Sunday, June 03, 2007


Who is Steve Crnkovich? They call him “The Kid”. A 6-5 freshman, Horizon League All Newcomer Team, League leader in ERA with a complete game three hitter against Vanderbilt. And this afternoon he’s the starting pitcher for UIC Coach Mike Dee, “We just call him our alphabet man.” So with or without Vanna White to sell him a vowel, Mr. Crnkovich and the now Famous Flames from Chicago are the next road block on the Dirtbags Road to Omaha.

Indeed the visitors have more than pitching but the mound chores turned in thus far by Ryan Zink (a 4-1 winner Friday) and Zach Peterson (a 3-1 loser Saturday) plus the outstanding closing argument by David Cales makes opposing teams shudder. UCI starts today with 35 wins and nicknames for their hitters, “clutch” is Larry Gempp Jr., “steady influence” is Nick Rainwater, “table setter” is Chad Schroeder and “silent assassin” would be Jake Carr. Gee, with names like that these guys could almost be Dirtbags. Fortunately the real Bags finally got on the field Saturday afternoon and hopefully will bring a full picnic basket to the park today for what Weathers and company hope is a double header. That option is alive thanks to a resilient and courageous Andrew Liebel who held Pepperdine down long enough for his mates to rally for three runs in the eighth and a six strikeout complete game 6-3 victory. With the W Liebel improved his record to 9-3 and as important saved every arm in the Niner pen for the must win three in a row assignment today and tomorrow. Frankly while the Beach doesn’t have any shutdown stars that bring out the jugs guns and MLB notebooks, they have seven guys all of whom have been very good at one time or another this season. Liebel said he appreciated the flawless defense by Danny Espinosa and company behind him and they in turn appreciated his fast pace. It was Espinosa's bases-loaded single in the eighth that put LB on top to stay. Earlier LB’s 5-9 Robert Perry came in heavy and dislodged the baseball from Pepperdine’s 6 plus catcher Travis Tartamella and the fun was back in Blair. Denny Duron was a double short of the cycle, going 3-for-4 for the Waves. Part of the Beach plan today is to get to the other guys’ starter early as they did to Pepp starter Robert Dickmann who left after 3 scores and 7 hits in just 1.1 innings of work.

I’VE GOT MY HAND ON YOUR DUST—In the nightcap yesterday Bruin freshman left-hander Gavin Brooks (6-6) threw a two-hitter at the Flames, sort of the same medicine that UIC did to LB 24 hours earlier…now the quotebook first from Pepp ‘s Denny Duron on Liebel—“He pitched a good game. He was coming in there with some solid fastballs and had good command. My hat is off to him. He pitched a complete game and did a great job.”…The Waves meanwhile were puzzled about a season in which they got up to No. 7 in the nation and the bottom fell out…many think during that make up game and Tuesday losses to LB a point at which the Niners began to catch fire…Now the Weather report, “Well, the whole game was Andrew Liebel. I thought that we threw our best guy today. We threw our best guy today as he has the best make-up for what he did today, he came through today with a CG, which really helped us for the rest of the weekend if we were to get through the weekend. Andrew gave us the best scenario he could of. Probably one of the gutsiest performances in my 15 years I’ve been here. We play again, keep playing.”…On pulling Liebel out early “We were going to give him 120 then make a decision, but it was his ball game. There’s 2,100 people that would have hanged me if I didn’t send him out there in the ninth inning.”…and Andrew figures that the coaches owe him another eight pitches… “Coach Buckley said I had 15 pitches and that’s what he told me. I said alright and I think I got out of there with six or seven.”…Long Beach's Sunday punch is pretty good, Shane Peterson and Omar Arif…and we all will worry about Monday if or when it comes…Out of town fans were asking about Vance Worley, the centerpiece of the Niner pitching plans at season’s start…the answer is he will not throw again this year allowing his injury to fully heal…1327 was the crowd count last night at SDSU for the USD regional…other than football and basketball did you know that only baseball, ice hockey and wrestling make money for the NCAA…the guarantees are at least $50,000 per host…you pay that regardless then figure your expenses and then give them 90 cents on the dollar for profit…so only LSU makes money except that LSU ain’t in the party this year… Fullerton beat Fresno State 6-3 about 12:14 a.m. and awaits the winner of the FSU-Minnesota early game…if LB wins out they will host and if they don’t, and say UCLA does, don’t ask the Bruins John Savage if he will host…”our administrators know that I will be in my office Monday morning, but right now there is a lot of baseball left.”… and this Lone Star shocker, a Scott Gorgen five-hiiter last night and UT needs CSI to figure out UCI after yesterdays surprising 3-1 win over Texas…Riverside, like the Beach, is 1-1 after losing 9-2 to Arizona State in Tempe…frankly I would rather be 1-1 playing at Blair than in the 90 degree night time temps in the desert facing the even hotter Sun Devils…for luck the Beach is visitors against UIC and back in their favorite first base dugout-—DR. DAN


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