Saturday, May 31, 2008


Welcome to the early edition of your NCAA Long Beach Regional tournament and featuring an unexpected afternoon elimination game between Cal and Cal State. I know that the reference to the home boys as “Cal State” will spike the blood pressure of the hard core, but the general consensus is that there wasn’t much dirtbag in the Dirtbags last night. A virtual unknown guy in this pitching rich regional, lefty Justin Wilson, mixed his stuff in a somewhat out of control fashion, fanned 11 locals in seven innings, and unranked FSU upset the 11th-ranked 49ers 7-3.

Hardly in the same national limelight of hurlers like Matusz, Liebel, Romanski, and Ross, Wilson was the perfect poison for LBSU fanning the first six LB hitters and nine of the first eleven. Swinging early and guessing badly, the Beach never took advantage of his control issues--one wild pitch, two hit batters and three base on balls.

Post game Mike Weathers didn’t like much of anything except Wilson who played for the other side. ““Well, the name of the game was Justin Wilson. He pretty much dominated us and that puts a little unease in the hitters minds…I thought we were pretty undisciplined during that time…We talked about quality of at bats all of the time and we had three quality at bats on my score sheet all night, so we really didn’t do anything all night. The way we’ve been playing down the stretch to get to this point, this is disappointing”. Actually despite the plate impatience their was hope at 3-2 and even 4-2 if, as Liebel would say, “if we could avoid a big inning…” but alas three runs in the top of the eighth upped the Dog lead to five runs and that was it except to change the alarm clocks from a 6 p.m. winner bracket contest to this win or wind it up afternoon sizzler on Seventh. Liebel ended the press conference with that steely glare and the prediction, “We are not done yet.” Now for the Dirtbag’s match-up with the #20-ranked California baseball team. All world USD guy Brian Matusz, a millionaire in waiting on Thursday, snuffed the Bears on just three hits enroute to a 5-0 shutout by a team, No. 7-ranked University of San Diego, who should have been hosting their own show but, well after last year’s two and BBQ in SD are frankly happier taking their act on the road. "It was a tough ballgame," said Cal coach David Esquer, whose Bears are in their first regional since 2001. "That was as good of a pitching performance against us as we have seen this season. We knew it was going to be a game of inches with such good pitching on both teams. We just gave them a little too much and they took advantage of the opportunity. You have to have great defense in this ball park and we did early but…”
In late March the Bears swept the 49ers up there, 6-1, 10-6, and 4-3.

You would think that Cal will go to one of their weekend regulars, righty Alex Rollin (5.40), or reflecting on the Beach woes with the Fresno lefty, Craig Bennigson (6.79). Weathers, looking for four more games, will start Brett Lorin in the must win game and then have Worley, Thompson and Johnny Wholestaff IF the occasion allows…Paul Goydos, in a third base box, had more visitors than Mayor Foster…Gene Rotundo of Legends, hauling food to tent city, will take ownership June 9th of that auctioned PGA worn Dirtbag cap that Goydos showed the world during his sensational Players Championship…off this week, his 2008 earnings are $1,355,467…Larry Randall, the veteran Big West Ump, gave a thumbs up on the status of his fellow Blue brother Reuben Chivara who was knocked unconscious by a foul tip in the Fullerton series…”he’s got a sore head but he will be fine.”

While LBSU AD Vic Cegles was not happy to see his 49ers lose to the Fresno FSU, he was likely happier that his alma mater Bucknell spanked the other FSU, Florida State, 7-0 last night in Tally town…in the BWC action a couple of close but big cigars for Irvine and Davis and the expected 11-0 ho-hummer by Fullerton over the lowly low-riders of Rider…Closer Eric Pettis got out of a bases-loaded jam in the 9th as UC Irvine held off Oral Roberts, 9-7, at the Nebraska Regional. For Davis senior right-hander Eddie Gamboa pitched a four-hit complete game, and Evan Hudson lined a two-run double to highlight a four-run seventh inning to lift UC Davis to a 4-2 upset of top-seeded and No.15-ranked Stanford….the Aggies get a win in their first-ever NCAA D-I playoff game and improve to 35-22 overall and face Pepperdine today….we close with a quote from Coach Weathers who was asked about big names falling on NCAA Day One--Texas, Stanford, Vanderbilt and Florida State…”well, I guess we are on that list now"—DR. DAN

Friday, May 30, 2008


We will begin this private, eyes-only missive by dissecting the Dogs, Fresno State, not your next door neighbor’s little yelper. I do this despite a warning from my ESPN pal Michael Strahan who reminded me that “The last time you had a uniform on was when you were five and your mom took you trick or treating.” Yes but now I am a journalist—(remember how quickly I desert the bleachers and boxes when it is too cold or too sunny). Okay? Comprende? Now let’s proceed in the AARP banned really small type!

Here is what the smart guys at Baseball America had to say, “Fresno State opened the year ranked No. 18 but stumbled to an 8-12 start before recovering to win the WAC's regular season and conference tournament for the third straight year. Fresno's chances took a major hit when ace righthander Tanner Scheppers (8-2, 2.93 with 109 strikeouts in 71 innings)—a potential top-10 overall pick in the draft—went down in mid-May with shoulder pain, ending his season. But the Bulldogs still have a nice collection of experienced, quality arms, led by lefthanders Justin Wilson (6-4, 4.29) and righty Clayton Allison (2-5, 4.17), plus a stalwart closer in Brandon Burke (4-5, 3.26 with 10 saves). The lineup has some power, led by senior outfielder Steve Susdorft (.347 with 10 homers and 75 RBIs), first baseman Alan Ahmady (.389 with 12 homers and 79 RBIs) and third baseman Tommy Mendonca (.273 with 14 homers). One major concern: Danny Muno (21 errors, .903 fielding percentage) is a defensive liability at shortstop, and this regional should place a premium on execution.” Quote end quote.

Next is my own stroll through the FSU post season guide. First, the schedule. Rough start noted above including beat downs early by Davis and SLO, first nine games go three wins and six losses. Better in April until they drop the last four in the month (Nevada and USF) and then can’t solve NMSU. May is much better but the competition is MCC level, sort of like MGB, a light beverage heavy on San Jose and Sac State. Today’s Dog pitcher has been better of late, a 3.20 ERA over the last four starts (25.1 innings). Offensively, Susdorf and Ahmady are RBI giants with 67 and 74 to rank nationally and Danny Muno is 45th the USA in bases on balls. In the stands should be some FSU fans with nine area kids playing but the Red Wave of old is still holding back the passion of yesteryear. Asked about Fresno State's future hopes of hosting an NCAA Tournament themselves, "That is our master plan. We want to earn the respect that will get us back there. We won our third straight conference tournament and have never done that before. We have talked about putting ourselves in a place to host a regional again." This weekend he claims to not be worried. "This is a big weekend with all four of us having seen each other. We have seen Long Beach State twice, Cal three times and San Diego in regional action the past few years. One through four, this regional is probably the toughest regional this year." Oh yes, Susdorf on LB’s hitters, asked about having seen their opponents during the season, "It's nice to see all their hitters and to know what pitches to throw them." Okay.

Batesole, you will recall, got CSUN to the BWC title in his last season…and in 1996 the Mats actually were a game away from the CWS…Justin Wilson has a so-so walk to strikeout ration, 50 walks and a mere 72 Ks in his 92.1 innings…he did have 11 Ks against La Tech in raisin country but relieved in a tourney game against Nevada and allowed six hits in two innings…the team bats at a .301 clip, pitches to a 4.54 team ERA and fields at .971…oh yes, both Peterson (first team, 3.85 GPA in Finance, Real Estate and Law) and Susdorf (second team) have won academic All-American status so if a spelling bee breaks out we could settle matters that way…Susdorf’s advice to the young Dogs in his dugout, “slow it down...,” …that dugout will be on the third base line…top seed gets to pick their side and the Niners will stay in their normal place…Peterson ranks amongst the Big West top-10 in nine different offensive categories, first in batting (.399) and on-base percentage (.510), second in slugging (.601) and rated by Baseball America as the 75th-best prospect in the June Amateur Draft which is next Thursday…a key to this weekend however may well be the re-emergence of Niner senior slugger Brandon Godfrey who batted .553 last week (8-for-15) in leading the Dirtbags over the over-rated F hats… he earned his third career Big West Player of the Week honor, and first since two in 2007.

The Weathers report from the press conference was upbeat. “When we were 17-3, I did tell the guys that there were some things that were not right, but it’s hard to get that across when you're winning. Obviously when you're losing 10 of 11, everyone is more attentive...that was a place this program had never been before. I tried to be patient with it and lean on the experience coming back. There were very high expectations for this team and no excuses for that streak. I think the biggest thing was for me to step in and tell them things were not right and to be real about the situation." Regarding the progress of Jonathan Jones, "He's really been one of our saving graces when we lost our regular center fielder, senior Chris Nelson to a knee injury. Freshmen like J.J. (Jonathan Jones) always want a chance to show what they can do and he certainly showed. He's hit in 34 of 40 games his freshman year and he's really solidified us in center field. He's done a great job not only in center but with the added pressure of being our leadoff man."

And finally the remarkable Andrew Liebel, who Mike said was starting Friday because FSU can really hit and, “I still have Illinois-Chicago (4-1 loss in the game one of last year’s Regional) in the back of my mind.” Back to Liebel and his view of how he helped the team during the losing streak. "My role wasn't really to change anything that I was doing. I just had to go out there and make Friday more important than it already is and put the team back in a position to get back on track." And Andrew, is this start different from others? "It is what it’s a baseball game and I'm going to go out there and compete like I have all year. It’s no bigger than any other game." Finally about the MLB draft, "My position is what it is and I'm not going to worry about it. I haven't put too much thought into it and what's important is this Regional. What's most exciting for me right now is the start tomorrow.” And this squib from Gary Klein in the LA Times on Danny Espinosa and that shortstop U stuff…”Espinosa is batting .311 and playing solid, sometimes spectacular defense for the 49ers, who won a share of the Big West Conference title and are top-seeded in a four-team NCAA Regional that begins today at Blair Field…at 6feet and 190 pounds, Espinosa is not as rangy as Crosby or Tulowitzki, both of whom stand 6-3. But he shares a common mentality. "They all love to catch the ball, I mean with a burning desire," Long Beach State Coach Mike Weathers said. "Some guys, you watch them in workouts and it's no big deal to them to miss balls hit during drills or batting practice. But Bobby, Troy and Danny are all the same -- they get really upset. They don't want to miss anything."

Finally, a couple of shots at Fullerton, especially the conspiracy theorists like Fullerton’s Don In Section K…the LSU press wondered if the Tigers needed to beat Ole Miss to get the 7 national seed…. “They had done enough to get a national seed,” NCAA chair Larry Templeton said Wednesday during the SEC Spring Meeting…the NCAA determines regional host sites and national seeds before Sunday play and so perhaps LB didn’t get the boost it should have for beating FU on Sunday, and the Titans were not dropped a notch for losing…and how easy is the Titan Regional?…you know UCLA, and maybe have heard of Rider but UVA, terrible offense…The lone power threats in the lineup are juniors Jeremy Farrell (.320 with 11 homers and 51 RBIs) and David Adams (.282 with six homers and 50 RBIs)…the Cavs rank 240th in the nation with 25 homers…finally if he hadn’t once been a Titan or the guy that clobbered us at Cal, I would likely like David Cooper, especially when his press conference included his thoughts on the decision to transfer to California from Cal State Fullerton, "It's been exactly what I wanted it to be. It's more of a university feel as opposed to Fullerton, which is more of a commuter school. I like the camaraderie of the school and it’s been exactly what I wanted.”…let the games continue and remember "the ability to reach for the stars is not available to all individuals and teams. Consult local rules and regulations and restrictions."--SIDD FINCH

Monday, May 26, 2008


From Sunday afternoon to Monday morning the Long Beach State baseball team moved from the intersection of Euphoria Avenue to Reality Road. The euphoria of course was the eighth inning announcement of the news that the Niners earned the assignment as an NCAA regional host next weekend in the wide open spaces of their home park, Blair Field. The reality, likely the toughest field in the nation with teams ranked 6 (San Diego), 17 (Cal) and Fresno State, three time WAC champions who went 4-0 last weekend.

The Dirtbag invite was especially pleasurable since it came about the same time that the home boys were snatching the Big West automatic bid and conference co-championship with a 12-3 spanking of Cal State Fullerton. Now back to our reality check already in progress.

As you will recall the Long Beach season had a bi-modal distribution, high in the beginning with a 17-3 start, low in the middle losing nine of ten, and high when it counted at the end, winning 10 of their last 12. The winner of this bracket will face off with national third-seed Arizona State's bracket, which features Oklahoma, Vanderbilt and Stony Brook.

DUST STORMING—The Long Beach show should draw well with its all-California flavor, especially for fans of great pitching. LB skipper Mike Weathers knows three of the incoming aces very well since he had them on his Team USA roster this past summer, Cal's RHP Tyson Ross (7-3, 4.40) and San Diego's lefthanders Brian Matusz (11-2, 1.88) and Josh Romanksi (9-0, 3.76). The mound mystery is will Weathers leave his own ace in the deck and save Clemens Semifinalist Andrew Liebel (8-3, 1.81) or use him against Fresno’s Tanner Scheppers (8-2, 2.93).

The weekend that was did buffo box office, over 2500 per game; but, as usual, lots of unexpected drama. On Friday it rained, yes in May, and Fullerton was feeling pretty chipper with a 4-1 win after the 107 minute delay. On Saturday the amateur umpires, sitting with their foam and friends in the stands, argued an eighth inning ball/strike call with a sober ump about 18 inches away. The Beach rally continued, final score was 8-6 but baseball debates never end.

That set up the Sunday title showdown noted above. Every 49er hit the ball and the Titans (just 37-19) certainly did not look like a number five national seed. On Monday, with their AD Brian Quinn on the NCAA tournament committee, they got arguably the squeezably softest regional in the country with unranks from Virginia, UCLA and Rider.

Back to the upcoming Blair affair. A large part of the reason the NCAA gave the Niners the nod is that the Park and Rec staff offer a perfect set up for fans, media and teams. Phil Hester and the Blair posse are well rehearsed in taking care of locals and out-of-towners with wide open spaces in the stands and on the ball field.

We close with random notes on the NCAA stuff…ESPN U dictated game times for the Fullerton Regional and expect the Titan fans and foes to have to stay up late: Friday, May 30 - 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. ; Saturday, May 31 - 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sunday, June 1 - 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Monday, June 2 - 8 p.m. (if necessary)…the toughest regionals look like Miami and Long Beach and the easiest are Fullerton Coastal Carolina, ASU and Texas A&M…ESPN U is also the reason why the NCAA toughened up the Miami regional with Mizzou and Ole Miss…UC Davis is the last team in the field, evidence of which is that UCD is the only #4 at-large in the 64 but they beat Stanford twice in mid-weekers so the Cards may have to pitch throw their Friday guy on Friday…but will LB do the same? sources said that the Bruins caught the UC Bears at a good and or bad time depending on your point of view…CAL had just come off of a ten day break and looked rusty…on the course, while that missed shot at the PGA Players cost Paul Goydos a lifetime exemption, he did finished tied for 10th yesterday and pocketed $140,300…. Boyd Nation figures that the LB show should be a dandy….LB, Cal and San Diego all rate in Boyds top 8 Nationally, which some figure is a better measure than the RPI…Cal doesn’t look forward to facing Matusz but say it is better in the afternoon…web poster USDGUY says that the Beach shouldn’t get too comfortable because “San Diego's #2 starter (Romanski) is 9-0 on the year.....I don't think pitching is a worry for USD. They have one of the best pitching staff's in the we took both of our games vs. LBSU this year”…okay SD I promise to fret later but right now I have raisins and the Red Wave on my mind.—DR. DAN

Sunday, May 25, 2008


If you are an NCAA party planner and were scouting for locations to invite the baseball families of four of your promising participants I trust that some time early this morning the name of Blair Field as a venue and Long Beach State as a host was written in bold letters on your white board. The 49ers (36-19, 15-8 Big West) are a good team and despite trailing 3-1, 5-3, and 6-5 had the character, courage and talent to beat Fullerton 8-6 Saturday night. The stadium, ranked at various times as one of the top college baseball venues in the land, looked great and served the 2657 very nicely. The city is excited, the set up for media and teams is well rehearsed, and out-of-towners can always find the way to LA.

Now for our game story. Due to space constraints we move ahead in our coverage to the bottom of the eighth when super sub T.J. Mittelstaedt worked a bases loaded walk from the Titan closer Adam Jorgenson to tie the game and set the stage for Jonathan Jones’s wipe-the-blood-off-this ball chopper just over the head of Titan third baseman Joel Weeks. Two of JJ’s teammates scampered home and then the still fresh 49er pen took over and slammed the door on the kids in Cal Trans Orange. Dirtbag Bryan Shaw picked up his eighth save, LB leveled the series at a game apiece and Mike Weathers finally exhaled. “Coach what’s going on with the NCAA committee?” “They know what they need to know. Next question.” “How did you all do it?” “Well Brett Lorin was very good for us; he kept us in there (4.1 with 1 ER). Tweedy and TJ worked pretty hard to get walks. I like our pen, and I will like them again Sunday. We have Topp and Roberts rested and ready and we are keeping Vance Worley (6-3, 4.55) starting on Sundays (he won a week ago at SLO). Both sides have known for a week that they are in the tourney but due to the tie breaker rule the winner of today’s game receives the automatic NCAA berth and 12 months of cross-county bragging rights.

THE LAST DUST—and we thank the almost 40,000 readers of the Stadium Dust this season and growing gang that hit the blog or read the Gazette…Shaw's final two outs featured sliders sent in from the bench…”I knew I had to stay out of the middle, to work the black” he said post game…Jared Clark (3-5) struck out with runners on the corners before Brian Wilson grounded out …the Titan collapse was a team effort, errors early kept the Bags in the game until the eighth when reliever Jason Dovel put two runners on and Jorgenson walked two of the next three…Nick Vincent (4-0) finished off the eighth and got the W...LBSU tied the game in the sixth with an explosive RBI triple by Danny Espinosa, the 13th in his career…Regional sites will be announced about 4 p.m. today and likely will have Arizona State, Fullerton, Stanford and hopefully …ESPN shows the whole field Monday morning at and friends will try to raise $250,000 to endow a scholarship in the name pf former coach John McConnell…John was the organizer for a recently completed $125,000 scholarship fund in the name of another ex coach, Bob Weusthoff…in game entertainment included bat boy battles between kids racing in from their respective dugouts…three birthdays in the house, two seven year olds and one 36 year old…that would be a star on the Niners 1993 CWS team Gabe Gonsalves…the CSUF starter is Titan freshman Corey Arbiso (11-2, 4.15)…Saturday’s sun shine was actually ordered early by boosters Bill and Marcia Scharfen who threw a pre-game BBQ and fund raiser on the pool deck of their Park Estates home…speaking of funds, that PGA-worn Paul Goydos Dirtbag baseball cap went for $4000 at the Jewels of the Night auction Saturday…in the rest of the Big West it was Oregon State 8, Pacific 6; UC Davis 7, Cal State Northridge 2; UC Irvine 14, UC Santa Barbara 7; and UC Riverside 7, Cal Poly 2…for the Pac Tens the OSU Beavers upped their record to 27-24.but will it be enough?...the rest of the PAC Tens featured UCLA whipping CAL 7-0 (2-0), Arizona 7, ASU 4 (2-0); Stanford 8, Washington 5 and Washington State 4, USC 2…we close with a note on our first pitch celeb today, back in the 60’s the locals called Niner Rod Gaspar the Rocket for his exceptional foot speed which he used in a major league career highlighted by the Mets 1969 World Series championship…now the rest of the story, long after he hung up his spikes Gaspar won a number of regional handball titles…see you somewhere next weekend, hopefully right here.—DR. DAN

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Well the sun came up this morning but the Weatherman, neither Mike of the Dirtbags or the Meteorologist of the Doppler, offer any climate guarantees for this evenings round two of Long Beach-Fullerton college baseball. For the home boys they know that they can play better than Friday and like their competitor to host another SoCal regional, UC Irvine, the evening offers another opportunity to impress Lynn Thompson, Brian Quinn, Michael Cross, Bobby Staub, John D’Argenio, Larry Templeton, David Heeke, Tim Weiser, John Anderson, and Pat Murphy. Who are those guys? Well for this season they are the lords of post season and the folks that more than the Federal Reserve will affect the fortunes of 49er fans who are determined to see their team play somebody somewhere next weekend, credit cards be damned.

If you had told me yesterday before they unfurled the big flag that it would rain in May and that the Dirtbag middle infielders would make two errors in two innings you would now be driving my classic tank-full 1997 Avalon and marrying my Swedish nanny. Both things (rain and whoops) happened and the only silver lining is that our Blair Field event drew 2500 plus and Irvine’s Bren Annex event drew 400 plus. “They won the Friday night game with their No. 4 starter," UCI coach Mike Gillespie said. "...they smell blood in the water.” Unranked UCSB defeated #14 UCI 6-2 and now are tied with LB for second the Big West. UC Irvine is in a fifth place tie with UC Davis and, as Letterman says, “I wouldn’t give their troubles to a monkey on a rock”. The official crowd count was 472 vs. 2532 at Blair and both places had weather worries and Lakers on TV.

NEXT TO THE LAST DUST--Tonight the win window opens a bit wider for the Niners who won’t look out and see Jeff Kaplan…Saturday’s have been decent for the Dirtbags and almost tragic for the Titans…the Nutwood Nine is convinced that the second game of a weekend is a vacation from the timely hitting and defense they flash on Fridays. The Titans will offer Daniel Renken (5-5, 3.82) to go against LB freshman Jake Thompson (2-4, 4.48) who missed last weekend after taking an up-the-box blast to his leg the week before…Sunday the Bags will select from the reigning BWC Pitcher of the Week, Brett Lorin (4-3, 2.54) or Vance Worley (6-3, 4.55)…Kaplan now has wins over Clemens’ semifinalists Gorgen, Strasburg and Liebel…he gave up one earned last night while Liebel yielded two before the hour thirty seven rain delay…the Beach did score once when play resumed and had chances in the 7th … Liebel now 8-3, had retired eight in row prior to Fellhauer's single in the fourth…Tyler Topp pitched the 49ers final three scoreless innings….at UCI Gorgen took the loss allowing three runs in seven innings…the out of town scoreboard gets a lot of attention in this get in, get packing, or go home bubbly weekend…the Big East had already said goodbye to top seed St. Johns and now both Louisville and Cincinnati want an at-large and those folks in the first graph gets a lot of text messaging…off topic, the Tampa Bay Rays have a second Long Beach connection…Evan Longoria and an area Little League coach William King who is better known as one-third of the famous funk/soul band The Commodores…the group kicked off the Rays Summer Concert Series tonight….. King's son, Ryan (walk-up song Commodore classic, “Brick House”) played some shortstop for Long Beach… …now don’t tell Vic Cegles this but in the house last night was Henry Tran, the big time Titan donor who met with CSUF AD Brian Quinn to discuss the possibility of bringing football back to the 10,000 seat White Elephant Downs (aka Titan Stadium)...Tran and his posse got excited when Georgia State University announced plans to play again in 2010…Curious about George? is Mr. Horton’s schedule for the Ducks first season in 2009: St. Mary’s, Fresno, Washington, Santa Clara, Nevada, NY Tech, Portland, Hawaii, Sac State, Irvine and the usual PAC 10 brothers…elsewhere around the Big West Northridge had Davis on the ropes but shortstop Jason Dabbs allowed two unearned runs to score, and UCD won 4-3. The win improves the Aggies to 33-21 overall and 12-10 in conference and as the only football playing school in the league would be a cinch to get in when the NCAA selectors add their extra points for grid-ironing…the forgotten defending BWC champs from UC Riverside beat Cal Poly 4-1 and those crazed Beavers from Oregon State took out their anger on hapless Pacific 15-2 to keep their invite hopes alive. back to the bases, did you know that baseball is the second biggest money-making sport for NCAA championships (hoops #1) yet it is also the least-funded sport, given just 11.7 scholarships and the worst coach-to-player ratio…who says, the just retiring Ron Polk who offered our closing quote, "The NCAA has used college baseball as its whipping boy because they know we're not going to stand up and fight back. If this happened in football or basketball there'd be a huge fight."—DR. DAN

Friday, May 23, 2008


For fans of the Big West it is a clash of the titans. Both teams have won eight of their last nine and #6 Fullerton (36-17, 15-6 Big West) is one game up on #18 Long Beach (35-18, 14-7 Big West). If only it was that simple. For the foam-fueled fandom at Blair tonight while the temperatures may be cool, the conversation in the concourses is usually hot. So many notes, so little time so buckle up while we empty the in-box with another session of Dr. Dan’s Notes on My Napkin.

It is almost eerie that a college baseball season that began for the Beach on a surprisingly high note, morphed in mid season to a gang that couldn’t hit, field, or pitch straight, is now on the top step of another potential Big West Championship with all the rights and privileges. The Dirtbags (RPI now down to 28) got to this hopeful place with an impressive couple of weeks bookended by 10-0 shut outs over San Diego State and Oregon State. In between there was a sweep at Cal Poly and suddenly the Niner resume is pretty enough that they seem a cinch for another NCAA invite and a win tonight might just be enough to host a regional next weekend. The NCAA selection committee, who will have their work done before Saturday’s game, announces 16 regional hosts on Sunday. The conference tourneys are too crazy to calculate but the Nutwood Nine are already doing the math on becoming a top eight national seed and the right to host two regional rounds, hopefully playing the sisters of the poor (like they did last year) for a CWS trip…insert my Petty Sexton Annual CSUF Slam here…“Titans just have to host, can you imagine the fussing and fighting in the mobile home parks deciding who gets to use the hot pink Miss Kitty luggage?”, DMB, 2001…the Dirtbag numbers got up as the season wound down despite injuries to pitcher Jake Thompson (leg), outfielder Jonathan Jones (back) and slugger Jason Corder (finger) all three are off the DL this weekend…while Jones was MIA Mike Weathers found a shining sub “When he went out we found our ‘Wally Pipp’ out there in Jordan Casas, so what do I do now?”…play four outfielders, you know the Blair lights are a little dim, so it will be our secret…Casas had three hits and his .357 average is second behind Shane Peterson’s amazing .401 while the unknown soldiers of the pitching staff, Tyler Topp, Dustin Rasco, Anthony Carrillo, Brett Lorin, Jason Markovitz and David Brown back up aces Liebel, Worley and Thompson.

In the paralysis through analysis dept. neither team has what the CSTV crew likes to call, “the ability to set more tables than Martha Stewart” but both coaches love to sac…the 2008 Titans have 69 sacs on the year, second in the conference and fourth in the nation…the Niners have 65 sacs not including the 59 HBPs which is another kind of sacrificing…two legends on the diamond tonight living and dead…Century Club President Bill Baca (living) throwing out one of the first pitches and handing over the full scholarship the club donates each year…and as web whiz Ditka reminds us even in death, super fan Ski Demski will be there...Ski’s 95 by 130-foot American super-flag gets a pre-game salute….LB and the F hats have won 17 of the last 19 Big West titles and this annual regular season finale has decided seven of the last 10 loop crowns…give the catching edge to the Beach who are #2 in the BWC blocking pitches and first in fewest stolen bases allowed…interesting because the Titans are accomplished stealers...Titan Coach Dave Serrano "It's always a great atmosphere at the end of the season and it benefits both teams to play in that kind of environment going into the postseason”...visitors who love that short Goodwin field porch must adjust to big Blair…it’s 330 down their lines and 348 at Blair…Bob K has calculated that LB had a 7-4 Pac Ten record…reminder to the Titan broadcast booth that name is pronounced LEE-bull... Andrew is a semifinalist for the Clemens Award and is on that list of 50 names for the Golden Spikes award Jered Weaver won in 2004 (and every other POY except the Johnny Bench)…the new hit men for the Nutwood nine is JUCO Erik Komatsu (.367) and D-Bag Shane Peterson checks in at .401…their Friday guy is Jeff Kaplan but Cory Arbiso has owned Sunday’s winning ten in a row...his glove work straightened out, Espy hit .341 with 19 RBI’s in BWC games...LB is 21-6 at home this season… talented OC writer Randy Youngman built one of those Dodger/Angels all star teams and had Buzzie Bavasi as general manager of both sides...working on my LB/CSUF notes and I guess the Titans and the Dirtbags will have Ken Ravizza as the sports psycher for both teams and Matt Brown as the photog since both fellas work both places capturing broken batters and broken bats—DR. DAN

Monday, May 19, 2008


It is almost eerie that a college baseball season that began for the Beach on a surprising high note, detoured in mid season to a gang that couldn’t hit, field, or pitch straight, is now on the top step of another potential Big West Championship with all the rights and privileges.

Oh yes, I am well aware that on the other side of Blair this weekend are the elephant boys of Cal State Fullerton but the Big West numbers don’t lie not to mention Oregon State tonight. CSUF is one game ahead of the Niners at 15-6. No matter what happens this evening, win two of three over the dark side and the Titans and LBSU will at least share the Big West title with the Niners earning the automatic bid. Also at stake, besides those cross-county bragging rights, is the opportunity for one or both teams to host NCAA regionals. OSU (25-23, 11-13 and eighth in the Pac-10 standings) was swept at USC and comes in tonight fighting like a crazed Beaver for the right to play on and defend their NCAA titles.

The Dirtbags (34-18, 14-7) got to this hopeful place with an impressive four win road week, a one hit 10-0 shutout at San Diego State and a sweep at Cal Poly. The folks behind them, UCSB and UC Irvine, won’t likely gain much ground since they play each other. The fun and games take place at Blair (a fine location for a regional is you ask) with contests Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon. LB insiders feel hopeful for the post season since the conference will likely get three or four teams in and hanging around the top two should do the job. The NCAA selection committee, who frankly will have almost all their work done before Saturday’s game, announces 16 regional hosts on Sunday with the full NCAA Baseball Tournament selection show Monday morning. Regional play takes place from May 30 – June 2 with Super Regionals the next weekend.

NOTES ON MY NAPKIN—You can pencil in Fullerton as a regional host because they bid high and have a great RPI. “National seed” high? Well the ACC and SEC will have a bunch of seed-eligible teams but last weekend was rough on Nebraska, Texas A&M and Georgia so those early conference tourney games will be critical. Pepperdine finished second place in the West Coast Conference and will travel to San Diego for the WCC championship but both will get in…as for the Niner play of late, last Tuesday the Bags put up a string of pearls (translated nine shutout innings) at SDSU followed by the sweep of SLO who previously had wins over Alabama, Fullerton , UCI and Cal. A major LBSU factor has been the return of great pitching. The Mustangs hit just .204 in the Long Beach series while the Niners shook off the absence of pitcher Jake Thompson, outfielder Jonathan Jones and slugger Jason Corder with subs shining through…back to your dam Beavers, USA TODAY wrote “when Pat Casey took Oregon State to the College World Series in 2005 for the first time in 53 years, athletics director Bob De Carolis doubled the coach's salary. When the Beavers won their first baseball national championship in 2006, De Carolis doubled Casey's salary again. When Oregon State made it back-to-back titles in 2007, De Carolis was in a pickle. “We were tapped out at that point in terms of another major raise," De Carolis says. "So I gave Pat my office."…that PGA-worn Paul Goydos Dirtbag baseball cap went for $4000 at the Jewels of the Night auction Saturday but fresh new ones will be on sale along with all remaining 2008 merchandise at the Beach and Dugout stores this weekend. Insiders say Goydos will wear a similar lid but adding a sponsor patch from UPS when he plays, drum roll please, in the FedEx tournament…Last add from our out of town scoreboard. Beach softball won their opener but tired down the stretch and lost in the Iowa City Regional. Bright side, pitchers Turner and Pagano return and are joined by blue chip hurler recruit Taylor Petty of San Pedro. In the BWC Track & Field Championships at CSUN the men won first place and the women third. It was the men’s second title in three years. Katelyn Ciarelli of Long Beach won her second women's discus title in three years…Now for advice to nervous Niners who sweat out fun and games, our closing quote comes from Eleanor Roosevelt. “Many people suffer more in anticipation than they do under the actual blows of misfortune.” See you at the yard, anticipating as usual.—DR. DAN

Sunday, May 11, 2008


For years one of the biggest events in our town was the annual Iowa picnic, in fact many old timers used to call this town Iowa by Sea. Now the Beach, at least Beach Softball, is headed to Iowa as the number 14 national seed in the NCAA’s Iowa City Regional. LBSU earned their lofty seeding, and avoided traditional trips to UCLA or Fresno, by racking up an impressive 39-15 record and the Big West championship.

Former coach Pete Manarino called this year’s invite “the best draw ever”. He should know having taken five of his teams to the College World Series in 1986, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993. And his star shortstop from 1989 to 1992, the current Beach head coach Kim Sowder. "I'm very excited to get the number one (regional) seed," Sowder told the celebrants Sunday night at Legends, "I think that we've earned it with the schedule we've played along with the success that our team has had this season."

Creighton (49-15) is the Niners first game opponent. The Bluejays went into the semifinal game at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament and had their ace, two-time MVC Pitcher of the Year Tara Oltman working but could not pitch around three infield errors and lost to Drake. The 49ers had the top strength of schedule in the nation entering conference play with wins over national-seeds Texas A&M, Northwestern and #1 national seed Florida. The host Iowa Hawkeyes will play Missouri in the second game Friday. The winner of the Iowa City Regional will face the winner of the Tuscaloosa Regional in the Super-Regionals the following weekend for the right to go to the ladies CWS in Oklahoma City.

Meanwhile their diamond buddies known as Dirtbag baseball (30-18, 11-7 in the BWC) won three of four last week and are now on their final road trip of the season working this weekend to keep their post season dreams alive at Cal Poly Friday through Sunday. The all righty pitching staff remains a puzzle. Senior Andrew LIebel (7-2, 1.69 ERA) is lights out with back to back gems, veteran Vance Worley is struggling, and Coach Weathers himself went out to visit rookie Jake Thompson who does Sundays. “I told him to be his own man, really to be his own pitching coach.” That’s a tough assignment, SLO as a team is hitting .303 and loaded with left handed bats.

All of this out of town travel complicates life on Saturday night. Between cell phone updates and game tracking on the internet most of the 49er royal family will be in the Pyramid for the 14th Annual Jewels of the Night festivities that begin with a Silent Auction at 5:00 PM followed by the most diverse feasting you will ever see, entertainment by the Stone Soul Band and then the wildly popular live auction items. Funds are all for the good cause of scholarships and support for 49er athletes.

Our closing note is a salute to Paul Goydos, LB lid in front of America all weekend in his battle for the PGA Players championship. He lost in sudden death to Sergio Garcia but his modest persona won the hearts of the nation. Oh yes there was the consolation cash of $1.026 million. Goydos is a different kind of pro golfer, he doesn't have a club contract because he likes what he plays and his closet is a selection of brands from high schools where he subbed, Poly, Jordan, Wilson and of course his alma mater, Long Beach State. He studied finance and somewhere along the line, modesty. "Sergio played better than everybody else, look at the stats," the gracious Goydos said. "I'm glad that's rewarded."—DR. DAN

Saturday, May 10, 2008


A Tale of Two Cities (1859) is the renowned historical novel by Charles Dickens with a plot that centered on the years leading up to the French Revolution. On a night when the fireworks began a bit early, Blair Field was the setting for a tale of two very different baseball games. Friday was a taut 2:12, 3-0 suffocation of the Dirtbags enemy of the week, UC Santa Barbara, with the combatants combining for ten hits. Fast forward to last night and the Gauchos and the Dirtbags slugged each other around for 18 runs on 27 hits, ran through 12 pitchers and one manager. That would be UCSB’s veteran skipper Bob Brontsema who got his fuse lit in the third on an out call at the plate, and exploded in the fourth, with a no out call at the plate.

We shall attempt to explain with the help of the winning pitcher, set up guy David Roberts and his coach Mike Weathers. “We knew we took a blow early (two SB runs in the first) but this team is beginning to fight back,” Roberts offered. The Weatherman’s version, “I felt good when both teams had to go to the pens in the fourth because I knew we had a better set of guys.” Brontsema’s exclusion prevented his post game interview but likely his opinions made him turn red about the blues. It appeared to many in the stands that an out call on Gaucho Patrick Rose heading home could have gone either way and really opened up the contest. Instead UCSB settled for one run and a 3-0 lead. The Beach struck for an answering single run in their third but the Gauchos, who came into the weekend with 30 wins and a three way tie for third in the Big West, got two more in the fourth to up their advantage to 5-1 thanks to a triple by unheralded Brian Gump. The brawl at Blair however was just underway with that disputed check swing call that kept Tweedy’s at-bat alive. Brontsema view of the 2-2 pitch did not agree with the men in blue and he was ejected by home plate umpire Dennis Smythe. Tweedy then doubled as part of a four run outburst that tied the game at 5-5. So what to do next, ell LB got cranking again. The Dirtbags broke the tie in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI single up the middle from Tweedy and consecutive infield singles with the bases loaded plated two more Beach runs. At the end of five, Long Beach held an 8-5 advantage. UCSB fought back in the top of the sixth, with three scores to re-tie the affair at 8-8 and the kids in the 2074 crowd getting anxious about the fireworks show. Good news for the homeboys however was that LB scored twice in the bottom of the seventh inning when with Jones on first, Shane Peterson doubled to right field to put Long Beach up one, 9-8. Then with two-out Danny Espinosa laced an RBI single into left field to lengthen the Dirtbag lead to two, 10-8. Putting another Shane Peterson pitching experiment behind them (he got nobody out for the second game this week) Roberts got rid of his five batters and Nick Vincent his six to pick up the save and mess up the Big West standings. Fullerton lost to Cal Poly 11-4 and UC Riverside fell to UC Davis 6-5 thus moving the Beach up to a tie for second with UC Riverside. All three teams, including Fullerton, have six conference losses. There will be a test later.

END DUST—With just a week of bull pens Peterson was ineffective from the mound but drove in the go-ahead run in a two-run seventh inning as…the Niners have now hit the 30 win plateau (30-17, 11-6 Big West) and won another series… Worley did not get out of the and is a puzzle considering he began the year 3-0…the mound matchup today features another UCSB lefty, Chuck Huggins (7-2, 4.04) going up against improving LB youngster Jake Thompson (2-4, 4.20).one SB mom got an early start on her special day when two uniforms escorted her out…all I heard was a minor rag on Espy as “program”…heard worse and will again…for the record the other Big West scores were UC Davis 6, UC Riverside 5; Pacific 10, UC Irvine 9 (10); CSUN 5, USC 4; and Cal Poly 11, Cal State Fullerton 4…meanwhile tonight at 7-ish at Legends the Big West Champion women’s softball team will await the ESPN-U telecast of their NCAA field and where everybody will play…LB bid to host but…Ashley Weber's second-inning RBI triple was the difference in a great pitching battle between Brooke Turner and Alyce Jorgensen to end the regular season as the 49ers prevailed 1-0….Turner outdueled Joregensen and the Long Beach State's freshman star extended her own shutout record with her 17th of the year…she is 26-4 on the year and feeling better thanks to an injection that cooled off a hot nerve in her back…striking out seven batters, Turner benefitted from error-free defense behind her, scattering four hits on the way to the win. Prior to the game, the 49ers also paid tribute to the team's four departing seniors, Jessica Beaver, Brooke LeSage, Franciska Morlet and Lacy Tyler---last add looking good, LB alum Paul Goydos took the lead Saturday at the PGA Player’s championship wearing the inter-locking LB baseball hat for all the world to see…and a happy Mother’s Day to all here, around and up there—DR. DAN

Friday, May 09, 2008


The ever changing Dirtbag baseball experience has some constants and last night the remarkable Andrew Liebel (the family doesn’t like Damian Devil, Count Dirtbagula or similar monsters of the night who eat opposing batters) was constant again. And quick. And a friend to fans and infielders. A mere 2 hours and twelve minutes after he began, Liebel had put the 30-win and very game Gauchos down 3-0 and helped the Beach boys up their record to 29-17 and now all alone in third place in the Big West standings… A week ago, Liebel worked a crisp 2:35 at Davis while Jason Corder belted his 12th homer of the season. Corder hit his 13th last night--a crusher that hungover golfers at Big Rec’s number 14 likely found this morning. Granted the hit parade was only slightly longer than Tuesday’s three-hit vic over Fresno, five knocks including the Big Fly from the 6-2, 205 Cal transfer; but Liebel won a first-class pitcher's duel with Santa Barbara starter Mike Ford who also allowed only five hits. The difference was two fold, a lot of glove love from the Dirtbag double pay guys (three twin killings) and the one bad pitch Ford gave up to Corder in the third. UCSB fell to 30-18 overall, 9-7 BW and is joined in a fourth place tie with Davis and UCI.

The scoring summary is short and sweet, at least for the homeboys who feel a sense of urgency in these final days of the 2008 campaign. The Dirtbags jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first when Jonathan Jones, nearly decapitated Ford with a single through the box. Tinoco blew a bunt but Corder's infield grounder advanced Jones to second setting up cleanup hitter Shane Peterson for his 44th RBI when he singled opposite field. In the third with two outs, Tinoco singled and unlike the timid USC coach Mike Gillespie SB skipper, Bob Brontsema of the Gauchos pitched to Corder and he sent the Rawlings orb deep into the night. Corder's shot broke a tie with Gaucho left fielder Mike Zuanich for the Big West lead. The rest of the night belonged to Liebel and the defense. ”Andrew works so fast,” Weathers would comment post-game ”that our defense really gets into a rhythm.” In the fourth, Liebel got his three outs on just four pitches but the web gems on defense (three double plays, a 5-4-3, and two 6-4-3s) combined with the amazing arm of Travis Howell (he has nailed 17 of 34 would be stealers) to break the Gaucho heart.

BIG BANG DUST--Liebel faced only three batters over the minimum and recorded his second consecutive complete game shutout…write that down pro scouts…SB’s Mario Hollands (6-2, 2.97) battles Dirtbag Vance Worley (5-3, 4.40) a bit up and down of late…his first win was over Wichita State but he pitched well against Rice…effective at USC then a CG 10-3 win over UCLA, problems at Cal and UCR, another CG in a 5-1 vic over UCI but troubled in 3.2 at UOP and effective until the seventh at Davis …Liebel threw 73 pitches over the first five but only 36 over the final four innings…”we had him down for about 15 more pitches, but I was glad to see him finish.” Weathers noted…the game time did not please any of the blue and greys and the guys in white shirts…the white shirts, the concessionaires, that hope fireworks and Mother’s Day will up the sales totals…more Corder time, he is the eighth LBSU player to hit 20 or more home runs in his career…the tin man, Steve Tinoco, had two of the Dirtbags five hits…Ford (5-4) went all eight innings for the Gauchos, striking out eight… LB, 18-5 at home this season, travel to SDSU (not Frat Row we hope) Tuesday for a six p.m. first pitch and then head up the Central Coast to Cal Poly next weekend…new on the golf front is an Eastern guy, William Poutre, formerly the top guy at the University of Hartford…he was selected as the America East Conference Coach of the Year in 2006 and 2007…his 2007 recruit class included the No. 51 and No. 115 recruits in the Golfweek World Junior Rankings….the tennis team threw out the first pitch last night, but the No. 37-ranked Niners lost to No. 28-ranked Denver in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at UCLA….on the campus diamond Long Beach earned its 18th trip to the NCAA Regionals Friday with a 5-0 win over Pacific in game two of a DH…despite healing from a groin pull, Brooke Turner added to her win record…she and team mates will TV huddle with ESPNU Sunday at 7 p.m. for their destination...around the rest of the Large West the favorites all advanced, Fullerton played tag with SLO but ended up on top 6-4, Irvine dumped Pacific 9-1, and Riverside came back to beat UC Davis 7-6—DR. DAN.