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


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