Tuesday, April 13, 2010


As we launch another sporting week where the City of Long Beach celebrates really fast left and sometimes U turns, your home town University seems to make one step forward and then one step back. Tonight’s college baseball game features a pair of NCAA 500 teams, (not exactly Fortune 500 this season) LBSU at 14-14 and LMU at 15-15.

Baseball, carrying a resume and RPI that could have had post-season written on it, lost two of three at woeful UC Davis. A step backward but still lots of innings to be played. Men’s volleyball, on the bubble to qualify for the MPSF post season, dropped heart breakers to UC Irvine and UCLA. Softball won a double header on Saturday but took that step back on Sunday losing in extras. Tennis, with a lineup still shuffled due to injury, beat CSUN but fell to St. Mary’s. As noted above, baseball and softball are mired in the middle of the Big West pack. Conference wise, both Mike Weather’s Dirtbags and Kim Sowder’s Sweethearts of Swat go into the weekend in a three way tie for fourth. Tonight the Niners will lead off with newcomer Nate Underwood (1-4, 4.20) vs. Lion Xavier Esquivel (0-1, 5.52). Underwood is the latest of the prospects arrived at Blair via Troy Buckley’s NorCal pitching pipeline. An excellent student and versatile baseball player, Nate prepped at San Jose’s Valley Christian and made all conference as a utility player and six honor rolls as a student.

BEACH BINGO DUST—Tonight is sort of a revenge thing as the Bags snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on March 16…this weekend puts the Beach back on the long, and Sig-Alerted slow road to Riverside for a three-game set against the hit happy Highlanders… 6 p.m. starts on Friday and Saturday. And 2 p.m. on Sunday…the bright spot last weekend was the Pitcher of the Week work by Brandon Pinder, the third Dirtbag honored this season, he allowed only three hits and no runs in his first career complete game, also the first shutout of the year, Pinder faced only three batters over the minimum and retired the last 15 batters without allowing a hit…Beck Family Special, the Saturday night USC-LBSU volleyball showdown will serve up some extras starting at 5:30 when the 1990 NCAA runner-up team reunion in the Ukleja Hall of Honor and post game the boosters, and the alums still functioning by that time, will enjoy a season’s end after party

More family facts, expect Jason Gill’s folks to be back at Blair tonight, they were wildly popular when son Chris was a Dirtbag and then their approval rating fell when Jason became a Titan and now a Lion…After UCI finally picked a new basketball coach last week I am sure that some of the marsupial maniacs, well they are Anteaters, scratched their head over the background of Russ Turner. His resume begins at little known Hampden-Sydney College where Russ was a two-time All-American (1991 & 1992), set the school's career scoring record of 2,272 points and made Phi Beta Kappa. On a personal note, H-S is a big name in my family because my late father Tim Barber was a graduate and an uncle or two were professors. I welcomed the new coach with the suggestion that he had my support in all but two games a year…my Fullerton crack of the week—yes they made it back into the top 25 (#22) but their 12 losses are the most of any team in the poll. Irvine dropped out but now has their yard named, Cicerone Field, for the former chancellor who steered big bucks to athletics. Memo to FKA: Think Legacy…tomorrow is the NCAA national signing day but insiders don’t expect the Beach coaches to offer their list to the media until it is all confirmed…in the football mad South where I spend some time the occasion is celebrated like the opening of a free food tent at Dollywood…numbers of note: team hitting is up to .296 with the leaders’ Lohman (.393), Singer (.385), Tinoco (.371), Metzger (.343) and Joey T (.336)…most important number is 3-3…with no post-season BWC tourney the Bags now sit at 3-3 and need to win the rest of the series to play ball in June

So what’s in your GPS this weekend? Well is the first of two home volleyball matches against teams you love to play, hard to beat Pepperdine followed on Saturday night by easier to beat USC. Meanwhile on Friday and Saturday, like the senior citizens in those track-side condos, a bevy of Beach athletes head out of town. Baseball has that three game set at UC Riverside and softball busses to Davis for three games Saturday and Sunday.

Fortunately women’s tennis has locked up the regular season championship and has only non-conference work left, at Pepperdine Friday then home to their posh digs Saturday to play LMU. Last add travelers, women’s golf, the 2009 BWC champion swings up to the San Luis Obispo Country Club Sunday and Monday for the 2010 Conference Championship.

EAR PLUIGGED DUST— Considering the bonus circulation of our Grand Prix edition of the Gazette, we offer a word of warning for first timers. Persons sensitive to excessive alliteration usually should refrain from reading Diamond Dust, but we hope you make it a happy habit.

Last add, the Big West wet set will gather next weekend, April 23 - April 25 at the Long Beach State pool for the 2010 women’s water polo championship. Tucked almost secretly in the middle of the campus, the pool should be hopping with fans and friends and lots of Speedos as all six teams in the BWC make the tourney. No easy parking but action on top of and under the water.—DR. DAN