The three-game fall series between Long Beach State and San Diego was a success, according to Dirtbags pitching coach Troy Buckley, and not just because LBSU won all three games. Both teams will play games in Hawaii this spring that do not count against their 56-game limit, so they could afford to play three games in the fall without sacrificing games in the spring.
"Any time you play somebody in a different uniform in the fall, if you can do it, I think it’s awesome," Buckley said. "You get to see guys with umpires and a scoreboard, and see guys with another uniform on as far as competition–you get sick of playing intrasquads."
The Toreros held many of their top arms out of the series, including projected weekend starters Brian Matusz, Josh Romanski and Matt Couch, but highly touted newcomers Sammy Solis, Kyle Blair and Matt Thomson all worked Sunday’s finale. Buckley said all three made positive impressions, though Solis gave up five runs in the first inning when he worked up in the zone. Blair’s breaking ball and Thomson’s velocity both stood out to Buckley.
As for the Dirtbags, Buckley was pleased with the quality performances turned in by his pitchers, in particular. LBSU should have enviable depth in 2008, with several star players like shortstop Danny Espinosa, two-way standout Shane Peterson, righthander Vance Worley and closer Bryan Shaw surrounded by a strong supporting cast. Buckley said the Dirtbags don’t yet have an elite Friday starter in the Jered Weaver mold, but there is hope that Worley could develop into the rotation anchor. He threw four strong innings against USD on Saturday after Andrew Liebel gave LBSU five quality innings Friday.
"I thought (Worley) threw the ball really good on Saturday," Buckley said. "He was aggressive, he had good velocity, he spun a few breaking balls that were very, very good, and he showed a much-improved changeup. He threw some really good games for us last year against Tyson Ross, against Wichita State on Friday night, he did OK against Texas–he’s got a lot of big games under his belt. He’s got a chance to be that guy who works deep into games and has three quality pitches."
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