Friday, April 20, 2007


Tonight Blair Field, the best and most historic baseball stage in the Big West, welcomes it’s version of the hit show, Dancing With the Stars featuring the old pros, the Long Beach State Dirtbags (21-13) and the nervous newcomers, the UC Davis Aggies (12-21). So far Davis has been the not-ready for prime time players but their skipper Rex Peters has hope tempered with realism. “I’ve heard they're not as good as in years past, but they still manage to win ball games and are right in the thick of the conference hunt."

Rex is right, especially when the fragile health of LB forced Mike Weathers and company to play a dangerous game of dominoes on the left side where errors at third, short and left field have been costly. Often a team ranking high defensively in the national stats the Beach is only 4th in the BWC in fielding (.967). Fortunately the legacy of good pitching continues where the Niners check in with a Big West best 3.26 team ERA but a weak .275 batting average and an inflated total of 289 men left on base in 34 games. Crunching the numbers, it looks like the mound men may have to carry the weekend again. While the Bags lost their Tuesday tilt to LMU 6-5 (stranding 18) the visitors used the big bats of Jacob Jefferies (3-for-4 and a homer) and Daniel Descalso (4-for-5) for a 5-1 victory over St, Mary’s. More from UCD’s skipper, “Long Beach always plays well against us and we have yet to beat them in a Division I game. I think we're 0-6 against them in the past few years and we haven't really been in any one of those games. They've seemed to handle us pretty well and they're just one of those teams we have a hard time matching up with. Going to their ballpark is tough because it's a bigger park and a tough place to hit. We have our work cut out for us”.

Into the circle tonight will be the Niner’s Omar Arif, reliable in grinding out innings followed by the parade of early, middle and late relievers. Davis will try Trevor Fox (3-5, 4.21) to start and go from there.

RULE BOOK DUST—From the UC Davis’s horse mouth… (my pal Dr. Doug West is a star faculty member in their vet med school)…”UCD is in its fourth and final year of reclassification to NCAA Division I status... Officially, UC Davis (like all other institutions currently reclassifying) is a Div. II institution until its first active year of Div. I (for UC Davis, that's in 2007-08)... Davis began counting last year as a Div. I team for its opponents strength-of-schedule…and all their teams become official members of the Big West Conference in 2007-08…the top hitter in the league lit up the Niners last weekend, Jorge Andrade, Jr. who is banging at a .410 rate and I gave him my nomination for the National College Baseball Writers all American team…still on my watch list is the guy with the top Big West ERA, Andrew Liebel and his 2.06…the Dirtbags moved up to No. 25 in the coaches poll and are one of four Big West programs in the top-30 in one of the major polls this week….while most of last week was a slow, chilly grind the highlight might have been a foul ball that bounced into Perry Moore’s box seats followed by youngsters diving on, over and around the former LBSU AD, all for a $5. baseball…Perry is tough though and was the first big star I interviewed back when I was a cub reporter as a high schooler in Parkersburg, West Virginia…Perry was a nationally noted decathlete at Maryland and lived across the river in Ohio…he and I later connected when PM was the assistant basketball coach at Florida when I was the sports info assistant for that sport…Danny Espinosa is a game time decision after missing the last five with that troublesome back…now you might have thought that last weekend they were giving kids all the free Starbucks they could drink but those lively voices on the public address were really the Junior 49ers who took over the field for their annual day of running the show. Marketing whiz Henry Ngo got to the yard early and distributed the youngsters to all the important posts around the yard, PA, scoreboard, music, seed and shirt tossing, the inter-net broadcast and everything other than counting the cash in the Dugout store…if you are an RPI watcher be aware that when CSUF was sweeping the UCD series, the Titans fell from 17th to 22nd…the F word will tumble more with their weekend visit from lowly Pacific…now we put on our tie-breaking gloves to see if we can get rid of some of those guys crowding the second place spot in the BWC…these series could help, Riverside at Cal Poly; Pacific at Fullerton; and UC Irvine at UC Santa Barbara…Northridge goes out of conference to play at UCLA—DR. DAN


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