Sunday, May 20, 2007


Afterwards both head coaches said they thought it was a great game and both are master spin doctors. Doug Smith, the winning guy, boarding that fancy blue bus swore that the long ride back to the Inland Empire is just what he wanted. “Hey, we get to sleep in our own beds.” Mike Weathers, the losing guy, explained “For the second game in a row we out hit them.” Final score UCR 2, LBSU 1, and on May 20 it’s Mr. Smith and his team alone atop the Big West Conference.

And now the rest of the story. First the team who in 18 hours changed from front runner to what their coach calls, “the chasers”. Gritty Andrew Liebel went first, “we will be back, don’t count us out.” His line was good enough to win but on this day Andrew (now 7-3, 2.53) suffered the loss despite tossing a complete game. He gave up a mere eight hits while striking out four and walking none. More of the Weathers report. “We made good contact and hit the ball hard but they pitched and played defense awfully well.” Coach Smith, who hoteled his team Friday only, also complimented both pitchers and admitted surprise that his little-used (23 innings) previously-injured (tendonitis) Tuesday guy, Matt Montgomery, would be around one batter short of the end. “We hoped to get about 90 pitches out of him but he got us to the ninth.” UCR fans then added, “Coach Smith has done an incredible job of stockpiling arms and saving innings over the course of the year and it paid off.” Montgomery’s secret was that his mix of sinkers and fast balls tempted the Beach batters and, oh yes, turning FOUR double plays. Ironically LB had hit into only 26 twin killings in the 50 previous games this year. With the W the Highlanders have won six in a now and LB, after a 13 game win streak, is not looking at a two game losing streak at exactly the wrong time. The visitor’s offense was modest. In the fifth after husky catcher Jeff Dunbar hit a one-out single through the left side Joey Gonzales doubled to put runners on second and third for Ryan Goetz who ripped a two RBI single to right. Nothing else to report until the bottom of the ninth when a Mittelstaedt one out double was cashed in by a Peterson single. Tying run now on base, winning run at the plate in the form of Danny Espinsoa who had seven big bombs earlier this season. Smith summons another of his young arms, freshman Joe Kelly, fanned Espy on three 94 MPH fastballs. Game over, BWC lead gone, and now the four game title chase begins.

BRIGHT SHINY DUST---As grumpy as some of the faithful are this morning, the Boyd’s RPI for the Niners stays at #5 with UCI at #26, CSUF at 32 and UCR at 55…win today and go back into a tie for first and try to match the Highlanders next weekend…they host UCI and LB goes to you know where… UCR’s Coach Smith, who said he never even thought that his team would be playing well enough to win the BWC and host, got his AD to bid for a regional…they could play at their normal city park (they hosted the Division II World Series there) or maybe the glitzy Lake Elsinore Diamond…if for some reason the High steppers get shipped to the USD regional at SDSU they feel comfortable…they beat the Aztecs 3 of 4 there earlier this year…and before we sign off for this season (like beer sales, there is no legal Dusting during regionals) we figure that of the 41,000 of you that pushed the turnstiles, the 428 around the globe who are on the Dust Direct email list and the countless millions of blog visitors, we say in the words of our pal Gordy Verrell, “thanks for the read.”…underground copies subject to appear at anytime…last of the must-go notes is this breakdown by web whiz CCJulian on the relative youth of the leading BWC teams…figuring that young means freshmen and sophomores. CCJ looked up the number of at bats by those two classes and came up with these at-bat percentages, CSUF, 41%; UCI, 37%; LB 33%; UCR 56%, SLO 62% and UCSB 41%...translated SLO is giving the young bats the most work (62 out of 100 hacks) and LB the least, 33 of every 100…I tried to add in pitching for the Bags and the best I could get was of the 474 innings pitched this season 111 were by freshmen and sophomores, a little less than 25%...nice numbers for the Dede Rossi swan song at Jewels, nearly $60,000 raised in the live auction and every one of the silent auction items had a lot of action…closing with the BWC scores and standings…in first is UCR, then LBSU, then UCI, each a game apart, followed by SLO and CSUF who are tied for fourth…yesterday it was Fullerton 7, Cal Poly 1; UC Santa Barbara 11, UC Davis 8; Irvine 10, CSUN 0 and Stanford 11, Pacific 2…around town both UCLA (28-24) and USC (26-24) lost again and their stock is falling or fallen but, figured for fourth in pre-season and now 35-16, 13-4 with four to play, don’t count out your LBC homeboys.—DR. DAN


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