Wittels extends streak to 54, FIU wins Sun Belt Tournament
Florida International's Garrett Wittels will be taking his pursuit of the Division I hitting-streak record to the NCAA Tournament. Wittels got a hit in his 54th straight game, and FIU beat Troy, 14-10, on Sunday in the championship game of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, clinching a berth in the NCAA field.
Wittels was 2-for-6 on Sunday, moving within four games of matching Robin Ventura's record of 58 straight games with a hit set in 1987 for Oklahoma State.
It's an improbable NCAA trip for FIU (36-23), which lost its first game in the Sun Belt double-elimination tournament. It's also been an improbable season for Wittels, who batted just .246 as a freshman last year, including a two-month stretch when he hit .188. Now he's the Sun Belt player of the year.
LSU wins third straight SEC tourney
Tyler Hanover's two-out RBI single in the top of the 11th inning lifted Louisiana State to a 4-3 victory over Alabama on Sunday and its third consecutive Southeastern Conference Tournament title. LSU ace Anthony Ranaudo, in a rare relief appearance, pitched three hitless innings and finished off the Crimson Tide with two strikeouts and a groundout in the 11th at Hoover, Ala.
■ The Southeastern Conference led the way with four schools — Arkansas, Auburn, Florida and South Carolina — selected to host one of the 16 NCAA Division I baseball tournament regionals. Louisville will also be playing at home. The 64-team field will be announced at 12:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN.
Louisville's Childs reaches singles finals
Unseeded Austen Childs of Louisville beat Auburn's Tim Puetz, 7-6 (2), 6-0, on Sunday at Athens, Ga., to reach the men's NCAA tennis singles finals against Stanford's Bradley Klahn.
Klahn eliminated top-seeded Henrique Cunha of Duke, 6-2, 6-2, to earn a spot in Monday's title match. He is looking to become the 12th player from Stanford to win a college singles crown. Childs is the first Louisville player to even reach the quarterfinals.
"I have run out of clothes," Louisville Coach Rex Ecarma said. "I didn't know we would be here this long. He lost in straight sets in the first round the last two years."
Chelsea Gullickson of Georgia, playing on her home courts, will take on second-seeded Jana Juricova of California in the women's championship match. Juricova beat Miami's Laura Vallverdu, 7-6 (6), 6-2. Gullickson, who lost in the semifinals to Vallverdu last year, defeated fourth-seeded Hilary Barte of Stanford 7-6 (6), 6-3.
Lehman wins Senior PGA in playoff
Tom Lehman won the Senior PGA Championship on Sunday at Parker, Colo., with a par on the first playoff hole, where Fred Couples and David Frost were done in by bad tee shots and double-bogeyed.
After Lehman began the sudden death playoff on No. 18 with a solid shot down the fairway, Couples' only bad tee shot of the tournament veered left into the shrubs, forcing him to take a drop. Frost's tee shot ended up in the left bunker and he pulled his second shot left of the gallery. He cleared out dozens of pine cones in between him and the green before striking his ball across the green.
Frost and Couples finished with 6s before Lehman's birdie putt from 12 feet came up a quarter roll short. He tapped it from there.
Lehman began the day as the co-leader with Jay Don Blake, whose eagle on No. 7 gave him a two-shot lead that lasted but a few precious minutes. Blake, whose winless streak was extended to 396 starts, sauntered onto the eighth hole, took a couple of practice swings free and easy with his 4-iron — and promptly topped his tee shot 30 yards into the bushes. "I just totally shanked one, shanked it right into a ditch," Blake said.
Blake finished with a 76, tied for eighth place at 2-under par.
The 2011 Senior PGA will be played at Louisville's Valhalla Golf Club.
■ Zach Johnson now has a plaid jacket to go along with his green one. Johnson shot a closing 6-under 64 in the final round of the Colonial, winning at Hogan's Alley with a tournament-record score of 21-under 259 at Fort Worth, Texas. The 2007 Masters champion finished three strokes ahead of Brian Davis, who had 68.
■ Luke Donald's late eagle helped secure a one-shot victory over Rhys Davies at the Madrid Masters. Tied with Davies heading to the 16th hole, Donald claimed the lead after hitting his approach shot from 252 yards to within 12 feet of the hole and sinking the eagle putt. Donald shot a 5-under 67 to finish at 21-under par.
Inca King reigns at Churchill Downs
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Inca King assumed command leaving the backstretch and went on to win Sunday's $44,440 feature race by 3½ lengths at Churchill Downs. The 6-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Sir Cat won for the fifth time in five starts this year. ... Churchill Down's 11-race Memorial Day card will be highlighted by the $100,000-added Winning Colors for fillies and mares going six furlongs on the main track. Hot Dixie Chick will attempt to become the first 3-year-old to win the race. Defending champion Dubai Majesty was the 5-2 morning line favorite in the field of eight.
■ Belmont Stakes contender Stay Put worked 5 furlongs in 50.62 Sunday morning over Belmont's main track. ... At Saratoga, the Nick Zito-trained Fly Down prepped for the Belmont by going a half-mile in a brisk 47.50, galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.15. ... Belmont hopefuls Drosselmeyer and Make Music for Me are scheduled to work Monday, and Stately Victor is to have his final tune-up on Tuesday.
■ Quarter horse Givinitaroyaleffort won his first race in dramatic fashion, surviving a multi-horse photo finish to win the $1 million, Grade I Heritage Place Futurity on Saturday night at Remington Park at Oklahoma City. Off at 25-1 odds under jockey Stormy Smith, the 2-year-old son of First Down Dash held off Knuckles O Toole and Llano Teller at the wire.
Blackhawks, Flyers score in ratings, too
The Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks are already a television hit in the Stanley Cup Finals. Chicago's high-scoring 6-5 victory Saturday night in Game 1 produced the best overnight rating for a hockey finals opener in 11 years. The game on NBC garnered a 2.8 overnight rating and 6 share, the best numbers since 1999 when Buffalo and Dallas produced a rating of 3.7 on Fox.
■ Former Louisville star Angel McCoughtry scored 32 points and Iziane Castro Marques had a season-high 24 points to lead the Atlanta Dream to a 101-82 rout of the Los Angeles Sparks. The Dream (6-0) are the WNBA's only unbeaten team. Candace Parker had 33 points and 12 rebounds for the Sparks (1-4).
■ Lewis Hamilton led McLaren to a 1-2 finish at the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday at Istanbul after a costly run-in between teammates Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel denied Red Bull a shot at the top two spots. Webber, who had led for the entire 40 laps to that point, recovered for third behind Jenson Button.
The last word
Several players are going all out against the new World Cup soccer ball, with more than one comparing it to those bought at a supermarket. And this time it's not only goalkeepers who are complaining. Strikers, defenders and midfielders are also lashing out at the Adidas ball just a few days before the monthlong tournament is to begin in South Africa. Brazil striker Luis Fabiano said:
"It's very weird. All of a sudden it changes trajectory on you. It's like it doesn't want to be kicked. It's incredible, it's like someone is guiding it. You are going to kick it and it moves out of the way. I think it's supernatural, it's very bad."