You knew it was going to be a long night when Florida starter Alex Panteliodis hit the first two batters he faced.
This was a tough loss that made Florida realize as that much it has improved in the three-year Kevin O’Sullivan era, there is still room to grow.
It was bad enough Florida pitchers allowed 18 hits, but the Gators also struggled holding runners on base. UCLA went 5-for-5 in stolen bases. Panteliodis has a slow delivery to the plate, which UCLA capitalized on early. The running game also got into the head of freshman catcher Mike Zunino, who had a passed ball and let four more wild pitches get by him.
If Florida doesn’t shore things up against FSU, it could be a short stay for me in Omaha. Which is a shame, because this is a fun town. On Friday night, I had a chance to head downtown to the garden district. The cobblestone streets are lined with bars and restaurants. Apparently, Omaha women get off on buying guys wine coolers at bars and forcing them to chug them. Everyone downtown was pretty friendly and hospitable.
On Saturday afternoon, I had a chance to interview Texas coach Augie Garrido, who was in the press box after being honored as one of the “Legends of Rosenblatt Stadium.” Movie buffs may know that Garrido played the New York Yankees manager “Bobby Mac” in Kevin Costner’s “For The Love of The Game.” I asked Garrido if he still watches the movie when it replays on cable.
“I still have a problem with that,” Garrido said. “My line in the movie, I wanted to say ‘break it up’ which is more baseball sounding. But instead, they went with ‘wreck it’ because it had more of a Hollywood sound to it.”
Garrido was asked to appear in the movie by Costner. The two remain close friends. As well as playing the fictional Yankee manager, Garrido spent seven weeks as a technical consultant to director Sam Raimi.
“I learned a lot about Hollywood,” Garrido said. “It was a lot of 12-hour days, six days a week. I had to take some vitamin B pills to keep my energy going.”
Garrido also said the movie created a stir because filming began shortly after he left Cal State Fullerton to take over the head coaching job at Texas.
“Texas wasn’t happy that I was leaving Austin for New York for seven weeks because the program was floundering,” Garrido said.”But what we did was a special premiere in Austin. Kevin Costner came. And we raised $480,000 which we put into the general athletic fund.
“Thank God we made it to Omaha the following year.”