Tuesday, June 06, 2006

2006 WCWS Game 2

9:20 pm Central: It's now over! Alicia Hollowell strikes out the last Northwestern batter looking on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded, and Arizona wins the national championship, 5-0. In three games against Hollowell (two in the championship round and an early-season nonconference game), Northwestern never got a run off of her.

Northwestern did get 9 hits tonight -- enough to threaten to score a few times while the game was still close -- but never got it done.

Congratulations to the Wildcats -- the Arizona Wildcats for winning the national championship and the Northwestern Wildcats, runner-up in their first trip to the World Series in 20 years.

9:15 pm Central: Northwestern isn't going down without a fight. Trailing 5-0 with two out in the top of the seventh, NU has put together two singles -- make that three. It's still a huge long shot for Northwestern, of course, but U of A hasn't yet closed the deal...

9:05 pm Central: Arizona continues to stretch out its lead, now 5-0 going into Northwestern's last chance in the top of the seventh...

Throughout the WCWS and especially tonight, the ESPN2 announcers have continually alluded to Arizona's floundering at midseason and Coach Mike Candrea reigniting the team through some combination of new-age philosophy and old-fashioned toughness. If you look over the team's game-by-game log for this season, I don't see much floundering. UCLA had U of A's number, sweeping three, but Arizona's other losses were few and far between. Plus, U of A had some good wins in both nonconference and conference play. Remember how good the Pac 10 was -- it got seven of its eight teams into the NCAA tournament, and four into the World Series... Oh well, the "Arizona in crisis" storyline makes for good drama.

8:40 pm Central: What happens when you mix a couple of U of A hits with Northwestern reverting to some shoddy defensive play? 2-0 'Zona, still batting in the bottom of the fifth... Another hit, not fielded cleanly in right field allowing Arizona runner to score from first, and it's 3-0...(inning ends with no more runs).

7:50 pm Central: Northwestern keeps up the pressure in the top of the third, loading the bases with no outs, and top hitter Garland Cooper coming up... Hollowell strikes out Cooper, then a foul-out quickly makes it two outs... and a fly-out ends the inning with no score for NU.

7:35 pm Central: Northwestern finally shows some signs of offensive life, getting a couple of hits to put runners on first and second, in the second. Arizona pitcher Alicia Hollowell gets out of it, however. Still 1-0 for the Tucson crew.

7:25 pm Central: Arizona hasn't wasted any time taking the lead in Game 2 of the WCWS, going up 1-0 in the bottom of the first, on a couple of singles, a bunt, and an infield grounder (fielder's choice, throwing the batter out at first).

This is classic U of A "small ball," a topic explored in this ESPN.com article from earlier today.