Saturday Statements - Long Beach runs down UC Irvine and other tall tales

EspinosaRundown.jpg
(Danny Espinosa and the Long Beach State Dirtbags kept No. 7 UC Irvine on the run today)

The Dirtbags aren't dead yet. In fact, they looked a lot like the Dirtbags of old today. Scrapping, scratching, huffing and hustling their way to a workman-like come-from-behind 5-1 win over No. 7 UC Irvine here at Blair Field today. The win evens the weekend series between to SoCal rivals, improving the 16th-ranked Beach to 19-13 and 2-3. UCI drops to 22-6 and 4-4.

On a blistering (by Southern California standards) 94 degree day, Dirtbag hurler Vance Worley went the distance, holding the Anteaters to eight hits, one run and issuing just a single free pass. More than anything, he looked as smooth as Billy Dee Williams in doing so. I think UCI play-by-play man Mark Roberts said it best, when in the 9th inning he remarked, "Worley is pitching confidently, slowly and smoothly today."

"The heat was a little tough, but I felt good out there. The adrenaline was definitely flowing." Worley remarked. "I was mostly keeping my fastball down, working it in and out and then throwing my slider. I threw a few curve balls, but that was it."

LBVanceWorley.jpg
(Sometimes LB Saturday starter Vance Worley throws so hard his specs come flying off)

Worley kept the Beach together even after Irvine had taken a 1-zip lead on an Ollie Linton single that scored Dillon Bell, who had just got a leadoff single to start the 7th. After "Take me out to the ballgame" was sung, the Dirtbags went to work, scoring five runs, all with two outs, to put the game out of reach. The key hit came off of light-hitting T.J. Middlestedt, who laced an RBI triple that proved to be the winning run.

Despite the huge win, head coach Mike Weathers wasn't ready to proclaim that his Long Beach nine was officially "back" just yet, but did acknowledge it's been a tough time lately for his Dirtbags. "It's just one of those things that when things are going bad, like on that screamer that (Jason) Corder hit that cost us two runs, you just think to yourself 'oh boy.' But those things, like the two-out hits, just haven't been happening. I'm proud of them, they've been going through a rough time but they've hung in there. We're working hard on things, so it's not been from a lack of effort."

When asked about his teams confidence, Weathers responded defiantly with "I don't think confidence is an issue. All the effort is put in and all the hard work is there. We don't talk about a lack of confidence. That's for sure."

Game three in the series is set for Sunday at 2:30 PT. Catch it on the CBS College Sports network.


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THREE UP---
1- Duh... Missouri
Beat Texas 13-2.
This list is written with the knowledge that everyone here knows that Missouri's two-day blitzkrieg of Texas is so out of this world, I don't believe they're human any longer. I mean, 45-14 in two games? Even MU's football coach would be tickled Pinkell with those results. Today MU's Kyle Gibson and Scooter Hicks combined to hold UT to six hits and struck out 12. There were so many offensive stars in the Tiger lineup, I can't even go into them all without boring the reader.

2- North Carolina.
Won both ends of a double-header at Clemson 8-2 and 4-3.
You'll never catch me talking about the Tar Heels as a team that can't get it done on the road. Doug Kingsmore Stadium is one of the toughest places in the country to play, and they just took two straight from the Tigers in their den. The first game was the completion of a suspended game from yesterday and game two was a gut check win where the Tigers had the tying run at second base when the game ended. The Heels also laced the first loss on CU's Graham Stoneburner with the help of Kyle Seager's three-run bomb in the first inning.

3- Oklahoma State.
Beat Nebraska 19-2.
Other than the Mizzou Tigers, the Cowboys may be putting together the best weekend of baseball (although I hear your arguments Georgia and USC). Every starter in the Cowboy nine had at least two hits today, with Rebel Ridling hitting his team-best eighth yard call of the season. But as I think of it, a guy by the name of "Rebel" SHOULD lead his team in dingers. Anyway, I digress, in two games so far against the Bugeaters, Andrew Oliver and Tyler Lyons have held them to nine hits, two runs, with 15 strikeouts and not a single walk as they've thrown a pair of complete games.


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THREE DOWN---
1- Duh... Texas.
Lost at Missouri 13-2.
Man. I find this really hard to believe. The Longhorns were one of my "8 for The O in 08" but that ship is quickly sinking. Did Augie take a sabbatical that I didn't hear about? The pitching is in a sling and the fielding is limping along like it's got a peg leg. Augie needs to channel his inner Zen with these boys.

2- Kentucky.
Lost at Georgia 13-4.
So far this season, the Bat Cats are now 26-7 overall after today's loss. They're 21-0 against the tomato cans on the schedule and 5-7 against the good teams on their schedule. Let's hope this doesn't turn into 2007 all over again. Here's a look at the UK batting order going into today's game. Seven of the nine batters are left handed hitters.

UKbattingOrder.jpg
(As you see from this TV graphic from today's Georgia game, not a single UK batter came into today with a batting average less than .300. But facing the Bulldog arms was a lot different than the teams they've faced so far.)


3- Georgia Tech choosing to play today.
Lost to Miami 10-5 and 15-5.
I understand the Jacket players wanting to get back out on the field after the tragic death of pitcher Michael Hutts, but I feel bad they had to play a juggernaut like the Hurricanes this weekend. Because you have to figure their minds were on other things today besides playing baseball against the nation's No. 1 team. But this is one of those things that could galvanize a team for the remainder of the season, so you have to believe Tech will be back. And that right soon.


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MEA CULPA---
To Army-Navy and Harvard-Yale.
Thinking twice about it, if I had to re-write my top 10 places to be this weekend, these two series would certainly be in there. It doesn't matter what sport, these are two of the best rivalries in all of collegiate athletics. So add Annapolis, Maryland and New Haven, Connecticut to the list of places I'd love to go this weekend. And get that Lear Jet warmed up too.

Speaking of the rivals:
Army - 14
Navy - 3
After a 20-10 start, the Midshipmen have now lost four straight, including two straight Patriot League games and have lost first place to Holy Cross. You can see these two on CBS College Sports on Sunday.

Harvard - 1 12
Yale - 6 2
Harvard picked up just its third win of the season today. Ironically, the three wins have been remarkably well played, as the Crimson has allowed only four runs total in those three games.


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HOW I KNOW I SHOULD BE PUT IN CHARGE OF WHICH GAMES GET TELEVISED---
At noon today, I was scanning the channels on DIRECTV and here were the three college baseball games that were on TV:

- Big 10 Network: Iowa at Indiana
- Comcast Sports: Virginia Tech at Wake Forest
- Fox Sports: Texas Tech at Kansas

So, in other words we got:
- 5th vs. 10th place battle in the Big 10
- 8th vs. 12th place game in the ACC and the
- 2nd-to-last vs. last place game in the Big 12

C'mon TV execs, even in late January you've got to be able to look at a schedule of games and have SOME clue as to who will probably be good and who probably won't at that time of the season.


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THE THING I LIKE ABOUT INDIANA---
It's slowly but surely getting a bit more in vogue, but I can't help but like the looks of a team that wears white cleats.

IndianaWhiteShoes.jpg
(There just aren't enough white cleats in college baseball today. But IU ended up losing a pair of games on the Big 10 Network today to Iowa, 12-11 and 13-10.)


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DID THEY really HAVE TO PLAY?---
Wichita State - 3
Creighton - 7
Dammit Mother Nature, knock it off!
The Jays and Shockers played a 6pm game at Rosenblatt tonight with a gametime temperature of 34 degrees to go along with North winds at 15 miles per hour. It's freakin' April people. Overcoming snowy conditions and cold temps, the Bluejays scored four times in the 8th inning to improve to 23-8 overall and 7-3 in MVC play. Side note: Creighton leads the nation with 47 sac bunts on the season.


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DP IS HOT, AND WE DON'T MEAN DOUBLE PLAY HERE---
Cal - 5
USC - 11
Check out USC's Derek Perren so far this weekend.
He's gone 6-for-9 with 8RBI in two blowout wins over No. 17 California.
The stocky first baseman came into the weekend hitting .351, but has been breathing through his eyelids this weekend so far. Perren has been the biggest reason that the Trojans are back to showing signs of life again with a pair of wins over the former Pac 10 leaders with clutch hits. USC has now gone 7-1 since the beginning of April, improving to 18-15 and 6-5.


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HOME TEAM SUCKS---
Every home team in the America East conference lost on Saturday.
The only home team to actually come out on top was Binghampton, who split a double-header with UMBC, winning game one 13-2, before dropping game two 9-4. Maine lost twice to Albany in Orono, league-leading Stony Brook lost twice at home to Hartford and Vermont won twice at New Jersey Tech.


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OTHER COLLEGE BASEBALL COVERAGE---
Just a quick note here, on my way down to Long Beach today I was able to tune into to the Nebraska-Oklahoma State game on Sirius radio channel 143, just in time to hear announcer Greg Sharpe say, "Well, the Huskers have seemed to have had good fortune, the right bounces and all the breaks so far this season. Today isn't one of those days." Indeed, as the Pokes had the Huskers drawn and quartered to the tune of 19-2 in Stillwater today.

Game three of the series will also be available on Sirius, but on channel 125 instead. Start time is at 2pm Eastern. For those of you who may be traveling and wanting to be listening to some college baseball tomorrow, here are the other games on the slate:
Arkansas at Florida, 1pm, channel 130
Oklahoma at Texas A&M, 2pm, channel 126
Vanderbilt at Miss. State, 2:30pm, channel 122
South Carolina at Auburn, 2:45pm, channel 140
(Keep in mind the SEC games have that stupid Sunday travel curfew so you'll probably only get to listen to seven innings or so).


Alright people. We've only got one more day left to this beauty of a weekend. I may try to get out to the Big West battle for first place between UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara up the coast tomorrow. Then again, I might get lazy and not go anywhere, so go figure.

Gotta hit the hay now.

G'night.

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