Tuesday, August 02, 2005 | The Surf Dawgs ended the month of July on the road, playing series in Long Beach and Yuma. The series opener in Long Beach was also Rickey Henderson bobblehead doll night, an event each team in the league will be having throughout August to honor the future hall-of-famer. Henderson did not disappoint the crowd, going 2-for-4 with a three-RBI double. The Dawgs eventually fell short, losing the game 4-5.

The team then bounced back to win the next game, sinking the Armada 6-3. Scott Goodman kicked it off with a three-run homerun in the second inning and pitcher Adam Johnson led a shutout into the ninth inning. The final game of the series went to Long Beach 6-5, with Adam Mandal going 3-for-6 and Scott Goodman hitting two doubles.

The team later traveled to Yuma for a weekend series with the Yuma Scorpions. Still leading the Arizona Division, the Scorpions stunned the Dawgs with a 5-0 loss, the first time the team has been held scoreless in the season. Bouncing back proved to be harder for the Dawgs, who lost 3-4, the first back-to-back losses for the team since early June.

The Golden Baseball League has met many of the founding partners’ expectations and the Surf Dawgs have been one of their best success stories. Although the players have come together to be a formidable force in the league, each player maintains their personal goal of playing in the major leagues. Ten players on the roster have played in major league farm systems. Both Seth Pietsch and Cody Clark played for affiliated teams last season and jumped at the opportunity the league would offer them. “I just wanted to go somewhere that I could play,” said Clark. “I spent two years backing up and playing once every four or five days and I just wanted a chance to play every day.”

Being in first place in the California League since the beginning of the season has brought the team attention, but they have yet to have a player signed to a major league contract. Drafted in 2003 by the New York Mets, Pietsch played two years in single A before being released. Getting back to a major league team is never far from his thoughts. “I can’t not think about getting picked up,” said Pietsch. “But, that’s the goal of everyone that is playing, to get back up into affiliated ball.”

Pitcher Donovan Graves had four years of playing time with the St. Louis Cardinals’ single A team. He has also found an opportunity with the GBL. “To me this league is a league where you don’t want to stay and make a career out of it,” said Graves. “If you do well enough that scouts can get a look at you, you’ll get in to a club somewhere.”

The coaching staff of the team understands the role of independent baseball in all of their players’ careers. They know their job is to find ways for the players to gain the skills needed to get into the major leagues. “It may not happen this year (for them), it may happen a year or two down the road,” said pitching coach Larry Owens. “Some of the guys, for whatever reason, make a jump in velocity or finally something clicks with them that they’ve been working on for a couple of years and then it works for them and they’ll get the opportunity.”

The Surf Dawgs are home for series against the Japan Samurai Bears (Aug 1-3) and the Long Beach Armada (Aug 4-6). To listen to the games and get ticket information, visit http://sandiegosurfdawgs.com or call (619) 282-4487.

Tami Rapozo, is a San Diego native who has written for several local publications. In 2001, she wrote Keepers of the Faith, a book on the San Diego Padres and their booster club, the Madres.

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