything moves and he can make the ball move both ways. He's got those long, lanky arms, hitters just don't see it. He's a pretty cool customer out there. A lot of those sidearm guys are low 80s, I was surprised he had as much success as he did last year because he wasn't as firm, but now I think he's 85-87, so with some velocity the sink is hard to square up. He does a good job with the slider, and he can throw it to both sides of the plate so he does a good job against lefthanded hitters. I remember the splits being more favorable for lefties, but it wasn't bad."
The Bad: Well, nothing, really. I suppose the only bad mark is that when he's off, he's really off, but you can usually tell by the first batter he faces if he's got his stuff.
The Ugly: He'll occasionally uncork a wild pitch that will be so far off the plate, you'd expect to see Bob Uecker in the booth.
Second Guesses No One Asked For:
#1: Leaving Jared Miller in too long on Friday. I get that he was trying to let Miller get himself out of a jam, but... yeah.
...and that's it. No complaints on anything else.
This weekend we play Missourah, an out of conference foe from the Midwest, for three more confidence-building games before a mid-week battle against Louisville and a run at the Eastern crown against the Jorts-Wearing Mullet-Heads of Florida and the South Cackalacky Game Penises. Get your bourbon ready.
*Author's Note: Andrew VU '04 is a writer, educator, and ne-er-do-well living in the whirlpool of despair (Baton Rouge, LA). "Scouting Report: Something Something Burt Ward" will be a weekly column written and posted every Sunday evening throughout the 2014 baseball season. In it, the writer will second guess at least one key decision made by Coach Tim Corbin, provide a frighteningly quick recap of the week's games (I'm just giving scores, you crum bums, so if you want more, read the damn box scores your damn selves), and write up a full scouting report on one pitcher and one position player. For those who are yelling, "Mizzou's a conference foe! They came with aTm!!!" or worse, "Missourah's in the South!!!" let me remind you that it'll be a cold day in hell before I recognize Missourah. Side note: Good luck getting any of these songs out of your head... it's been since Friday when I first got the idea, and I've still got Vicki Lawrence, The Talking Heads, and The Planet of the Apes Musical burrowed in like an earwig. Might need to call ol' General Sherman to salt that particular area of my mind. Or ask General Grant for a whisky recommendation.