Saturday, April 12, 2008


Game day for Diamond Dust on a Friday starts at the crack of ten when I retrieve a week’s mish-mash of notes, quotes and numbers. With my marketing bosses expecting a big crowd (2181 showed up) I needed to wrap the Dust before noon. Assignment completed, time for a quick lunch and a short run over to El Dorado where the Niner tennis team is in a struggle with LMU.

I am optimistic as I run by the new Fresh & Easy grocery and pick up a couple of wrapped sandwiches for the Irvine series and a suitcase of diet soda. 5:55 p.m. I roll into the Blair parking lot and everybody seems upbeat. The tri tip is grilling; the beer is flowing and at 6:25 p.m. the anthem singer was clean and crisp and quick--a minute forty-one. Andrew Liebel gets rid of the Eaters without issue in the first and second and then a sign from above, Danny Espinosa (who broke out of his funk and went 3-for-4 with two RBIs) drives in the game’s first run in the second. End of optimism. On this night Irvine had an answer for everything LB did tying up the contest with their score in the top of the third and going ahead with another single run in the fourth. The hottest of the Niner hitters, Jason Corder was saluted by ‘Eater skipper Mike Gillespie by being intentionally walked his first two at bats. Finally with first base occupied, Corder singled through the left side to score Jonathan Jones and then Devin Lohman's single gave LBSU a 3-2 lead a batter later. Optimism returns.

Now it’s just before 8 p.m. and the 49er faithful are wondering if three would be enough, after all in six of their first 13 games the Beach won with four runs or less. Sadly a couple of minutes later the Eaters answered again with two more tallies which would be followed by six more in a singles night at Blair. (17 of the visitor’s hits were singles). The Beach boys bluffed at rallies in the eighth and ninth with single runs, but four hours eight minutes later the scorekeeper closed the book and the LB skipper Mike Weathers closed the clubhouse. Scoreboard totals were correct, UCI 10-21-3 and LBSU 5-10-3. At 11:03 p.m. the LB parents and pals were still standing on the sidewalk behind the home locker room while the “Eater Nation” bus rolled south.

CHANGING SUBJECTS-- The fourth-ranked Long Beach State men's volleyball team received a strong offensive performance up and down the line-up in a 30-18, 30-25, 30-24 win at 14th-ranked UC Santa Barbara last night…Paul Lotman led the 49ers with 19 kills and a career-high six service aces…tonight is the monster contest however as the 22-5 Niners are still tied for first place in the MPSF at 17-4 but a win at third-ranked Cal State Northridge means the Beach boys clinch the MPSF regular season championship and the right to host the conference semis and finals April 24 & 26 in the ‘Mid…remember that tennis match mentioned earlier well that came out fine too…. Senior Stephanie Bengson broke the LB record for career singles victories in leading the 37th-ranked Niner netters to a 5-2 win over LMU Friday afternoon…the 49ers improved to 15-5 and if you are in the stands they are in action across the parking lot playing Pacific at the Billie Jean King Tennis Courts…the Beach has already wrapped up the No. 1 seed at the Big West Championships, April 24-27 at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens….last of yesterday’s Niner good news was from water polo where Dayna Wawrzynski scored four goals including the eventual game-winner in the fourth quarter as Long Beach State (12-13, 4-6 MPSF) upset No. 4-ranked Hawaii (15-7, 7-4 MPSF) 10-9 at the campus pool Friday afternoon. Kristen Stragier made 12 saves in goal for the 49ers, including 10 in the first half

Back to the bases, Scott Gorgen is beginning to take his lumps losing last week to CSUF and going just 6.1 innings giving up four runs on eight hits, walking five, with a hit batter and a wild pitch…his best work however was getting Travis Howell to roll into two double plays…10 Niners were left on base…but a suspicious call at second base by ump Frank Flugradt, (protested in two separate visits by Weathers) may have affected the LOB total... UCI did mix in home runs by Larson and Asaro, not easy at night and overall got the most hits since Feb of 2001…the current stink, er, ah stretch is now 1-10 in the last 11…Sunday’s CSTV game starts at 2:30 p.m. and the 1998 CWS team will be honored...two more Niners in the bigs, Evan Longoria (Rays) and Carlos Muniz (Mets) make the Niner number ten…can you believe that the first of the Dirtbag big leaguers, has logged 15 seasons in the show…our closing quote is from Ken Ravizza, the noted sports psychologist who is loyal to, well who ever is hot…his advice to teams is to understand “How ya gonna act when ya gotta scuffle?”…well Ken the scuffle is on—DR. DAN


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