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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Anderson, Jamison have combined to form imposing bullpen duo for LBSU.
By Bob Keisser Staff writer
Some baseball fans are renowned for leaving games early, but anyone leaving Dirtbag games early in 2005 risks missing the best part of the game.
The last two-to-three innings of games have become the domain of Long Beach State's suffocating 1-2 bullpen punch of Brian Anderson and Neil Jamison. Heading into a three-game series at Wichita State starting tonight, Anderson and Jamison have become the Beach version of the Dodgers' 2004 tag team of Guillermo Mota and Eric Gagne.
They wear jersey numbers 48 and 10, respectively, but the common number for both is 0.00.
The closer, Jamison, has saved six games and won twice in his 11 appearances this season covering 101/3 innings, allowing four hits, a walk, one unearned run and limiting opponents to a .118 batting average.
The setup man, Anderson, has been even better. He's pitched 191/3 scoreless innings in 14 games with two wins and a save while allowing four hits and striking out 19. Opponents are hitting .066 against him.
Anderson now has a scoreless-inning streak of 231/3 innings going back to last season, and it's the second time in his Dirtbag career that he's thrown 23-plus innings without allowing a run.
"We have the luxury of two guys we can trust to shorten the game up," said Dirtbags pitching coach Troy Buckley. "They're well-established veteran kids. It's a real confident feeling."
The Dirtbags have had great closers before all-time saves leader Gabe Gonzalez, Ryan Brannan, Ara Petrosian and Josh Alliston all won Big West honors but having two makes for shorter games. The Dirtbags (14-8) are 11-0 in games they led after six innings this season.
Their paths to this point are different, but both young men exemplify the way college baseball can develop a youngster into a Division I star and major league prospect.
Jamison began contributing to the Dirtbags as a freshman, throwing 30 innings and posting a 2.70 ERA to earn an honorable on Collegiate Baseball's freshman All-America team. He became the closer last season, posting 12 saves, and was an eighth-round selection by the Mets in the 2004 draft.
Jamison decided to return to school for his senior season for a variety of reasons his family's emphasis on getting an education, his love for college life and college baseball, and the chance to work an other year for head coach Mike Weathers and pitching guru Buckley.
There's also unfinished business. In Game 1 of the NCAA Super Regional against Arizona last season at Blair Field, Jamison had an uncharacteristic performance, allowing two hits and two walks in a third of an inning. In Game 3, he allowed just a walk in 22/3 innings of relief but was victimized by an error that cost the Dirtbags the game, series and season.
"I still think about it," he said after a recent game. "If we get that (Game 1) win we probably go to Omaha. I'll probably think about it a long time. All I can do now is learn from it."
Buckley told Jamison that coming back for vengeance shouldn't be part of his decision-making process. "But he's that type of kid," Buckley said. "He hates to lose and he felt he let the team down.
"But he made his decision for all of the right reasons. His family is very educational oriented (Jamison's father is a teacher) and that's been instilled in him. Plus, he loves college, and he did his homework and figured out (the Mets) weren't the right fit.
"He's really one of the most mature guys around college baseball."
Jamison discussed his decision with his parents, but they told him the decision was his to make and that whatever decision he made would be the right one.
The career of Anderson, a three-sport star at Laguna Hills High School, began slower. He made just 14 appearances in his first two seasons before starting 2004 with 14 straight scoreless appearances. He retired the last five outs in the NCAA regional-clinching win against Stanford last season, and the last eight outs in the Game 2 super regional win against Arizona.
Anderson's improvement has come thanks to improved mechanics that has made him look like a power pitcher even though his fastball tops out in the high 80s.
"I have my best velocity when I stay over the ball and it also makes me more consistent, more even-keel with my stuff," Anderson said. "Credit goes to coach Buckley. He's kept working on my mechanics and it's finally clicking."
Anderson wasn't recruited out of high school, Buckley remembering him as "a great athlete with a bad delivery," he said. "But he was a great kid who wanted to learn. We didn't even get him until the summer after his graduation.
"It's a great testament to a kid who pitched three innings as a freshman, someone who stayed with it and wanted to improve."