Not since 2000 has the UCLA baseball team felt as super as they do tonight.
This is because for the first time in seven seasons, the UCLA baseball program is extending their season into Super Regional action by beating Long Beach State in the final game of the Long Beach Regional 7-4.
"It was a hard fought game," UCLA coach John Savage said of his team's performance tonight. "It started out rough as Tim Murphy struggled early. He found his composure and found his strikes. It was a game where we did what we needed to offensively and kept going at them. It was a great win for our program."
Pitching complete game for the Bruins -- which was their third starting pitcher to have completed his game during the weekend -- was Murphy who gave up eight hits, four runs, walked two and recorded eight strikeouts in 140 pitches.
"I was running a little bit low in the tank, but you always have to think you have a little bit more left in you and we went out and got it," Murphy said.
Helping encourage Murphy along to the complete game was the UCLA offense that connected for two runs in the third inning, four runs in the fifth inning and one more in the sixth to give them the edge. Along with the offense doing their job during the at-bats, UCLA's defense also staved off a pesky Long Beach State team that was fighting off a long day at the ballpark that started with their 4-3 win over University Illinois-Chicago.
"I give our guys a lot of credit," Long Beach State coach Mike Weathers said. "When you are in that elimination game and playing two in a day, it's not easy. I thought our guys did a great job with it."
Long Beach State did not go down quietly as the Dirtbags struck first by recording three runs in the first and one run in the third. Yet as their bats cooled down in the night air, continuing on to a Super Regional was not in the cards for this season.
"I know a lot of people only remember the last game, but as I just told the guys that this season was incredible when we had 21 out of 35 new guys and everyone learned so much," Weathers said. "Even though we came up short, we weren't even in it last year, so I am real proud of them."
This one is for Mark Saxson from the Orange County Register and Peter Yoon from the LA Times as they have been my partners in crime all weekend here at the Beach.
We had a scary moment here in the press box as one of the guys from the UCLA radio station almost unplugged our internet connection in hopes of fixing his phone line connection problem. Never mind that no one has touched the box since we all plugged into it before the first game of the day, but while checking the connection, UCLA radio almost disconnected every one else.
As just discussed, the internet connection is the lifeline to the outside world for all of us who have done just about everything but sleep here at Blair Field since Friday.
After seeing a lightening-quick half inning like we just had here in the bottom of the seventh during Long Beach State's last at-bat, that classic song of "Rawhide" creeps into my mind as I want to keep these innings moving.
We are now in the top of the eighth and look, it's the one thing that can add time to a game -- a pitching change.
This time Long Beach State is bringing in Ryan Shaw.
Shaw is 6-2 with a 2.47 ERA.
Stay tuned, he's warming up and there is one out on the board with UCLA's Carrithers at second.
Apparently UCLA pitcher Tim Murphy has two words for Long Beach State's Danny Espinosa - 'Sit down!'
This outburst was heard as Espinosa was walking back to the Long Beach State dugout after being struck out by Murphy.
These two words not only got the Long Beach State fans on their feet, but home plate umpire Jeff Head had a few words with Murphy and then with UCLA coach John Savage in hopes of diffusing the situation.
Now, it's Long Beach State coach Mike Weathers who is upset with Head's call that Perry only had a single -- when it should could have been a double.
In addition, third base umpire Doug Williams had to get the Long Beach State bench to back down after getting animated over the call. I know, Williams was trying to avoid potential suspensions a la Suns versus Spurs style.
Long Beach State has the bases loaded and one out on the board. Steve Tinoco just struck out and Brandon Godfrey is up to bat.
Godfrey is a 5-foot-9 freshman, but his single up the middle to bring home Peterson and keep the bases loaded, was just heard over at the Long Beach State campus three miles away.
It's still the top of the third and UCLA has now scored two runs with runners on second and third. There are two outs, but after seeing the UCLA bats start to wake up, I'm wondering if Long Beach State is taking a siesta in the middle of game two.
Fortunately out number three came just in time and the Dirtbags are now up at-bat.
UCLA -- despite getting to arrive at the field fashionably late in the day for their game -- is struggling early on.
The Bruins were retired 1-2-3 in the second inning -- which was a repeat performance of the first.
With Long Beach State at-bat, it's time to see if they can extend their lead.
Meanwhile, we've got some serious fans in attendence for game two. Sure there are a lot of leftover Long Beach State fans who did not have anything better to do on a beautiful Sunday afternoon than stay for game two, but it looks like a few more of the Dirtbag faithful -- along with a large group of baby blue diehards -- have made it out for tonight's game. The Long Beach State fans, for the most part are sticking to the home side and behind the home plate in their seating selections. Check that, MOST of the Long Beach State fans are not mingling with the Bruin faithful.
Instead, there are a few brave -- and maybe stupid -- who are sitting in the middle of the UCLA section and participating in the Long Beach State cheers.
Now I've done some stupid things before -- include run around the UCLA campus while wearing a USC sweatshirt -- but at least I was moving. For those who have never been to a baseball game, you are sitting the whole freaking time so you are a stationary target. Considering that UCLA fans are an animated bunch, I would NOT want to be within throwing distance of any UCLA fan, including the grandma with the beehive hairdo in the UCLA sweatsuit.
So I'd like to make a prediction on our first fight of the game -- the fourth inning. Even though beer is not sold at Blair Field -- I know, no fun there -- it's those flasks that are smuggled in that you have to watch out for.
Stay tuned...after Long Beach State retired in order, UCLA is starting to look alive as they have runners on second and third in the top of the third.
I know it's still the bottom of the first, but we're loaded here at Long Beach.
That is, the bases are loaded.
Long Beach State has the bases loaded after Matt Cline led off with a walk, Espinosa singled to left field and then both of them tagged up a base on Peterson's fly out to left field. Rounding out the bases being loaded is Jason Corder who just got a free pass to first base.
Stay tuned...waiting to see if Robert Perry's bomb to right field is going to stay in the park.
Game two for the day is underway with Long Beach State resuming their place as the home team and UCLA being the visitors.
With one out, Alden Carrithers is up for UCLA.
As we wait to see what Carrithers does, here are your line-ups for game two:
1. Jermaine Curtis - 3B
2. Alden Carrithers - 2B
3. Brandon Crawford - SS
4. Cody Decker - DH
5. Gabe Cohen - RF
6. Tim Stewart - 1B
7. Justin Uribe - CF
8. Brady Dolan - LF
9. Ryan Babineau - C
Starting Pitcher - Tim Murphy (4-4, 5.91 ERA)
Long Beach State (39-19)
1. Matt Cline - 2B
2. Danny Espinosa - SS
3. Shane Peterson - P
4. Jason Corder - RF
5. Robert Perry - CF
6. Steve Tinoco - LF
7. Brandon Godfrey - 1B
8. Travis Howell - C
9. Taylor Krick - 3B
Starting pitcher - No surprise if you see who is batting in the No. 3 position -- Shane Peterson (2-1, 4.35 ERA)
Stay tuned, the Bruins just went three up and three down as we head into Long Beach State's first at-bat.
Long Beach State has vindicated themselves for Friday night's loss to UIC by beating them in this elimination game 4-3. The Dirtbags will get about an hour break before facing off against UCLA who got to sleep in toay.
It's now the bottom of the seventh and the score is still at 4-2 Long Beach State.
While looking around at the fans in attendence, I happen to see one of the more interesting t-shirts in a while. This very tall blonde -- a future trophy wife -- was wearing a t-shirt that on the back reads 'My boyfriend is a Dirtbag.'
Sure, it's a cute play on the Long Beach State unofficial nickname, but not sure I would really wear that out of the house.
UIC has brought in closer David Cales to pitch after playing second base.
Cales, the Hoirzon League Relief Pitcher of the Year, just got the third out of the inning by striking out Travis Howell.
Here's a few notes on Cales:
- He's a sophomore who transfered to UIC from Missouri this year.
- Big White Sox fan.
- Pre-game ritual includes drinking a cup of coffee -- even if it 12 hours cold.
- May have some trouble getting home after this Regional as he lost his driver's license today.
As blogged on Friday, I celebrated my 32nd birthday while UIC equipment manager Jim Negratti celebrated his 70th here at Blair Field.
Since I can only hope to make it to 70 and still able to attend baseball games, here are a few secrets to making it to this milestone according to Negratti via UIC SID John Jaramillo -- Mountain Dew and Milky Way candy bars.
That's right, Negratti is a big fan of the Dew and some nougat. I myself am a sucker for a Diet Coke or Pepsi -- big surprise, a woman who is a fan of the diet drinks -- and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
In honor of now knowing the way to making it to 70, here are some fun facts to chew on from milkywaybar.com:
- The MILKY WAY Bar was first created in 1923, with the idea of putting "A chocolate malted milk in a candy bar".
- A MILKY WAY Bar sold for 5 cents in 1926.
- The Vanilla MILKY WAY Bar was introduced in 1926. The name changed in 1936 to FOREVER YOURS Bar.
- The MILKY WAY Bar is called MARS Bar outside the U.S.
- The wiggly lines on the bottom of the bars come from the belt they ride on while cooling.
- The center of the bar is called nougat, which is made by whipping egg whites with other ingredients until light and frothy to make a frappe. Flavorings, such as cocoa and malt, are added to the frappe to create the signature flavor nougat.
- In 2005, Americans ate more than 200 million MILKY WAY Bars.
UIC almost just experienced a nightmare of an inning during Long Beach State's turn at the top of the third.
With runners on second and third, the Dirtbags were threatening to run up the score. Yet after striking out Travis Howell and Robert Perry popping out to centerfield, the third inning ended up being not so scary.
While scary innings are just part of the game of baseball, a terrifying pre-season accident was not part of the plan for the Flames last November 6.
The abridged version is that UIC coach Mike Dee was seriously hurt as the butt of an alumninum bat hit him in the face during a bat-release drill. The bat -- which was released out of the hands of right fielder Ty Rubio -- hit Dee on the left side of his face which destroyed his nose and Dee suffered "blowout fractures" to his orbital bones and cheekbones according to Chicagosports.com. The injury was so severe that Dee now has an alumimum nose and his left eye sits upon a titanium box.
Dee's scars are unnoticable to the naked eye and doesn't want people to make a big deal about the injury, but it's one of the reminders in life that anything can happen when you are not looking.
Here's the complete story from Chicagosports.com for those of you who want to read it:
UIC is now up to bat after Matt Cline struck out swinging.
As we wait to see if Jake Carr can connect on a pitch and with Larry Gempp Jr. having advanced to second on an E1, there's a oncessionaire walking through the stands who is making me smile as he is huslting the goodies in his bags. The concessionaire is crying 'Muchies! Who's got the munchies!
I may have to sneak out of the press box at some point to get a bratwurst.
Stay tuned, UIC's Larry Gempp Jr. just scored an unearned run to tie up the game.
Apparently state employees in California do work on Sundays.
As Long Beach State's Brandon Godfrey hit a nice little stand-up double to bring in Robert Perry for the Dirtbag's first run, I noticed along the visitor's side that the only mascot brave enough to show up this weekend at Blair Field has returned. That's right, the 49er is here and he's out working the crowd.
Long Beach State now has runners on the corners as Godfrey advanced on a passed ball and Danny Espinosa was walked to first.
Stay tuned, I may see a ball fly like a bird in a minute...
It's 1:58 in the LBC and we have our official first pitch.
Faster than I can type out the last name of UIC's starting pitcher Crnkovich, the Flames made quick work of Long Beach State's first three batters as Crnkovich -- Doug K., we may need to start the counter on this one -- retires the top of the line-up 1-2-3.
Stay tuned, we're heading into the bottom of the first.
It's day three here in the LBC and with less than an hour before game one today, here's a look at the starting line-ups for today:
Long Beach State (38-19)
1. TJ Mittelstaedt - LF
2. Chris Nelson - CF
3. Shane Peterson - DH
4. Travis Howell - C
5. Robert Perry - RF
6. Brandon Godfrey - 1B
7. Danny Espinosa - SS
8. Jason Tweedy - 3B
9. Matt Cline - 2B
Starting pitcher: Omar Arif (5-5, 3.11 ERA)
1. Chad Shroeder - SS
2. Nick Rainwater - 3B
3. Micky PIngree - DH
4. Larry Gempp Jr. - CF
5. Jake Carr - 1B
6. David Cales - 2B
7. Ty Rubio - RF
8. Tyler Moore - LF
9. Erik Whinery - C
Starting pitcher - Steve Crnkovich (4-3, 2.27 ERA)
Despite only being able to score three runs off of 14 hits, those three little runs were all the UCLA needed to win 3-1 over UIC and stay in the winner's bracket heading into Showdown Sunday here at Blair Field.
Here's the final boxscore from game two:
UCLA 3 14 1
UIC 1 2 0
Winning pitcher was UCLA's Gavin Brooks (6-6) who went the distance with his second complete game of the season. Brooks walked three, recorded seven strikeouts in 118 pitches.
The losing pitcher was UIC's Zach Peterson (7-4) who also went the distance with his second complete game of the season. Peterson finised with three errors and two strikeouts on 121 pitches.
With the win, UCLA will have the luxury of waiting to see who survives the elimination game at 2 p.m. tomorrow in the deja vu game between UIC and Long Beach State. Game two tomorrow is expected to start around 6 p.m.
The probable starting pitcher for Long Beach State tomorrow is Omar Arif (5-5, 3.11 ERA) while UIC is expected to start with Steve Crnkovich (4-3, 2.27 ERA).
Here's how the final three outs of tonight's game looked:
#1 - UIC's Larry Gempp Jr. caught looking at a strikeout
#2 - UIC's Jake Carr watched UCLA outfielder Gabe Cohen catching his pop fly
#3 - UIC's David Cales watched UCLA pitcher Gavin Brooks make and easy under-hand toss to first baseman Tim Stewart.
Stay tuned...off to see if there is anything memorable from the post-game press conferences.
It's now the bottom of the eighth and in nine outs, either UCLA or UIC is going to find themselves in the loser's bracket. With UCLA on top 3-1, it looks like UIC will be playing in the first game tomorrow against Long Beach State.
With the out countdown in effect, it reminds me of other countdowns currently taking place in LA.
For instance, there's the
- Paris 'I shouldn't have to go to jail because I'm a celebrity' Hilton countdown.
- There's also the Lindsay 'Will I be able to stay in rehab longer than Britney Spears' Lohan countdown.
- There's also the Kobe 'When will I throw another temper-tantrum' Bryant countdown.
- My personal favorite is the USC 'Is it time to beat up on Notre Dame again' football season countdown.
There are now eight outs left and UIC's Rainwater is back up at-bat.
During Thursday's press conference, I got to spend some one-on-one time with UIC's Nick Rainwater -- hey, a good reporter takes the time to talk to players one-on-one and if they happen to have a great smile for you, well, it's just a hazard of the job.
Anyhow, here's what Rainwater told me about one of the mental exercises that the UIC team does to mentally prepare for games:
"We go over our routines and how to turn around things that go round. We'll have team meetings and mental game meeting. This is where we go in and talk about what you are going to do when someone makes an error. A lot of guys have their little things that get their mind off a mistake they made and get them back on track. We are just getting ourselves in a position to play as well as we can."
Considering that Rainwater just bobbled a ball which could have been the first out for the Flames, it may be time for one of the team's mental meetings.
Stay tuned, it's the top of the seventh and the score hasn't changed.
It's the only way to describe the sound that was just heard all the way up in the press box as UIC's Micky Pingree was drilled in the left thigh by a pitch from UCLA's Gavin Brooks here in the bottom of the seventh.
When a pitch can make a sound like that, you know it's going to leave a mark.
With UIC up 1-0 heading into the top of the fourth inning, here's a list of hot songs to get stuck in your head:
1. Drop it like it's hot - Snoop Dogg
2. Hot, hot, hot - Buster Poindexter
3. Heaven and hot rods - Stone Temple Pilots
4. Hot boy - Christina Milian
5. Hot in herre - Nelly
6. Hot you're cool - General Public
7. This is why I'm hot - MIMS
8. Hot in the city - Billy Idol
If anyone out there has two more 'hot' songs for my list, please leave me a comment.
With a chill in the air and my jacket on, I'd happily trade places with fellow blogger Jason Owens and worry about staying hydrated right now.
Despite the chill in the air, the UIC Flames are pretty hot right now. After all, they did just get out of what could have been a nightmare of a top of the third inning after UCLA loaded up the basis. Instead, the Flames' Zach Peterson was able to get out of the inning relatively unscathed as he gave up three hits, but no runs.
Erik Whinery -- not to be confused with a winery -- just popped out for out number one to left field.
Stay tuned, we have one out but two layers of clothing now on in the bottom of the third.
For those of you who don't know, I am a big fan of the underdogs in life. Maybe it's because I am somewhat of an underdog myself, but whatever the case, I enjoy seeing the little guys in the world enjoy some time in the spotlight (exclusion: college football season when anyone is playing my Trojans).
My point is, I've started to become a fan of the UIC team in the last couple of days here.
Here's a little background on who UIC is:
- They are the 2007 Horizon League Champions.
- This is the program's third all time NCAA tournament appearance.
- Their first NCAA tournament bid was in 2003 and the last one was in 2005.
- Their win over host school and No. 1-seed Long Beach State yesterday was the first NCAA postseason victory in program history.
- UIC has one the last six Horizon League regular season titles (2002-2007)
- UIC is located one mile west of downtown Chicago
- Journalist Bernard Shaw, actor Michael Gross (remember him from Family Ties?) and Detroit Tigers centerfielder Curtis Granderson are among their most noteable alumni.
Yet another inspired song by the Blair Field DJ! We are heading into the bottom of the ninth and with the end of the Pepperdine season just three outs away, this song by Remy Zero is right up there as one of the most inspired selections for the weekend.
Pepperdine's pinch hitter Joe Evans just struck out swinging and Adrian Ortiz just got out number two.
Pepperdine coach Steve Rodriguez just gave relief pitcher Adam Olbrychowski -- this puts me at an even extra $1 -- the hook after six innings, 86 pitches, two hits (one earned), one walk and two strikeouts.
Now on the mound for Pepperdine is lefty Jordan Durrance. Durrance looks like he was only given one chance -- well, five pitches -- to do something, but failed as Long Beach State's Robert Perry made it on base.
Durrance has just been replaced by Jason Dominguez, a right-handed junior who is 2-3 with a 3.62 ERA.
There's no one warming up in the Pepperdine bullpen right now, but with the bases loaded after Brandon Gofrey advanced to third on a passed ball and Robert Perry moved to second as Travis Howell is walked to first, it may be time for another Pepperdine pitching change.
The seventh inning stretch is complete and as we head into Pepperdine's next at-bat, a shout out is well deserved for Long Beach State SID (Sports Information Director) Niall Adler.
Adler became my bud after covering the 12 games in three days of the NCAA women's water polo championships three weeks ago, but after seeing the media guide he put together for the Long Beach State baseball team, he is now one of my all time favorite people for his dry sense of humor.
His sense of humor is demonstrated by how Adler has Long Beach State senior infielder AJ Pinocchio pronounced -- son of Gapeto
Seriously? Yes, otherwise my nose might start to grow.
Pinocchio has not and may not see any playing time during this weekend's Regional here at Long Beach State, but gotta give props to the guy as you know he was probably teased relentlessly as a kid with a last name like that.
Fortunately, Long Beach State's Pinocchio looks nothing like the Disney character (see below):
After a sell-out crowd and an appearance by the Long Beach State 49er last night for the Long Beach State game, I'm sad to report that there is not a sell out for Long Beach State's afternoon game and the 49er looks like he got the day off.
We're in the bottom of the bottom of the fourth and Pepperdine is up to bat. With one out and Travis Tartamella on first, it's Adrian Ortiz's turn at-bat.
Ortiz is 0-1, but reached base in the first inning by taking advantage of a wild pitch.
After Tratamella got caught trying to steal second and Ortiz couldn't beat out the throw to first, we're now in the top of the fifth.
With less than an hour before game time, BP is over, the sun out in full force and with the temperature at a warm 70 degrees, you couldn't ask for a better day for a Regional (sorry my fellow CSTV.com bloggers who are experiencing either extreme hot or cold temperatures right now). It's just freakin gorgeous out people and really more of a beach day than a baseball day.
Here are your starting line-ups for 'Do or Die' game one today:
Visitors -- Long Beach State (37-19)
Chris Nelson - CF
Matt Cline - 2B
Shane Peterson - 1B
Jason Corder - DH
Robert Perry - RF
Travis Howell - C
Danny Espinosa - SS
Steve Tinoco - LF
Taylor Krick - 3B
Starting pitcher - Andrew Liebel -- 8-3, 2.83 ERA
No, this is not a typo. The Dirtbags are the visiting team on their own field today.
Home - Pepperdine (35-21)
Adrian Ortiz - CF
Danny Worth - SS
Eric Thames - DH
Donald Brown - RF
Chase d'Arnaud - 3B
Luke Salas - LF
Denny Duron - 2B
Ryan Heroy - 1B
Travis Tartamella - C
Starting pitcher - Robert Dickmann -- 6-4, 3.70 ERA
The loser from this game will go home while the winner will advance to play in tomorrow's first game at 2 p.m.
Stay tuned, I'm off to go work on my tan some more before the first pitch.
After a first game that provided very few surprises, the best was saved for last as the No. 4-seed UIC played as well as they could on the strength of Ryan Zink's post-Tommy John surgery-enhanced elbow.
Along with this Regional game being a great test for Zink's elbow, it was also a great test for the UIC team whose last visit to Blair Field was the experience of being swept. Instead of letting the crowd or the pedigree of Long Beach State get to them, UIC proved with their upset why they deserved to be in this Regional.
Tomorrow UIC will face another pedigree team in UCLA, but if tonight is any indication of tomorrow, even the underdog can have its day.
First game tomorrow with Pepperdine and Long Beach State starts at 3 p.m. while the night game is expected to start around 7 p.m.
Noteable performances from both games today:
Pepperdine -- Ryan Heroy only went 1-4, but his one hit of the game brought in two runs for Pepperdine in the top of the ninth.
UCLA -- Cody Decker finished went 2-4 which including his first inning two-run home run that put the Bruins on the board first.
UIC -- Chad Schroeder finished went 2-3 and his first hit of the game in the fifth inning produced two runs for the Flames.
Long Beach State -- Robert Perry recorded the Dirtbags' sole hit of the game in the fourth inning on his 1-3 performance.
I now know a man who makes more changes during a game than outfits I try on before going on a date.
Long Beach State's Mike Weathers has put in freshman right-handed pitcher Daniel Wolford here in the top of the ninth. Wolford -- who is 1-1 on the season with a 4.00 ERA -- is the fourth pitcher for the Dirtbags this game.
Wolford just needs to get three little outs -- which I know is easier said than done at times -- to give his teammates one more chance to come away with tonight's game.
With two outs in the top of the eighth and pitcher Manny McElroy now behind in the count with two balls and no strikes, the UIC Flames are hoping for a little bit -- check that, a lot -- of third baseman Nick Rainwater to show up.
Unfortunately Rainwater hasn't been much of a factor tonight as he is 0-3, but then again, this is baseball and anything can happen.
Included in that thought of anything being possible is the new pitcher in for Long Beach State. David Roberts, a sophomore right-handed pitcher who is 4-1 and has a 2.92 ERA on the season in 27 appearances has just finished warming up.
Long Beach State's Shane Peterson almost got a home run the hard way -- to deep center field.
Yet despite the oohs and aahs of the crowd willing the ball to fly out over dead center field, the ball would only make it as far as the warning track where UIC's Larry Gempp Jr. was waiting to make the catch.
To add insult to injury, Long Beach State's Danny Espinosa just struck out swinging for the second time tonight.
Stay tuned, we're in the top of the seventh and UIC is holding onto their lead.
It's the bottom of the fourth inning and with the score still at 0-0, there hasn't been much for Long Beach State's fans -- which out-number the UIC fans about 10-1 -- to cheer about.
However, with the swing of the bat by Robert Perry, that all changed.
Perry just hit a nice line drive down the first base side to advance Danny Espinosa to third. Espinosa originally got to third on a walk, but it was Perry's -- and the team's -- first hit of the game that woke everyone up.
After Brandon Godfrey struck out swinging there are now two outs.
With one strike away from being able to get out of the inning unscathed, the Flames' second baseman just earned the first error of the game and Espinosa came home.
Ok, before you start scratching your head, this commonality is totally pure.
As just announced by the Blair Field announcer, today is my birthday. Seriously, it is.
While I became a full count today, there was an additional birthday that was announced. The other birthday was that of the UIC equipment manager Jim Negratti. While my birthday is in no means a milestone, Negratti's is.
Negratti is spending his 70th -- yes, 70th -- birthday here at Blair Field in the lovely LBC. I may need to go meet Negratti to find out what the secret is to making it to 70 as there have been days in the last year when I wasn't sure I was going to make it to 32.
So I am celebrating my birthday -- sans a candle in the bratwurst (thanks Doug!) -- here at Blair Field.
I have my first baseball mascot sighting here at Blair Field.
It's Long Beach State's 49er!
See, officially, Long Beach State's mascot is the old timer, but the unofficial, the baseball team is called the Dirtbags.
Here's the low-down on the unofficial name per the Long Beach State media guide:
The unofficial nickname of Long Beach State 49er baseball team refers to the program's style of play and success against higher profile programs. The moniker was first coined for Coach Snow's first team in 1989 which was comprised of nearly all new players. Playing without a home field (LBCC, Cerritos JC and Blair Field), and practicing at a local all-dirt Pony Field, that team won its first 18 games and advanced to the 49ers first College World Series appearance. Then-infield coach Dave Malpass would take his infielders to the all-dirt field for their rigorous workout. The infielders would return to the regular practice field after their sessions covered in dirt. Thus the name "Dirtbags" was born. The name resurfaced again in 1993 when the 12-12 49ers rallied to win 34 of their next 41 games and finish three outs short of the National Championship game. The "Dirtbags" were once again a fan favorite at the 1998 College World Series as the country received a lesson in "Dirtbag" baseball.
We're in the top of the second inning already and UIC just got their first hit of the day from Larry Gempp Jr as we move into the heart of the Flames' line-up.
Now up to bat is lucky number 13 Jake Carr. Considering how baseball players seem to be the most superstitious of all athletes, I'm surprised to see a ball player wearing this number. True to his unlucky number, Carr just hit into a 6-3 double play.
Now up for UIC is David Cales, who pops out to centerfield.
As we move into the bottom of the second, due up for Long Beach State is Robert Perry, Brandon Godfrey and Travis Howell.
After seeing UCLA move into the winner's bracket with their 7-3 win over Pepperdine this afternoon, it's time for the main attraction of the night featuring the home town favorites of Long Beach State Dirtbags and the little-known University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) Flames.
We're in the bottom of the first and have UIC went three up and three down, Long Beach is now up to bat. TJ Mittlestaedt leads off followed by Matt Cline and Shane Peterson.
The last time these two teams met was last year when Long Beach State extinguished the Flames in three straight games. Tonight, the Flames are hoping to burn up the dirt.
Stay tuned, we are scoreless and Mittlestaedt is on second base with one out.
After going 0-4 into his final at-bat, he just proved himself at crunch time.
Pepperdine is currently down 7-3 and there are two outs. Worth steps up to bat and hits a beauty of a grounder towards third base. It's one thing that the Waves' runners -- Travis Tartamella and Adrian Ortiz -- have enough wheels to advance to the next base. It's another thing that Worth's hit was shallow enough that UCLA's Jermaine Curtis was unable to pick up the ball in time and have his throw to first base beat out Worth's speed.
So Worth just became a very valuable player for the Waves as his hit loaded up the bases.
Stay tuned...there's a pop fly in the air to third base.
Long Beach: Three Outs To Go And Fun Factapolooza Time
At the top of the eighth inning and UCLA working on their second post-season shutout in school history with the score at 7-0, we are three outs away from the end of the first game of the day. The previous was and 8-0 win in 1992 over Yale.
UCLA's Tyson Brummett is holding strong in this -- hopefully -- final inning and looking for his eighth complete game of the season which will put him second in school history for complete games in a single season. What's particualarily interesting about this is that last year during his junior year, Brummett only recorded a single complete game against USC on May 14.
I firmly believe in knowing what you are worth and never settling for less.
However, if you are Danny Worth from Pepperdine -- who is now 0-4 today -- it may be time to get hitched and take your wife's last name after a performance like today.
I give the kid credit as he was a West Coast Conference first teamer this year and leads the Waves with 19 doubles this season. He also has started in all 55 games this year as the Waves' shortstop. Yet it's crunch time! Make it count!
Ok, my under two hour game is officially a thing of the past as we are in the bottom of the eighth and it's almost 5:30 here in the LBC.
Wow, I think we've just seen a relationship shorter than a Britney Spears' marriage.
Looks like Pepperdine coach Steve Rodriguez is not married to any one pitcher today as we are experiencing the Waves' second pitching change in less than an inning.
Sure, Durrance was able to get the second out of the inning, but he wasn't able to get his team out of the inning for good and finished after pitching for 1/3 of an inning, gave up no hits, got scored on once, walked one and threw seven strikes.
Now in for the Waves is sophomore Doug Konoske.
Stay tuned as we see who else Rodriguez falls out of love with on his pitching staff...
During yesterday's pre-Regional press conference, Pepperdine coach Steve Rodriguez gets the nod for having the most original analogy I've heard from a coach in a long time.
When asked to describe how valuable the experience his team has going into this weekend considering this is the Waves' fifth consecutive NCAA Regional appearance. here's how he responded:
"It is just like how you describe a marriage. If you ask someone who has been married for 25 years and someone who has been married for two years, it's amazing the two different answers you get. You have to understand that there is going some difficulty in there and mistakes. The truth is that you can't really focus on those mistakes as errors and strikeouts are part of the game. If you are going to make them, make them aggressively. Also, there are times where you and your wife or spouse don't see eye-to-eye, but the next day you are still going to love that person. The more you do things, the more you realize that things are not going to go your way all of the time. You just need to take your time, relax and try something different instead of jumping ship, especially in a marriage."
It should be noted that Rodriguez may not be entirely full of himself as he has been married for 12 years now. I guess I just never thought of baseball and marriage being so similar. Hmm...I think this one gets chalked up to learning something new every day.
We're at the top of the fifth inning and the score remains unchanged with UCLA up 3-0.
With this game flying by, kudos to the DJ here are Blair Field. He is playing Real World by Matchbox 20.
Considering that we are at a baseball game where everything that is taking place in the real world is non-existent right now, this musical selection is, well to borrow a word from a fellow blogger - inspired!
If Pepperdine doesn't get hot soon in today's game, they could be facing the cold real world of the loser's bracket soon.
Stay tuned, more inspirational song selections to come.
We're in the bottom of the first and after Pepperdine's first three hitters in the line-up hit out, UCLA's Cody Decker just hit a sweet three-run home run to left field. Not only was this hit pretty because it put UCLA's first numbers on the scoreboard, but his hit cleared a Tioga RV parked along a curb on the outside of the left-field wall and didn't touch ground until about 12 feet past the left field wall.
Decker's home run followed Alden Carrithers making it to first base after an error by Pepperdine's first baseman Ryan Heroy and a stand-up double by Brandon Crawford.
Long Beach: Pre-Game Observations from Blair Field
As we wait for the first pitch, here's the scene at Blair Field:
- UCLA is considered the home team while Pepperdine is in the visitor's dugout.
- The nod goes to UCLA on fan support as their fans seem to out-number the Pepperdine fans about 3-1.
- Speaking of UCLA fans, I found myself sandwiched in between two of the more unusual UCLA fans while getting a bratwurst. In front of me was a teenager wearing baby blue rally socks pulled up to his knees, a baby blue UCLA baseball t-shirt on under a satin baby blue UCLA baseball jacket and a UCLA baseball helmut on his head. Never knew that the batting helmet was a fashionable accessory, but then again, this is baseball so I'll give the kid credit for supporting his team. In back of me was a UCLA mom who apparently had never been to a baseball game before as she asked for a bag to carry her four sodas in. (Seriously, except at the souvenir stand, why would a food stand have bags? Also, wasn't her husband in line with her so he could help carry the goods?)
- Fullerton may have funnel cakes at their home baseball games, but Long Beach's brats are worth the price of admission. That or I was really hungry.
There's 45 minutes before the first pitch of the day of UCLA versus Pepperdine match-up and as the crowd trickles in, each team is finishing up their pre-game warm-ups.
As we wait for the first game to start, here are some of the most memorable moments in baseball history on June 1, to think about:
June 1, 1997 - Hi Corky! -- After Los Angeles Dodger Wilson Guerrero breaks his bat during a game at St. Louis, it is revealed that it was corked. (Side note -- I was an intern with the Dodger's Public Relations office at the time during my senior year at USC and can attest to the nightmare this created)
June 1, 1982 - Not caught stealing -- Rickey Henderson (Oakland A's) is the fastest to reach 50 stolen bases in a year.
June 1, 1980 - Yawn, another Dodger milestone -- Steve Garvey, hits the 7,000th Dodger home run.
June 1, 1975 - Before they were part of Los Angeles -- California Angel Nolan Ryan's 4th no-hitter beats the Baltimore Orioles, 1-0.
June 1, 1979 - Gulp! -- Tigers' Al Kaline collides with another player and swallows his tongue.
June 1, 1939 - Nothing like the first time -- First night game at Phil's Shribe Park (Pirates 5, Philloies 2).
June 1, 1923 - Score every time -- New York GIants beat the Phillies, 22-5, as the Giants score in every inning.
June 1, 1917 - You're in the army now -- Hank Gowdy (Boston Braves) is first baseball player to enlist during WWI.
Blair Field - the home of Long Beach State's baseball program - has enjoyed the limelight as the host site of six MTV Rock & Jock softball games, four Area Code Game tournaments and been used as a filming location for over 200 films. Yet no matter how many times this field has been in the spotlight in the world of sports and entertainment, it is the field's time in the NCAA spotlight as one of 16 Regional Sites this weekend that seems to matter the most.
While three different Southern California teams and one Mid-Western team will descend on this field within 10 miles of the beach, only one team will survive and advance to a Super Regional site next weekend.