Saturday, June 10
Honor allows Teixeira to get to Omaha
 
 Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. -- Georgia Tech third baseman Mark Teixeira figured he'd be playing in his first trip to the College World Series. Instead, he was there Saturday to receive the Dick Howser Trophy, given annually to the nation's top college baseball player.

The sophomore led the Atlantic Coast Conference in batting average (.427), home runs (18), runs scored (104), slugging percentage (.772) and on-base percentage (.547) in helping the Yellow Jackets to a 50-16 record, the ACC title and an NCAA regional berth.

But Georgia Tech lost to Southern California in a super regional.

"It's very hard to watch the games," Teixeira said. "We were so close. It's not the way I wanted to get to Omaha, but I'll take it. I just wish my teammates were here with me playing. Hopefully next year we'll be here."

Teixeira, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound switch-hitter, was three RBI shy of winning the ACC triple crown. He also stole 13 bases in 14 attempts and struck out just 23 times in 320 plate appearances.

"He's great on the field and he's great off the field," Yellow Jackets coach Danny Hall said. "You couldn't have picked a better young man who exemplifies what the Dick Howser Trophy stands for."

Teixeira became the 14th recipient of the award.

Other winners include: Mike Fiore, Miami, 1987; Robin Ventura, Oklahoma State, 1988; Scott Bryan, Texas, 1989; Alex Fernandez, Miami-Dade Community College, 1990; Frank Rodriguez, Howard College, 1991; Brooks Kieschnick, Texas, 1992 and '93; Jason Varitek, Georgia Tech, 1994; Todd Helton, Tennessee, 1995; Kris Benson, Clemson, 1996; J.D. Drew, Florida State, 1997; Eddy Furniss, LSU, 1998; and Jason Jennings, Baylor, 1999.

Howser, an All-American at Florida State, coached in the major leagues for more than a decade with the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals. He won the World Series with the Royals in 1985.

The trophy, created in 1987 after Howser's death from brain cancer, is awarded by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and Baseball America magazine.

Balet's back
Florida State third baseman Pichi Balet was in the starting lineup Saturday, and Seminoles coach Mike Martin cleared up the reason for Balet's two-day absence from Omaha.

FSU's top hitter this postseason was left in Tallahassee on Wednesday to handle what Martin initially called a "personal problem." Martin elaborated on the situation after Balet joined the team Friday.

"There was a concern about a supplement Pichi Balet was taking, and he has been cleared to play in the College World Series," Martin said.

It is not uncommon for athletes to use supplements to enhance body strength and weight. The NCAA recently approved legislation that all but prevents athletic departments from dispensing the supplements but does not make them illegal.

Balet, who has struggled in the field with an .814 fielding percentage, led the team with a .560 batting average in its first seven NCAA postseason games.

He went 1-for-4 Saturday in FSU's 6-4 loss to Southern California.

Sick starter
USC second baseman Anthony Lunetta started Saturday's game against FSU despite two days of illness. Lunetta first felt ill Thursday before practice and was taken to the hospital with a 101-degree temperature.

He was given some antibiotics and then spent Thursday night and all of Friday in his hotel room. His first on-field work came during batting practice before the game.

The layoff didn't seem to slow him down, though.

Lunetta went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks. He hit a home run to lead off the fourth inning.

"I didn't really know what to expect," he said. "But I woke up today feeling a lot better."

Clean bill
Jason Young's hat has seen better days. Stanford's ace right-hander hasn't washed or replaced the cap all season, leaving it faded with a ring of sweat and dirt stains around the crown.

After picking up the victory in Stanford's 6-4 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday, he surely won't make a change now.

"I've worn the same cap all year," he said. "I know all the work I put into the year, and I don't want to change anything."
 



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