Hits Keep Coming, But Wins Aren't Easy For Dirtbags

Dr. Dan has been writing an insider’s version of his Diamond Dust column for 49er baseball games since the seventies. Here is the exclusive Stadium Edition that will be in the game programs this weekend.


10:57am |
If you travel around the college baseball SoCal circuit, chances are you have run into the Gill family. My favorite of the G-men was of course Chris Gill who was a gritty, pint sized infielder (5-10 and a Big Mac shy of 175) who was getting down, and well Dirtbag, with LBSU in 1989. He later would get as high as AA Chattanooga, bouncing around the Cincinnati organization including a couple of good seasons in my old home town of Charleston, WV. He is still in the LB record book for career games played (211) and games started (205).

Tonight, the Gill patriarch Fred will push through another turnstile to see his youngest, Jason, manage the LMU Lions who are finally off to a very good start. Jason is in his third year at the helm of the LMU but his best season was his first in 2009 when the Lions got a second-place finish and an appearance in the West Coast Conference Championship series. Last year wasn’t as rosy. The Lions finished the 2010 season with a 23-33 overall record and a 5-16 mark in the WCC, placing eighth in the conference but bless his heart Jason did lead his team to a series sweep over his alma mater Cal State Fullerton and later won a series over Fresno State. His traveling baseball stops also included assisting at UC Irvine and Fullerton and Oregon and Nevada. Get the drift. His playing days included two seasons at Cuesta College and a junior year at Cal State Dominguez Hills before Fullerton.

Jason has LMU at 3-1with a series win over BWC entry UC Riverside. Sunday it took a 2-1 walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth inning to finish the series. The Lions won Friday 4-2, lost 3-0 on Saturday morning then won 4-2 in the second game of the DH. LMU will start with RH Aaron Griffin out of El Cajon. He is a big ‘em, 6-4 with 2.2 innings as a reliever. Troy Buckley will start his Jason Vargas clone, lefty pitcher/DH Jake Stassi.

Meanwhile, as the chilled but not shaken 49er faithful know, it was a five-run sixth inning that helped Long Beach State erase a 4-2 deficit, and the Dirtbags held on in the team's home opener to defeat No. 8 Cal State Fullerton 8-5 on Sunday afternoon before the almost not-quite deal on Monday. Sophomore Matt Duffy was 3-for-5 with three RBI singles, leading the way for Long Beach in the Sunday W. Eddie Magallon, who had come on in the end of the fifth in relief, pitched two more innings of scoreless ball for the Dirtbags, and took his first win of the season.

On Monday, the 'Bags got “exceptional work” from Branden Pinder, who went six innings and allowed just three hits, before in the words of his skipper, “He just got tired. He had three pitches going and threw a lot of strikes.”  Four LBSU errors gave CSUF too much room to maneuver although LB rallied in the bottom of the ninth behind Mike Marjama and Stassi extra base hits. Jeff Yamaguchi singled to put the tying run on base the Titans still survived 4-3. Despite their youth, the Beach boys have 29 hits in three games but a 1-2 record.

—This weekend’s visitors, Arizona, completed a season-opening three-game sweep of North Dakota State Sunday…Jose Garcia belted a grand slam - his third home run in the last two days….after this weekend the UA will host Rice (March 1-2) and then Utah Valley (March 4-6)…the LMU baseball SID is Tyler Geivett who’s uncle Bill was an assistant at LBSU before he became Director of Player Personnel for the Rockies…that’s where I have heard that Dave Snow and Troy Tulowitzki work in some capacity….the  Blair press box, still awaiting g a remodel, has had a gaggle of out of town guests, two of them announcers Barry LaBrock who has done a lot of local Fox broadcasting and Anthony Masterson who was the radio play by play man for the Potomac Nationals, the Single A affiliate of the Washington Nationals and writing for the Bleacher Report about the Colorado Rockies and most recently the Myrtle Beach Pelicans a Texas Rangers affiliate…the print side visitor was Aaron Fitt of Baseball America…back on the Beach beat the cash box boys of men’s basketball play for the Big West regular season title vs. Cal Poly on Thursday, 7 pm and stay at home for an ESPN 2 show vs. UC Santa Barbara at the special start time Saturday, at  5 pm.  The ladies play the same two schools on the road.  Mean while in the Mid this week are the MVPs vs. Pepperdine on Wednesday, 7 p.m. and vs. USC (with a LB style 1991 National championship Team Reunion) Friday night.  Softball is in Palm Springs, vs. Utah; No. 25 Texas A&M; No. 6 Oklahoma, Florida State and No. 20 Oklahoma State… Last but not least tennis got cancelled at SDSU (the Aztec coach had a heart murmur “I don’t wanna play Long Beach” but later relented with a make up date of March 4 at noon in San Diego.  This week Jenny’s swingers face UC Riverside Friday at 2 p.m. in LB then travel to the ultra-chippy and seed-shifting Irvine on Saturday, at 11 a.m. down there.

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