Saturday, April 30, 2005


As a card carrying member of the journalism honorary Sigma Delta Chi, (Miami U chapter) I must be very careful about today’s Diamond Dust. Like the Dirtbag players I started getting my game face on in the morning between phone calls and emails about a golf coach. As it got closer to 5 p.m. I hit the 405 North and then turned east on the 110 and crawled my way through San Pedro. Drunk, GIS broke, nope--keeping a promise to skip the game and attend the wedding of super fan Jack Peter’s daughter Jackie who I have known since she was about two.

Jack was a pretty fine infielder in his day, went to Oregon State, but his late father Bill served LBSU for 28 years. Father, son and grand daughter went to all sorts of athletic contests. Jackie had a huge crush on Scott Rivette who apparently never could see the beauty behind a 14 year old’s braces. So as I wound my way up PV to Wayfarer’s Chapel I knew my job was to keep the father of the bride posted on the baseball game. The wedding started at 6 so no distractions though the flower girls and parent’s getting to the front of the church. About the time of Cesar Ramos’s first pitch at Blair the groom, Nathan Lowe, made his first pitch. I waited until the minister let the couple seal the deal with a kiss and then called the press box to find that I hadn’t missed a thing in the first. Or the second. Or the third. I kind of expected that Cesar would regain his touch and hold the Aggies out of the barn but Davis starter Dave McKae got into the act and pitched to the minimum through five, using just 58 pitches.

Leaving the chapel I sped down the hill to the fancy South End Racquet Club for the reception. In the entry way they had one of those big sign-in boards where people write wishes to the B & G. I wrote a note to Jack, “0-0, top of the fifth” so my fellow fan could sneak a peek before shaking hands, kissing strangers, and getting out his credit cards. I found my seat at Big Jose’s table with his lovely daughters, Dulce (that means sweet in Spanish) and Linda (that means Linda in Spanish.) In the sixth those stingy Dirtbag hitters gave Ramos all that they figured he would need, a measly one run. Jordan Struble led off the inning with a single to leftfield and then what staff reports describe as “two perfectly placed bunt base hits” but a Bag on every bag. Tom Sarti banged a heater to shortstop Brandon Oliver who muffed it and the run went up. I told the father of the bride the good news and we both exhaled. What we didn’t know was that Ramos (now 9-4 and a 1.56 ERA) would need just 98 pitches and rack up his fourth complete game. Just for fun the Beach boys bought a little insurance in the eighth thanks largely to the bat work of Sean Boatright and Troy Tulowitzki who both had two hit nights. Baseball done, it was time to get the green out and buy some dances from the bride, her lovely mom Thelma, and I think a couple of the caterers but the rum punch was kicking in by then.

DUST ON THE RICE—the second half of tonight of course is the MPSF championship agin Pepperdine at Pepperdine…correspondent Andy Read reports “We are getting over the net and either stuffing or controlling almost everything the Gauchos can throw at us. On offense, they don’t have an answer for both Tarr and Sliti on our two pins … today’s Bag mound man has a mom who loves him and told the Daily News "He's my baby, my only baby, and I would be proud of him even if his talent was just the ability to jump on one leg. But to see him up there on the mound, doing what he loves and doing it very, very well…It's like a dream."…go Sylvia, you tell the truth….the paper goes on to quote T Buck, who agreed that nobody saw any of this coming for Estrada…”We had no idea, to be perfectly honest," Buckley said… closing numbers from Friday’s BWC scoreboard…Cal Poly 10, Sacramento State 3; Fullerton 9, UC Santa Barbara 1, UC Irvine 15, Cal State Northridge 2, and Riverside 14, Pacific at 11—DR. DAN

Friday, April 29, 2005


Paris has The Louvre, New York has the Guggenheim and Long Beach has Blair Field. Connection--all world class pitcher’s galleries and in this the next to the last home weekend of 2005, Dirtbag curator Troy Buckley will put his Fab five on display for you, me and our agriculturally-expert guests from Davis, California.

The most recent reviews of the Beach mound artists show an overall record of 29-14, in the Big West: 10-2, and a high national rank of 11. The visitors will see the finest pitching staff in the USA if you use team ERA as a barometer. The feature works of art are National Pitcher of the Year candidate and crafty lefty Cesar Ramos (8-3, 1.71), undefeated righthander Marco Estrada (6-0, 1.90) suddenly sensational Jared Hughes (6-2, 2.43) and the other two masterpieces, closer supreme Neil Jamison (10 saves and a 0.0) and holder supreme Brian Anderson (0.57 in 22 appearances). This weekend’s games don’t count in the Big West standings but UCD carries an RPI of 90 into the weekend, a stat that the LBSU brass notes is higher than seven 49er opponents. Besides Fullerton swept them so we should too. Davis is 21-18, has some good wins, and could have whipped Cal on Tuesday except for a late inning melted-down 6-5 loss after an early 5-1 lead. They are coached by one of Mike Weather’s former Chapman assistants Rex Peters.

NOTHING BUT DUST—Bobby Crosby is back in town resting that rib but pretty flush…no longer a rookie, he just signed a 5 year, 12.75 million dollar contract…now the scouts tell me that taking a smaller bonus and getting your time in more quickly, is more lucrative than the Boras/Weaver approach of haggling over the bonus but delaying that first big contract…last weekend it took a while but LB did score in eight straight innings over Saturday and Sunday…Tulo looked tighter than a tick on Friday with a horde of family and friends in the stands but then put on a show…too late for Cesar Ramos who took his first loss in six decisions…Sean Boatright ran his hit streak to 20 games and Tulowitzki homered to left and right…oh yes, Brandon Godfrey replacement Scott Bradley had three more hits and leads the Bags in BWC games hitting at .533…expect Godfrey to get reinstated on Monday in time for the stretch drive contests with UCSB, SLO and Cal State who…this week’s nation’s best ERA is 2.19 ERA…as individuals Ramos is 23rd, Estrada 29th, Hughes 81st…Jamison boasts the fifth-most saves in the nation and nobody keeps my favorite stat of “holds…don’t overlook Evan Longoria who is batting .331 with 20 runs and 19 RBIs games…but of course the Beach offense is er, ah inconsistent so a fan asked Weather’s if any of his pitchers might be able to hit for him…Mike told us that after a good weekend the pitchers are allowed to “take batting practice, but from what I have seen other than Andrade I won’t want to send any of them up there…”…back to last week’s Black Friday…only one run off Luke Massetti who as a JUCO had a combined 18-3 record and gave CSUF a giving up a mere 3 earned runs…going inside great road win for the Niner volleyball machine at Pepperdine and now face the hosts Saturday night…so pray for a fast game from Marco and no traffic up to Malibu….insiders say the best setter in LB’s women’s v-ball practices is not eligible…that would be Debbie Green…hey get her a little Botox and a haircut…left over from ladies tennis, the harassing UCR men’s team got two warnings and when the UCR coach did nothing, the ref skipped the point penalty and just defaulted the match to Fullerton...with her third BWC crown in four years Head Coach Jenny Hilt-Costello was named the Big West Coach of the Year…Web Whiz Jeff chased some nice numbers from the NCAA…noted above LB remains #1 in team earned run average at 2.19. The next lowest team ERA is Nebraska, 2.52…and while the D has been not been flawless of the 283 teams ranked, the Beach is 33rd in team fielding percentage…Chuck Sindlinger is 32nd in sacrifice hits at 32 (Bill Rankin at UMass is tops at 43)…and Elvis Joe is second to P Diddy for between innings entertainment…and we close with a congrats to Prez Maxson for agreeing on a two year contract to coach new CSU presidents after he retires December 1st.--DR. DAN

Monday, April 25, 2005


Welcome back to our weekly session of 49er Sports Appreciation and to jazz up the class we add a sound track of favorite tunes. The first is that popular favorite On the Road Again sung in high harmony by men’s volleyball and women’s tennis.

Alan Knipe’s bunch had the longest road, well ocean,. They went to volleyball-mad Hawaii and beat the hosts setting up a great chance to make the NCAA Final Four by getting the number two seed Thursday at the MPSF championships at Pepperdine. A win over pesky UCSB would put the Beach in the final and nearly every year the NCAA takes the top two western teams to the final four, which, interestingly is being hosted by UCLA who lost at home last weekend and should not make their own party. Should not, unless LB loses to the Gauchos and the Bruins play politics.

For tennis their road was over to Indian Wells and a payback win over Pacific who the Niners claim was involved in some unsporting behavior at their place during the regular season. Revenge was served cold and for the third time in the last four years, LBSU claimed the Big West Conference championship.
Switching to hard round balls, some of the Long Beach State baseball fans, but not too many players, can remember Meat Loaf's rock hit Two Out of Three Ain't Bad. After Pacific solved Cesar Ramos Friday night in Stockton the Niners (29-14, 10-2 Big West) scored in eight-straight innings over two games and won its ninth-straight series. The Beach boys got more great pitching and scored 20 runs and added 26 hits over the final two games of the series. With half the crowd members of the Troy Tulowitzki family, their favorite shook off a nervous Friday to hit the cover off the ball the rest of the weekend, including a home run to left and a home run to right.

Tulo leads the club with a .369 average as they head into this weekend’s three game home set against incoming BWC member UC Davis. Meanwhile the judge (Coach Weathers) and Jury (ditto) hasn’t ruled yet on the return of suspended Brandon Godfrey, the new guy in the lineup, Scott “Scooter” Bradley, is hitting a ton, for conference games only he leads the Dirtbags with a .533 average.

Back to pitching Mark Whicker in the OCR got this quote from assistant coach Troy Buckley, "We try to attack the bat," Buckley explained. "We pitch for contact and take the attitude that we're going to blow up the bat instead of having the bat blow up the ball. We strive for two strikes in the first three pitches, and we want to make something happen in those first two pitches.” Buck added, "We tell the guys that if you miss your pitch away, make sure you miss down. And if you miss throwing inside, make sure it's way inside. Maybe that's why we hit so many batters."

Of course some times you take the blow sometimes you deliver it and there was more ice on the Dirtbags last weekend then around the slurpy machine at the 7-11. Tulo had three bags on his left side but declined to put one on his er, ah, backside. Danny Mocny missed half of Saturday and all of Sunday after another outfield wall crash. Coaches expect him back this weekend.

Our closing notes is a reminder that those amazing volley lads deserve some road support in Malibu for Thursday nights MPSF semi-final, and, if successful, for the final. The schedule has Pepperdine vs. Northridge at 5pm, and Long Beach vs. UCSB at 7:30 pm. After winning in front of 3,856 in Hawaii I think they can handle whoever shows up this weekend. Hope you are a part of it.—DR. DAN

Monday, April 18, 2005


Long Beach State baseball coach Mike Weathers grew up in his sport hitting and catching and throwing. He was an infielder, first as an All American at Chapman College, then in the Oakland A’s organization as high as triple A, picked off the A’s farm by Toronto then traded back to Oakland in a deal that included Ron Fairly. Been there, done that.

Fast forward to 2005 and perhaps you can understand some of the frustration that Weather’s has about what is, on paper, a pretty good team. “Our pitching has been fine, really excellent, but the other things we don’t do are going to catch up with us.” Oh yes the pitching is fine, statistically the best team in the land, a sub 2.0 team ERA (1.95) over all and 1.09 (just five walks and 83 strikeouts) in conference games. Fine as in fantastic.

Nice mound work but it is running and throwing and executing those little things that despite a 27-12 overall record (#14 or so in the national polls) that clouds the skies for this Weatherman. Errors are up, 48 so far, execution is down, 315 men left on base, many in scoring position. I asked him about all those things and our interview ended with the winning coach, winning all but two series all year, heading back to his office to try and fix his offense. “We just can’t put everything on our pitching.”

This weekend the next LBSU test comes on the road from the Pacific Tigers, 17-21 and 3-6 after being swept by the other Big West bully, Fullerton. Pacific had changes all weekend but didn’t execute. The difference is that the Dirtbags can Weather those rain drops when you have the best pitching staff in the USA.

SPRING DUSTING—Volleyball skipper Brian Gimmillaro was out on the recruiting trail last weekend but his 2005 team won 4 of their 5 scrimmage matches in a practice tourney in the Pyramid, including whipping rival UCSB. The downer was a mild ankle injury to sky-walking middle blocker Alexis Crimes.

Brian Stevens, Houston Bob and their posse put the shiny cars on display outside Blair Field last weekend for the Dirtbag Car Show. The fund raiser included a wining entry from second baseman Chuck Sindlinger whose family brought his classy 1967 Chevy Camaro down from Reno

As to the question of who’s on first, fans were caught off guard on Friday when redshirt freshman Brandon Godfrey was suspended indefinitely for breaking a team rule. One of the best first baseman in the conference, Godfrey was hitting .333 with a .994 fielding percentage. Insiders say the suspension, the first in a number of years, could last two weeks or so. Coaches tried Scott Bradley and Tito Cruz but the dominoes are still being shuffled.

Back to the amazing mound men of the Beach, Friday ace Cesar Ramos, now 8-3 with a 1.53 ERA, thinks that despite the loss of last year’s aces Jered Weaver and Justin Vargas this staff is better because LB pitching Coach Troy Buckley, “just keeps bringing in big arms”. Speaking of the Dream Weaver, insiders say a couple of big league teams will watch him work out soon, including the Dodgers of LA as opposed to you know who of LA. The Arizona Diamondbacks had three key scouts in the house (including a cross checker) head swiveling between Ramos and slick shortstop Troy Tulowitzki now hitting .386.

Wrapping up the rest of the Beach spring flingers, women’s water polo won every match in their tournament and now await the MPSF Championships April 26 in Berkeley, the sprinting women of track, especially Charlene Deardorff who ran a 11.85 100 to be the best in the Big West, set two school records in the sprint relays. In tennis third seeded LB will start the BWC tourney playing Northridge Friday at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens. Finally, softball coach Pete Manarino has his troops hitting on all cylinders, passed the 800 career win mark and gets the weekend off.—DR. DAN

Sunday, April 17, 2005


Brian Stevens, Houston Bob and their posse put the shiny cars on display outside Blair Field Saturday morning for the Dirtbag Car Show then Mike Weathers, Troy Buckley and their posse put their 14th ranked Dirtbag Baseball Show on display inside Blair Field Saturday afternoon. The cars and the players all looked good at the outset but like the shiny rides who took a bit of cranking to get back to their garages the Beach baseball team needed a jump start to get back in the clubhouse with a nail biting 5-3 win.

After the Niners jumped out to a 3-0 lead somebody left the lights on and the battery ran down. The Beach boys had scored three in the third with the first four batters of the inning all getting hits. Chuck Sindlinger (he of the classy prize-winning 1967 Chevy SS) drove in the first run with a single and Danny Mocny added another RBI with a double. Sean Boatright brought in the third run with a sac fly to deep center field. Northridge, struggling but not quitting, and then scored three runs in the top of the seventh, solving the fastball riddle of Marco Estrada. Quintana and Paulk rapped base hits to center, showing that CSUN had caught up to the gas that had baffled hitters earlier. Luke Riordan then drilled an inside pitch to the wall down the line in right to drive in two. With the Matadors trailing by just a run, Jeff Tezak singled to put runners on first and third with nobody out. After Drew Aguailar struck out, Erik Hagstrom sent a one-hopper to Scott Bradley at first. What could/should have been an inning-ending double play was instead thrown out into left field by Bradley and Riordan scored on the RBI fielder's choice to even the game.

Stuck at 3-3 the Beach got out a reliable pair of jumper cables to crank out the win and go to 26-12 and 7-1 in the Big West. The red cable was Boatright who extended his hit streak to 15 games, fighting through a nine-pitch at-bat to leadoff the eighth with a single. Jamie Huizar was the black cable when he forced a tiring Peter Eberhardt from the game after 100 pitches. After a wild pitch by reliever Craig Baker put runners on second and third, Evan Longoria hit the ball to shortstop Alberto Quintana, who opted to try and get one out at the plate, threw over the head of catcher Adam Fleener, both Boats and Huizar scored and the 1261 exhaled and hustled back to campus to see Pete Manarino’s Sweethearts of Swat get him wins 799 and 800.

CSUN-DAY MY DUST WILL COME—it was the Matadors ninth consecutive loss…some of the visitors credited Boats with a hard slide to the plate which took out Matador catcher Adam Fleener, allowing the ball to squirt to the backstop…Steve Hammond picked up his first win of the year, tossing just nine pitches as he was the pitcher of record when LBSU reclaimed the lead….Neil Jamison entered with one on and one out in the ninth, got the next two outs to collect his 10th save of the year…Mocny and Chris Jones had two hits for LB and Tezak was 2-for-4 for CSUN…the three game string of double figure hits for the Beach ended when they settled for nine Saturday…for the Sunday matchup we start with this note from the CSUN info site, “A good pitcher can’t be kept down for too long, so it seems that at some point Jimmy Brettl will find a bit of good luck. As one of the most reliable pitchers for the Matadors the last three seasons, Brettl just can’t buy a win, now losing his last 10 decisions and is 1-11 in three years…he last won on March 25, 2003…Brettl was 0-5 last season…switching dugouts these Jared jottings last weekend from our pal Michael Felten of the OC Register…”Hughes, a 6-foot-7 right- hander, kept the ball low in the strike zone, allowing three balls to leave the infield and struck out a career-high 10. …"that was Friday night material right there," Long Beach State coach Mike Weathers said. …Jared has allowed just two runs in his past 25 innings of work…scoreboarding Cal Poly 2, UC Davis 0; Fullerton 11, Pacific 1; Irvine 5, Riverside 2; UCLA 9, Santa Barbara 8 and for fans of team ERAs, Miami 18, North Carolina 9 keeping the LB ERA at 1.99, best in the land—DR. DAN

Saturday, April 16, 2005


Back in the day (the 1950’s) there was a Saturday morning show called “Ask Mr. Wizard”. Don Herbert was unflappable answering all sorts of questions and with all the buzz at Blair this weekend we decided to turn the Dust over to Don and here he goes.

What happened in the game? Well as usual the D-bags kept it low scoring but Cesar Ramos (8-3) won his fifth in a row as the #14-Niners (25-12, 6-1 Big West) beat Northridge 7-2. He went 7.1 innings, both runs were unearned, he fanned seven with zero walks. Was there a turning point? Well it was 4-2 until the Beach scored three times in the eighth. LB took the lead in the first and then went ahead for good with another run in the third. Danny Mocny led off the game with a triple to dead center, just over the head of Johnny Coit. Tulo would drive in Mocny with a double. After CSUN tied up the score, the Niners answered when Chuck Sindlinger and Mocny led off the frame with consecutive infield base hits, toss in a sac bunt and a Matador bungle upped the lead to 2-1. Both CSUN runs had something to do with Steve Velazco, Drew Aguailar slashed a sinking liner to right that the Mouse gambled on and missed and then a Tito Cruz bad throw to home let the run score. Okay but what happened in the 8th? Well the homeboys got RBIs from Scott Bradley and Jamie Huizar sandwiched around a sac fly off the bat of Sindlinger. Evan Longoria had a one-out solo home run in the fourth and Boatright brought in a run with an RBI double in the fifth. Did you say Bradley, didn’t you mean Brandon Godfrey? No it was Bradley at first while Godfrey is under indefinite suspension for breaking a team rule. What does indefinite mean of Wizard one? Humm, the skipper just said it was a team rule, not an academic violation, and could be two weeks or more. Thanks Mr. Wizard stop by again soon.

25TH WIN DUST—another surprising night time blast this time when Evan Longoria homered in the fourth…Scooter Bradley gave the Dirtbags some breathing room with a single to make it 5-2…one of the fancy old rides on display this morning was trailered down by the family of second baseman Chuck Sindlinger…did the third game of ten hits mean the offense is fixed?...”that hasn’t happened yet, we have work to do”…he added that with Godfrey out he has to play Cruz in the field and not DH since “he has to be able to catch if Jones gets nicked and DHers can’t do that”…Ramos (104 pitches) thinks that despite the loss of Weaver and Vargas this staff is better because, “Buck just keeps bringing in big arms”…speaking of the Dream Weaver, insiders say a couple of big league teams will watch him work out soon, including the Dodgers of LA as opposed to you know who of LA…Arizona had three key scouts in the house (including a cross checker) watching Ramos (now 1.53) and then flipping their notebooks to their Tulo page (now .355)…the team era is now the NCAA’s best (1.93) after Miami lit up North Carolina 17-7 with 15 earned…not such a good night for the F word’s Rickey Romero who gave up four earned but he went CG for Fullerton in their 8-5 win over Pacific who helped the Titans with four errors…BWC scoreboard from last night, Cal Poly 7, UC Davis 4; CSUF 8, Pacific 5; Riverside 3, UC Irvine 2 (10 innings) and UC Santa Barbara 9, UCLA 4…built more for comfort than speed and a man who once was a top redeemer of those “In and Out” coupons, Paul McAnulty used to look like an actual chauffeur, a figure not always appreciated by his employers, the Padre organization…Paul went on a fitness thing and cut the weight and now in his first four games for Mobile, McAnulty is hitting .407 (11-for-27) with a homer and five RBIs playing for AA Mobile in Hank Aaron Marco Estrada (5-0, 1.77) will look to remain perfect against CSUN closer Peter Eberhardt (3-1, 2.08) who has six saves and no starts….post game strategy today, don’t block the exits as the Beach brain-trust will head down to Fullerton to scout next weekend’s foe Pacific…and update their Titan notes—DR. DAN

Friday, April 15, 2005


Go ahead and get comfortable because we have some catching up to do. We last dusted together last weekend at Irvine when, despite the head Anteater proclaiming that Irvine had “recaptured the momentum”, the Niner mound and pound men showed up at the same time and stilled the “state school” chants for another season. This weekend we welcome good guy Steve Rousey, perhaps the founding father of the great LB pitching tradition. He was the pitching coach from ’93 to -’95 when the 49ers claimed two BWC titles, made three regionals, (CWS semifinals in 1993), with three pitchers earning All-American honors including National Pitcher of the Year Daniel Choi.

That’s the past. Steve has a bit less to work these days. Tonight features the Big West’s winningest pitcher, lefthander Cesar Ramos (7-3, 1.67) against CSUN lefty closer Kyle Jean. On Saturday, righthander Marco Estrada (5-0, 1.77) will look to remain perfect against fellow rightie Peter Eberhardt and on Sunday BWC pitcher of the Week, Jared Hughes (4-2, 2.67), will face hard luck Jimmy Brettl, loser of his last 10 decisions. Back to the recap, the 49ers took two of three at UCI, 5-1 in conference and around #14 in the polls. On Tuesday the homeboys went road bound again to the U with a View, Pepperdine. “We made five mental errors in the game”, Weathers would note during his Wednesday night Pizza-side chat after the 4-3 loss yet his team almost made a come back. On Thursday the Beach sent out two more teams, first the ladies of tennis who clocked Fullerton 7-0 and now get ready and set for the BWC tourney next weekend when they open versus # 6 seed CS Northridge at 2pm with hopes of working their way to the final for the fifth consecutive year and hopefully a third title in four years. Thursday night the most recent volleyball number one UCLA game into Walt’s Vault, (aka the Pyramid) and we quote from the insightful Andy Read,”It was like a heavyweight title match. There was a buzz in the air; everyone in the arena had a sense that this was not just another conference match. And for more than 2 hours both teams went at each other with an energy and a passion that is uncommon in a regular season match… this was playoff atmosphere. Both the 49ers and the Bruins gave as well as the took… first one team getting their opponent onto the ropes, and then seeing them fight off the ropes and stagger their opponent into a timeout.” Last of the week’s happenings occurred earlier today with the mass submissions of creative writing and accounting entries by the Niner nation, aka, income tax returns.

MIXED DUST—Oddly the all-time series record for CSUN and LBSU is tied 51-51-1, dating all the way back to the first season of Matador baseball in 1959…LB has won the last three games…no shame in the Wave lost, the Peppers have moved back into the national spotlight at No. 29 in Collegiate Baseball for Steve Rodriguez’ club, at 23-10 and 10-1 in the West Coast Conference... they won 12 of their last 14, and split with the Beach this year each winning at home 4-3…Neil Jamison continues to be a national name and recorded his 9th save in relief of Cesar Friday behind the Orange curtain, pitching a perfect 9th inning…despite the Tuesday loss the team ERA dropped again to 2.04 behind North Carolina, 2.01...the Heels play Miami this weekend...weekend BWC action, with record and next opponent--Fullerton 5-1 (Pacific); Long Beach 5-1 (Northridge); Cal Poly 5-1 ("Non-conf" vs. Davis); Pacific 3-3 (at Fullerton); Irvine 2-4 (at Riverside); UCSB 1-2 (Non-conf vs. UCLA A/H/H); Riverside 0-3 (Irvine); Northridge 0-6 (at Long Beach)…now these scores from that Spring volleyball practice party at UCSB with the Beach beating Fullerton; 30-17, 30-28; UC Irvine; 30-18, 30-17; Cal Poly SLO; 30-24, 30-15; and splitting with UC Santa Barbara; 30-26, 26-30…max of two games for every team and our roving reporter Glenn Murlin said, “I thought the team looked pretty good considering they'd only practiced five days. Most of the other teams there had been at it a week or longer…last add Mats, they have lost seven straight, are 12-17-1, have a better than us .283 batting average but woeful .940 fielding percentage and 6.11 team ERA...Erik Hagstrom, .356 with a team-best 17 RBIs, and Paul Wilson,.328 are the best of the visiting sticks…Tulo, Sean and Jones are lead the LB offense, Boats has a 12-game hit streak and hits 320, Tulo has hit safely in 7 of the last 8 games to put his average at .344, Jones has been clutch at times and hits .337…and the star on the rise, Brandon Godfrey, 7 hit in last nine ABs .333 and a team leading 20 RBIs—DR. DAN

Sunday, April 10, 2005


With his students just past the mid term, Professor Mike Weathers of the California State University, Long Beach continues to press his charges in the classroom and the laboratory. Grade the Weatherman warm and sunny this week with the long term Long Beach baseball Weather report equally optimistic.

The most recent exam came last weekend in the diamond lab at UC Irvine and Sunday’s class evaluation was perhaps the most perfect performance of the year. The reason behind that claim was that the top to bottom balance of the team was tested and passed with flying colors. The work that generally jumps out at you when evaluating the Dirtbags comes from the mound, but on Sunday the Beach offense backed up Jared Hughes’s complete game with seven doubles, every offensive player had a stat, and five of them got their first start of the weekend. Pretty impressive, but the best of 2005, well debates like that are what makes the game fun.

I am aware that back on March 18th when leadoff man Evan Longoria reached on an error and scored the only run of the game it was quite a moment. That fantastic Friday saw two potential first-round draft picks battle curveball and slider (Cesar Ramos and Wichita State’s Mike Pelfrey) but for me you gotta have more than swings and misses to make the game fun.

That’s why we humbly nominate Sunday’s case study as the mid term’s best. Jared Hughes, now 4-2, allowed a mere two balls get out of the infield while those Sunday soldiers took no prisoner’s in their half of each inning. Jared, towering at 6-5, 10 strikeouts including the side looking in the seventh, made the host team think that the other Jered, Weaver, had snuck back into a Niner uniform. Hughes faced just four over the minimum and even got tougher as the day went on, with eight Ks in his final five innings.

The hitters were a mixture of old and new. The hottest hitter on the team, Sean Boatright, went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, including his first homerun of the season but freshman first baseman Brandon Godfrey had a four-hit afternoon. The super subs were led by catcher Tito Cruz, 3-for-5 with two RBIs as well, a two-out RBI double from Jaime Huizar, two runs scored by Cole Jacobsen, a 2-5 afternoon from Tom Wolf, 2 RBIs from Steve Velazco, and a ringing double from Danny Mocny. Ten nothing, ten strikeouts, and a bunch of unknown soldiers stepping up, I rest my case.

DUSTING UP—Another weekend and another series win for the Beach. They did it on the road again. Winners of series AT ranked Arizona State, AT ranked Baylor and AT ranked Wichita State and now AT UC Irvine, this weekend’s homecoming at Blair field with Northridge should be a celebration featuring a full cast of contributors.
Niner fans of course hope that the days of the coolish aluminum are behind them and that the depth the Niner brain trust is developing will pay off. For the visiting Matadors they probably like the idea of getting out of town and away from their Mat-A-Patch launching pad with its’ bumpy infield. Besides everyone can take in the free Dirtbag Car Show on Saturday and get a free key chain, free vintage rides not included.

Last add breaking news, pencil in Gregg Dobbs as another Niner in the show, joining Jeremy Reed in Seattle and say goodbye to women’s athletic trainer Deborah Williams who bolts the Beach for a drug rep job with the big money folks at Merck.
Finally, our closing number is 798, as in the softball wins by LB’s softball coach Pete Manarino. His team will try to get him to 800 this weekend when Northridge is on campus for a three-game series.—DR. DAN

Friday, April 08, 2005


On the road again, and for the Dirtbag traveling baseball band that ain’t all bad. Winners of series AT ranked Arizona State, AT ranked Baylor and AT ranked Wichita State the freeway hop behind the Orange Curtain to play AT UC Irvine will seem like an ordinary road weekend without metal detectors.
Of course considering the coolish aluminum that the Dirtbags have been featuring the past month opponents crack that Louisville Sluggers in the hands the 49ers are hardly a weapon to be watched. The quips range from friendly “pitching was huge again” and “the staff allowed just two runs all weekend” to sarcastic “for LBSU it's all pitching…the Beach boys couldn’t hit the ocean from a boat…”

So how does that master motivator and veteran Dirtbag tormentor Dave Serrano stir the passions of his Anteaters who enter the week 14-13 and 1-2 in the Big West? Last Friday he game planned a way to beat All-American Ricky Romero and CS Fullerton then dropped the next two. Of course earlier this season UCI swept then-No. 8 Washington and have single game wins over both Wichita State and USC. As a team the Eaters play in a yard that is also pitcher friendly and UCI’s ERA is 3.77 and they hit just a bit better than the Beach at .280 and field only exactly the same as LB .966. Like the Niners UCI has a fine closer in Blair Erickson (Big West Freshman of the Year) with a 1.06 ERA and five saves. The announced aces are right-handers Chris Nicoll and Justin Cassel. Nicoll improved to 4-1 on the season after leading the Irvine to that 5-1 win over the F word. Cassel went the whole distance in the Saturday loss allowing six runs on 10 hits. The power source for UCI’s are the No. 3 and 4 hitters, Mark Wagner out of Mayfair HS and Matt Anderson from Millikan, good ones that got away. They hit .467 and .438, respectively. The team also likes to run and they have already swiped 34 bases, one more than the team’s season total in 2004. Senior Danny Miramontes (Fallbrook/HS) leads the team, stealing 8 of 9 while second baseman Brett Dalton (Citrus Heights/Jesuit HS) is second, succeeding on 5 of 6 attempts.

NUMBERS DUST--Long Beach leads the series 49-37-1. The Anteaters took two non-conference wins off the Beach last season but was swept in Big West action. UCI’s last conference series win was in 2002 when the Anteaters swept the Dirtbags…on Tuesday UCLA became the latest victim of the Dirtbags pitching juggernaut…and that rabbit’s foot…the Beach won for the 6th time in their last at bat, 2-1…my web pal Jeff noted, “other than the 9th inning pitched by Neil Jamison (3-0, 0.00, 8 saves), the pitcher's mowing them down weren't "the usual suspects."…translated Hume, Evans, Andrade, Liebel, Hammond and Fitts with our closing ace Jamison slamming the door and picking up the W…to fill the space they are picking the regionals a tad early, but the first guessers have a Long Beach State hosting the likes of Rutgers, Clemson and Washington but don’t hold your breath…back to reality this weekend’s matchup will mark the sixth ranked opponent to take on the Anteaters this season…the last ranked team to pay a visit to the Eaters was then-No. 8 Washington against UC Irvine with another sweep…meanwhile, Fullerton visits Northridge….and co-BWC number one Cal Poly faces Pacific, which also has enjoyed some recent success. The Tigers have won three of their past four games, including last week’s win over then-No. 12 Stanford. The Mustangs and the Niners share the longest current winning streak in the conference with five straight….the rest of the mess has UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara will lock into their own non-conference series. The Highlanders beat UNLV Tuesday and now host Washington. Similarly, UC Santa Barbara Tuesdayed tiny Westmont and goes to UC Davis for three…AD speak about changing basketball coaches…”Steve Aggers did a great job for us, taking over a program that was arguably the worst in the country," LMU’s Bill Husak said. "He built the ship and got passengers on that ship and set it out toward the harbor. [But] I saw that ship going toward the rocks instead of into open water."…humm…breaking news, add Gregg Dobbs as another Niner in the show, joining Reed in Seattle…and say goodbye to women’s athletic trainer Deborah Williams who bolts the Beach for a drug rep job with the big money folks at Merck—DR. DAN

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


If it’s Tuesday it must be Belgium. Wait, I picked up the TV Guide and not the Dirtbag baseball schedule. But Tuesday it is so that means meeting a mid-week nightcap with a neighbor who usually steps across the chalk in a foul mood and UCLA certainly fills the bill on all accounts.

As we noted last weekend, the Bruins have a chip on their shoulder even though they have only a precious seven wins on the season, a somewhat shocking result considering a usually talent-laden roster and the considerable coaching skills of the stolen-from-Irvine skipper John Savage. Their will be a Savage Nation in Westwood in the future but UCLA’s reconstruction project doesn’t really get going until next year when the web site baseballresource,com indicates that John has ten new Bruins already inked. Tonight however UCLA runs into a warm if not hot Beach bunch that has won five of their last six, enjoys a first place tie with Cal Poly in the Big West and has risen in the polls to as high as No. 13. That would make the Dirtbags 21-10 and 3-0 in the Big West and winding up a seven game homestand before heading back into conference wars to face UC Irvine at Anteater Ballpark. For both sides tonight the pitching will be by committee, the typical Tuesday scenario designed to get kids experience and often a case of nerves. The short list of the Beach possible starters include lefthander Donnie Hume (1-0, 2.89) or righthander Cody Evans (0-2, 2.74) but Steve Hammond should be feeling better and, other than the weekend starters, almost anybody else may appear on the hill of thrills. Depending on who you read UCLA will start Bruin Brant Rustich a righthander with a mark of 1-2, 5.53 (LBSU notes) or righthander Adam Simon, 1-3 and 8.05 (UCLA notes. The Bruins were picked sixth in the Pacific 10 this year, won 35 games last year, played in the Oklahoma City regional, and then did not continue the services of venerable Gary Adams. This weekend the sons of Westwood head down the road to arch rival USC for a three-game blood match.

WHITEOUT DUST-Just like the big city papers us at the Dust must make corrections from time to time. Over the weekend we wrote that catcher extraordinaire Chris Jones, second leading hitter on the 2005 club, did not swing at all last year…not true, he had eight at bats and 2 hits backing of Cruz and of course the starter Brad Davis…more of last year, Kenny Maiques, now of Rio Hondo College, had 12 appearances and the worst ERA on the Dirtbag team last year. He got better over the summer and last week threw a seven inning perfect game in a 6-0 win over Mt. San Jacinto...struck out 17 and the other four outs were collected by the infielders…so is he coming back to the Beach?…recruiting links say no…he signed a National Letter of Intent with South Carolina…another errata, Chris Jones is now credited with a hit not a FC for the GWRBI Saturday night…peeking ahead to this weekend Fullerton went 2-1 with Irvine and went up in the poll so that ought to be a map for the Niners this weekend…if you dare to dream about the Bags being one of the 16 regional hosts then you can probably think about a PAC Ten team in the field of four and likely either of yesterday’s combatants in Buska’s birthplace….The Washington baseball team salvaged a split in its Pac-10 series with USC, beating the Trojans, 7-3, Monday at Husky Ballpark in a makeup of Sunday's rained out game. ..the Huskies improved to 18-12 on the season and 2-4 in the Pac-10 while USC fell to 17-9 and 3-3 in the conference…Any notes column is a better read with a mention of Misty May so from now on get used to it…They should call it the Misty May and Kerri Walsh Tour -- especially now that the women of AVP pro beach volleyball are outdrawing the men….The Miami Herald reported that May and Walsh didn't lose a game during the two-day event, and “May wore a Florida Marlins headband during the final in honor of husband and Marlins catcher Matt Treanor…The South Florida crowd of 6,250 appreciated the dominating play and May's love for the Marlins -- she addressed the crowd and ended her thank-you-for-coming speech with a loud ''Go Marlins!'' The crowd offered up a standing ovation while the AVP offered up May and Walsh a $20,000 first-place check”… Since 1975, UCLA is 35-24 against the Dirtbags but Long Beach State has taken four of the last six contests since 2002. In 2004, the teams split a pair of games with UCLA claiming victory by a score of 11-1 at home on April 13 and Long Beach State returning the favor 2-1 at Blair Field on April 27…even then we didn’t score much…former Niner track star Stephanie Sampson now works in the Bruin sports info office...last Bruin numbers, while their opponents pen posted a measly 2.90 ERA against UCLA this season, the Bruins' relief core checks in at 6.90 ERA…back to Jared H, asked if he is worried about facing the chippy Irvine fans this weekend JH says, “if I can stay in the zone and keep the ball down I feel really good about going down there,”…me too, because the stuff that isn’t down comes in real hard and that splendid pen is behind him—DR. DAN

Sunday, April 03, 2005


Under Mike Weather’s Christmas tree was this package labeled “2005 Dirtbag baseball, battery required” and, if you use “battery” as the baseball parlance for pitcher and catcher, how very important is that battery.

Last weekend the Beach secret became very public as Mike Weathers and Troy Buckley played their three mound aces, Cesar Ramos, Marco Estrada and Jared Hughes for 23 of the 27 innings, plugged in king closers Brian Anderson and Neil Jamison to slam the door and swept the upstart Highlanders of UC Riverside.

Oh yes, the catcher part of the battery, out-of-nowhere Chris Jones, was pretty darn good himself. Before this season Jones wasn’t exactly a hot prospect to be quarterbacking the first place Dirtbags who are rising again in the polls thanks in large part to Jones. In 2001 he was best known as a football kicker and played in some all star games. 2002 was a red shirt year at Fresno City College. In 2003 a modest .288 batting average and more quality time in football cleats. In 2004 he made the LBSU media guide but only got off the bench 10 times, none of them carrying a bat. Even at the start of this season a man he calls a good friend, Tito Cruz, seemed to own the job, with eight starts in the first month of play. Finally Jones got the call to catch when Cruz was needed at third and the rest is very pleasant history. While Troy Tulowitzki is the team leader in spirit and average (375) Jones is a tie for MVP running the show behind the dish with his .372 average, great defense, and handling a pitching staff that is close to the national leader in ERA allowing a miserly .2.15 runs per game.

This weekend, while the city streets are full of folks making mostly left turns, Jones and company will travel to Irvine for their next Big West appointment, Friday and Saturday at 6 and Sunday at 1 p.m. Relax, at least one 49er will stay in town to fly the flag, volleyball gold medalist Misty May is driving in that pro-celebrity race.

VAROOM DUST--The other diamond entry for the Beach also sparkled over the weekend as Pete Manarino and his Sweethearts of Swat clobbered Utah State 19-0, 4-0 and 6-0 where LB crowned a new LB homer queen Lauren Johnson and welcomed the long anticipated BYU transfer Oli Keohohou. Oli hit two home runs on Saturday, a grand slam in the first game and a two-run shot in the second and then settled down for a homer-less 3-for-4 with two runs scored Sunday. That computes to a battering average of .636, 7-11 hitting, and a slugging percentage of 1.182.
More keeping up with the Jones’. The Niner catcher is one of the older lads on the Beach team, a junior in eligibility he turned 22 in February and after the successful pro starts of catching predecessors Brad Davis, Todd Jennings and Bryan Kennedy is getting a long look from Major League Baseball. Ironically Jones’s “internship” last summer was as the San Francisco Giants’ Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies’ bullpen catcher.

From Will Kimmey at Baseball America, when college baseball expert and passionate Oregon State booster Harold Reynolds found out the NCAA's minimum bid was $35,000 to host a regional, and that a fairly competitive bid could come in between $50,000 and $75,000, he said he would lay out all or part of the money for the Beavers if they still are in contention come this May. Local angels apply within.

Last add inside stuff. Perhaps the strongest man in Ninerville is a 6-9 pup of a sophomore out of Tucson, volleyball middle blocker Teddy Liles. Behind the hitting talents of Yassir Sliti, Duncan Budinger and Robert Tarr the Beach last weekend beat the number one team Pepperdine, old foe USC, and welcomes Hawaii to the Pyramid Thursday and Friday. Thursday is a nationally televised contest on CSTV. Now that’s a good way to avoid exhaust fumes and wave to the family.--DR. DAN


Under Mike Weather’s Christmas tree was this package labeled “2005 Dirtbag baseball, battery required” and, if you use “battery” as the baseball parlance for pitcher and catcher, how very important is that battery. Saturday afternoon it was catcher’s Chris Jones' up the middle bang that went of the tip of hard-luck Haley Winters' glove that allowed Brandon Godfrey to come home from third for a 1-0 TKO of UCR. Granted one late arriving run was all that the Dirtbags would get but this is a season of last-at-bat survivals for a sputtering offense that relies on pitching and catching.

For most of the day the nation’s best 4-4 pitcher Haley Winter baffled the Beach with patience and off speed stuff. The 5-9 Winter sailed through the first six, facing just one over the minimum, in the ninth he wobbled just enough for the Niners to get their fifth last-at-bat victory of the season. Winter had 108 pitches going into the ninth when Brandon Godfrey singled and Troy Tulowitzki doubled. The Highlanders relay was too good for Donnie Barbara to wave his runner home. With an open bag and Popeye-like Sean Boatright at the dish he loaded the bases walking Boats who had hits all afternoon. The other half of the battery, Mr. Jones, completed a night already featuring a sac, a walk, handling nine strikeouts from Marco Estrada (7) and Brian Anderson (2), picking off a Highlander at third, with a GWRBI. As good as Winter was (and he dropped his league leading ERA to 1.50) Marco Estrada impressed with a gritty seven innings in which he dropped his ERA to 1.82 despite a load of leadoff guys on base. Big bottom line, the offense is still largely AWOL but the battery has enough juice to deliver the Ws.

SUNDAY MY DUST WILL COME--Around the wild west it was Cal Poly 10, CSUN 1; Fullerton 6, UC Irvine 1; and UC Santa Barbara 7, Pacific 6…so that means that the Beach and SLO are unbeaten on top of the mountain at the moment with everybody else very much in the hunt but looking up…the other diamond entry for the Beach sparkled on Saturday as the clobbered Utah State 19-0 and 4-0 using the long ball of the new LB homer queen Lauren Johnson, who homered in the first at bat of the game and Oli Keohohou, a transfer from BYU, who hit two home runs on the day, a grand slam in the first game and a two-run shot in the second…they play again this afternoon…From Will Kimmey at BA…when college baseball expert and passionate Oregon State booster Harold Reynolds found out the NCAA's minimum bid was $35,000 to host a regional, and that a fairly competitive bid could come in between $50,000 and $75,000, he said he would lay out all or part of the money for the Beavers if they were in contention come this May…not such nice news is that Wichita State coaches left their all American arm Mike Pelfrey out there for 134 pitches in a loss to Evansville…that number should earn a spot in Boyd Nation's "Pitch Count Watch" this week…quote book from the UCI-CSUF series…"I have a lot of respect for this [Fullerton] program, but [the Titans] put their uniforms and shoes on the same way we do," Irvine’s Dave Serrano told the media...for the Beach mound duty today Buck will look forward to seeing if last weekend’s suddenly settled Jared Hughes can deliver again…Hughes was drafted in the 16th round by the Devils Rays in 2003, was 14-9 as a prep, 5-0 in the CIF playoffs, and last weekend said, “I realized that it was the mental things. I didn’t have to strike out everybody; the guys behind me play great.”…bouncing around rumor control was the word that Oregon State asked to speak with Niner women’s basketball coach Mary Hegarty…not going anywhere perhaps the strongest man on campus, a 6-9 pup of a sophomore out of Tucson’s Salpointe Catholic HS middle blocker Teddy Liles…behind the hitting talents of Yassir Sliti, Duncan Budinger and Robert Tarr the Beach this weekend beat the number one team Pepperdine, a name but not very good team USC and goes after Hawaii this Thursday in a nationally televised contest on CSTV…back to Teddy last night he registered nine kills and a match-best seven blocks against SC while All-American setter Tyler Hildebrand handed out 45 assists…opposing Hughes (2-2, 3.55), is UCR righthander Taylor Bills (2-4, 5.32)...Tuesday becomes a quick turnaround before the Beach closes this seven-game homestand with a visit from John Savage and struggling UCLA at 6:30 p.m…going into game three with Arizona UCLA has now lost a school record 12 straight games falling to 7-16 which of course means that they will find some guy to damn near shut us out…until the ninth—DR. DAN

Saturday, April 02, 2005


It is not true that the United Bullpen Workers of America are picketing Cesar Ramos’ locker but the record does show that last night’s 6-1 win over visiting UC Riverside (12-13, 0-1) was his third consecutive complete game. The result was that the top twenty Dirtbags (19-10, 1-0} are tied for first in the Big West with a mere 20 more league contests to go. Ramos upped his record to 6-2 and lowered his ERA to 1.61 (with a sensational strikeout to walk ratio of 58 to 10) and as a note to closing specialists Anderson and Jamison, this time used a mere 103 pitches.

Nobody of course could have pulled the ball out of Cesar’s glove, but he was the first Dirtbag on the diamond in the top of the ninth in case any coaches had second thoughts. This time he gave up one run on seven hits, striking out nine and walking just one. He had retired the first eight and last seven Highlanders and scattered the UCR offense in between. Highlander skipper Doug Smith was impressed. “We got about the number of hits I thought that we could, but we just couldn’t get them when we needed them.” The other scoreboard item was the out of town results in which UCI’s Chris Nichol, now 4-1, out dueled Rickey Romero and the Eaters gulped down the suddenly slumping Fullerton 5-1, For the evening CSUF got a mere four hits and are joined in the bottom half of the BWC standings by CSUN, UCSB and UCR. The other scores were Cal Poly 9, CSUN 2 and Pacific 7, UCSB 4.

Ironically the Dirtbags got their first score of the evening via a home run, a solo left center blast by Evan Longoria and added the insurance run in the fourth via a Snow Ball squeeze bunt from Brandon Godfrey. That would have been enough but the Beach scored two more runs in the sixth inning to lead 4-1 thanks to an RBI double by Sean Boatright and an RBI single from Chris Jones. Boats and Jones had two hit nights as did Tulo and Longoria. With the Highlander starter gone, reliever Daniel Stange went the next two, and gave up two runs in the eighth inning, off a couple of passed balls and a sacrifice fly from pinch-hitter Jordan Struble. UCR scored their only run in the fifth after an RBI triple by Brett Biggler.

OPEC DUST-More hat-gate from CSUF…one guy said he hoped that Waterworld star and CSUF alum Kevin Costner should give President Bush an F cap…except Costner has switched his loyalties to Texas and is pictured in their spring media guide flashing the hook ‘em thing…chain store mentioned Friday is called “Lids”…Marco Estrada (2.08 and a perfect 5-0) takes on UCR ace Hayley Winter and his Big West best 1.58 ERA tonight and then the guy who earned the oohs, ahhs and high hopes for the future last weekend, Jared Hughes goes Sunday….note to birthday boy TJ Bruce, Missouri threw a combined no-hitter at his former Texas Tech Red Raiders, 17 runs in 2nd enroute to a 25-0 win…calendar this… Jewels of the Night fund raising auction and dinner is set for May 14 and you and I can go since baseball is at home with an afternoon Cal Poly game… Marge, long suffering wife of Houston Bob, supposedly said she wanted to “go out to someplace really expensive”…”so I took her to an ARCO gas station”…guess that kills my chance at winning the $50 gas card Wednesday night…the recruiting grapevine already had pitcher Kevin Turmail, from Hazelwood, Missouri and “about 6-foot-5, throws in the 90s and has a great curve, too," according to hoop guru Frank Burlison who’s back there for the Final Four and now our web whiz Jeff is up to it again guessing that Kentucky prep pitcher Hunter Hewitt (7-0, 1.12 ERA last season) will walk on at the Beach…he has baseball camped at Florida State, Ga. Tech, Louisville, and, hold your tongue, CSUF…so imagine this conversation around the nation…”Dad I want to be a great college pitcher so I think I should go with Troy Buckley at Long Beach State and play at Blair Field…but son their best guy last year Jered Weaver still hasn’t signed…I know pop but five million is okay with me”…and Buck’s rules, “our pitchers must have four things, a good fastball, a second pitch, be able to hold runners, and field the position”…double header today for the Beck box they travel from Blair to the Mid for the when the volley gents play No. 15-ranked USC at 7:00 p.m…the No. 7 Niners are fresh from their 3 zip skunking of the No. 1-ranked Pepperdine….nice crowds this weekend, 1,200 at VB and 1321 for BB,…finishing softly, our whining about Oli the softball bomber paid off and she is playing this weekend as the Sweethearts of Swat visit Utah State...the SB Niners have won 91 of their last 119 games…final trivia, when was the last time LB had a pitcher with 3 straight CGs?—DR. DAN

Friday, April 01, 2005


In a time long ago (Mid February) and in a place right here (Blair Field), a team lost five games in a row. The five straight losses, (twice to USC, and thrice to Cal), seem like a distant memory this weekend as the back-in-the-polls Long Beach 49ers are pumped and proud after the series win over Fullerton and a cure-for-what-ails ya 18-3 in their last 21 contests. That would make the homeboys 18-8 overall, 20, 22, and 24 in the polls and determined not to overlook tonight’s offensive-minded horde of Highlanders from UCR.

As usual the first pitch will come from the laser left arm of the back-to-back Big West pitcher of the week Cesar Ramos (5-3, 1.70 ERA). Don’t tell UCR this but Niner catcher Chris Jones says that CR is extra tough at night at home because the lights aren’t so good. “Usually at night the ball looks like a big white dot but not here,” underscoring perhaps the reluctance of the City to up the amps. Ramos will face either James Simmons (3-1, 2.95) or lefty Jose Shaw (1-1, 4.35). We feel more certain that on Saturday our still undefeated but sometimes nervous Marco Estrada (5-0, 2.08) takes on the Highlander ace Hayley Winter (4-3, 1.58). The Sunday show will pit the newest Niner mound monster, Jared Hughes (2-2, 3.55 and a four hit CG in his last work), will oppose UCR’s Taylor Bills (2-4, 5.32). The visitors after 31 years under the steady hand of Century Club Hall of Famer Jack Smitheran, had a young intern ready to take over, if a mere 30 years is long enough to get ready. He is Doug Smith and his club has been up and down and comes in level at 12-12 on the season, having won four of six games. The beast of the Inland Empire is senior slugger Matt Cunningham, who earlier won BWC and national honors with a four homer week including two against USC. Braveheart also features Nick Salotti, .367 with eight doubles and 19 RBIs, and Aaron Grant, .349 with 18 RBIs. Winter (1.58) leads the Big West in ERA and righty Anthony Claggett has three saves.

FOOL’S DUST--What Hayley needs to realize is that if he stays on the same ERA track as he has against the Niner pitching he will lose the game1.58 to 1...inside joke...but one wit at the Coaches show said that to travel the road to Omaha the Beach boys will take the 2-1, 3-2, 4-3 routes…reminder that the next fun fundraiser is the Brian Stevens and gang Dirtbag Car Show Saturday April 16…room for cars, pre-73, and drivers any age, plus great chow, raffles and lots of Daisy Maes…back inside it looks like the men’s hoop sked will start at UNLV and Cal and then face in some order here and there Portland, Sac St., Cal Poly Pomona (ex.), LMU, Pepperdine, Cornell, Maryland-Balto County, San Jose…BWC brags six of the eight teams have RPIs 70 or greater, according to…this weekend CSUN visits SLO, Pacific is at UCSB and of course UC Irvine visits those wounded Titans at Fullerton...and all everybody but Pacific is .500 or better…away from boring stats, let’s use a Misty May quote...she and her Beach VB pals recently met with some inner city 8-11 year olds at a LA community center…so Misty tells Marcia Smith of the Register, “I remember when I was that young and skinny and had a little butt"…back to the past, so why did the Dirtbags struggle in Mid February?... don’t get defensive but it was the Tulo-less defense…LB fed the Cal Bears eight unearned runs in two games and 10 in the series…last year, the Niners gave up just 22 unearned runs all season…web whacks by CSUF on themselves…one Titan checked out a national sporting good chain and found six different styles of Long Beach Dirtbags cap and the only F word was for Florida….supposedly the Beach lids are the seventh most popular college hat sold chain wide…get your own embroidered gear from Dirtbag sponsor SoCal Sportswear in Downey…they print or sew on anything…last weekend the top ranked teams struggled…Georgia Tech 2-2, Tulane 2-2, LSU 2-2, Miami 2-2, Baylor 1-3 and best of all, CSUF 1-2…last add-Beach brass relishing the great business last weekend still got complaints…the fans now want the radio feed piped into the rest rooms so they don’t miss any of the on the field action while they are on the, er, ah—DR. DAN