Sunday, June 15, 2008


Pilots 3, Seals 2—Jones and Brown….

With one swing of Clayton Shaw's bat, the San Francisco Seals became the first team outside the Alaska Baseball League to win this season as the Anchorage Glacier Pilots lost 3-2 in extra innings at Mulcahy Stadium on Saturday.
The third baseman knocked in the game-winning run in the top of the 12th inning to keep the Pilots from mounting their third rally in as many days.
Trailing by one in the bottom of the ninth inning, Pilots outfielder Jonathan Jones doubled to score Matt Harughty from second base and keep the home team alive.
Jones, a Long Beach State freshman who went 4 for 6 with two doubles and an RBI in his Pilots debut, had a chance to drive in the go-ahead run in the 11th after Nano Jacobsen singled to left field. But Jones popped out to the shortstop to end the inning.

The Pilots gave up two runs in the first off starter Travis Kelly and the bullpen held the Seals scoreless until Shaw's single to center in the 12th.
Local pitchers Conor Spink and Zac Beltz combined for two scoreless innings of relief. David Brown of Long Beach State took the loss.
Bryan Haar went 2 for 5 with an RBI double in the second inning and Joe Scott finished with two hits for the Pilots.


The Pacific-10 Conference: After touting itself as the nation's premier college baseball conference, the Pac-10 choked in postseason play. California was 0-2 in the Long Beach State regional. UCLA won its first two games at the Cal State Fullerton regional, before dropping two in a row to the host team. Arizona won the Ann Arbor regional and then beat No. 1-ranked Miami in the first game of the super regional in Florida. But Miami won the next two games and eliminated the underachieving Wildcats. Arizona State, the No. 3 national seed, won its regional in Tempe and beat Fresno State in the first round of the super regional at home. But Arizona State folded and lost two in a row. Stanford is the Pac-10's only representative in Omaha. The Atlantic Coast Conference placed three teams -- Miami, North Carolina and Florida State -- and delivered a large slice of humble pie to Pac-10 fans.


The younger players will encounter rigid policies.
The Pirates have implemented a program requiring players to perform five hours of unpaid community service per half season. The Pirates will document the service time each player accumulates. The previous front office encouraged community service but didn’t publicly reveal any formal requirements. The program could increase the number of public appearances Spikes make this summer.
The previous front office stressed discipline during the start of its tenure. But policy enforcement slid and Coonelly was alarmed after hearing stories of players using communication devices in the bullpen and the lax attitudes teams took when aligning themselves during the national anthem and “God Bless America.”
Stark said discipline matters will be handled “swiftly and sternly,” and the Pirates released pitcher prospect Olivo Astacio earlier this year for violating an organizational policy.

Stark said he’s pleased with the overall progress the system has made since he arrived in November. But he might never be satisfied until the systematic approaches produce a sustainable winner in Pittsburgh. That will take more than one year’s worth of visits to Medlar Field. “We have a long ways to go,” Stark said. “There are obviously a number of things we can improve upon and we haven’t fixed one thing until we start winning in Pittsburgh.”


WSU coach Gene Stephenson shaved nine games off Augie Garrido's lead as college baseball's winningest coach. Texas went 39-22, giving Garrido a 1,668-777-8 record. He is 15 games up on Stephenson, who is 1,653-550-3. And next season The Shockers open in a tournament in Fort Myers, Fla., hosted by Florida Gulf Coast. Temple and Central Michigan complete the field. WSU plays at TCU and gets Pepperdine and Long Beach State at home for weekend series. BYU visits Eck Stadium for a two-game, midweek set. Looks like Gene may catch Augie in 2010!

LAST ADD FROM LSU-LBSU and 1993--the “That Close” year…

1993 is where LSU's legendary late heroics began thanks to Todd Walker. After beating Long Beach State 7-1 and then getting a grand slam from Walker for a 13-8 win over Texas A&M , the Tigers blew an 8-6 lead to Long Beach State and fell 10-8. Two days later, LSU rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth to eliminate Long Beach State 6-5. Armando Rios doubled in two runs for a 5-5 tie. With two on and one out, Long Beach State elected to pitch to the hot Walker, who delivered a game-winning single for the victory.

Monday, June 02, 2008


Unless you win the College World Series, the final out of a college baseball season is always the toughest. Fans and friends, players and parents, alums and students that tailgated, traveled, hugged and hung-over together now just seem to dissolve and disappear.

That scenario began to happen late Sunday afternoon at Blair Field when the ending was written on the 2008 Long Beach State Dirtbag baseball season, a passion play in three parts. Part one was the rousing opening scene at 17 wins and just three losses. Part two, the mid season funk and part three, a flourish at the end with Big West hardware headed to the 49er trophy room.

While at times it is easier to explain the Russian missile codes than the NCAA selection criteria, Long Beach did earn the right to stay in their home sweet home. Not only that, the Beach boys got the top seed in a talented field of teams ranging from the sophisticated University of California, the rough and ready Bulldogs of CSU system sister Fresno State and the small, private and silver spoon folks from the University of San Diego.

After the visitors unpacked their bats and hats they all expressed appreciation for Blair Field and the arrangements that CSULB had made for their stay in LB. That was especially true for the pitchers who by and large love the wide open spaces that yielded a mere two homers all weekend. The bunting fluttered in the breezes, a tent city provided hospitality to the visiting brass, and the media even had their own chow hall.

Enough of the artistic and hospitality success stories, the home boys and their supporters, were trying again to get out of their own regional. Despite the tee shirts and signs that said the road to Omaha Begins in Long Beach a number of folks suggested that in the future the 49ers might be better off playing on the road, the route they took to their previous four College World Series trips in 1989, 1991, 1993 and 1998. Case in point, Irvine took the road all the way to Omaha last year and, having just won the regional on the home field of the University of Nebraska, might do it again this year.

So what about the Niners next year--reload or rebuild? At the moment it looks a lot like rebuild. Gone will be the entire infield including the exceptionally talented Shane Peterson and Danny Espinosa. Both of the “Cal” guys, Berkeley transfers Travis Howell and Jason Corder are seniors and the heart of the pitching staff, Liebel, Worley, and Shaw have either gone pro, cap and gown or both. There are some promising recruits and underclassmen but Mike Weathers and staff are hopeful that Brett Lorin and Nick Vincent, both draft eligible, stick around to anchor the 2009 Dirtbag pitching corps and that matter along with the rest of the roster unfolding over the summer.

Which brings us to our annual shift in the Diamond Dust writing schedule. From now until late January this column will appear in the Grunion Gazette on the first Thursday of each month, catching you up on the athletically significant or just plain interesting people at Long Beach State. For my blog ( we write whenever the mood strikes but the Florida based email list is a bit schizophrenic so you might want to use that RSS feed feature that notifies you when something new has been posted. Of course my email is the same and I love your tips and tidbits, factual or otherwise! Last add, don’t tell Arnold and his tax men but I plan to hang out in LB over the summer except for some secret side trips…but I will get my six months and one day in FLA somewhere along the line! Be good to yourself and each other--DR DAN

Sunday, June 01, 2008


First round Friday is followed by Survival Saturday. Survival Sunday and Championship Monday so that would put your at home but still hopeful Dirtbags going after the highest ranked team in the Long Beach Regional, the #7 University of San Diego Toreros. It took LBSU’s slumbering bats (all three of them) an extra day to wake up, but when TPX 33, 33 and 34 emerged from their snoozing they were clearly hungry. Embarrassed by a lackluster loss to Fresno Friday night, the real Dirtbags finally showed up and raked the Cal Bears for 13 hits in a 9-2 loser's bracket must-win contest. The prize, another shot at USD who beat the Beach twice in the mid week earlier this year but have already burned their pitching aces Brian Matusz and Josh Romanski.

In the other dugout the pitching deck isn’t exactly stacked for the scrappy 49ers but they have a nice mixture of fresh starters and quality relievers left for the rest of this four game grind to Championship Monday. For the Beach the Sunday selection is talented and soon to be drafted Vance Worley who USD did not see in their 5-3 and 4-2 regular season wins but did see when LB won a three game fall ball exhibition occasioned by the change in NCAA allowed practices. Worley was rated the 121st best prospect coming out this season by Baseball America and might have been higher except for some nagging elbow issues. His career high in Ks was 11 at Hawaii but for the home folks his finest hour was that complete game dousing of Fullerton last weekend, 8 hits, 3 ERs, 6 Ks and one walk.

Last night the mound star was an “I was getting tired” Brett Lorin, in only his second weekend start, upped his record to 5-3, and 2-0 on the weekends. The only damage done was a fourth inning two-run homer by Cal right fielder Blake Smith but by that time the Beach was leading 5-0. Quote the Weatherman, ““Like anything else it’s all about pitching. When you get to this level you have to have good pitching. I thought Brett (Lorin) set the tone and matched up very well against Cal. He gave us five strong innings and our bullpen did a very good job.” Quote Lorin who once was Mr. Monday (and there aren’t many Monday games), “I felt good out there today even though I got a little tired in the fifth. My curveball was a lot better today than it has been. I was pounding the zone on both sides and everything was working today. I just got more opportunities as the season went along. My stuff got better and I’ve been a lot more comfortable and confident.” Beyond the offense this contest also depended on yet another brilliant closing act authored by Wilk, Vincent and Roberts who gave the Bears no honey. The Long Beach pound machine was paced by a former Bear catcher Travis Howell who was 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI with help from a two-run single by Jason Tweedy and the glove and stick of Danny Espinosa. “"We hit their mistakes," Espinosa said.”We struck out too much yesterday and today we did a lot better." Four 49ers had multiple hits Jones, Espinosa, Corder and Howell but the Beach still left 13 on base. Defensively the Bags did shuffle some spots, notably Jones going to left after an unsettling Friday lost to Fresno. “The deal with Jonathan was more that I was upset with the way he played centerfield Friday night. In pre-game, we saw that his arm was pretty good from left field and he proved that in the first inning. We might have found a left fielder from here on out.” Guess so skipper because for the second game in a row Cal (33-21-2 and about now on flights back to the Bay area) had an early run snuffed at the plate by great outfield throws.

Meanwhile the surprise of this party is the regionally fourth-seeded Bulldogs (39-27) who moved one victory away from winning the regional thanks to the CG pitching of Clayton Allison who allowed but five hits for the victory over the second seeded Toreros who still have lefty starter Ricardo Pecina who beat the Beach earlier this year ready for the Niners…maybe seeing his old team helped but Howell's three-hit game was his first since March and first RBI since late April…"I did some things to simplify things at the plate, visualized some success"….last add teasing the Titans…did I remember to say that Fullerton has now lost three of their last four?....they play Virginia in a loser’s bracket game today at 4 p.m. with UCLA, a program that is often ridiculed and mocked on the Titan web boards, in the catbird seat awaiting an opponent as is UCI at Lincoln…Pepperdine is in the winners spot at Stanford and awaiting the Davis-Stanford result…ain’t it fun—ELVIS JOE

THE POST-MORTEN POST SCRIPT…USD 5, LBSU 1….unless your win the CWS the final out of a season is always the toughest--fans and friends and players and parents that have tailgated-traveled-hugged and hung-over together now just seem to dissolve and disappear…gone will be the infield , the Cal guys Travis Howell and Jason Corder plus the heart of the pitching staff, Liebel, Worley, Shaw….hopefully Lorin and Vincent stick around and anchor the 2009 Dirtbags…2008 was a play in three parts, the rousing opening scene at 17-3, the mid season funk and a flourish at the end with Big West hardware on the mantle piece…stay in touch with each other and see you in February—DR. DAN