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


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