Aubrey Providing Tulane With Two-Way Threat

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Michael Aubrey is having an excellent rookie season for the Green Wave.
Michael Aubrey is having an excellent rookie season for the Green Wave.

June 11, 2001

AP Sports Writer

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Michael Aubrey sat at Tulane's postgame news conference after the biggest victory in school history and stared out at the members of the media with quiet intensity.

He was reflecting on what he had just helped his school accomplish.

"I'm just so happy to be here," the freshman pitcher and designated hitter said after Tulane's 6-5 victory over Nebraska in an elimination game Sunday. "Being able to get the first victory for this university in the College World Series is an unbelievable experience."

Aubrey went 2-for-5 with an RBI and pitched two innings for his first career save.

"We wouldn't be here without him," Tulane coach Rick Jones said. "He's had so many great performances for us this year as a hitter, as a defensive player and as a pitcher. Michael Aubrey is a good example of two players in one. He's very mature beyond his years."

That maturity was evident in the ninth inning Sunday. After driving a ball that sent Huskers right fielder Adam Stern crashing into the wall for an out to end the inning, Aubrey brushed off a missed opportunity that would have given his team a four-run lead.

"There was no discouragement," said Aubrey, who also plays outfield and is one of 19 college players invited to the USA Baseball National Team trials this summer. "I went out there and knew I had one job to do, and that was pitching in the bottom of the ninth. It was no longer hitting. Hitting was cleared from my mind. I took a breath, stepped on the mound and went right at them."

Aubrey, who also plays the outfield, is hitting .363 with 13 homers and 68 RBIs, and is 3-0 with a 4.82 ERA for the Green Wave.

"Being able to play in two different aspects of the game - being able to hit and pitch - is beyond my expectations," Aubrey said. "And I'm glad I can attend a university where I'm able to do that. And to do it in Omaha makes it even more special."

BALK THIS WAY: Umpires are calling more balks than ever before at the College World Series.

Nine balks had been called through the first seven games, including two during Tennessee's 19-13 victory over Georgia on Monday. The previous record had been five in 1983.

David Yeast, the NCAA's umpire coordinator, said the rule was changed last summer.

"It now requires the pitcher, once he is in the set position, to come to a complete stop," Yeast said. "Our old rule was more liberal than either the high school or professional interpretation, and now our new rule is more in step with the pros."

Yeast said the increase from the regular season in balk calls might be a product of umpires not being in sync across the country with what the rule is.

"Getting good, consistent interpretations throughout the country is our goal," Yeast said. "If a kid is close, we'll tell him to make sure he stops. That's if he's close. Otherwise, we will call it."

FAN-FARE: Even with the presence of Nebraska at the College World Series, attendance at the College World Series was slightly down after four sessions.

The total attendance was 89,928, down from the 90,337 last year. The most heavily attended session was the Tennessee-Miami game Saturday night with 23,994. Saturday's Georgia-Southern California game drew the smallest crowd with 19,958.

The average is still on pace to give the College World Series 200,000 fans for the fifth straight year.

PLAYING HURT: Nebraska closer Thom Ott will never forget the ovation he got at the College World Series, or the reason he got it.

Ott took a hard grounder to the groin in the eighth inning of the Cornhuskers' 6-5 loss to Tulane on Sunday. Ott bent down, picked up the ball and calmly threw it to first before collapsing in front of the mound.

After several minutes, a few gulps of water and some warmup tosses, Ott was pitching again.

"I figured this might be the only College World Series I ever get to play in so I'm not going to leave the field unless someone drags me off," Ott said.

Ott got Jay Heitz to ground out to second, hit Anthony Giarratano with a pitch, then struck out Jon Kaplan to end the inning.

Ott received a loud round of applause as he walked to the Huskers' dugout.

AROUND THE BASES: Game time temperature before Monday night's Southern California-Miami game was 96 degrees, and public address announcer Bill Jensen urged fans to take advantage of a tent spraying mist outside the stadium to stay cool. ... Tennessee shortstop Chris Burke, who bruised a rib on his left side after he was hit by a pitch Saturday in the Vols' loss to Miami, was in the lineup Monday and went 2-for-4 with an inside-the-park homer and three stolen bases. ... Before allowing three runs in one inning in Sunday night's loss to Stanford, Cal State-Fullerton closer Chad Cordero had gone 12 innings without giving up a run. ... Stanford, which beat Cal State-Fullerton 5-2 in 10 innings Sunday, has won its first two games in the College World Series three straight years.