Thursday, March 30, 2006


Welcome to The Australian Rules Good News Only April First Edition of Diamond Dust. Nothing but nice stuff since (at least in Australia) the non-conference-death-month of March is over! So sit back, relax and feel the positive flow as the beloved Dirtbags 12-15 overall get a fresh start tied for first (at 0-0) in the Big West.

Our goal tonight is to flush all of that bad karma from the past four weekends (losing two of three or three of three from Baylor, Texas, Wichita State and Fullerton) down that toy toilet. And, like Icarus rising for the ancient Greeks, we will test our wax wings in a 21 game tour of guys pretty much our own size. Tonight the Beach boys will try to kick some sand on # 36 UC Irvine (18-10). Our Orange County writing pal Barry Faulkner doesn’t expect anything but praise to come out of Irvine this weekend, saying in his column, “the UC Irvine baseball team will do it's best to let sleeping Dirtbags lie this weekend.” See everybody is being nice, even folks with 18 wins like the Eaters or Pacific (16-7), UC Riverside (14-9), Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (16-13) Northridge (15-14) or even fellow not quite over .500. UCSB (9-10). Most of those teams lare a mirror image of the vintage Dirtbags--little-ball, scrap-and-claw style used at CSUF and that Eater skipper Serrano brought with him after eight seasons on Nutwood. Even the folks at Riverside are proud to “play the short game, hit and run and a tough out.” See imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

UCI leads the BWC in sac bunts (45), sac flies (14) and batters hit by pitch (51) (and they haven’t even played against Ja, whoops, thought you had me there.) Nice only. Jared Hughes (4-1, 3.23) gets his usual Friday start and will face Justin Cassel (3-4, 4.22) in what the marketing mavens call the Black & Blue series, a competition created to enhance the rivalry between the two schools. It is sponsored by Duke’s of Huntington Beach where the winning alums gets free appetizers for a year instead of a that lousy Lexus that goes to the winner of the UCLA/USC rivalry. I think.

MORE HAPPY DUST-- Cassel gave up five runs on nine hits in 7.1 innings against Arizona Friday…he fanned only three but after zero stolen bases Saturday, the Eaters responded with six against the Wildcats Sunday…the closer is again Blair Erickson who has nine saves this season and a 3-0 record…Spike McDougall has an eight-game hitting streak and put up a pair of multiple-hit games last about this so-called slump, the LB spin doctor will tell you that “Dirtbag lore teaches us that Long Beach State baseball has traditionally been slow starters en route to return trips to Omaha and the College World Series. In 1998, the team started the season 2-8-1 before reeling off 12 in a row. In 1993, LBSU was 12-12 before winning 16 of 19. And finally in 1991, the 49ers were 5-8, before winning 20 of 21"….see happy days are just around the corner…and recruits still love the Beach...El Camino CF Chris Fox has offers from UCSB, LMU, and UCLA but seems to favor Long Beach…quick as a, er, ah Fox, Fox has 13 stolen bases and great pitch selection...he walked four times in 141 at-bats last season but has 14 walks in his first 76 at-bats this season, is batting .355 with a team-high 14 RBIs out of the leadoff spot….back to the present, the pen is picking up…Brett Andrade pitched 2.2 of scoreless relief Sunday followed by former Sunday starter Vance Worley, 1.1 shutout innings…meanwhile the Bag freshmen continue to produce...the top two hitters are frosh Shane Peterson at .435 and Kip Masuda .419 plus Peterson has a 1.54 ERA when Slash takes to the hill of thrills

More good news Thursday afternoon from Niner turned Angel Jered Weaver who gave up just two hits in five scoreless innings, striking out four and walking one in beating the SF Giants who get more air time on 60 Minutes than Baseball Tonight….and our final pleasant thought is that old skipper Dave Snow has locked in on Evan Longoria like a Fullerton fastball, but not on the noggin…Dave’s employer, the Colorado Rockies, have the second overall pick in the June draft, and after the Rockies enjoyed their first pick last year, Troy Tulowitzki, they may go for another Niner…Denver = nice altitude for a hitter--DR. DAN


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