by Cheval John
What was supposed to have been a down year became the most remarkable turnaround in sports history.
At the UEFA finals in Munich, they defeated Bayern Munich in penalty kicks by the score of 4-3, in front of their own fans.
For Bayern Munich, this was a home game that happened to be the second biggest game in soccer history.
The turnaround began in March when they named Roberto Di Matteo as their interim head coach and things started to go for them.
What’s more remarkable about this is that they defeated Barcelona in an away game to make it to the final.
The reason why I mentioned this is because three years ago, the same Barcelona team, who were the eventual champion, went to Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea, defeated them in aggregate goals when the game ended in a 1-1 tie.
Many people remember that game as contreversial because they were calls in the game that could have gone Chelsea’s way, but didn’t.
One instance, with Chelsea leading 1-0, Michael Ballack shot the ball toward the goal inside the penalty box and a defender, purposely stuck his hand in the air to prevent the shot.
In soccer, you cannot use your hands and if you are caught doing it when in the penalty area, then a penalty shot is awarded.
The referee saw it, but did not award the penalty shot, keeping Barcelona hopes alive.
They would take advantage of that opportunity in stoppage time when Andres Iniesta blasted a shot that went past goalie, Petr Cech that gave them the needed goal to tie the game and win the match in aggregate to move on in the final.
With Barcelona leading the match 2-1 and the aggregate tied at 2-2, Fernando Torres, who was wide open at mid-field, received the pass and went the distance, made a great move on goalie Victor Valdes, and scored the decisive goal in a wide opened net to break the hearts of the Barcelona faithful.
Chelsea showed perseverance and grace when things didn’t go their way and proved to the world that good things come to those who wait and in the end, they got their “poetic justice.”
by Cheval John
With the rematch here at SHSU, the Bearkats were looking to sweep the season series against the Owls and make a case to the Selection Committee for an at-large bid in the NCAA Baseball Tournament, just in case they didn’t win the Southland Conference Baseball Tournament next week.
The Bearkats (34-17), who clinched the SLC regular season title on Sunday, did not accomplished the task as the Owls got their revenge and defeat the Bearkats by the score of 5-0.
“There’s a chance our RPI will get better after playing this game,” head coach David Pierce said. “We benefit tremendously if we win, but I don’t think it hurts our chances at all.”
The Owls (37-13) was looking to strike in the top of the first when Michael Fuda hit a lined single to left field that would have scored Ford Stainback from second. who led the game off with a walk.
However, Stainback was thrown out at home to avoid any damage.
It remained scoreless for two more innings before the Owls finally broke through in the top of the fourth inning when Perrott rip a single past third baseman Kevin Miller and shortstop Corey Toups that scored J. T. Chargois from third to make it 1-0.
The Bearkats had an opportunity to tie it in the bottom of the fourth when Miller hit a single to left field, but was picked off at first to extinguished the rally.
The Owls exploited that mistake and opened up the flood gates starting with Stringer’s two-out, two run single in the top of the sixth inning to tack on to their lead to 3-0.
They added two more runs in the top of the eight inning to increase their lead to 5-0.
The Bearkats best chance came in the bottom of the eight when Greg Olson led off with a single to right field.
Toups was hit by a pitch with one out to add more base runners. Colt Atwood followed with a walk to load the bases.
However, reliever Tyler Duffey strike out Plucheck and got Miller to fly out to end the threat.
Starting pitcher Andrew Benak went 7 2/3 innings and got his seventh win of the season while Dickson suffered his fourth loss of the season.
The Bearkats will finish the regular season on the road when they face the University of Central Arkansas this weekend.
by Cheval John
The Southeastern Louisiana Lions was fighting for a shot at the Southland Conference regular season title.
Coming into the series with the Sam Houston State Bearkats, who are first in the Southland Conference, they were a mere three games behind the Bearkats and was hoping for a three game sweep against the Bearkats.
They took the first game of the double-header by the score of 3-2, but lost in the second game by the same result of 3-2.
The Bearkats came out today in the rubber match and snuff out their dreams as they defeated the Lions by the score of 8-3.
With the win, the Bearkats clinched the SLC regular season title, their first since 1989.
“We really don’t have any superstars….the most gratifying thing is how they really came together,” Bearkat head coach David Pierce said.
“They want to win and what we try to do is build it up in their heads and let them know that they can compete with anybody and beat anybody at any time,” assistant coach Philip Miller said.
“I think they have adopted to that and have done a good job.”
The Bearkats waste no time in the bottom of the first inning as they exploded for three runs to take the lead by the score of 3-0.
Kevin Miller hit a two-run single past a diving Ben Hernandez that scored Colt Atwood and Luke Plucheck that made it 2-0.
Colt Atwood led off the bottom of the inning with a single and advanced to third on a double by Luke Plucheck.
Miller scored the third run of the game on a wild pitch by reliever Kaleb Manuel.
He advanced to second when Ryan O’Hearn was hit by a pitch to keep the momentum going.
Both runners advanced to second and third, respectively on a sacrifice bunt by Jesse Plumlee.
Jake Arrington was hit by a pitch to load the bases that allowed Miller to score on the wild pitch.
The Lions was looking to respond in the top of the second inning when Jonathan Pace led off with a double.
He advanced to third on a fly out by Cody Gougler.
However, he would remain on third as starting pitcher Michael Oros struck out the next two batters to end the threat.
“He(Oros) is an everyday grinder,” coach Pierce said. “He went out there and pitch his butt off.”
The flood gates opened up for the Bearkats as they added four more runs in the bottom of the second inning to increase their lead to 7-0.
A sacrifice fly by Miller, a two-run single by Jake Arrington and a error by Lions shortstop Hernandez accounted for the four runs in the inning for the Bearkats .
Greg Olson‘s RBI single in the bottom of the fifth increased the Bearkat lead to 8-0.
The Lions ended their scoring drought and scored three runs in the top of the eight inning to cut the lead to 8-3.
Hernandez lined an RBI single to right field that made it 8-1.
One batter later, Jonathan Pace hit a two-run single to complete the Lions’s three run inning.
That would be all they would muster as they run out of gas in the top of the ninth inning and conceded the game and the title to the Bearkats.
Oros went seven total innings and got his seventh win of the season.
The Bearkats’ final home game of the season comes on Tuesday against nationally ranked Rice Owls, before they go on the road to face Central Arkansas this weekend to close out the season.
The win helped the Bearkats take the second game of the double-header and even the series.
They also have a chance to win the Southland Conference regular season title if they take the rubber match of the series tomorrow.
“Pretty much all day, I was getting jammed,” O’Hearn said. ” I backed off the plate a little bit…luckily things worked out.”
The Lions was looking to cash in their first run of the game in the top of the second inning when Jonathan Pace led off with a single to left field and advanced to second on a one-out single by Ladd Rhodes.
The next batter, Sam Roberson hit a rocket to right field that looked like it was going over the head of Greg Olson, but Olson tracked it down and made an outstanding catch to save a potential run from scoring.
Brett Hoffman followed with a walk to load the bases, but starting pitcher Justin Jackson got Alex Marse to hit into a fielder’s choice to end the threat.
The Bearkats capitalized in the bottom of the third inning on a single by Kevin Miller that scored Jesse Plumlee from second to lead it 1-0.
Plumlee led off the bottom of the third inning with a single up the middle and advanced to second on a two-out walk to Luke Plucheck.
They were looking to add more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning when Greg Olson lined a two-out single over the head of second baseman Brock Herbert.
Plumlee followed with a lined single past a diving short stop Ben Hernandez to put Olson in scoring position at second base.
However, Corey Toups struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Lions had their opportunity in the top of the fifth inning when Brett Hoffman led off with a singled up the middle.
He advanced to second on a sacrifice by Alex Marse.
On the next play, Toups robbed Harry Slade of a single to get the second out and kept the tying run from scoring.
Hernandez flied out to end the threat.
The Lions had another chance to tie it up in the top of the seventh inning when Marse hit a hot shot single that went off the glove of first base man Ryan O’Hearn with two outs and advanced in scoring position at second on a single by Slade.
However, Jackson got Hernandez to ground out to avoid any damage.
“Justin acted like a senior today and really picked up his team and gave us the start we needed,” coach Pierce said.
The Lions finally broke through and tied the game at 1 on a sacrifice fly by Cody Gougler.
Herbert led off the top of the eight inning with an infield single and stole second.
The Bearkats answered quickly in the bottom of the eight when O’Hearn drove the first pitch that he saw over the right field fence to regain the lead at 2-1.
They were looking to add more in the inning when Ryan Farney hit a double to left field and advanced to third on a sacrifice by Plumlee.
But, Toups grounded out to end the inning.
That became significant as the Lions came back roaring and tied the game at 2 in the top of the ninth inning on a RBI double by Slade.
O’Hearn delivered again in the bottom of the ninth inning when he hit one over the head of left fielder Ladd Rhodes that allowed Plucheck to score the game-winning run from second base that gave the Bearkats a 3-2 win.
“In the last two at-bats, he picked us up with a home run and then with the walk-off single,” coach Pierce said. “It kind of save the day today and I thought he was great.”
Reliever Michael Burchett pitched two innings and got the win while reliever Jason Greenleaf suffered the loss for the Lions.
The rubber match will conclude tomorrow at 1 p.m.
The Southeastern Lousiana Lions defeated the Sam Houston State Bearkats in the first game of the double-header by the score of 4-2.
The win pulls them within two games of the Bearkats (32-16, 20-8 SLC), who are in first place of the Southland Conference.
The Bearkats waste no time getting on the board with two runs in the bottom of the first inning that made it 2-0.
First baseman Ryan O’Hearn hit an RBI single to right field that scored center fielder Colt Atwood from third that made it 1-0.
Two batters later, right fielder Greg Olson hit a sacrifice fly that scored third baseman Kevin Miller from third to increase the lead to 2-0.
The Bearkats was looking to add more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning when Corey Toups led off with a double that hit off the right field wall. Atwood followed with a walk.
Both runners advanced to second and third, respectively on a sacrifice bunt by Luke Plucheck.
However, Toups was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice play that allowed Miller to reach first and O’Hearn flied out to end the inning.
The Lions (34-16, 18-10 SLC) capitalized and exploded for three runs in the top of the sixth inning to take the lead by the score of 3-2.
They scored their first run on a RBI ground out by Jonathan Pace to cut the lead to 2-1.
Cody Gougler followed with a two-run single up the middle that gave them a 3-2 lead.
Alex Marse and Harry Slade started the rally with back-to-back singles.
Both runners advanced to second and third, respectively on a sacrifice bunt by Ben Hernandez.
Brock Herbert was hit by a pitch to load the bases and set up the offensive rally.
They added another run in the top of the ninth inning on a to increase their lead to 4-2.
The Bearkats had a chance going in the bottom of the ninth inning when Shea Pierce led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a single to left field. Plumlee followed with a single to right field to put runners on first and second.
Toups was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
However, they could not capitalized as both Atwood and pinch hitter Anthony Azar struck out and Miller flied out to end the game.
Andro Cutura went 5 2/3 innings and got the win while Caleb Smith suffered the loss.
Stefan Lopez got his 19th save of the year, breaking the Southland Conference all-time record for saves in a year.