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


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