Monday, April 28, 2008


Mother Nature, Father Weathers and the Big West Schedule Maker all got on the same page by the end of April and for Long Beach baseball the result was that the amazing Dirtbag Dream Machine is back on the road to the post season.

For a while it looked like the Beach boys had blown an engine, flattened four tires, and couldn’t find enough change in the sofa to fill up the gas tank. Mother’s effort was to turn up the heat home and away which in part was responsible for melting eight of their last ten opponents including sweep weekends over Northridge and Pacific. Father Weathers played tough love and Russian Roulette with his batting order and his bats and despite some more injuries, it worked out. Corder went down, Corder went up. Rylan was on the bench, then in the interview circle after a four hit effort. It is true that the winning came over the bottom dwellers of the conference so we’ll credit the schedule maker for giving the homeboys a breather when they needed it.

So this weekend they should get back at least one competitor from the disabled list, Brandon Godfrey, but in his absence sub Rylan Sandoval has jumped into the .300 club hitting .319 overall and .450 in conference games. The Killer Ts have also produced when it matters, with BWC numbers like .346 for TJ Mittelstaedt, .348 for Steve Tinoco and .448 for Jason Tweedy. “Gosh I got to wonder,” Weathers sighed, “how much more we would have won if Tweedy hadn’t been out 18 games with that hand injury?”

With no mid-week game to tire the youngsters, LB takes the bus and three bats up to Davis for a weekend with the formerly first place Aggies. “I limited them to two bats to keep things simple (the 33 TPX is hitting .376) but we added one more” Weathers quipped. Lots of ball to play but for the moment the Niners are still tied for first in the loss column. The beauty contest of the polls and RPI will play into the NCAA selection process but where you finish in your own league is very important.

HOT SPOT DUST—They ran a great MPSF tournament, and played one good game, but the third-ranked Long Beach State men's volleyball team woke up Sunday still praying for the 2008 NCAA Division I Men's Volleyball Championships coveted at-large bid. They got it and start tonight (Thursday) at 8 p.m. in the Bren Event Center on the campus of UC Irvine. The Niners (23-6) rematch with red hot Pepperdine, just 16-10, but featuring a healthy wonder from down under, 6-7 Australian Olympian Paul Carroll. The other semifinal will pit No. 1 seed Penn State (28-1) against No. 4 seed Ohio State (20-7).

Two other hot spots on the Beach docket are women’s tennis and softball. Breezing through three mercy ruled 4-0 wins at ritzy Indian Wells, senior tennis star Stephanie Bengson got a visit from mum and dad, tied the school-record for combined wins and helped her team to earn another automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament in two weeks. LBSU also reached the NCAAs in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.
Last of the good news gang is women’s softball (38-12) who broke records and upped their lead in the Big West to three games. Jessica Beaver became the all-time career leader in RBI (112) and pitcher Brooke Turner threw her 15th shutout of the season as Kim Sowder’s club swept Riverside. These Sweethearts of Swat play their final regular season series on the road this weekend at old rival Fullerton and then hope to host a NCAA Regional.

Now direct and unedited from Baseball America your weekend wrap-up-- “25. LONG BEACH STATE Last Week: 3-1. Overall: 26-15, 8-4 in Big West. (10-9 vs. Top 25). Weekend Series: 7-3. The Dirtbags got two walk-off wins to sweep their second straight series against one of the Big West's bottom-feeders. They trail first-place Cal State Fullerton by just 1.5 games. Sr. 2B Jason Tweedy (3-for-4, 3B, 3 RBI) led a 10-hit attack Friday in support of Sr. RHP Andrew Liebel (7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K). Tweedy was one of four Dirtbags to record three-hit games in Saturday's slugfest, and he singled and scored the winning run on an error in the bottom of the ninth. Jr. 3B Rylan Sandoval (4-for-5, 2 2B, 2 RBI) led a 16-hit barrage Sunday, and So. DH T.J. Mittelstaedt singled home the winning run in the bottom of the 11th.” So #25 in BA with more 25’s in Rivals and ESPN, Collegiate Baseball in at #29 and NCBWA likely in the low twenties.

Last add- hoop happiness. Dan Monson stopped by baseball with four kids in tow, including baseball named youngsters Maddox and McGuire, and was glowing about plucking a pair of coveted Connecticut prep school scorers for next year. T.J. Robinson (6-7, 210, St. Thomas More) signed first and then lured Larry Anderson, 6-6, 215, via Jordan High and Winchendon Prep to pass on Xavier and come to the Beach. "We feel these two really add athleticism and qualities to our basketball program that we were lacking this year," said Monson. Amen Brother.—DR DAN


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