FIVE BIG WEST PLAYERS NAMED FRESHMEN ALL-AMERICANS
The talent pool for Big West baseball looks stronger than ever for the future, evidenced by the selection of five players to the 2002 Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-American team.
UC Riverside's AJ Shappi, UC Santa Barbara's Eric Posthumus, Long Beach State's Brad Davis, and UC Irvine's Matt Anderson and Glenn Swanson are the representatives on the Freshmen All-American team.
In addition, eight Big West players were tabbed Honorable Mention Freshmen All-Americans. Those eight players are the following: P Jon Koller (UC Irvine), P Jered Weaver (Long Beach State), P Brett Smith (UC Irvine), P Neil Jamison (Long Beach State), 2B Chris Malec (UC Santa Barbara), OF Josh Wyrick (Cal Poly), OF Matt Wilkerson (UC Santa Barbara) and DH R.J. Brown (UC Irvine).
BIG WEST WELL REPRESENTED IN BASEBALL AMATEUR DRAFT
The Big West had 29 players selected over two days of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, with Long Beach State's Jeremy Reed the first player from the conference to be taken.
Long Beach State led all Big West schools with nine selections, including Reed, who was snatched in the second round (59th pick overall) by the Chicago White Sox. The Dirtbags had four consecutive players picked from the 12th through 17th rounds Paul McAnulty (12th round - San Diego), Kevin Randel (13th round - Florida), Nick Covarrubias (13th round - Houston) and Chris Demaria (17th round - Pittsburgh).
Cal State Northridge junior Bill Murphy was the second Big West player grabbed off the draft board, as he was chosen in the third round (98th overall) by the Oakland Athletics. Pacific's Tim Gilhooly, UC Riverside's Chris Smith and Cal Poly's Kevin Correia were all drafted in the fourth round. In all, 10 players were selected in the first 10 rounds, and 21 of the 29 picks occurred in the first 25 rounds of the 50-round draft.
The Matadors had the second-most selections of any Big West school with seven, followed by UC Riverside with four. Cal State Fullerton had three players chosen while Cal Poly UC Irvine had two each.
CURTAIN FALLS ON 2002 SEASON IN REGIONAL PLAY
Big West representatives Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State were ousted in NCAA Regional action to close out the 2002 season.
Long Beach State advanced the furthest of the three teams, reaching the championship game of the Stanford Regional on Sunday. The Dirtbags needed to beat Stanford twice to advance but came up short in the first game, 8-4. Cal State Fullerton, who also helped comprise the Stanford Regional as one of four ranked teams, saw its season end with a loss to Long Beach State in an elimination game. It marked the first time in the storied rivalry of the two clubs that they met in the postseason.
Cal State Northridge entered the regionals with wins in 15 of its last 17 games, but could not continue the momentum. The Matadors enjoyed a victory over Maine before dropping their next two contests against host USC and Brigham Young. However, CSN capped off the season with 41 victories, which is tied for sixth-most in school history. The Matadors also were an impressive 16-5 on the road this season.
The Dirtbags recorded 39 wins, the most for the program since notching 43 in 1998. Long Beach won 11 of its last 14 games and used the late season surge to vault from fifth to second place in the final Big West standings.
The Titans ended up in fourth place for its lowest Big West finish since 1996. However, Fullerton made its 11th consecutive trip to the NCAA Regionals and racked up its 11th straight season with 35 wins or more.
All three postseason entries spent the majority of the season ranked in the top 25. Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State were ranked No. 18 and No.. 21, respectively, in the June 3 edition of the Baseball America poll. Cal State Fullerton dropped out of the poll after a 1-5 finish to the season.
The 2002 campaign marked only the fourth time in the last 15 seasons that no Big West team reached the College World Series.
This was the 16th straight season that the Big West sent multiple teams to the postseason. It was the third time in the last four years that three Big West schools participated in postseason play.
Despite not making the postseason, Cal Poly finished in third place in the conference race with a 15-9 record and 30-29-1 mark overall. It was the highest ever showing for the Mustangs since the Big West switched to a single division in 1999. Cal Poly also tied for third in the Big West South Division in 1997.
Overall, the Big West had six teams reach at least the 30-win mark for the first time since 1992 and only the third time in league history. UC Irvine, which reinstated its baseball program after a nine-year hiatus, was in the hunt for postseason consideration heading into the final weeks of the season. The Anteaters went 33-26. Meanwhile, UC Riverside concluded its first season as a Big West and Division I member with a highly respectable 30-28 mark.
UC Santa Barbara, which lost a majority of its starters from the 2001 team that reached the postseason, struggled to a 22-33 record in a rebuilding campaign. Pacific flirted with an above .500 season but with 11 losses in its last 13 contests, ended up 26-28-1. Sacramento State garnered a 22-34 record in its final season in the Big West.
ALVAREZ NAMED ALL-AMERICAN BY COLLEGIATE BASEBALL
Long Beach State sophomore Abe Alvarez earned Second Team All-American honors from Collegiate Baseball today.
The 6-2 left-hander, the 2002 Big West Pitcher of the Year, went 12-2 with a 2.55 ERA during the regular season. Alvarez struck out 85 batters and walked only 26 in 95.1 innings. He led the Big West in wins and ranked second in ERA.
Alvarez is the first Dirtbag pitcher since Mike Gallo in 1999 to receive All-American laurels.
VERBRYKE, ALVAREZ GARNER TOP INDIVIDUAL BASEBALL HONORS; NORTHRIDGE'S BATESOLE COACH OF THE YEAR
Long Beach State's Abe Alvarez was tabbed Big West Pitcher of the Year, while Cal State Northridge's Eric Verbryke collected Player of the Year honors in a vote of the conference's head coaches, announced Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell today. Cal State Northridge's Mike Batesole was named Big West Coach of the Year as he piloted the Matadors to their first Big West title and a postseason berth.
Alvarez, a sophomore from Fontana, Calif., is 12-2 with a 2.55 ERA as the anchor of the Big West's top-ranked pitching staff. He leads the Big West in wins and ranks second in ERA and opposing batting average (.238). The 6-2 left-hander struck out 85 batters and walked 26 in 95.1 innings. Alvarez posted victories over NCAA Regional-bound clubs such as USC, Arkansas, LSU, Wichita State, Cal State Northridge and Cal State Fullerton. A recipient of Big West Player of the Week honors on Feb. 12, Alvarez racked up a career-high 13 strikeouts in a win over Arizona in March. Alvarez is the fourth Long Beach State pitcher and the first since 1999 to be awarded Pitcher of the Year.
Verbryke batted .335 with 14 home runs and 52 RBI during the regular season for the Big West's top home run hitting squad. The junior excelled in conference play, hitting .391 with 26 runs and 27 RBI. Verbryke ranked in the top 10 in the Big West statistics in several categories, including home runs, RBI, slugging percentage (.600) and total bases (129). The native of Santa Maria, Calif., who earned Big West Player of the Week accolades on May 20, had 18 multi-hit and 16 multi-RBI games. The 6-2 outfielder also tallied 12 stolen bases in 16 attempts.
Batesole guided Cal State Northridge to a 40-15 record and the Big West title with a 19-5 mark. In his seventh season at the Matador helm, Batesole will be taking his club to the postseason for the second time. This marks the third time during his tenure that Northridge has amassed at least 40 wins. Batesole has had the Matadors positioned in the top 25 of the polls for a majority of the season, including a current ranking of No. 15 in Baseball America.