Monday, March 24, 2008


In the search for the meaning of this 2008 Long Beach baseball season, it must be significant that on a Monday morning before deadline one finds themselves clicking on the schedule/results tab and looking at losses, all three of them. I mean really, 19 games into the season, 16-3 overall, up to as high as #3 in the polls, and the Beach boys have very little evidence of their vulnerability.

The first loss was a 3-1 nail biter to national power Rice, followed by a similar loss, 5-3, to ranked San Diego and then that weird, post-Hawaii travel, 3-0 shutout by Western Illinois on March 11. The last defeat gave coach Mike Weathers a script to use on his kids, a neat mix of veterans and freshmen. His theme was selling everybody, old and new, on winning for sake of seeds (post season positioning) and sites (becoming a post season host). “They need to believe at the end of the season all these games are important.” That brings you up to the moment and tonight’s important visit from the well traveled Crimson of Harvard, BA’s pre-season pick to win the Ivy League. With Harvard’s miserable spring already underway, the Toreros added insult to injury starting one of their potential first round picks Josh Romanski, 38 innings and four wins in today’s breakfast ball game in SD. The result 14th ranked San Diego shutout the eastern bunch 12-0 on a no hitter from Mr. Romanski. In contrast a kinder, gentler Mike Weathers will turn to little-used 6 foot 7 righty Brett Lorin, the transfer from Arizona, who has no record and just two innings. Lorin has earned the start in practice and the Beach clipboards want to save Tuesday guy Tyler Topp for Tuesday. That would be a 3 p.m. visit to the U with a View, Pepperdine. The Waves (15-7) dropped two out of three at Oregon State this past weekend. That leads us up to what would have been a three game road trip weekend but in this year of the “compacted schedule” it becomes five games, five days and three cities. It begins in Berkeley for Friday until Sunday afternoon contests with Cal, shifts to Stanford’s Sunken Diamond on Monday then our bus leaguers take their fancy rankings and what ever is left of their clean laundry to Fresno State. After the bus ride back to the Beach the Bags will take a deep breath, reintroduce themselves to professors and girl friends, and get ready for another ride this time for a weekend at UC Riverside.

HIGH HOPING—No longer content with just winning series, the Niners have raised their own bar gunning for sweep weekends--Wichita State, Hawaii, USC and UCLA all got broomed by the Beach boys…men’s volleyball (19-3) meanwhile will salute their talented senior class Saturday night in the Mid versus UCLA, still basking in the glow of their two night sweep of #3 BYU last weekend…softball takes their hot numbers to Davis this weekend while women’s water polo (9-10) and women’s tennis (11-5) are also on the road this weekend trying to polish their own post season resumes…last add last the UCLA section was local legend Skip Rowland, who earned a zillion letters for the Bruins in his day, and Angel Hall of Famer Bobby Grich whose stepson played for the boys in blue….they especially enjoyed when those wide open spaces of Blair, which usually haunts hitters, came back to haunt the Beach. UCLA’s Brandon Crawford slugged one into the center field gap and when the horsehide rocket took a strong bounce off the bottom of the wall the result was the first inside the park home run for many a moon…where are theys—# 11 Cal got another W out of LB transfer Daniel Wolford (2-0) on Friday over Washington State…former Titan David Cooper is also a Bear of a hitter, .377…UC plays at Santa Clara on Tuesday...last adds where’s…expect to see a Gorgen on the Evans Diamond this weekend, but thankfully it is brother Matt, good but not as great as his UCI sibling Scott…one wonders if former Bears Howell and Corder will be cool and comfortable or as they say, as nervous as cats in the proverbial room full of rocking chairs…the polls were as follows: #3 in Rivals, #4 in CB, and #5 in BA and Coaches…wrapping up with the home boys…from out of no where rivals have to start a chart on freshman centerfielder Jonathan Jones who won the Big West's Player of the Week with his 7-for-12 hitting against SDSU and UCLA last week…Jones is batting .455 to start his collegiate career with 10 runs, a double and a triple…in his first action as a college kid he delivered back-to-back game-winning hits in the Bags sweep of USC...Jones got in the lineup when Chris Nelson was hurt…he is joined by some other Fab froshes, catcher John Hill, batting .556, Devin Lohman, .300 in 10 starts at second and # 3 starter Jake Thompson (1-1, 3.62)…now this a future so bright you have to wear shades—DR. DAN

Saturday, March 22, 2008


News Bulletin: In round two of their Pac Four season, Long Beach State enjoyed a 13-3 Westwood romp over UCLA to remain undefeated and atop that hypothetical conference. I know we have two more Bruin battles today and a weekend coming up with Cal and Stanford, but outings like that give the 49er faithful high hopes. UCLA, like USC last weekend, view the Dirtbags with a measure of respect and regret. Respect because in spite of being LBSU (Low Budget State University) their diamond work is extraordinary. Regret--you can’t hide from this pesky Beach bunch who feature a pitching staff deeper than the national debt and an offense that hangs more crooked numbers than Enron.

Last night the offensive hero was a rested and ready Travis Howell (just eight starts in 17 games) who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and was a featured performer in the third, sixth and seventh innings. Shane Peterson (.409) got two RBIs (total of 24) and five additional Dirtbags had multi-hit games. Andrew Liebel (2-0, 1.14) pitched a steady seven innings for the win, scattering four hits, and gave up one earned on Gabe Cohen’s homer, and lowered his ERA to 1.14. Drew also won another Friday night duel—this time Bruin ace Tim Murphy who allowed five earned before hitting the VA showers. The UCLA lefthander, who knocked LB out of their own regional last June, entered the game with a 2.35 ERA and left with a 3.79. The return of Howell to the offense is timely since second baseman Jason Tweedy will indeed miss the next four weeks just after he was getting his hitting shoes on. A pin was inserted in his non-throwing index finger. In game one today UCLA's John Savage has selected righty Charles Brewer (2-1, 4.85 ERA) to tangle with Niner youngerster Jake Thompson (1-1, 3.97 ERA) who this time last year was hiding eggs in Rec Park, not facing a UCLA offense that was pre-season number one in Blair Field. Game two starters will be Gavin Brooks, a sophomore lefty with a sorta plump 5.79 ERA vs. LBSU's Vance Worley, (2-0, 3.29 ERA). This year the Beach bull pen has the edge as part of a 2.19 team ERA compared to UCLA’s 4.87.

GETTING BUSY DUST-- the Dirtbags are in a stretch where they play 14 times in 17 days thus the need to keep rolling out some new arms…around the BWC it was St. Mary's 9, UC Santa Barbara 3; UC Riverside 9, Harvard 4; Pacific 10, Stanford 6; UCI 5, FIU 2; and Fullerton 11, UNLV 5…Monday night’s visitors from Harvard made UC Riverside happy as the Bravehearts upped their record to 5-11 and gave Head Coach Doug Smith his 100th win…one more scoreboard note, rough night for the top teams as #1 Arizona State lost to Northern Colorado 6-3, #2 Arizona split with USC, and #3 North Carolina lost 4-2 to Maryland…#4 Miami beat Wake Forest 17-4…now how did that get in there…Good to hear Dan Smith doing the NCAA Anahiem regional but where were the fans…a dozen had a good excuse, the Fullerton faithful were in Omaha watching the Titans …also large and in charge at the Hondo Center was former 49er football quarterback Kevin Starkey (yes kids way back when we played football).…Kevin was in charge of everything inside, logos, locker rooms, and, in celeb conscious So Cal, the green rooms…wonder who runs his house Kevin or the former Niner basetkball beauty Sabrina Scudiero Starkey?...which reminds me to ask what folks think about Joan Bonvicini getting the hook at Arizona…600 plus career wins with a ton at LBSU and now, at age 54, reading the classifieds…while most of their teenage girlfriends are spending this weekend in retail therapy at the mall, Jessica Beaver's pair of doubles in the fifth inning meshed nicely with a complete game from Bridgette Paganoa and the red hot Niner softball gals (23-8) picked up a 6-3 win over No. 18 Washington last night…inside, the men’s v-ball boys sent BYU packing, moved into first in the MPSF and have the inside track to hosting all the MPSF playoff games…these LB games mark UCLA's first against top-10 competition which ain’t going to help them down the road…on Tuesday Weathers stretched Tyler Topp to 78 pitches…Arizona transfer Brett Lorin will get the Monday start against Harvard with Topp at Pepperdine on Tuesday afternoon…top of the bat charts is John Hill hitting .500 in his 14 ABs…Jason Corder, hitting .417, credits batting cage sessions of slow speed change-ups and curves from the well traveled Niner assistant Scott Lemone…in his first year at the Beach, Lemone has a resume that reads like your Rand McNally Atlas--De La Salle High, to Boston College to Diablo Valley College, to Chico State, back to his HS, then Cal Poly last season...his prize pupil Corder (up from .280 last season) figures his curve ball curse is broken…Happy Easter—DR. DAN

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


You can add MLB Hall of Famer and SDSU Coach Tony Gwynn to the baseball crowd that occasionally quote Tommy Lasorda after a tough game and a lame question, "What's my opinion of Kingman's performance!?” Expletives aside, tonight’s guest indigenous peoples, The San Diego State Aztecs (10-8), had no sooner recorked the champagne from a weekend sweep of BYU when they lost 5-3 to lowly Southern Utah last night. My consulant on things Irish, Boston John Connolly, said that maybe it was the “irish coffees” from St. Patricks Day, maybe the green jersey’s and caps, or maybe (can you say Western Illinois) stuff happens.

Tonight the sizzling Beach Boys (12-3) are hoping that they avoid their own mid-week meltdown. Up to as high as #6 in the polls, the starters will be Tyler Topp (0-1, 2.57) against an aspiring “sports journalist (source SDSU Media Guide) Jon Berger (1-2, 6.59) but lots of arms are ready in the pens. Unlike last Tuesday, the longest travel for the Dirtbags this week was from the LB library, bible study, or the training room so no “leg weary-jet lag” excuses allowed. For the record Southern Utah did all the damage necessary with five runs in the top of the third and then it was time to start the bus up the 5 and 405. Ironically on Sunday the Aztecs had one of their finest games scoring 11 times over the first three innings whipping Brigham Young, 13-6. LBSU enjoyed a similar offensive outburst with their 16-9 smackdown of USC to put the brooms in motion for the third weekend in a row. The Ross Porter of the Blair press box, Bob Keisser, crunched the numbers—Shane Peterson, he of the grand slam fame, hit .692 on the weekend with 9 RBIs, Jason Tweedy had back to back three hit outings and the team hit .376. That upped the team batting average from .232 to .261 and despite all the wind-aided offense the team ERA is still an impressive 2.41. By comparison SDSU is hitting .278 with a 5.26 ERA. Six LB starters are hitting over .300 including third baseman Taylor Krick (.351), rightfielder Jason Corder (.423) and surprising freshmen catcher John Hill, .500. “He’s a very interesting guy,” Weathers understated. Another rook of interest is freshman centerfielder Jonathan Jones, holding down a spot while Chris Nelson mends. Jones (.300) had game-winning hits in each of the last two games.

BRACKET DUST-- got to love the ESPN TV graphic post of "Cal State Santa Barbara" during the BWCT...UCSB are those mean preppies who holler "state school" at our athletic teams…I don’t know the facts but I heard that the dollar amount of the three year NCAA LB hoop sanction sinning was just $1600…and yes I guess Fullerton will make it to Omaha this year, but it is baskets playing that regional, not baseball…the hoop Titans are transfer U, all 13 players are transfers, Russell, Morgan and Alexander, West Valley College; Lima, Arizona Western; Cutley and Crenshaw, Kent State; Robinson, East Carolina, Reed, Georgetown; Green, College of Sequoias; Thomas, Penn Valley; Lassiter,San Francisco CC; and Anderson, Saddleback College…Dirtbags will salute the 1998 College World Series team prior to the Sunday, April 13 game against UC Irvine…despite the Sunday slamfest let’s see how the Beach bats in the cool of the evening tonight, however if wind makes the Dirtbag hitters feel powerful, get Mr. Connolly to bring the wind tunnel gear over from Boeing and turn it on in the bottom of the first eight innings…we won’t need it in the bottom of the ninth…now that we have moved Fullerton off our watch and harass list we are ready to add UC Irvine…they beat SC 11-3 last Tuesday and then smacked Hawaii: on the weekend, W 9-0, W 14-3, W 13-4…this weekend they will have at least one tough game at the ASU Tournament in Tempe…the Eaters play Florida International, Northern Colorado, and then host Arizona State…peeking to the weekend UCLA's bats have awakened from their early offense slumber…the Bruins averaged just 4.25 runs per game through their first eight contests but have scored more than nine runs per game over their last seven…my distant cousin, Richmond’s Billy Barber, cracked 6 home runs over 5 games, went 12-for-24, knocked in 16 runs, scored 9 times and added 3 doubles. His slugging percentage was 1.375…okay so we are not really related…my guess is that Evan Longoria will not be the starter for Tampa Bay in the opener…and the reason is monetary not talent…for arbitration reasons expect vet Joel Guzman to go until the Rays front office makes their long term deal with Evan and protect their “economic interest”…meanwhile all the guys on the field, especially manager Joe Maddon, are anxious for the best looking rook in MLB to get to the show…me too—DR. DAN

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Call this confessions of an inter-net fan if you like, but pressing appointments with Uncle Sam (my tax return) and must see volleyball (LB vs. Penn State) kept me in LB on Saturday during that wild and windy 9-6 Niner win over USC at Dedeaux. So how do you go from a taut little ball 2-1 thriller with just one error to a gorilla ball affair with three homers and five errors?

The answer comes from that famous real estate mantra: location, location, location. Night games at Blair with Andrew Liebel and the best guy the other folks have mean one thing; a breezy afternoon in a smallish ball park is something else. Today the Beach (11-3) will try to impress the pollsters with another three in a row weekend and who knows what Mother Nature and Father Weathers have in mind for hard luck USC.
On Saturday, the talented student radio folks at SC were my window to the world since the expected video feed never materialized. Never mind with Game Tracker on all was well and besides the kids left their mikes open and you picked up extra stuff along with the symphonic background sounds of the campus carillons and south central sirens. After being shut out for the last eight innings Friday night the Trojans went four more scoreless frames before Vasquez and Green were the major players in two three run innings. Thanks to Jason Markovitz, who got the win and Brian Shaw, who got the save, Troy stayed quiet down the stretch. Shane Peterson drove in three with his 4-for-5 day, Jason Corder hit a home run, doubled and walked twice and Jonathan Jones broke the last tie (6-6 in the eighth) with a screaming RBI triple down the left field chalk. On the day it was the patented picket fence offense and not the crooked numbers. The Beach put up runs in seven innings but still stranded nine. Coming in the chat was about the shaky SC D and it came true in the sixth when a Beach bunt to third baseman Billy Pinkerton was thrown away and two gift runs came in. Vance Worley burned some innings before Roberts served up the three run homer to Green in the seventh.

HOOVER DUST—Peterson continued smoking with two doubles and three RBI for the 49ers and Jason Tweedy was 3-for-5…Markovitz upped his record to 2-0, with 1.2 perfect innings…it was Shaw’s fourth save of the the seventh Pinkerton led off by reaching on a rare throwing error by Espinosa and when Buss walked Roberts had an 0-2 count on Green who slammed his first homer to tie the game at six apiece…Espinosa scored twice and got a sacrifice fly …RPI list has at lot of BWC teams really high nationally…LBSU checking in at #4. UCI #6 and Fullerton #8…on the strength of schedule the Trojans are either #1 or #2 and the Beach is #9…today teen sensation Jake Thompson goes for LB against USC’s Ryan Cook, a seven game winner in 2007, with a 3.43 and 2-1 record this season…guess all that K rep for LB got to the Trojans, they swung early and often again on Saturday and nobody struck out…former Beach hoop coach Seth Greenberg said yesterday that if his Va Tech team doesn’t get in everybody on the NCAA selection committee is “certifiably insane.” Gee is that the new image of our sweet old Seth who lobbied his way to an ACC coach of the year prize?...Penn State volleyball is tall and talented but their bench had more whine last night than the Napa Valley. Long Beach scrapped their way to a game five but two Lion overpasses were bumped back instead of being put down and LB lost…lots of key matches left but a missed opportunity to shine the post-season resume…the good news Beach report were wins by softball and tennis…so this time last year Scott Waterman was getting his LB team ready for the Big Dance…cut loose with all the rest of the Niner coaches anticipating the NCAA violation report Waterman was picked up by Fullerton and the Titans (81-66 over Irvine) will know later today who, when and where…On the Big West scoreboard for Saturday—UCLA 12, Cal Poly 9; Pacific 3, Minnesota 1; UC Santa Barbara 6, Southern Utah 5; UC Irvine 14 and 13, Hawaii 3 and 4;Arizona 6, Cal State Fullerton 2; UC Santa Barbara 10, Southern Utah 7; UC Davis 12 and 7, Santa Clara 5 and 3; and SDSU, our Tuesday guest, clobbered BYU 13-6…the Titans earn my “schadenfreude salute” (in German it means "a malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others.") for losing their third in a row—DR. DAN

Friday, March 14, 2008


Unless you are a college baseball purist, or the parent of a pitcher, don’t you honestly mumble under your breath, “Somebody turn off the fan!” If you believed our Tuesday’s word—Timing-- then you will enjoy our weekend word—Strikeout. I actually swiped the fan idea from the Hawaii TV announcers who were frustrated by the way the guys in the Beach shirts kept breezing baseballs past the Rainbow hitters. As poorly as the Niners (9-3 and ranked 7th) have hit thus far this season (.232), the 2008 mound crew might be the best ever at least in terms of depth. Twelve games into the season the team ERA is 2.12 and the opponents batting average is just .222 and, as you know, that includes the free swingers from Rice, Wichita State and that UH crew.

So far the Beach hurlers have recorded 124 strikeouts, that being just a hair over ten per game, which is a lot of outs to give away, especially to a team that is averaging only four runs per game. Interestingly tonight’s visitors from downtown (9-5 and unranked) pride themselves as being very selective, fanning only 5.5 times per game, .302 batting average and scoring almost 7 runs per game. Both LBS and USC were unlucky on Tuesday. SC swept Winthrop (now 10-3) in Rock Hill, SC and on the Beach was on the big Rock, aka Hawaii (now 7-9). LB then lost to Western Illinois 3-0 while USC lost to UCI 11-3. The ‘Eaters took advantage of five SC errors, six walks and eight hit batters.

As usual 49er Friday nights start with the Devil from Damien, Andrew Liebel (0-0, 1.16). The devil is what the hitters see and the Damien is Andrew’s alma mater, ironically a private catholic high school in LaVerne. From his stat line you wouldn’t think that Liebel had no decisions in his 23.1 innings but it just has been that kind of season. ‘Drew does have an impressive 32 strikeouts and with the mop up men behind him giving up virtually nothing, skipper Mike Weathers ain’t about to complain. His opposite number tonight will be Trojan Tommy Milone, a hard throwing lefty with fancy numbers of his own, 2-0, and 2.00. The Saturday matchup, down there at 1:30 p.m., will see Vance Worley (2-0, 3.38 and in his own K groove with 11 in his Hawaii win) facing SC’s Kevin Couture (1-0, 2.84). Meanwhile the parent moment on Sunday's will be our guy Jake Thompson who skipped his senior year of high school, facing USC’s catcher and early enrollee Robert Stock. Stock’s mom actually helped the Thompson family agree with the idea of kids forgoing mystery meat in the cafeteria, PE classes and senior proms for college.

HOOPLESS DUST—While the Trojan faithful will have to keep one eye on tonight’s 6 p.m. Pac 10 basketball biz, the Niners and super fan Perry Moore have packed up all that March sadness…alternate destination tonight is the Mid where men’s volleyball faces IPFW, who played for the NCAA title last year…tomorrow is more fan friendly, an evening contest against #1 Penn State…history lesson on the frequently used term “dose" as in getting hit by a pitch from John Manuel of BA and Professor George Horton, now of Oregon U…John first, “The strategy started with Wally Kincaid” (Horton's old coach at Cerritos College) where the Falcons invented the small ball strategy…in that program was a young Dave Snow who took his ideas to LA Valley JC before finding fame and fortune at LMU then LBSU…Horton picks up the story, “Coach Snow had Doug Baker (at L.A. Valley), who was a great fielder, base-runner, but he couldn't hit his way out of a paper sack," Horton recalled. "Times were a little different then, and Coach Snow was trying to figure out a way to get this valuable player into his lineup, so he was kidding around with Baker. He says, 'Hey Bake, if you get hit by a pitch, I'll buy you a Dos Equis beer every time.' So that's how it started. It's not 'take a dose' like medicine, it's 'take a Dos' like the beer."…oh yes Baker set his team’s HBP record…guess compliance people would frown on that now, but as we know, sometimes stuff slips by them

Closing quote from SC’s Chad Kreuter who may be a bit nervous coming into Blair with a team that has committed 25 errors, including five at home on Tuesday..."Long Beach State relies mainly on their pitching and defense to get their wins," Kreuter said. "They've done a great job not just this year, but their history shows Blair Field is a great place to pitch."…let’s hope the fans see something more than fans, maybe some hitting—DR. DAN

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


They got their nickname from an old Marine who was the football coach back in 1927 and are the only public school in the U.S. that has permission to use the U. S. Marine Corps official seal, mascot (the bulldog) and nickname. Not a household name in college baseball, WIU suprises somebody every year. For example in 2007 they collected three Big Ten scalps--Northwestern (13-9), Purdue (5-2) and Iowa (9-2). Now do I think that Leathernecks will beat Long Beach? No, but my job is to increase tension and apprehension among the Blair Field faithful so forget the facts that the Niners have swept the last two weekends and are numbers 7, 7, 7, and 9 in the polls while the visitors are 0 for ‘08 (0-6) and won’t play their first home game until March 28.

The Leathernecks are on a prolonged spring break having already traveled to Alabama, Missouri and Oklahoma, not exactly Cancun, Palm Springs or Ft. Lauderdale. They don’t play at home until March 28 but the good news for Mid-Continent Conference Coach of the Year Stan Hyman and his lads WIU sports info reported to me that Macomb (sort of on the Iowa side of Illinois) has its first non-fast foods chain restaurant, drum roll please, Wild Wings. And now back to your regularly scheduled Diamond Dust.

LBSU is now is the only team in the Top Ten with a team batting average (.240) in the bottom ten. The secret is to parlay brilliant pitching (2.12 team ERA) with timely hitting for a seven game win streak and Juco import Tyler Topp (0-0, 0.84) expects to continue that streak leading up to the weekend of here, there, and here with Southern Cal. While the Bags brought back three wins and a suitcase full of macadamia nuts from Hawaii, the former batting leader Danny Espinosa brought back Excedrin Headache #49 going 2-14. The good news was the discovery of catcher John Hill who debuted with a 3-6 weekend and three RBIs, Jason Corder who missed the two weekends with a knee injury is now batting .462, and third baseman Taylor Krick upped his average to .417.

DOW JONES DUST—after a mild decline, half my net worth, the DJIA was up 300 plus at deadline…next up for WIU is a trip to the U with a View Pepperdine tomorrow and two other nice yards, San Diego and Point Loma…they lost twice by one run to Alabama State and scored a lot but lost four to Oklahoma…their best bats are catcher Cooper Stewart (.467), third baseman Drew Laidig (.462) and outfielder Jared Wolf (.438)…bad number--a team ERA of 7.96…this weekend look for our pal Pat West who is the proud grandma of one of our favorite sons, Maine hockey standout Travis Ramsay who today has gone pro with the Manitoba Moose in the AHL, top farm team for the Vancouver Canucks….for the fantasy baseball crowd ESPN came out with the list of the top 10 MLB shortstops for 2008 and ex Bag Troy Tulowitzki checked in at number six. They are in order: 1. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins; 2. Jose Reyes, Mets; 3. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies; 4. Derek Jeter, Yankees; 5. Carlos Guillen, Tigers; 6. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies; 7. Rafael Furcal, Dodgers; 8. Miguel Tejada, Astros; 9. Michael Young, Rangers and 10. Orlando Cabrera, White Sox….as much as I like live baseball at Blair, after midnight I loved the ten buck live TV feed from Honolulu’s Channel 5…I saw players close up, replays, the lush green domo fake grass and dirt, real Hawaiian shaved ice and great graphics featuring the inter-locking LB and not that old Pyramid logo…all that and no jet lag

Meanwhile Hawaii stays busy…they play a two game mid week set against Alabama-Birmingham tonight and Wednesday, travel to UC Irvine for a three-game series on the weekend...meanwhile our weekend dance partner USC used a 7-1 victory over the Winthrop Eagles on Sunday to earn their own sweep…Trojans play UCI at home tonight, trying to crawl back into the national picture with their 9-4 record… the Big West on this Tuesday--UC Riverside at Loyola Marymount; Pacific at Sacramento State; UC Santa Barbara at Cal Poly; and San Diego at Cal State Fullerton…our closing quote from WIU’s Stan Hyman after getting beat at Oklahoma, “This was a very frustrating loss,…we out-hit them 14-to-10, we made one error while they made four and we end up losing by five runs….we left 14 guys on base and have to start getting the big hit when we need it” ..we all know the feeling skipper. –DR. DAN


After burning rubber all around town last week, tires and sneakers, I have decided that the word of the week is Timing. For the passionate homecoming crowd that shot clock excitement, plus or minus one second, may have altered the men’s basketball season record but after digesting the very mild NCAA penalties nobody that I spoke with was really complaining.

That same Saturday also included a run up to Mayfair Park where the softball side of the Beach sports portfolio had a very fine weekend themselves with their own over-time battle with #2 UCLA. The Sweethearts of Swat (15-8) are off to San Diego this weekend but have made a nice dent in the national polls. Tennis was the second stop of Saturday and the net set enjoyed a 6-1 romp over their rivals from UCI and that sets the stage for another Big West title run.

And you know I would eventually get around to baseball where timing was really important last week. On Tuesday the Dirtbags (a legit Top Tem team with a bottom ten batting average of .240) were no-hit for five innings by lowly LMU and then had to scramble back from a one run deficit to escape with a W. At Hawaii on Friday the Beach was down 3-0 going into the eighth before winning in 12, had to hold on for a 4-2 victory Saturday and was behind 4-2 before a five run seventh led to the Sunday win. The team ERA is still a stunning 2.12 but that batting average won’t impress this weekend’s dance partner USC.

The Trojans traveled themselves last weekend to play and sweep the Winthrop Eagles. Now 9-4, USC features Roberto Lopez with his 12 game hit streak and a chip on their shoulder for the spanking the Beach gave them last year. For the Niners you just aren’t sure anymore who will take the lead. Chris Nelson and Jason Corder drove in three runs in the Sunday win, but Espy (another great glove weekend) went a miserable 2-14 at the plate. Freshman catcher John Hill saw his first action and went 3-6 in Hawaii with three RBIs. The bullpen was brilliant as usual and has yet to give up an earned run. Even with Manny McElroy scratched for the year with a bad back, the pitching staff is arguably the best in the USA.

DUST UPS—The NCAA report did leave administrators with concerns over how watchful their compliance department was. The coaches will be able to recruit normally this summer and the incoming class looks excellent.

More timing, in the victory over Stanford the 49er volley lads got the win despite being out hit because they won the serving war, 13 aces to three. The other note from MVB is that officially Coach Alan Knipe has squashed the rumor that the Gold Mine has been recently haunted. “It isn’t so much that we don’t play well in the Gold Mine but that other teams feel more comfortable in that setting than in the Pyramid”

Knipe as a player won a lot of matches in the old gym during that 1991 NCAA title run. Ironically that year the biggest crowd was a fire-marshal-looking the other way packed house of 2,091 in a loss to USC. This weekend all the action is in the Pyramid including Saturday’s feature match with top-ranked Penn State.

Last add blood, sweat and tears. Donovan Morris won the 2008 BWC scoring title but when some blood got on his #4 jersey Saturday he switched to a clean #55. The Niner gunner, inspired by the last occupant of that jersey (Aaron Nixon) proceeded to nail a wild off-balance three just like last year’s Big West MVP. This time, however, the Niners lost.—DR. DAN

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


In the race for Rosenblatt in June, your fighting Dirtbags, underdogs in January, are making their move in March. On the strength of an amazing weekend whipping of Wichita State, Long Beach has cracked the top ten in one poll (#9 in the USA Today Coaches Poll) and came in #10 in Baseball America, #11 in Collegiate Baseball and NCBWA, and #12 in Rivals. I'm a writer, not a fortune teller and I know the Road to Omaha is long and winding but heading into tonight’s battle with Loyola Marymount the Niner stock is rising fast.

The Beach story has been moving from reliance on one very talented shortstop to getting some offensive balance to go with predictably great pitching. One important case in point is the new full time first baseman Shane Peterson who got the free Cadillac Escalade as the Big West Conference's Player of the Week for batting .471, collecting eight RBIs and putting up a .706 slugging percentage. Slash (for his old assignment of pitching and hitting) had three multi-hit games, drove in the game-winning run on Friday, a game-tying RBI double on Saturday and five RBIs on Sunday. That certain shortstop spoken of earlier, Danny Espinosa leads the team at .500 (14-for-28) and puts the wide open spaces to good use with five doubles leading to a .786 slugging percentage. Taylor Krick, the versatile third baseman/catcher checks in at .353, and even homered in the 8-3 Shocker rout on Sunday. LMU (3-5) has been a puzzle this season, scoring but not defending, but has a reputation over the years of making mid-weekers miserable. Lion vet Nate Keadle, 28 appearances last season posted a 2-0 record in WCC play and in last summer’s Jayhawk League, impressed with a 2.70 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 33.1 innings of work. The home boys are still looking for a hot Tuesday hand and are going with Tyler Topp who like most of the pen men has been perfect in his short order cooking with six strikeouts in his 5.1 innings. The best of the Lion bats is Kyle Spraker's .385 but the 14 errors already this season is worrisome. On the other side the Bags have a modest .968 fielding percentage but disgruntled and defeated Shocker coach Gene Stephenson told the media that "Let's face it, we beat ourselves…on critical plays we didn't make the plays…we did not have good at-bats in key points…you won't beat anyone when you strike out 35 times in a series."

FLASHBACK DUST—Over losing two in a row to the Beach, Rice swept through the Houston College Classic, the only team ever to win all three of its games in the Minute Maid Park tourney…the Owls beat Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech…Andrew Liebel, who last year at this time was coming out of the bullpen, is arguably the most effective pitcher in the nation, a 0.0 ERA and 22 Ks in 15.1innings…with the Bags on the way to Hawaii this weekend, softball invites you to their contest with Notre Dame Friday night in their tourney which features ranked opponents, including Virginia Tech, UCLA and Northwestern, playing at Mayfair Park…if you prefer your action indoors the Beach athletes can also offer men’s volleyball against Stanford Friday night back in the Pyramid…from the Hawaii papers some nice anticipation for the return of favorite son and Dirtbag catcher Kip Masuda. Kip got off to a great start as a freshman but his Dad got extremely ill and passed at the beginning of his sophomore year. Kip went back to the islands and then "I asked my mom if she wanted me to stay home and she told me that I should keep going on with it," Masuda said. He came back to Long Beach with a heavy heart and gold chain that his father always wore and now he wears it every game. “I wanted to keep playing" and so he will this weekend at “home” in front of friends and family…Tuffy stuffy…that three-game sweep of the Titans was the third time in a row Stanford has swept CSUF up there…UCLA visits Nutwood tonight and then Southern Miss comes this weekend…Irvine, 7-0, plays USD tonight then weekends at Tulane…where are they-Daniel Wolford who transferred to Cal got a win over USD throwing 4.1 innings, two hits, one walk and two strikeouts…more Grumpy Gene, “Long Beach is a good team, but I look forward to playing them in a few months."…hummm that would have to be post-season somewhere…LB travels to the University of Hawaii for the weekend (games do count despite rumors that the fall USD series worked against that) get extra games for going to the Big Rock...then Tuesday at home against the Leathernecks of Western Illinois—DR. DAN

Monday, March 03, 2008


During the off season the story went around that a new scoreboard would be on the way to Blair Field to more properly display the baseball prowess of Long Beach State. Until last Saturday afternoon they could have listed the current board on EBay as “lightly used”. But finally, after 11 runs in the first five games, the homeboys found some offense and scored 16 in the next two contests and swept 7th ranked Wichita State out of town.

So instead of being rewarded with that trip down the road to Disneyland the Dirtbags are in Hawaii for a weekend of baseball with the UH Warriors. The team travels with a top ten ranking and a mixture of veterans and newcomers that added hitting to their traditional outstanding pitching. Danny Espinosa, Shane Peterson, and Taylor Krick all had multiple hit games with Espinosa checking in with a .500 batting average and his usual flawless defense. Andrew Liebel, who last year at this time was coming out of the bullpen, is arguably the most effective pitcher in the nation, a 0.0 ERA and 22 strikeouts over 15 innings. Oh yes, the LBSU setup guys and closers have been perfect as well.

So with the hardball folks off the mainland you can still get some diamond time this weekend when the 49er softball team, 12-7 overall, hosts their annual Long Beach Invitational. The sweethearts of swat went 3-1 last weekend and crushed host UNLV 10-0 paced by Jessica Beaver (four RBIs) and another shutout from freshman pitcher Brooke Turner. LB starts on Friday night against Notre Dame with a field of ranked opponents, including Virginia Tech, UCLA and Northwestern, playing throughout the weekend.

If you prefer your action indoors the Beach athletes can also offer men’s volleyball against Stanford Friday night back in the Pyramid. Call me superstitious but when I heard that the CIF cash register had run the Niner volleyball team out of the Pyramid to the Gold Mine last weekend I had dark memories of when the Beach lost to LMU in a key post-season GM game. Last weekend the Niners split two matches, losing to CSUN in 5 followed the next night by defeating UCSB in 5. The match starts early, 6 p.m.

LAST ADDS--From the Hawaii papers some nice anticipation for the return of favorite son and Dirtbag catcher Kip Masuda. Kip got off to a great start as a freshman but his Dad got extremely ill and passed at the beginning of his sophomore year. Kip went back to the islands and then "I asked my mom if she wanted me to stay home and she told me that I should keep going on with it," Masuda said. He came back to Long Beach with a heavy heart and gold chain that his father always wore and now he wears it every game. “I wanted to keep playing" and so he will this weekend at “home” in front of friends and family.

Beach tennis, off of an impressive win over St. Mary’s, plays Pacific on Friday then takes on their biggest conference rival, UC Irvine, at 1:30 PM Saturday at their temporary home courts, El Dorado Park. Their on-campus facility has been bulldozed for a brand new complex due this summer.

Finally, and that is perhaps the best way to consider Beach basketball, both the Niner men and women finish their regular seasons and await invites to the Big West Tournament. The men close out hosting Cal Poly tonight (Thursday) and then salute their seniors in their last game on Saturday against UC Santa Barbara. A Homecoming party leading up to the 4 p.m. tip-off starts at noon in front of the Pyramid. The ladies play the same two institutions on the same days but on the road. –DR. DAN

Saturday, March 01, 2008


The numbers were kind of what you might expect for leap year baseball. Twelve roller coaster innings, 26 strikeouts (a team record 18 by the 3-2 losers from Wichita State) and 3 hours 28 minutes ending with Shane Peterson doubling in Danny Espinosa. But numbers, interesting as they are, don’t tell the story of another outstanding pitching duel, this time all Americans Andrew Liebel and Rob Musgrave. Like the Liebel-Ryan Berry duel in the Rice series, this pair carved up the opposition for the first half of the evening before turning matters over to a cast of relievers and fielders who created their own excitement of enough twists and turns to tongue-tie the on-looking experts.

After a room service double play ball turned into a double, two errors by one player on one play, and more runners stranded on third than a traffic jam at the LA Marathon, Shane Dennis, in the press box doing the KNSS Wichita radio play by play, resorted to telling his audience, “ Well if you missed it, you missed it.” The first score was fairly normal. Taylor Krick led off the Dirtbag second with a double off the left field wall, Weathers little balled in to third and he scored on a wild pitch by Rob Musgrave. Maybe that would be enough. In the bottom of the sixth the Niners had the making of a big inning with a Bag on every bag but only a bases loaded walk got a Niner run in after the Shocks talented set up guy Tyler Fleming rolled a double play ball to keep it close. The visitors had a big chance of their own fizzle, after Andy Dirks legged out a triple to left Ryan Jones reached on a fielder’s choice but Dirks was frozen and the next guy forced him out at home. On the night WSU would strand nine and the Beach 12. Now we get to the crazy part. The eighth started normally with another Liebel K before a walk on his 109th pitch brought in David Roberts. Ryan Jones banged that Espy-made double play ball but it hit the lip of the infield and bounced into center. Next up the big swinger Gillaspie hit one hard toward Peterson at first who stopped it from heading to the RF corner but when the ball got to freshman Devin Lohman he tried to make a hard play twice instead of just holding the pill with two outs. Assigned two errors when Dirks and Jones scored WSU had now knotted the affair and Lohman would have to wait until the 12th to make amends. He did so by working a free base from loser Andy Womack, moved to second on an Danny Espinosa single and easily scored when Peterson hit one over centerfielder Andy Dirks head. Mob comes out, game over and round two coming up.

DUSTING UP—Shane Peterson, who was red hot from the Fullerton series last year through the Cape Cod League, fanned his first two at bats then had three hits including a double…Espy continued smoking with four hits and his fifth double in five games…Nick Vincent faced two batters, striking out one and got his 2nd W…it is too early for this stat to mean anything but ten LB pitchers have perfect 0.0 who doesn’t gets the start today, Vance Worley (0-0, 2.57)…he will battle Peterson’s fellow Cape Cod all star Aaron Shafer (1-0, 1.50)…young Jake Thompson (0-1, 1.50) goes on Sunday against WSU's Tim Kelley (1-0, 2.25). … around the Big West yesterday Nebraska 3, UC Riverside 2; UCSB 7, LMU 7 (suspended darkness); Cal State Northridge 7, La Salle 5; UC Davis 12, Utah 4; Stanford 12, Cal State Fullerton 5; UC Irvine 4, San Francisco 0 and Washington 10, Pacific 1… in the pre-game party zone today are the Shocker parents, friends, alums and talented guys stolen from the Beach…the latter two are head trainer Dan Cahill and Athletics VP Brian Pracht who wore the LBSU black and gold about ten years ago and in fact, keep the same color scheme while working the WSU side…off course, our Niner on the back nine, John Mallinger, heading to another nice PGA payday -5 and 3 shots in back of the leader after 2 rounds...tonight hoops are at CSUF and MVB in the Gold Mine—DR. DAN