Friday, February 29, 2008


Welcome to the post-Oscar production of “When Mid-Majors Collide” even though I know that the big Hollywood hit was “When Worlds Collide”. That original material came from a 1932 sci-fi novel and it wasn’t until the film (starring one of my teenage crushes, Barbara Rush) came out in 1951. But for sub-prime schools like Wichita and Long Beach State, it is all about mid-major baseball. This early season session won’t make or break either program but there will be great pitching, coaches on opposite sides of the start date debate, and mostly black and gold in the stands.

Over time the series has had some unusual runs. Long Beach at one time beat WSU nine in a row but most recently the Shocks have collected six of the last seven. Tonight’s mound matchup is another Friday night dandy--Rob Musgrave (0-0, 1.69) vs. Andrew Liebel (0-0, 0.00). Both guys were great last weekend but neither got a win. If Andrew thought it was a chilly when he snuffed Rice’s murderers row that was nothing like what the Augusta, Kansas press reported was “ice inside the confines of Eck Stadium and the temperature in the 30s” for Friday afternoon’s opener with Fordham. The senior Shocker had a no-hitter through five, but in the sixth he gives up three runs and two hits, before WSU survives 4-3.

Tomorrow more mound talent in the form of WSU’s Aaron Shafer (RHP, 1-0, 1.50) up against Vance Worley (0-0, 2.57) who got the Beach deep but also did not get the W. Sunday’s pairing will have LB’s freshmen Jake Thompson (0-1, 1.50) facing Anthony Capra if he makes a record recovery from emergency appendectomy on Saturday, or somebody else if he doesn’t. For years the Beach and the Shocks had world class pitching coaches, the now departed Troy Buckley for LB and the controversial assistant Brent Kemnitz at WSU. Talking offense, as usual the homeboys will look to junior shortstop Danny Espinosa (two more doubles in Tuesdays loss to USD) while Wichita State third baseman Conor Gillaspie is the best in the Midwest at his position. The Achilles heel for the Dirtbags is strikeouts, 36 strikeouts in four games and far too many of the backward K variety, i.e. looking. On Tuesday Manny McElroy gave up five runs on six hits over the first 3.2 but newcomer Tyler Topp pitched four shutout frames in relief. Likewise, Wichita State struggled with D-2 Emporia State then managed to pull out a 6-3 victory, upping their record to 3-0. Oh yes, WSU had some K issues as well, three Emporia State pitchers combined to record 13 strikeouts. "We didn't adjust well," WSU Head Coach Gene Stephenson said. Been there, done that.

OTHER DUST--Florida's softball team was off to its best start — 19-0 before they met LB Freshman fire-baller Brooke Turner, and after her 16 strikeouts it was see you later Alligator…where are they, ex Bag John Bowker is a long shot to make the Giants' Opening Day roster but last year he set a franchise record with the Double-A Connecticut Defenders---22 home runs, and 90 RBIs in 139 games, finishing in the league's top five in six offensive categories…some say he looks like a young J. D. Drew…my pal Perry M. likes hoop news so here is a guess at non conference games for the 49ers next season…at home, Montana State, New Mexico State and Temple with BYU, Idaho State and USF as roadies…Rivals weekend must sees and the rest of the Big West…Fullerton at Stanford: “Two of the Golden State's most historic programs meet this weekend. The Titans swept last season and Stanford swept in 2006...Riverside at Nebraska: “In a battle between two of the nation's best conferences, UC Riverside hits the road to take on motivated Nebraska. The Highlanders are coming off a series split with Washington, Huskers are coming off a road series loss to Stanford…temperatures are expected to be in the upper 40s and low 50s”…San Francisco at Irvine: “The Mike Gillespie era began with a pair of wins from Nevada and a mid weeker over LMU…USF split a road series with Hawaii”…elsewhere, Cal Poly at USD, LaSalle at CSUN, UCSB at LMU, Utah at Davis, and Washington at Pacific…also tonight and Saturday the #2 vollley lads are in the Gold Mine…last add awardees, Danny Espinosa (hitting .533) and Andrew Liebel earned the first Big West Player and Pitcher of the Week accolades… Liebel pitched 8.0 innings, struck out a career-high 11and retired 12 consecutive batters—DR. DAN


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