It was a wild week in sports with many upsets in college football, and with the excitement of Major League Baseball playoffs.
In the local area, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point traveled to UW-River Falls where the Pointers had another comeback victory. Down 14-3, UWSP quarterback Kyle Larson threw two touchdowns for the lead and Zach Vallafskey had two interceptions, including one at the end of regulation to preserve the win. UWSP remains undefeated at 4-0, and are currently ranked at number 16.
There were upsets all weekend at the Division I Level. Five of the top ten teams lost, and four more in the top 25 lost.
Despite running back Melvin Gordon running for 259 yards, the Badgers lost to Northwestern 20-14 due to questionable play calling and quarterback play. Badgers quarterbacks Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy threw a combined 138 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.
Upsets started last Thursday when Arizona defeated the second ranked Oregon Ducks in Oregon. The state of Mississippi contributed to two top ten upsets when Ole Miss defeated Alabama, and Mississippi State won over Texas A&M. Other teams beaten were Oklahoma, University of California-Los Angeles, Brigham Young University, and University of Southern California who lost on a Hail Mary.
These upsets made the playoff picture even more confusing as there are now many one-loss teams capable of playing for a national championship in January. The rest of the season will be interesting to watch unfold.
The MLB playoffs have been just as exciting to watch for many sports fans. The excitement began with the American League Wild Card game between the Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals.
The Royals defeated the Athletics 9-8 with a walk-off hit from Salvador Perez giving the Royals their first playoff victory since 1985. The Royals swept the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who had the best record in MLB and the American League Division Series. The first two games in Anaheim went into extra innings. The Royals won twice thanks to home runs by Mike Moustakas in game one and Eric Hosmer in game two.
Central Wisconsin has a reason to cheer for the Royals as the third base coach for the Kansas City Royals is Mike Jirschele from Clitntonville. Both of Jirschele’s sons have ties to UWSP. His son, Jeremy, is currently an assistant for the UWSP baseball team, and his other son, Justin, played baseball for UWSP, and is currently playing in the minors.
The Baltimore Orioles swept the Detroit Tigers in the other ALDS. Both the Orioles and the Royals have not made it to the World Series since the 1980s, which makes the matchup fresh to fans and gives a chance to see two baseball cities starving for a championship.
The Royals were fun to watch as they manufactured runs using their speed on the base path, their timely hitting and stellar defense. The Orioles powered their way through Detroit’s three Cy Young winners with their bats, scoring a total of 21 runs in three games.
The National League Division Series was just as exciting with a strong performance from a former Pointer. The Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants have played a tight series.
The Giants took game one, and the teams played the longest game in playoff history at 18 innings. Former UWSP pitcher Jordan Zimmermann pitched game two after throwing a no-hitter in his last start.
In game two, Zimmermann was just as dominant going into the ninth inning. He retired 20 of 21 batters straight, with two outs only to be removed for closer Drew Storen. The Giants tied in the ninth and won in inning 18 from Brandon Belt’s home run. Giants would win the series 3-1, and have now won seven straight postseason series.
In a rematch of last year’s National League Championship Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals exchanged victories in Los Angeles. The Cardinals were down 6-2 against the reigning National League Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw when the Cardinals scored eight runs to win. In game two, Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp hit a game winning home run to tie the series. In game four it was déjà vu for Kershaw who gave up a 2-0 lead when Matt Adams hit a three-run home run to clinch the series for the Cardinals. The NLCS will be a rematch from the 2012 series with the Cardinals facing the Giants.