Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I had a preliminary title of this week’s Diamond Dust of “Where Are They Going?” By Sunday afternoon, except for softball, the headline had morphed into “Wait until Next Year”.

On Friday the post season hopes of tennis and golf had been packed away with the strings and spikes. Both teams won their way into the NCAA regionals but failed to advance. On Saturday, in what seemed like a break, UCSB had to move their Dirtbag series from their home field, usually full of rowdy students and funky promotions (“Beat the Beach” towels, free food, flowers, etc.) to Fullerton’s the empty and fire-free campus. Sadly the trip to Titan-land ended with that usually foul flavor of most every trip to Fullerton.

Free admission, free parking and no hecklers, the two mid level Big West teams played on against a background of a hundred or so parents and friends. The Gauchos scored first in all three games, beating a hard-luck Adam Wilk 3-0 in the first game, running away 14-4 in game two and jumping out with a quick three on Sunday before falling behind 8-4 then cracking the LB pen for seven in the eighth effectively dashing the post-season dreams of the Dirtbags.
Want your sunny side up? Then salute Kim Sowder and softball, who may have been the last team selected for their umpteenth NCAA tourney. Loaded with youngsters, the Beach begins the road to Oklahoma City at Pacific-10 Champion UCLA (41-9) Friday at 3:30 p.m. LBSU (34-19) finished third in the Big West Conference with a 15-6 record but did beat UCLA 2-1 on March 8. The other regional entrants are Fresno State, who LB mercy-ruled 8-0, and UNLV coached by ex Niner skipper Pete Manarino.

Back to baseball, theories abound as to what happened. Some say that team played about to the level of talent left after the 2008 massive MLB roster raid. Others say that the late season separation of two seniors, Manny McElroy and Ryland Sandoval, disturbed the tender psyche of the Beach boys. Then there are the usual issues of schedule, parity and injuries.

Three Niners were knocked out of the UCSB series. Jordan Casas got a spike caught on Saturday and re-injured an ankle, Brandon Metzger was banged on his elbow and Jonathan Jones took a baseball in the face Sunday. Casas may miss a number of games, which might include the next two Big West weekends, Cal Poly coming to Blair Friday and back at Fullerton to close the season.

May Sadness—The smiling Irish face of super fan John Connolly left us on Sunday after a short but difficult bout with leukemia. There will be a gathering upcoming to remember but not to bury John as we all need him.

Next to the games themselves, the drama at Blair seems to be as much about beer as ball. Yes the City and the University are working on an operating agreement for CSULB to run the stadium year round but, forgetting the finances, most fans want to know if the foam will still be poured. They solved that problem at Cal Poly by just not selling beer. If you spend $450 a year for a top level of seat you become a member of SLO's Athletic Club: Crew Coast, and get it for free.

Wanna party closer to home, then the annual Jewels of the Night auction, dinner and dance is this Saturday night in the Mid and Wednesday the Black and Gold gala fund raiser for men’s volleyball is in the ocean view law offices of Keesal, Young & Logan.

I Want to Host and Now I Don’t Dept. UC Irvine, hopeful of a baseball national title to bookend their volleyball crown, has changed its mind and will submit a bid to be a NCAA host site for baseball. Other West bidders are San Diego State, Arizona State and Fullerton. Paperwork due by May 15, sites announced May 24, assuming the bids get read. LBSU had a “staple gate” moment some years back when the NCAA claimed that the Niner application was never reviewed because it was inadvertently connected to another proposal. See you between ball games and buffets.—DR. DAN


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