Monday, February 05, 2007


The hot stove league worried all winter about the 2007 Long Beach baseball team. Would they come to work this spring with a hangover from a 29-27 no-post-season depression last year? How much would they miss the big bat of Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay, 3rd pick overall) and the pitching talents of Andrew Carpenter (Philadelphia, 65th overall pick) Jared Hughes (Pittsburgh, 110 overall pick)? Is there any chance of clubhouse chemistry with something old, something new, something borrowed and a fresh coat of paint that is Blair Field Blue? And, oh yes, a murder’s row schedule that has been called the toughest in the nation.

One weekend done and one murderer down the Dirtbags just might surprise themselves and their fans because they play like a team. In the series win over #25 Southern Cal the Niner coaches used 21 different faces on Sunday and that game was typical of that old, new borrowed bit. The old was the grizzled sophomore shortstop Danny Espinosa who drove in three runs and speedy senior Robert Perry notched his third-straight multi-hit game. The new guys on the mound were winners also. Omar Arif (1-0), who pitched the first four shutout innings Sunday and Manny McElory (1-0), who retired 14 of 16 batters in the Saturday win.

The other good news was that the promising returnee Vance Worley pitched to one over the minimum over the first five and two thirds innings struck out six, walked none and gave up just four hits in a no decision Friday. Looks like a rotation and add in the excellent closing work of Andrew Liebel, (4.1 scoreless innings) Adam Wilk and Bryan Shaw and the only question remaining was the bat work who coming in seemed like the “Lost” offense.

Now this next stat won’t bring this weekend’s visitors from Texas to their knees but the Beach boys did ring up 10 runs in the last two games while the Longhorns lost two of three to San Diego in a hitter friendly park at Round Rock. Friday they fell 6-5, outlasted the Toreros 13-8 Saturday and then went quietly on Sunday losing 4-1. Murderers still (ranked in the top five and picked to win the Big 12 Conference) After the Horns see the wide open tarmac of Blair Airfield they may import those TV characters Sawyer, Kate and Jack to look for their own “Lost” offense. Game times are 6:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.

HOOP DUST-Making news on the front page and the sports page, the Niner men’s basketball team (15-6 and minus two starters and one coach), routed Big West rivals Northridge and Pacific but now have to travel to Cal Poly and UCSB with a tenuous hold on first place. The Gaucho contest on Saturday night is a TV affair and the bright lights usually bring out the best in Beach shooters like Aaron Nixon and Kevin Houston.

The struggling women’s basketball team will host those opponents but have to stand on their head to see their name on top of the BWC list. They are tied for last and a humbling 5-18 overall.

Wrapping up the rest, tennis (2-1) host CSUN on Saturday, softball opens their season in the tough Arizona State tournament, women’s water polo starts their season in the UC San Diego tourney and men’s volleyball hosts Cal Baptist Friday night.

Our closing quote comes from CSTV’s Eric Sorenson who pointed out that he has found only two college yards that serve beer, Tulane and Long Beach. “C'mon people, a dog and suds is as much a part of baseball as pine tar and spitballs. His second complaint, “I hope some of the officials who decided to jack with the baseball season start date are forced to sit at a regional in Baton Rouge or Austin when the temperature and humidity are both 100”.--DR. DAN


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