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Lots of Sunday sports on television

There were enough sports for all to watch on television Sunday … baseball, hockey, soccer, tennis, track and field made the day a big hit

Monday, Florida and Wake Forest waited through two lengthy delays over two days of continuous rain before the host Gators won the 3-0 deciding game to advance to the NCAA baseball World Series in Omaha, Neb.

Arnie Leshin

By Arnie Leshin

With all due respect to the National Football League, Sunday’s televised sports was shared by all in the family.

It served up the French Open tennis championships. It pitched the NCAA baseball Super Regionals. It took to the ice for the NHL Stanley Cup finals. It zeroed in on men’s soccer that matched the USA at Mexico, and even showed repeat performances of the NCAA track and field championships, as well as Oklahoma defeating Florida for the national softball crown.

It was morning, afternoon and night on the TV tubes, with the ESPN network having the most to show.

That left Monday morning to the Wake Forest at Florida NCAA Super Regional that was suspended Sunday by rain coming down so hard, it wouldn’t let up. The Gators had won game one, 2-1, and were trailing 5-4 when the skies emptied in the Demon Deacons’ fifth inning. This was for the final spot left for the college baseball World Series to be played in Omaha, Neb.

But hold the presses, no final result here. When they resumed, Wake Forest senior catcher Ben Breazeale clouted a mammoth 2-run home run in the bottom of the 11th, and it brought an 8-6 victory and made for the deciding game of the best-of-three to be played one hour later.

But, hold on, the rain dropped in again. It began to fall heavily in the third inning when Florida led 1-0, it’s still falling, the tarpaulin is down again, and they are again suspending play.

After the rain had subsided, play resumed some three hours later and the Gators shut down the Demon Deacons, 3-0, to fill the finals field of eight, where they will open at Ameritrade Park against TCU (47-16) of the Big 12. All the wet delays added up to 14 hours.

The Demon Deacons (43-20) had won the region it hosted, as did the Gators (47-18), who got to host the Super Regional because of their higher ranking.

More baseball was of course Major League ball playing from morning to night on TV.

Not to forget the NBA, which gets the tag of Monday night basketball for tonight’s game five of the finals in Oakland, with the Golden State Warriors up 3-1 in the best-of-seven against the Cleveland Cavaliers?

What Sunday brought to the screen were championships in tennis, in the NHL, in NCAA track and field, and a loud, cheering throng of 81,000 in Mexico City to again see one of the best rivalries in the sport.

That leaves Monday afternoon to view whether Florida or Wake Forest gets to the Elite Eight, and at night there’s Golden State trying to wrap up the championship in five games.

Sunday in Paris, Spain’s Rafael Nadal won the most important clay-court tournament there is for a record 10th time. After being sidelined last year with an injured left wrist, Nadal took charge from the start to put away 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1.

Playing on his best surface, top-seeded Nadal called it a perfect Roland Garros. It was a chance to redeem himself after going almost three years without a Grand Slam title.

He left no doubt of who’s best on clay. Not only did he win every set in the tournament, he dropped a total of only 35 games, the second fewest by any man on the way to a major tournament championship.

He remained perfect at the French at 10-0. No one else has accomplished this at the same major in the Open era that dates back to 1968, and it was a treat for the 15,000 or so who filled the seats at Court Philippe Chatrier.

Not so for Wawrinka, the 3rd seed. He came into this final on a roll, but left saying that Nadal was just too good. He couldn’t contain Nadal’s groundstrokes, rapid forehand and serve. He was able to break only once.

Can’t leave out the women’s finals when unseeded Jelene Ostapenko, of Latvia, just two days after turning 20, took out 3rd seeded Simona Halep of Romania, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. In a match that went two hours, the youngster rallied after losing the first set and facing big deficits in the second and third.

She became the first Latvin to win a major, was playing in only her eighth Grand Slam, and had not made it past the third round before. She said that clay isn’t even her preferred surface, that she likes grass better, but you can’t convince the 25-year-old Halep of this. She had who the 2014 French Open and would have moved up to No. 1 in the WTA rankings if she had won this one.

Halep compared Ostapenko to a very, very good player who fought for every point and just played a very solid match. If Ostapenko was ranked only 47th before this, she should be soaring up the charts soon after becoming the first unseeded women’s champion to win this event since 1933.

In Nashville, Tenn., also known as Music City, the surprising 8th seeded Predators tried to get the Stanley Cup finals back to Pittsburgh for the seventh game, but it was the defending champion Penguins who ended a scoreless thriller, 2-0, in the final minutes before another capacity, raucous crowd at the Bridgestone Arena.

With 1:35 remaining and overtime expected, former Predator Patric Hornqvist sled the puck off the left elbow of goalkeeper Pekka Rinne to silence the crowd of 17,000-plus that had stood for long minutes and flung a few more catfish onto the ice.

After Nashville sent Rinne to the bench to add an extra attacker, Pitt’s Carl Hagelin set off a bench celebration by sending the puck into the empty net with 13.6 seconds left.

The Penguins’ star, Sidney Crosby, was named the MVP of the finals, and his team became the first back-to-back champion since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998.

The loss ended the upstart Predators’ deepest playoff run in their 19 years on the ice. They became the talk of the town and the league. They gained the finals after sweeping the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks, defeating the St. Louis Blues in six, and doing the same against the Anaheim Ducks.

But Pittsburgh had the experience, and now Nashville gained some as it regroups to perhaps having another run like this, maybe even next year.

At Mexico City’s 87,000-seat Azteca Stadium, the United Sates gained a 1-1 tie in this clash of the World Cup qualifying.

It was only the third point the Americans had ever registered here, and their goal for a 1-0 lead came on Michael Bradley’s boot from about 40 yards out six minutes into the usual physical match. It sailed over the head of the onrushing keeper and found the net.

Carlos Vela tied the score in the 23rd minute with a hard 23-yard kick that beat goalie Brad Guzan to the near post. Both teams received a point each, with Mexico leading the North and Central America and Caribbean region                 qualifying standings with 14 points, and the USA seven, one point behind Costa Rica.

And tonight belongs to the Warriors and Cavaliers. Golden State hopes to celebrate its second title in three years. The Cavs try to come back from the same 3-1 deficit they faced in winning last year in seven games.

And it won’t be long before the NFL hogs the spotlight on Sundays. But for those who prefer more of a choice, it was a Sunday treat.

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