Saturday, April 14, 2007


If the new sheriff in the Big West town was supposed to be UC Irvine then who let Barney Fife have the keys to the Mayberry Jail? And what about some of the old gunslingers like dem cowpokes at Long Beach State? That’s what I wonder on this separation Saturday after Cal Poly ripped the heart out of UC Irvine on the Anteaters own grounds and Long Beach State ran Northridge out to pasture with an 11-2 hog-tieing of the Matadors. Translated, half way through the season and in their second conference series, the young guns on the 2007 Forty Niner baseball team (19-12, 2-2) are tougher than a lot of people think.

Previously the most versatile two-way Dirtbag was Joe Ballsinger who does a mean Elvis air guitar early in the game and Tequila on the trumpet late. Move over Joe, Shane Peterson has a neat act of his own, pitching the first five without an earned run, fanning six and then going 2-4 with 4 RBIs, enough to single handedly beat no-luck Northridge (13-23, 1-6). Irvine of course had won beat the tough two some of Long Beach and Fullerton and was supposed to slap around Cal Poly who was just a game or so over .500 on the season. Instead the Mustangs found a 157 pound sophomore southpaw Derrick Saito in the pen to pitch 4.2 strong closing innings and Cal Poly defeated No. 17 UC Irvine 5-4. While some in the smallish Blair crowd of 854 cheered the Eaters going down, others worried that if SLO is real then the conference might have four teams (adding Fullerton to the mix) fighting over three NCAA post-season bids. Shane’s coach Mike Weathers said the sophomore star didn’t have any one outstanding pitch but “he’s got a moving fastball and that new curve that Buck has him throwing. Troy calls a real good game” Peterson himself talked about his offense to the post game press “I’m seeing the ball well” and felt “good” at the plate." As important however was his throwing the ball over the plate. Zero walks, six Ks and a chance for the battered Beach pitching unit to save Liebel and Shaw. David Roberts and Andre Lamontagne split the final four striking out eight more and allowing only one base runner. Peterson again, "The coaches tell me to give them three good innings” and he did while guys like freshman TJ Mittelstaedt and senior Matt Cline bothered the visitors all night. TJ got on base four times (two walks, a single and a hit by pitch) and Cline, batting in the nine hole, went 2-4 and scored twice. Today LB rolls out hard luck hurler Omar Arif who has the best ERA of the starters (3.07) but the worst record (1-5). The issue for Northridge clearly is defensive control, two recorded errors, numerous poor throws last night and a suspect bull pen. Senior righthander Joe Rocchio (1-4, 4.09) goes for CSUN which means that all of those left handed Bag bats will get a lot of business again today.

DUST BUSTERS—While both Shaw and Liebel were on the board to pitch if necessary the day off will help this weekend if the Beach wants to hit and pass the 20 win mark…Liebel was solid against Oral Roberts allowing only one hit and was victimized in his 5 2/3 innings against Pepperdine by weak D…Sunday is still a possibility but the coaches would like to continue bringing Manny McElroy along for 3-5 frames…Shaw has his ERA down to 1.85 and could go back to back….more MASH stuff, shortstop Danny Espinosa has been scratched for the weekend because of that pinched back nerve…and Vance Worley will not even be cleared to soft toss for another two weeks…that would put his return around the time of the all important series May 4-6 against Cal Poly….oddly the only Bag boot Friday came from leftfielder TJ Mittelsteadt (a former infielder) who allowed the ball to get through to the LF wall …”the older guys really help me stay calm and that helps me at the plate too” TJ noted…the error allowed two unearned runs to score and gave short lived hope to CSUN with an early 2-0 lead…as a program the Matadors are sitting on 1,398 wins in program history, leaving them two shy of the 1,400 milestone…the other numbers from Friday, Cal Poly 5, UC Irvine 4; Fullerton 9, UC Davis 2; UC Santa Barbara 14, Pacific 9; and Washington 8, UC Riverside 2--.DR. DAN


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