I woke up today in a great mood. I fell asleep about 9:30 Thursday night, got a great night's sleep and woke up ready to go. Had a great breakfast with my photographer Tim at The Chef in downtown Manhattan. Had a wonderful conversation with Tim about who was better, Rodman or Chris 'The Birdman' Anderson (clearly, it's Rodman) and then I walked out of the restaurant to find myself bathed in sunlight on another gorgeous day in Manhattan. That was about the end of my great day.
I don't want to bore you with all the details but the NCAA is responsible for about 87.6% of my problems today. I just wanted to get the game started and watch the Shockers hopefully continue their winning streak.
About 31 minutes in to the first game of the Manhattan regional, you knew who the winner would be. Eighteen minutes after that the first inning finally, mercifully, ended. For the first time since 2004 Wichita State had given up 9 runs in one inning and they used three different pitchers in the process. Each pitcher threw just one-third of the inning that saw Kansas State bat around one and a half times.
So once again here they are just one game from elimination. And what does Gene Stephenson say to the media as he walks off the field? "We're not dead yet fellas," quipped the 36 year head coach, "we're not dead yet."
They may not be dead but they definitely got put on life support by the Wildcats on Friday. I mean, we knew Kansas State could hit, pitching coach Brent Kemnitz knew his guys would be up against an extremely tough challenge, but no one saw this coming.
After we saw our 6th hit batsman of the game the joke around the press box was that all we needed was a streaker and this game would literally have everything. From errors, to balks (yes, multiple balks), to impossible strike zones to the guy sitting next to me smacking and chomping his seeds, this game literally had everything.
All but two of the pitchers we saw in the game, and we saw TWELVE total, gave up at least one run. There were 31 total runs scored in the game! And the 20 runs scored by Kansas State are the most ever scored against a Gene Stephenson coached team in the NCAA tournament.
Everything about this game stings, especially the start of the sunburn I know I'm going to have after this weekend is over. Can Wichita State pull it together on Saturday and avoid elimination once again? It's possible. I mean, they did it just a week ago in the Valley tournament. No one saw that one coming either.