CWS Record Still Up After 45 Years
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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ The last time Notre Dame reached the College World Series, Jim Morris went on the hitting tear of a lifetime.
Morris, who played right field for the Fighting Irish in 1957, batted .714 (10-for-14) in Omaha. For 45 years, he has held the record for the highest batting average at the College World Series.
The Irish won two games before being eliminated by Penn State in the semifinals.
``Nothing could go wrong,″ Morris said Saturday. ``It was one of those freak things that you dream of all your life.″
Morris hinted he was fortunate to even be in the lineup. In Omaha this weekend to cheer on the Irish, Morris recalled he had been hitting just over .300 for the season when he came to the series and ``had played myself out of my position. I had four errors in a game.″
In Omaha, however, he went back to right field. It was his first night game and he committed an error in that CWS opener. He later threw a runner out, however, to help his cause.
Morris, who went on to teach and coach in Illinois, said he is surprised his record remains in this era of aluminum bats. He said with today’s bats and other changes in the game, the advantage belongs to the hitter.
As for what he thinks he could have done with an aluminum bat, Morris just chuckled: ``I don’t know.″
BIG HITTER: On a team that features three 20 home run hitters, a player that didn’t hit any during the regular season has become a surprising power source.
Clemson designated hitter Zane Green his hit five home runs in the Tigers’ seven NCAA tournament games. The latest was a three-run shot that helped Clemson erase a 7-2 deficit in an 11-10 win over Nebraska on Friday.
Green, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound sophomore, took over the leadoff spot June 2 and the Tigers have gone 5-1 since.
``He’s just done a nice job since we put him in the leadoff spot. He’s got his confidence going,″ Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. ``We had some other guys playing ahead of him. He’s just taken on that challenge and done a good job with it. Hopefully, he’ll stay hot.″
COACH LOSS: Notre Dame coach Paul Mainieri was taking a short leave from the College World Series following his team’s game Saturday against Stanford.
He was leaving to be with his wife, Karen, in Oregon, Ohio, Sunday morning. Karen’s father, Bill Fejes, died Friday morning. His funeral was scheduled for Monday morning.
Irish officials said Mainieri expects to return to Omaha on Sunday night and will be on hand for Monday’s game.
CLOSE GAMES: Nebraska has played 15 one-run games this season and the Cornhuskers have been tough to beat in the close ones lately. They had won three of the last four games decided by one run since April 16th before Friday’s 11-10 loss to Clemson in the first round of the College World Series.
``We have been finding ways to win,″ coach Dave Van Horn said.
That wasn’t the case earlier this spring. NU, at one point, lost eight straight games decided by a single run. The Huskers had been missing a dominant closer since 2001 relief ace Thom Ott (11 saves) left for pro ball. The entire NU staff had 11 saves this season. No one had more then three.
HOSTILE CROWD: Clemson’s Jeff Baker said the Nebraska-partisan crowd at the College World Series was not that big a deal. He had seen worse.
Baker recalled playing in a Junior World Championships game in Taiwan. He said the crowd of about 17,000 there was banging drums and chanting non-stop.
``That was nuts,″ he said. ``It was the biggest game I’ve ever experienced.″
That is until Friday night. Baker silenced the Big Red chants from most of the 24,711 in attendance at the CWS with his ninth-inning single to drive in the winning run.
``This surpassed that,″ he said comparing it to the Junior World experience, ``because we actually could understand what they were saying.″