Friday First Takes - This Column Lives Up To It's Name Again

There's a reason that this column is called "Extra Innings." Mainly because Long Beach State keeps playing those kind of games.

Two Fridays. Two extra inning games. Two Dirtbag wins over a Top 10 team. Last week the Beach pulled a 10-inning, 1-0 win over Rice. Tonight it was No. 7 Wichita State, who extended the game with a pair of runs in the 8th, but was eventually subdued in the 12th by a 3-2 score.

(I suppose Shane Peterson looked pretty relaxed before his game-winning hit in the 12th inning tonight, didn't he?)

So it's like nearly 11:15pm West coast time as I begin to write tonight's entry. Let's just try to get as much done as we can and then call it a night... or in East coast time, call it a morning.

As usual, for starters here is Friday's best and worst in college baseball.

1- The Mayor of Omaha and MECA decided to get on the same page.
These two parties wanted different things when it came to the new stadium issue in Omaha, including location and control of the facility. But yesterday, to the relief of Omahans and correct thinking college baseball fans everywhere, they are finally in agreement over the new stadium thing. See, I'm not real crazy about a new stadium, but had these two groups not mended their fierce fences, lawyers were sure to get involved and the NCAA had made the statement that if there was any litigation involved, it could change their standing.

Luckily for all, there's a few more lawyers in this world that will go without work.

2 - The Big East.
Rutgers - 10
Ga. Tech - 6 (11inns.)
Knights nearly blew a four-run lead in the bottom of the 9th. Then regrouped to take the Jackets down in the 11th.

Louisville - 3
N.C. State - 1
Zach Pitts: 7.0inns, 4H, 1R, 1BB, 6Ks. Yep, nothing wrong under the hood here. 2B Justin McClanahan put two on the board in a hurry with a two-run blast in the 1st inning.

St. John's - 3
Winthrop - 2 (10inns.)
Carlos Del Rosario and Paul Karmas each had two hits with the latter scoring the former with a slap single in the 10th, allowing the Red Storm to improve to 6-0. Definitely one of the best stories of the early season so far.

3 - Southern Mississippi's Barry Bowden and UC Irvine's Scott Gorgen.
(beat Louisiana-Lafayette 6-0 and beat San Francisco 4-0)
You don't usually see pitchers go the distance this early in the season, especially against a good team like UL-L. But the Eagle starter (Bowden) went the whole way, striking out 10 and most surprisingly, gave up just two hits to a good-hitting Cajun squad. Meanwhile, Gorgen went 9.0 as well, striking out 12 and giving up just one hit

1- Michigan.
Yes, yes, I know, wait until June before I give them a verbal lashing. I mean, you can count their outside practices on one hand. But still, getting blown out by Arizona State 15-4 gets followed by a 4-3, 10-inning loss to Portland doesn't acquit the Wolverines very well here. We'll keep an eye out for you guys though.

2- Alabama A&M.
I hate to bag on a team that won just 10 games in 2007, but the Bulldogs are now 0-7 after getting swept in two games against Alcorn State today. On top of that, LaDale Hayes, who led the nation with eight triples last year, has yet to play because of injury. Geez, what else could go wrong for A&M this season?

3- The Arizona State offense.
C'mon! A team that averages 35 runs a game can only score three against Hawaii? You're kidding right? My goodness, I thought this team was supposed to score double-digits every night or it was a lost cause? On the "positive" side, the Rainbows only managed five hits off of five ASU hurlers. And for the third time in five games this season, the Devils committed zero sins... er, I mean, errors in the field.

- Tennessee
Beat Texas 5-4 at the Houston College Classic.
Coach Todd Raleigh gets his first marquee win for his Vol regime. In Texas no less. And despite the Horns smacking three triples on the night. Nice win for the Vols.

- Clemson beats College of Charleston 7-6.
With an energized crowd of 2,083 at Patriots Point Stadium, the Tigers came from behind on two occasions to subdue the Cougars. LF Wilson Boyd smacked his 5th home run of the season. Man alive!

- Missouri piling up the RPI points.
The Tigers beat both Cal (7-5) and San Diego State (3-1) today. That puts the Tigers at 5-1. Mizzou committed just one error on the whole day and Game 1 starter Aaron Crow struck out 10 in just 5.0 innings of work.

- 7,456.
That was the crowd that saw Oregon State beat Georgia tonight 6-4. The game-deciding runs came on Jason Ogata's three-run inside-the-park home run. Man! I hope that shows up on somewhere.

- When all else fails, play two.
It's been a rough and curious ride for San Diego so far. Who can figure the Toreros out? Not me man. But things got markedly better today as USD took two RPI-builders in wins over Cal Poly (3-2) and Fresno State (5-2). Ace Brian Matusz looked a whole lot more like staff ace Brian Matusz, striking out 11, while surrendering six hits in 7.0 innings of work for his first win of the season in the win over Fresno.

- Kap and the Titans go belly-up.
Cal State Fullerton's Jeff Kaplan, the expected staff ace, lasted just one inning in the Titans 12-5 loss at Stanford. Kaplan gave up six hits and seven runs in that single inning of work.

- Florida International continues to flounder.
And I don't mean that great character from Animal House. The Golden Panthers were routed 10-2 by Wagner today to fall to 1-5 on the season. It will get better, I promise people.

- Appalachian State.
For a team that just got done beating Wake Forest by 12 runs earlier this week, to see the Mountaineers lose a game to a snowbird school like Canisius is pretty bad. To see them lose 10-1 is downright awful. But hand it to the Griffins, they are now 5-0 on the season. See, didn't I tell you this compaction of the season would work?

- Memphis.
The Tigers, fresh off an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament last season have now started the 2008 season with a record of 2-4, including today's ignominious 5-4 loss at home to Ohio. Memphis' only wins have come against UT-Martin and Air Force.


Wichita State - 000 000 020 000 - 2 7 0
Long Beach State 010 001 000 001 - 3 13 3

WP- Nick Vincent, 1-0
LP- Andy Womack, 0-1

At Long Beach State, infield errors are viewed upon like Demi Moore's blouse with the red "A" on it in the movie The Scarlett Letter. You just don't commit that kind of ostracizing offense. It's not the Dirtbag way.

But tonight, Freshman second baseman Devin Lohman committed two Es on the same wild play, allowing Wichita State to tie the game in the 8th inning at 2-2.

But unlike those holier-than-thou Quakers in the '96 film, Dirtbags can earn forgiveness with good deeds. So when the 12th inning rolled around, Lohman reached first on a one-out walk, advanced to second on a Danny Espinosa single and then, when team leader Shane Peterson stepped to the dish and sliced a high fastball from Andy Womack over the center fielders head, Lohman made absolute amends by scoring the game-winning run.

And now, for the third time in five games, the Beach has won another one-run game and improved to 3-2 on the season.

On the pitching side, Beach starter Andrew Liebel went 7.1 innings, giving up just four hits, one unearned run and striking out 11 Shocker batters. But because of the error-filled 8th inning, he was given a no-decision.

(Before tonight's 8th inning Bad News Bears rendition, the Beach played its usual solid defense. Like this 4th inning tag out by catcher Travis Howell, after a throw from 3B Taylor Krick had Andy Dirks out by a couple of strides)

Coach Mike Weathers said after tonight's win, "Danny Espinosa is our entire offense right now. He's all we've got."

And it's true. Including tonight's 4-for-5 performance, the LB shortstop is a cumulative 12-for-20 (.600). He's also got five doubles and a home run in those 12 hits.

What separates him from other Player of the Year candidates? Two things:
1- He's done it against the arms of Rice, San Diego and Wichita State. THAT'S some good pitching there.
2- At the most important position in the field (shortstop), he still has yet to commit an error.

And yes, I realize this is week two and any Player of the Year talk is truly asinine at this point. But still...

On March 29th, the Dodgers and Red Sox are going to play an exhibition game at the Coliseum, which is a pretty cool idea since the Dodgers played in the grand old Olympic venue for two years after moving from Brooklyn and before Dodger Stadium was completed. But here's the rub...

(A picture from today's L.A. Times of the horrible layout of the Coliseum's baseball configuration)

See that left field wall? Back in the late 50s when the Coliseum was being used for baseball, there was still a running track around the football field. But in the 90s, the stadium floor was dug up, the track removed, and because of that the left field wall is only 200 feet from home plate. Yep, that's girls softball distance. How the hell are they really going to do this?

There will be a 60-foot screen erected for the game, just like in the old days. But at that time the left field wall was at least 265 feet. So we're looking at one of those games similar to the pro-fat-guys-softball-home-run-or-out type of games that feature guys with beefy arms and child-bearing hips knocking softballs into submission. Terrible.

I would go on, but it's now 1:20am. Look, I'm not responsible for any typos, incorrect information supplied to me or any overlooks of Dustin Ackley. It's freakin' late man.

In a word,



Sorenson, if you don't start getting to sleep earlier you're going to miss the early afternoon east coast games like SoCar/Clemson and UVA vs. the small snowbird schools.

Always enjoy waking up and catching your recaps. Thanks for the time.

Thanks Colonel. But sleep is overrated.

(And man I wish I was at that Clemson-SoCar series!)

Glad you catch my stuff first thing in the morning. My ultimate goal is for stitch-heads everywhere to print out my columns and read them while standing in line at Starbucks, during boring status meetings at work or at church on Sundays.

Glad that you made the Blair stop this weekend...I read you during the Price is Right...

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Eric Sorenson Eric Sorenson
Eric Sorenson is's National Baseball Columnist, and also appears on CSTV as a baseball expert