Monday, June 04, 2007


They turned out the lights and the party was over but oh my it was a par-tee! The formal title was the NCAA College Baseball Regional at Long Beach, one of those 16 grand balls staged around the nation and streaming across USA media screens all weekend.

In the end the host Dirtbags were disarmed by UCLA because they had to burn pitchers faster than a smuggler torching counterfeit money. Along the way the assembled teams (LB, UCLA, Pepperdine and Illinois-Chicago) entertained 11,695 at stately Blair Field. Outside the lines the leaders of the newly energized Beach athletic program were equally busy at every corner and every aisle making friends, the logical prelude to raising funds.

The 49er season and that of the Big West conference was never expected to be this good. The homeboys won 39 games and might still be playing except for youth and injuries. Their head coach Mike Weathers, who has a week to do his laundry before heading the USA national team on a 57 day world tour, was upbeat. “I know a lot of people remember just the last game, but as I told the guys, this season was incredible with so many new guys, 21 of 35. Everybody learned so much and so many guys played. Even though we came up short this was a great turn around from last year.”

Except for some balky light bulbs on the scoreboard nearly everything went according to plan. The weather was perfect, the Dugout Store sold a ton of $25 tee shirts with the 64 team bracket on the back and every imaginable non-alcoholic form of salt, sugar and cholesterol was consumed. And the four Big West entries all won at least one game and two of them, Irvine and Fullerton went on the road and stole the hardware from top eight national seeds.
As the Weathers report noted above, the nucleus of the 2007 team will return for 2008 and assuming the major leagues don’t draft them too high there will be a nice selection of high school and JUCO newcomers.

SCRAP DUSTING—With new NCAA rules coming in next fall, this summer could be frantic for transfers who now can come right in and play. They call them “bounce-backs” because they usually are kids that left the big city for some place else and change their mind. Next year these players will have to sit out as in basketball and football and will also have to earn at least a one-third scholarship, the latter being a fact that may well bounce athletic budgets from black to red.
As for the rest of the LBSU sports scene, except for track and field, the uniforms are packed away until volleyball and soccer start sweating again in August. For track outstanding regional efforts have earned spots in six events at the NCAA Championships which began Wednesday and go through the weekend in Sacramento. Four of those events send athletes with school-record setting marks; sprinter Brent Gray in the 100 and 200-meter dashes, Kim Heinz and Tyson Gray in the javelin, Jennifer Onyeagbako in the discus and the women's 4x100-meter relay team of Jessica Branker, Magnolia Howell, Patrice White and Jasmine Winfield. Beach towel and sun block please.—DR. DAN


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