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 email@example.com.
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Long Beach State, USC will hold their aces out of today's first-round baseball games at Blair Field.
By Chris Jackson Daily Breeze
Long Beach State will turn to an unfamiliar face to pitch in tonight's NCAA regional at Blair Field.
The 49ers (36-20) have elected to go with little-used junior right-hander Cody Evans (0-2, 3.55 ERA) against fourth-seeded Rhode Island at 7 p.m.
Evans was originally part of Long Beach's weekend rotation, but he was bumped out by sophomore Jared Hughes. For the season, Evans has made just seven starts plus five relief appearances.
"It's been our philosophy here at Long Beach State for a long time to win the weekend, not the first game," 49ers coach Mike Weathers said. "You look at the opponents coming into this regional and we've got to figure out the guys that match up best.
"It could be a long weekend. We just feel that Cody, after his outing against USC last week that was very impressive, hopefully he can go out there for four or five innings and then turn it over to the bullpen."
With Evans pitching tonight, that frees up the 49ers' top three starters, junior left-hander Cesar Ramos (10-6, 2.27), junior right-hander Marco Estrada (8-2, 2.27) and Hughes (8-3, 2.83) to go later in the double-elimination, four-team regional, Weathers explained.
The Atlantic-10 champion Rams (34-19) are sticking with what got them to their first regional, going with senior right-hander Daniel Frederick (5-5, 4.54).
"Danny's kind of a humble guy," Rhode Island coach Frank Leoni said. "Two years ago as a sophomore he beat Alabama at their place. He's pitched in every big game for us. One thing I'm sure of is he's going to take the mound and you're not going to know it's a regional game when you see him out there."
Second-seeded USC will also flip around its usual rotation, turning to junior left-hander Jack Spradlin (5-3, 4.22) for today's 3 p.m. opener against Pepperdine rather than Pacific-10 Conference Pitcher of the Year Ian Kennedy (11-2, 2.44, 144 strikeouts).
The Waves, on the other hand, will go with their No. 1 starter, junior left-hander Paul Coleman (9-2, 2.99), the WCC Pitcher of the Year. Senior Kea Kometani and freshman Barry Enright will follow, though Coach Steve Rodriguez said he reserves the right to change things based on matchups.
"Our pitching rotation right now is anything goes," Rodriguez said. "Right now we're going with Coleman, Kometani and Enright. But who knows what could happen?"
No. 1 seed Long Beach State (36-20)
How they got here: at-large bid
Pitcher on the spot: Junior RH Cody Evans, a JC transfer, got bumped from the weekend rotation early in the year, but now he's being called upon to start tonight's opener despite being 0-2 with a 3.55 ERA in 12 games (seven starts).
Hitter on the spot: Junior RF Jordan Struble has swung one of the hottest bats on the team of late, stealing a starting spot from senior Steve Velazco.
No. 2 seed USC (37-19)
How they got here: at-large bid
Pitcher on the spot: Junior LH Jack Spradlin, a JC transfer, has been solid for the Trojans most of the season, and he'll need to be as he's starting against Pepperdine today so he can come back, if needed, on Sunday or Monday.
Hitter on the spot: Freshman 1B Matt Cusick -- The youngster has performed above expectations with the bat, but he's facing the biggest test of his career against some stellar pitching staffs.
No. 3 seed Pepperdine (38-21)
How they got here: automatic bid as WCC champion
Pitcher on the spot: Freshman RH Barry Enright, the WCC Freshman of the Year, lasted only three innings against Loyola Marymount in Game 3 of the conference championship series.
Hitter on the spot: Sophomore LF Luke Salas, batting second between David Uribes and WCC Player of the Year Chad Tracy, needs to hit like he did against LMU (9-for-14).
No. 4 seed Rhode Island (34-19)
How they got here: automatic bid as Atlantic-10 Tournament champions
Pitcher on the spot: Senior RH Daniel Frederick gets the nod against the 49ers based on the fact he's pitched a lot of big games in the past.
Hitter on the spot: Junior LF Daryl Holcomb, the Rams' leadoff hitter, has to get on base against the 49ers, whose team ERA (2.44) leads the nation.