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Scouting The Sun Devils


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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


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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Scouting The Sun Devils

The Dirtbags open the season with a three game set against the Arizona State Sun Devils in Tempe January 28-30. Here's what Joe Ritzo at has to say about ASU:
At this point, it's probably a coin flip between the Cardinal, Huskies, and Sun Devils for the favorite in the Pac-10. ASU, like Stanford and Washington, looks to have the bats and the arms to challenge for the conference title and make a run at Omaha. Six offensive starters return led by Team USA star OF Travis Buck (.373-9-58). Buck had a spectacular sophomore campaign last season and should be one of the top outfielders in the country. Talented catcher Tuffy Gosewisch (.342-2-49) and emerging star in center fielder Colin Curtis (.300-5-36) will carry a lot of the load offensively. Meanwhile, Head Coach Pat Murphy has to be thrilled to have OF/1B/3B Jeff Larish (.308-7-41) back for his senior season. Statistically speaking, Larish may have been the best hitter in the country as a sophomore (.372-18-95), but a down year last spring dropped his draft stock and thus he's back in Tempe. If Larish comes close to his 2003 form, watch out, the Devils likely will finish better than third in the conference. The Sun Devils will have to deal with the loss of All-American shortstop Dustin Pedroia who has moved on to professional baseball.

Ace starter Jason Urquidez (12-3, 3.41) returns for his senior season. Urquidez was one of the top pitchers in the conference last year and should lead a talented ASU pitching staff. Erik Averill (4-4, 5.19) was one of the top pitchers in the conference as a freshman in 2003 and will try to bounce back. Meanwhile, fireballing relievers Zechry Zinicola (4-2, 3.36, 8 SV) and Pat Bresnehan (3-2, 4.79) should wreak havoc in the conference - potentially as starters.
The matchup Friday between Urquidez and Cesar Ramos, 12-4 with a 2.29 ERA in 2004, should be one of the best of the year in college baseball. Otherwise, this looks like a matchup of great pitching (Long Beach State staff ERA was 3.11 in 2004) against great hitting (Arizona State's team batting average was .325, and a .469 slugging percentage, in 2004). The Dirtbags pitching remains deep, and despite the loss of Jered Weaver, should return strong in 2005. In 2004 the 49ers held opponents to a .225 batting average, and .325 slugging percentage. With significant turnover in hitters, and power hitting (including the loss of OF John Bowker and DH Jason Vargas), it remains to be seen how strong the Dirtbags will be at bat. But the 2004 team batting average of .297, and slugging percentage of .419, were certainly respectable (especially considering the fact that Long Beach arguably plays in the most pitcher friendly ballpark in all of D-I baseball).

The Sun Devils clearly can crush the ball, and score runs by the bushel. Last season they scored 465 runs while holding opponents to 320. Long Beach State scored 327 runs, their opponents 209. One advantage the Dirtbags may have is the timing of the series, which is the opener for both schools. It seems likely that the Sun Devils did not see a lot of breaking balls in the fall, and many hitters take a couple weeks to find their timing. In March, this would likely be a very different series. If pitching dominates, I like the Dirtbags chances.

posted on 12/21/2004 by Jeff Agnew

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