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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Longoria seems to be getting along famously at shortstop
His play leaves no reason for Long Beach State baseball team to be desperate.
By Chris Jackson Daily Breeze
Evan Longoria's life was no different from any other college athlete's prior to this fall.
Then someone with the same last name just had to go and become a breakout TV star.
"Actually, it never really started until I got here, but then again, the show just started," Longoria said, referring to the series "Desperate Housewives" and one of its stars, Eva Longoria.
For the record, the actress and the sophomore shortstop are not related, but that hasn't stopped opposing fans from giving Longoria an earful.
"We hear it enough from the fans when we go away," Longoria said. "They were on me bad, they were on all of us, in Waco (Texas). But it was a good place to play, a good experience."
Longoria can dismiss the Eva comments with a laugh, since he has slightly more important things to worry about.
First and foremost is the fact he's been asked to replace a preseason All-American in the lineup for the 49ers (14-8).
Longoria, a transfer from Rio Hondo College, was initially asked to split time between third base and designated hitter.
But on Feb. 5, Longoria was forced to go back to his old position when Troy Tulowitzki fouled a pitch off his left wrist, breaking his hamate bone and sidelining him for 8-to-10 weeks.
"Of course there's the pressure that comes with that," Longoria said. "I've been able to kind of just go with it and see where it's taking me. It's been pretty good, I've been pretty comfortable."
It hasn't been easy, though.
Longoria went 5-for-13 in Long Beach's opening series at Arizona State on Jan. 28-30, but the 49ers stumbled after that and were swept at home in a three-game series against California Feb. 18-20 to drop to 5-6.
Long Beach rebounded against San Diego State Feb. 25-27, sweeping the three-game set at Blair Field, but Longoria went just 1-for-11 to drop his season average to .250.
"Coming in, he probably thought he was going to play third, especially with Tulo," 49ers senior closer Neil Jamison said earlier this season. "Moving in (to shortstop), he probably thinks he has to fill those shoes a bit. Which is tough because you're not going to fill Tulo's shoes. So I think he needs to stay within himself and do what he does, and not worry about trying to be Troy."
Long Beach coach Mike Weathers benched Longoria for a midweek game against Pepperdine on March 1, though Longoria came off the bench and smacked a hard single in his only at-bat.
"He was going through a tough time," Weathers said. "That's why we started (Donnie) Ecker a couple games. (But) Evan had a really good week of practice and it carried over to his base hit. He's a talented guy. He needs to be in our lineup. He just has to figure out a way to get it done all the time."
After going 1-for-3 in the opener of a three-game series at Baylor on March 4, Weathers decided to move Longoria to the leadoff spot.
And that's when it seemed to click. Longoria went 4-for-5 on March 6, and he's been on a tear ever since.
He posted a 5-for-5 night against Loyola Marymount on March 8, equaling the Lions' team total for hits. Longoria followed that by going 6-for-13 against Houston this past weekend as the 49ers won two of three.
"I'm just taking it one pitch at a time like we've always talked about and just seeing it a lot better," Longoria said.
Longoria now leads the 49ers with a .360 average (31-for-86), 10 runs and six doubles. He's also second on the team with 11 RBIs.
The 49ers have enjoyed a similar rebound with Longoria, winning nine of their last 11 games going into this weekend's series at perennial national power Wichita State (16-3).
"Hopefully we're starting to settle in," Longoria said. "We're still not playing the game we're capable of with errors and (defense), but we're settling down."
Longoria said improving his own defense has become his focus now that his hitting is back on track.
"I'm kind of feeling uncomfortable, but I'm working through it," Longoria said of his play at shortstop, where he has four errors this season. "I'm hitting (well), so that's keeping me comfortable overall."
Longoria said he's been able to separate his ability to focus on his hitting and his defense this season better than in the past.
"I've been able to do that really well lately," Longoria said. "But I think over time you've got to separate that (permanently)."
Longoria and the 49ers will return home to Blair Field on March 24 for a three-game, nonconference series with rival Cal State Fullerton.