Baseball in Palm Springs is ending soon as the California Winter League comes to a close on February 12th. In the week between the start of Major League baseball’s Arizona Cactus League, baseball fans should venture out to a college baseball ballpark.
Southern California boasts some of the best college baseball programs in the nation. Below are the dates of opening day for local colleges.
USC– February 17 vs Coppin State
UCLA– February 17 vs San Jose State
Long Beach State– February 17 vs Oklahoma
Cal State Northridge– February 17 vs Portland
Cal State Fullerton– February 17 vs Stanford
UC Irvine– February 17 vs Minnesota
UC Riverside– February 17 vs Nebraska
College of the Desert– February 10 vs West LA
Imagine a team with Jared Weaver, Troy Tulowitzki, and Even Longoria. Pretty good Major League Baseball team, right?
Now imagine those players on one college team. Unbeatable, right?
Long Beach State has quite the resume in terms of producing MLB All Stars with names like Weaver, Tulowitzki, Longoria, Jason Vargas, Cesar Ramos, Danny Espinosa, and others.
The Dirtbags (8-4) play in the difficult Big West Conference with college baseball powerhouses Cal State Fullerton, CSUN, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Irvine.
Despite the tough conference, the Dirtbags have made four college World Series appearances and have started strong this season beating Pac-12 teams Arizona State and UCLA.
Long Beach State had a tough game on Monday Night rallying from a 3-0 hole to beat Fresno State 4-3. Senior third basemen Zack Domingues led the offense by going 4-4 and knocking in the winning run in the seventh while Garrett Hampson stole two bases in the game.
Freshman Chris Rivera nailed down his fifth save making against the Bulldogs (11-2) making him second in NCAA baseball in saves.
The Dirtbags hit the road as they travel across the country for a three game series against the Oklahoma Sooners this week.
UCLA and USC had an epic 14 inning battle in the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic. Casual baseball fans probably had their interest piqued, yet might not know much about college baseball in Los Angeles.
Unlike college football where UCLA and USC are the only division one powers in Los Angeles, there are many college baseball programs that can compete, and even beat, the Bruins and Trojans.
While UCLA beat USC in the Dodger Stadium Baseball Classic, they lost 10-1 to Long Beach State of the Big West earlier in the year and Long Beach State is not even the highest ranked team in the Big West!
Cal State Fullerton is the highest ranked Big West team at number 23 and the Titans are arguably the best program in the Los Angeles area with four national titles and 17 College World Series appearances.
The Titans (6-4) have won the Big West Conference title 28 times and have never had a losing season.
Senior Dalton Blaser has started strong for the Titans with a .385 batting average and .467 OBP. Junior infielder Timmy Richards has shown speed on the base paths stealing four bases on four attempts while batting .348. Both will probably be drafted by Major League Baseball teams later in the year.
Colton Eastman has burst on the scene as a freshman starting pitcher this year going 3-0 in his first three starts with a 1.89 ERA. He has also struck out 17 while only walking three batters.
Fellow Fresno product Blake Quinn has had three quality starts in his first three games. Quinn has struck out 21 batters in only 17 innings of work.
Fullerton has a nine game home stand starting tonight against Arizona State. The home stand also features Wichita State, San Diego State, and Maryland.
The Titans will start grueling conference games March 24 against college baseball powers Long Beach State, CSUN, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Irvine as they try to repeat as Big West champion.