On The Farm: Sauer, Williams pace Winston-Salem

On The Farm: Sauer, Williams pace Winston-Salem

Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010
10:00 PM
By Kevin Czerwinski
CSNChicago.com

WHITE SOX

Winston-Salem (A)
Stephen Sauer pitched his best game in nearly a month Wednesday night as Winston-Salem bested Wilmington, 4-2, at Frawley Stadium.

Sauer went seven innings, his longest outing since July 19, which also represents the last time he won a game. The right-hander had lost three consecutive starts heading into Wednesday, allowing 14 runs over 16 23 innings over that stretch. He allowed only two runs against Wilmington, however, equaling a season-high with seven strikeouts.

Jon Gilmore and Ozzie Lewis each had a pair of hits for the Dash while Kenny Williams went 1-for-3 with an RBI, extending his hitting streak to nine games. Hes batting .344 (11-for-32) during the streak. Greg Paiml went 0-for-2, stretching his hitless streak to 13 at-bats since his return from Birmingham and 15 overall including his time in the Southern League.

Birmingham (AA)
The Barons got a great effort from their bullpen Wednesday night, hanging on to defeat Mississippi, 3-2.

The Birmingham pen pitched 3 23 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and a walk over that stretch in relief of Johnnie Lowe (5-4), who allowed two runs in 5 13 innings. Henry Mabee, Kyle Bellamy and Anthony Carter did the rest.

Eduardo Escobars RBI single in the second inning proved to be the game-winner after the Barons had scored two first-inning runs. Henry Mabee, Kyle Bellamy and Anthony Carter did
In other action, Danville scored six times in the seventh inning and bested Bristol, 9-5. Marcus Spencer had a homer and three RBIs for the Sox. ... Durham defeated Charlotte, 10-9, in 11 innings at Durham Athletic Park. Jeremy Reed had a pair of hits and four RBIs, giving him six RBIs in the first two games of the series. Mark Teahen was 3-for-4 with an RBI and is hitting .400 in 10 games with the Knights. ... Michael Blanke, Andy Wilkins and Ross Wilson each had a pair of hits for Great Falls in a 6-5 victory over Billings. It was Blanke's RBI single in the ninth inning that provided the margin of victory.

CUBS

Tennessee (AA)
Chris Archer has been gaining a great deal of attention for his pitching exploits at Tennessee but Rafael Dolis has quietly put together an impressive run of his own since moving up from Daytona in June.

Dolis was sharp again Wednesday night as Tennessee edged Hunstville, 2-0, at Smokies Park. He tossed five shutout innings while fanning five to win his second consecutive start while improving to 3-0 in his last five starts. Hes got a 2.11 ERA in 21 13 innings over those five starts.

Blake Lalli scored on a throwing error in the second inning to give the Smokies all the advantage they would need. Brandon Guyer was 1-for-4, extending his hitting streak to 15 games. Hes batting .456 (26-for-57) during the streak.
Daytona (A)
The Cubs moved back into a tie for first place in the Florida State Leagues North Division on Wednesday after knocking off Tampa, 6-3, at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Daytona and the Yankees now share the Divisional lead.

D.J. LeMahieus two-run single in the third tied the score at two before Rebel Ridlings RBI single gave the Cubs a lead they would not relinquish. LeMahieu added another two-run single an inning later.

Alberto Cabrera earned the victory, his third in four outings, after striking out eight and giving up two runs in 5 23 innings.

In other action, Portland handed Iowa a 5-4 loss in a matinee at Principal Park. Jay Jackson (9-7) saw his six-game winning streak come to an end as he suffered his first loss since June 17. Jackson allowed three runs (two earned) in six innings. The I-Cubs scored twice in the eighth and twice in the ninth but couldnt complete the comeback despite having the bases loaded with one out. ... Beloit defeated Peoria, 7-4, in 11 innings. Matt Cerda was 2-for-4 with an RBI. ... Boise upended Tri-City, 4-3, as Juan Serrano improved to 5-1. ... The Brewers beat the AZL Cubs, 14-4.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

james-franklin-1207.jpg
USA TODAY

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

There were six teams deserving of reaching the College Football Playoff this season. But there were only four spots.

But what if there were more spots?

An expansion of the Playoff field to eight teams has seemed inevitable from the day the four-team system was announced. Four more Playoff games means oodles more TV viewers, which means oodles more dollars.

And then we wouldn't be having all these arguments, either — but that's nonsense because of course we would, trying to figure out who got snubbed from the expanded bracket.

But this season's emphasis on the conference-champion debate might kick the efforts to expand the Playoff into high gear. Just take it from NCAA president Mark Emmert.

Now, technically speaking, there are 10 FBS conferences, each of which crowns a champion at the end of every football season. Emmert is obviously referring to the Power Five conferences: the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12 and SEC. He might want to pick his words a bit more carefully, considering he represents the other five conferences — the American, Conference USA, the MAC, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt — too, but his point remains understood.

This season has sparked a ton of controversy as the Playoff selection committee opted for the first time to include a team that did not win its conference, Ohio State, and it picked the Buckeyes over the Big Ten champs, Penn State. Plus, Big 12 champion Oklahoma was passed over in favor of non-champion Ohio State, too, actually falling behind another non-champion from the Big Ten, Michigan, in the final Playoff rankings.

With that decision brought the reasonable question of how much a conference championship should matter in getting a team into the final four and competing for a national championship.

The Playoff committee's mission is to pick the country's four best teams, and there aren't many people out there that will argue that Ohio State isn't one of the country's four best teams. But there's something to be said for winning a conference championship because if the Buckeyes can waltz into the Playoff without even playing in the Big Ten title game, why even have a conference championship game — besides, obviously, earning one more night of big-time TV money.

And so the call for an expanded Playoff bracket has reached perhaps its greatest volume in the short time the Playoff has existed. The obvious solution to Power Five conference champions continually being boxed out is to lock in five spots on the bracket for the five conference champions. Then, guarantee a spot for the highest-ranked team from the Group of Five conferences, and you're left with two "at-large" spots that this season would've gone to Ohio State and Michigan, two of the highest-profile programs in the country sure to drive TV viewership in battles against conference-champion Alabama, Clemson, Washington, Penn State and Oklahoma teams. And P.J. Fleck's undefeated Western Michigan squad takes the final slot.

That's quite the field. But if you think it would've solved all this year's problems, you're wrong. Still there would've been outcry that red-hot USC didn't make the field. The Trojans are playing so well that they could very well win the whole thing, despite their three early season losses. That debate over snubs will exist forever, no matter the size of the field, something we see play out each and every season in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Also, what a damper an expanded bracket would put on the final few weeks of the regular season. Ohio State's game against Michigan, the highest-rated game of the college football season with more than 16 million people watching, would've been effectively meaningless. No matter who won or lost, both teams would've made that eight-team field, right?

Additionally, another round of Playoff football would expand the season to 16 games for some teams. That means more physical demands on student-athletes and a season cutting deep into January, which would impact their educational and time demands.

But again, an expansion of the Playoff bracket has always seemed inevitable. There's too much money to be made, and at the same time fans seem to be all about that idea. People love the postseason for good reason, and the win-or-go-home nature of the NFL playoffs make those games the most-watched sporting events of the year.

Now the NCAA president is chiming in with hopes of an expanded field. So really isn't it just a matter of time?

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

CSN's Chris Boden and Tracey Myers have the latest on the Blackhawks in the Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

From an injury standpoint, it's been a tough few weeks for the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks are down two key players in captain Jonathan Toews and goaltender Corey Crawford, and now may be without defenseman Brent Seabrook who sustained an upper-body injury in Tuesday's victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

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While the Blackhawks haven't had much luck on the injury front, their upcoming two opponents are in the same boat.

"You look at the New York Rangers, a very talented team, but this is what every team goes through every season. Your depth gets tested," Myers said.

Check out what else Boden and Myers had to say about the team's upcoming matchups in this week's Honda Road Ahead