Saturday, February 23, 2008


One of the starting pitchers globe-trotted with Team USA last summer, the other guy drifted back and forth from Pomona to Long Beach. One guy was the national freshman of the year, the other guy worked out of the pen before injured team mates forced him into starting. One was second team All America the other guy was second team all Big West. News Flash: Andrew Liebel, the other guy, fanned 11 over eight in his duel with Rice’s rocket-armed Ryan Berry, the Dirtbags loaded the bases in the tenth and Danny Espinosa’s jolt to the wall sent most of the 1,894 opening-nighters home happy.

Both Berry and Liebel looked sharp in their 2008 debuts, both scattered five hits but the Niners’ closing arguments of David Roberts and Dustin Rasco kept the Owl hitters caged. In the bottom of the tenth, Zach Barger got his second hit of the night with a single up the middle, big Travis Howell played perfect little ball with a sac, and then Barger advanced to third on a wild pitch. Rice got a K for the second out, but Chris Nelson and TJ Mittelstaedt walked before Espinosa's game-winning hit. “I knew that they didn’t want to get behind on me so I when I saw a pitch just a little up…” Espy reported post game. Up it was, over Aaron Luna’s head, and game one is in the books with a W.

DOPPLER DUSTING—The Rice coaches passed on the idea of playing two games today…Sunday’s rain chances are higher then the hems on Oscar’s red carpet…The other hot Niner team this spring is men’s volleyball…Paul Lotman recorded a career-high 32 kills and Dan Alexander added a career-best 18 kills as the third-ranked Beach Boys (11-1) beat Ohio State, 30-27, 30-22, 28-30, 30-27…also on the road is men’s hoops in the Bracket Buster game tipping at 5 p.m. our time, opposed by old rival New Mexico State…Rice will try a Liebel like move themselves today, starting three year closer Cole St.Clair...his velocity is back up to 90 mph but arm issues will limit him to four innings…expect senior righty Chris Kelley, who made 14 starts a year ago, to pick up the slack… that pre-game party atmosphere in the left field picnic zone was a flock of Owls, Rice friends and alums including my personal physician Dr. Susan Keisner…the hundred plus met pre-game with Rice athletics director Chris Del Conte and coach Graham…an outstanding academic institution, just under 5,000 students, Rice has a campus about the same size of LBSU, 285 acres (vs. 300)…Wichita State will have a similar party next weekend…

Today’s Beach mound duties go to Vance Worley who is finally healthy, knock on wood…Weathers told Baseball America,. "He's very healthy; his body is in as good of shape as it's ever been. He's throwing the fastball back up to where he was coming out of high school, 90-92 mph.”…if there is Sunday ball it will be the kid who not only ditched class, he ditched his senior year, Jake Thompson…his transfer to Wilson High didn’t work out so he GEDed his way to the LBSU…at least he gets to pitch at 7th and Park…more Weather report--was the skipper surprised about Liebel? “No, we told him he was a starter and that’s what starters do”…on his offense, “we hit the ball pretty hard but both of us were up against very good pitching”…the rest of the Big West on opening day, Erik Komatsu had five RBIs as Fullerton beat TCU 11-5; Ben Price doubled in the bottom of the ninth inning as Riverside got a 3-2 win over Washington; Jake Jefferies went 4-for-5 and UC Davis got an upset 4-2 victory at No. 18 Fresno State, the first official D-1contest for the Aggies; Ryan Fisher 3 for 4,a double and a pair of two-run home runs to lead 22nd-ranked UC Irvine to a 6-0 shutout over Nevada; UC Santa Barbara beat Marist 9-0; Pacific lost 3-1 to Houston; CSUN lost 13-7 to Northwestern and Alabama squashed Cal Poly10-1…two top ten upsets, unranked Georgia beat #5 Arizona 9-7 and unranked San Diego State whipped #9 San Diego 11-2…despite the ten innings, Friday’s LB-Rice game was played in a deadline friendly two hours and forty-one minutes…games at Pepperdine and UCLA were rained out…besides Espy and Barger, LBs freshman newcomer Devin Lohman (42nd round draftee by Colorado) got two hits, Howell doubled and Peterson and Tweedy singled…

Our closing quote is from 70 something Wayne Graham…”We know their pitchers will throw strikes, and they're not going to beat themselves. I think if either team doesn't play good defense, you're in trouble. You're going to have to pitch and play defense in that park. And you're going to have to play small ball and defend small ball."—DR. DAN


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