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NCAA baseball

June 03, 2005|Eric Stephens, Ben Bolch

Previews of the fields for the two local NCAA baseball regionals:

LONG BEACH REGIONALDR

Today at Blair Field, Long Beach

* No. 2 USC vs. No. 3 Pepperdine, 3 p.m.

* No. 1 Long Beach State vs. No. 4 Rhode Island, 7 p.m.

LONG BEACH STATE

Record: 36-20, 14-7 and tied for second in the Big West Conference. RPI: 17.

Outlook: The usual question with Long Beach is whether the Dirtbag offense will score enough to support the team's fine pitching. Coach Mike Weathers will start Cody Evans (0-2, 3.55 ERA) today and save ace Cesar Ramos (10-6, 2.27) for later. Blair Field, widely known as a pitcher's park, could be a huge home-field advantage.

USC

Record: 37-19, 15-9 and tied for third in the Pacific 10 Conference. RPI: 16.

Outlook: Jack Spradlin (5-3, 4.22 ERA) gets the start against Pepperdine, with Ian Kennedy (11-2, 2.44), the Pac-10 pitcher of the year, being saved for later. Blake Sharpe (.299, 11 stolen bases) is a key cog at the top of a lineup that, outside of Jeff Clement (.353, 13 HR, 48 RBIs) and Billy Hart (.325, 32 RBIs), has been inconsistent.

PEPPERDINE

Record: 38-21, 20-10 and champion of the West Coast Conference. RPI: 34.

Outlook: The Waves are experienced; several starters were on the regional team that dealt Cal State Fullerton its last loss before the Titans won the College World Series last season. Paul Coleman (9-2, 2.99 ERA) struggled last week against Loyola Marymount and will need to be at his best. Chad Tracy (.363, 12 HR, 61 RBIs), the son of Dodger Manager Jim Tracy, Steve Kleen (.353, 51 RBIs) and left fielder Luke Salas have been the Waves' hot hitters of late.

RHODE ISLAND

Record: 34-19, 18-6 and champion of the Atlantic 10 Conference. RPI: 90.

Outlook: The Rams have set several offensive records in winning their first Atlantic 10 title, but they haven't faced the pitching they will see this weekend. Rhode Island was 0-2 against Florida, the only ranked team it played this season. Zack Zuercher (6-3, 3.35 ERA), a transfer from North Carolina, will be helped by Blair Field's cavernous dimensions.

-- Eric Stephens

*

FULLERTON REGIONALDR

Today at Goodwin Field, Fullerton

* No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 3 Missouri, 4 p.m.

* No. 1 Cal State Fullerton vs. No. 4 Harvard, 8 p.m.

CAL STATE FULLERTON

Record: 41-15, 16-5 and champion of the Big West Conference. RPI: 11.

Outlook: Right-hander Wes Roemer (5-3, 3.68 ERA), will get the start against Harvard, allowing the Titans to save ace Ricky Romero (12-4, 2.80) for the second game. The Titans are 24-6 at Goodwin Field and are 37-0 when leading after seven innings. Coach George Horton needs three victories for 400 in his career.

ARIZONA

Record: 37-19, 17-7 and second in the Pacific 10 Conference. RPI: 35.

Outlook: Trevor Crowe (.421, 9 HR, 54 RBIs, 26 stolen bases) is among five finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, given to the nation's top player. Arizona features a potent offense that led the Pac-10 with a .332 batting average and 480 runs.

MISSOURI

Record: 39-21, 16-11 and fourth in the Big 12 Conference. RPI: 49.

Outlook: The hard-throwing Max Scherzer (9-3, 1.52 ERA, 128 strikeouts), a sophomore, is the first Tiger selected Big 12 pitcher of the year. He set a school single-season record for strikeouts. Missouri has a 2.83 team earned-run average, fifth-best in the nation. Junior first baseman Derek Chambers has a 10-game hitting streak.

HARVARD

Record: 29-15, 15-5 and first in the Rolfe Division of the Ivy League. RPI: 96.

Outlook: Mike Morgalis (5-0, 3.53 ERA), one of a trio of Harvard starters who have gone a combined 17-2, will pitch the opener. Zak Farkes (.359, 6 HR, 30 RBIs) is the Crimson's all-time leader with 28 home runs. Freshman outfielder Matt Vance leads the team with 15 stolen bases.

-- Ben Bolch

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