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Welcome to Dirtbags Baseball blog! I was introduced to Long Beach State baseball in 2002 when my nephew, Neil Jamison, joined the team (and university) as a freshman. I started the blog in March of 2004, and generally discuss the team, current players and those that have moved on to professional baseball - as Neil has done in the San Diego Padres organization. Living in San Diego County, and with Neil moving to the next level, I won't be attending as many Dirtbags games. But, mostly from a distance, I'll remain a Dirtbags fan. I welcome tips on stories and information concerning the Dirtbags (current, past and future). I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This website is not affiliated with Long Beach State University or its NCAA Division I baseball program. All original material copyright 2004-2006 by Jeffrey A. Agnew.
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
I've added some photos from the Dirtbags series at Irvine last weekend to those taken at the Aztec Invitational at Petco Park. See them all here.
This from Baseball America's Defend the Poll Chat transcript (March 30 chat):
Q: Matt from Stockton, CA asks:
How do you see the Big West unfolding this year? Is it a two-team race with UC-Irvine and Long Beach State...or can Fullerton or Cal Poly get into the mix? How many teams do you see making the post season?
A: Will Kimmey:
Irvine won two close ones last weekend, but the Beach didn't have Weaver going. I'd say since the conference series is at Blair Field, the Dirtbags might get 2 of 3 there. Both teams should be NCAA locks, maybe already. Fullerton will have trouble getting past its record. Injuries and the toughest schedule in the land has left the Titans at 15-13 right now. They'll need a very strong finish to get in. Cal Poly has been very game this year and has a case.
Read the full transcript here.
The Dirtbags will travel to Cal. State Fullerton to take on the Titans in a three game non-conference series this weekend, in what longbeachstate.com calls the “best rivalry in baseball.” Hard to argue with that one. Read the weekly release in html here, and in pdf here.
"They call me mouse because I’m scrappy—like a rat." So says Dirtbags outfielder Steve Velazco. He also provides this quote in the profile article you can find here: "This season," explains Velazco, "I want to stay consistent in my game, and travel to Omaha to play in the World Series." Now that sounds like a plan!
Be sure to check out Dr. Dan Barber's Diamond Dust on a regular basis at longbeachstate.com. Here’s the link to his page.
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Great (and in depth) article in the Los Angeles Times today: Absolute Power: Long Beach State pitcher Jered Weaver has pro scouts salivating. Registration required, which is free. Click here for the article.
Good article in the Long Beach Press-Telegram this morning, focusing on Jered Weaver's unprecedented fifth National Player of the Week honor...read it here. The Press-Telegram also notes that the Dirtbags weren't hit too hard in the polls for the losses at Irvine, maintaining 7th in Baseball America, dropping from 7th to 8th in Sports Weekly/ESPN, and from 11th to 13th in Collegiate Baseball.
The truly unbelievable season that Jered Weaver is having has been widely written about...and with good reason. 8-0 with a tiny 0.64 ERA. 89 strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings. Just amazing! Not getting quite the notice (though not ignored) is the fantastic work being done by the bullpen. The composite numbers for all Long Beach pitchers who have appeared exclusively in relief are: 1.61 ERA, two wins and no losses, 56 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings with only 11 walks. Opposing batters are “hitting” just .155.
The bullpen is led by closer Neil Jamison, and setup men Brian Anderson and Brett Andrade.
This has been a breakout year for Anderson. Last summer he posted a 0.32 ERA over 28.1 innings of relief work for the Alexandria Beetles in the Northwoods League, going 3-0. Brian struck out 29, while walking 11, and opposing batters hit only .122. He has been even better for the Dirtbags this year. In 13.0 innings over 8 appearances, he is yet to give up a run, has 13 strikeouts against 2 walks, and opponents are batting just .119.
Neil Jamison likewise had an outstanding summer. Pitching in relief for the Chatham A’s in the Cape Cod League, Neil appeared in 20 games, pitched 32.0 innings and posted a 1.13 ERA. He went 1-0 with 1 save, and struck out 41 while walking just 8. In his new roll as closer for the Dirtbags, he has earned 8 saves and his ERA stands at 2.03. Leading the team in appearances at 13, he has struck out 16, while walking 3, over 13.1 innings. Opposing batters are hitting only .167.
Brett Andrade also had a fine summer, pitching for Fairbanks in the Alaska League. Appearing in 19 games (starting one), he went 5-3 with 2 saves, with a 2.55 ERA, over 42.1 innings. For the Dirtbags, Brett has pitched 15.0 innings over 11 games. After a couple of rough outings, he came back strong to shut down Irvine on Sunday. On the year, his ERA stands at 3.00, with 15 strikeouts against no walks. Hitters are batting just .211.
With the phenomenal pitching of Jered Weaver, and the very solid (and improving) pitching of Cesar Ramos and the Beach’s other starters, opponents might hope for pitch counts to rise and get to the bullpen. But not this bullpen.
Monday, March 29, 2004
longbeachstate.com's article on Jered Weaver's national honor is here.
"RHP Jered Weaver, Long Beach St.: For a record fifth straight time this season, Weaver has been named a Louisville Slugger National Player of The Week. He tied the school record by striking out 16 of a possible 18 outs in six innings of work against Wichita St. He recorded 14 of the first 15 outs by strikeout. Weaver now has strung together 21 consecutive scoreless innings and is 8-0 with a 0.64 ERA." Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
Click here to view photos shot at the Aztec Invitational tournament at Petco Park in San Diego (March 19-21, 2004).
The Dirtbags hold on to No. 7 in the Baseball America poll. See the poll here.
It was a tough weekend for the Dirtbags. Coming off a five game winning streak, and having swept three games against then No. 17 ranked Arizona and two games against No. 7 ranked Wichita State, the Dirtbags lost their first series of the year against Big West opponent Irvine in a non-conference two game set at UC Irvine's Anteater Ballpark.
Long Beach State's pitching remained stellar, giving up only four earned runs in the two games. But the Dirtbag's, usually excellent on defense, committed five errors (though I have to disagree with the official scorer on one error charged on a grounder deep in the hole to second). One error on Sunday led to two unearned runs that proved to be the margin of victory for the Anteaters.
Cesar Ramos, who started Saturday, was outstanding. The only run he allowed over seven innings was a solo home run by Matt Anderson. Brian Anderson pitched a scoreless eighth. Give Irvine's pitching their due. They nearly shut down the 49ers at the plate. But in a tight game, the Dirtbags ran themselves out of a great scoring opportunity in the eighth inning. With Travis Udvarhelyi at first, and Josh Buhagiar at third, Brad Davis was at the plate with one out. In an apparent miscue, Udvarhelyi was hung up in a rundown after he took off for second on the pitch. Buhagiar strayed too far off the third base bag and was picked off as Udvarhelyi retreated to first. It would be the Dirtbags last scoring opportunity as they were shut out for the first time this season.
The fireworks for Long Beach went off in the fifth inning. Mike Hofius was called out attempting to steal second. Whether or not he was nailed with the tags is debatable, but there was little question for the Dirtbag's faithful present that the Anteater shortstop was guilty of interference for blocking the bag without the ball. Normally calm, cool and collected Coach Mike Weathers shot out of the dugout to argue the call with third base umpire David Diaz. The exchange was heated, and coach Weathers was tossed. I have never seen Coach Weathers run so fast to argue a call (I'm not sure I have ever seen him run), nor have I ever seen him ejected from a game. Diaz' call may well have cost the Beach the game, as Danny Mocny followed with a triple that would have scored Hofius.
On Sunday, freshman Brandon Villalobos was solid in his second start (Jason Vargas was scratched because of a blister). He allowed just two earned runs over 4.2 innings, with six hits, three strikeouts and no walks. The two unearned runs scored on a grounder that should have ended the inning. Kenny Maiques followed with 1.1 innings, giving up his first run of the season on a solo home run. Brett Andrade then pitched a perfect inning, followed by Neil Jamison doing the same.
Now a word of criticism for the host UC Irvine. Last year I sent an email to Irvine to bring to their attention that the singers who perform the National Anthem face the crowd, rather than the flag, when they sing. While not proper, I assumed it was an oversight. I never received a reply. This weekend, the practice continues. To most, it is probably a small thing. But not to me.
Friday, March 26, 2004
How good is the Beach's pitching? The Dirtbags sat at No. 7 in the Baseball America and Sports Weekly/ESPN polls, and number 11 in the Collegiate Baseball poll. The Dirtbags 1.93 team ERA is the best of all the schools in the top 10 of any of these polls. South Carolina is next best, at 2.45. Only two others, LSU and Texas, are lower than 3.00.
This from Baseball America's college weekend preview today...
"Everyone has surely been following Jered Weaver's junior season for No. 7 Long Beach State, and hopefully got to read Allan Simpson's early draft preview look at him and the other top 50 prospects. Weaver's just been phenomenal this season, going 7-0, 0.71 with 73 strikeouts and six walks as well as two 15-strikeout performances. Those numbers rival Mark Prior's junior statistics at Southern California. Actually Weaver's are better.
So when you thought Weaver couldn't top himself anymore, he goes out against a very explosive offensive club in No. 11 Wichita State on Wednesday and throws six shutout innings in a 10-1 win. He recorded 18 outs, 16 by strikeout to tie a Long Beach State record and set a new career high. He got 14 of the first 15 outs on strikes. The other two outs came on a foul pop to first base and when third baseman Derek Schermerhorn walked and got picked off first base Weaver.
"It was pretty amazing," said UC Irvine coach John Savage, who drove across town to watch the Dirtbags before they travel to face his No. 19 Anteaters in two games this weekend. "Sixteen strikeouts in six innings. It was 0-2 on every batter before they got in the box. His command is special, three pitches for strikes."
Would anyone else like to vote for first baseman Mike Hofius having let the popup fall to see if Weaver could have fanned 18? In all seriousness, we don't expect a player to actually do that, but there is historical precedent.
Don Baylor did what Hofius could have in Roger Clemens' first 20-strikeout game on April 29 1986, dropping a foul pop along the first base line hit by Gorman Thomas in the fourth inning. Baylor was charged with the only error of the game, and the Rocket ended up getting Thomas on a called strike three to add an extra K to the docket. (Thanks to retrosheet.org for refreshing the memory on that game.)
Summing it up, Weaver improved to 8-0, 0.64 with 89 strikeouts, eight walks and 22 hits allowed in 57 innings. And credit Long Beach State coach Mike Weathers for using his stud judiciously. Weaver didn't top 100 pitches Wednesday and hasn't thrown a complete game this season. Part of that has to go to Weathers' confidence in his bullpen, a group led by righthanders Neil Jamison, Brian Anderson and Brent Andrade that has allowed 15 earned runs all season. "
You can read the entire weekend preview here.
Something tells me that Irvine Anteaters Coach John Savage is glad that Jerod Weaver will not start at Irvine this weekend! But with the Dirtbags staff ERA standing at 1.91 his guys will have their hands full anyway.
Welcome to my blog! Allow me to introduce myself. I am a lifelong baseball fan, and was introduced to Long Beach State baseball two years ago when my nephew joined the team (and university) as a freshman. I am now an enthusiastic - well, okay, obsessive - Dirtbags fan. For the uninitiated, the official name of the sports teams at Long Beach State University is the 49ers. But the baseball team is known far and wide as the Dirtbags. Why the Dirtbags? Click here to find out.
The purpose of this blog is to have some fun sharing information and experiences that will hopefully be of interest to Dirtbag fans. Whenever I find interesting pieces about the Dirtbags online, I’ll give you a link to them. I can be contacted at email@example.com. Suggestions are welcome.