Sunday, June 05, 2005


Blair Field said goodbye to the college kids Monday night and will get ready for their pro tenants next week when the Long Beach Armada finally gets a home game. You will know they are in town when you see a pirate ship just beyond the left field wall and plenty of room in the stands.

The Long Beach NCAA Baseball Regional was highly successful at the box office and concession stands. Inside the chalk, well nothing came easy and the curtain was dropped on Dirtbag 2005 with a dose of disappointment. The positives were great crowds all weekend, including a record 3,233 Saturday night. Even without beer sales the concessionaire and his landlord, LB Parks and Rec, made a bundle as did the NCAA who I think has become fond of 49erville as a post-season venue.

The flip side is of course that Mike Weathers and his LBSU team would have preferred to not be such a gracious host on the field. On Friday the 49er faithful were mildly amused when an assortment of Rhode Island mistakes led to an eight run outburst early enroute to an 11-2 win.

Saturday night momentum shifted dugouts and despite a gritty comeback the Beach boys could not overcome the cardinal, gold and blue. The first two colors are those of the Southern Cal Trojans and the blue, well there was this Estrada-squeezing home plate ump and a rush to a bad judgment by blue’s brother at first. In the books it goes as a 6-4 Ian Kennedy win, no shame there, but a plethora of errors, mental and physical. Sunday the Beach was as flat as that unsold keg of beer and lost to Pepperdine when once again the Niners dug a hole, couldn’t climb out and the Bags packed their bags for the season.

In his post game press conference Weathers said that the numbers from this season were about what he expected before the outstanding pitching raised national eyebrows. “I never figured that our pitching would be that good but we just couldn’t get our hitting and fielding up to that level.” And next year skipper, “we got some good kids coming back but we will have to see what the draft does to us.”

Three signees have attracted pro attention but all of them were recruited because Weathers and chief talent scout Troy Buckley have a hunch they will pass on anything other than a big pay day and come to college. The best of the new hurlers is Vance Worley, a strong arm with a variety of pitches. Insiders feel he could be a Friday starter by his sophomore year. A raw mound talent is Bryan Shaw, all the physical tools but in need of grooming by the Buckley pitching academy. The best of the recruited hitters is Andy Lopez who some say is in the mold of D-bag center fielder Sean Boatright.

Mention of Boats of course brings up the guys who will return. “I hope they all come back”, said Weathers of his 14 juniors but for sure Troy Tulowitzki. Marco Estrada and Cesar Ramos will sign and go. Boat is 50-50 to stay and anchor the outfield but with just 98 healthy games in three years he may not want to risk never having a pro bus ride and take what ever MLB offers. Even then the Beach will return with three fourths of the infield, Sindlinger, Longoria, and Godfrey, with Longoria likely moving to short opening up third for another JUCO slugger.

The pitching staff returns 6-7 Jared Hughes who has blossomed as a power pitcher, junior Cody Evans who at least got a lot of schooling this season, and freshmen Matt Fitts, Donnie Hume and Andrew Liebel. The cupboard will be different in 2006 but it won’t be bare. –DR. DAN


Post a Comment

<< Home