Long Beach State will play five games in six days at Blair Field.
Long Beach State kicks off the season with its tougest road trip on the schedule.
Long Beach State receives commitments from six players for 2014.
Senior Jonathan Kim picks up a pinch-hit double on Senior Day.
Saturday's victory sets up a winner-take-all showdown for the Big West at 1 p.m. Sunday.
One of the most respected pitching coaches in the nation, Troy Buckley enters his fourth season as the head coach of Long Beach State after engineering an immediate turnaround within his first two years with the Dirtbags.
Taking the helm after two disappointing campaigns where the Dirtbags finished lower than fourth in the Big West for the first time since 1989, Buckley took command of a team that had lost its five top hitters and its strikeouts leader from the year before.
Under Buckley's leadership, the squad lowered its team ERA by nearly a full point to 3.55 from 4.67, and he led the team to a 29-27 finish against the nation's third-toughest schedule, just missing a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
That improvement continued in 2012, as the Dirtbags again lowered their team ERA, this time from 3.55 to a Big West best 3.08. Finishing above .500 for the second straight year under Buckley, the team was one game away from clinching the Big West championship, and finished with eight players receiving All-Big West honors, including senior Brennan Metzger, whose first-team All-Big West selection was the first for a Dirtbag since 2008.
The Dirtbags again finished over .500 in 2013 for their third consecutive winning season under Buckley. While playing the 10th toughest schedule in the nation, the Dirtbags posted a 29-27 record and had give players earn All-Big West recognition. Jeff McNeil was the second Dirtbag selected to the First Team in as many years. The Dirtbags posted their highest team average during Buckley's tenure with a .266 average in 2013 - 11 points higher than in 2012.
Buckley stepped up as the head coach for Long Beach State after he had made his return as the team's associate head coach for the 2010 season. That move was on the heels of spending two years as the Minor League Pitching Coordinator with the Pirates. In that position, Buckley oversaw the overall development of every arm in the Pirates farm system, and also worked in conjunction with the Major League ballclub over spring training development and through the season regarding player movement.
That opportunity came on the heels of the tremendous success that Long Beach State's players have had both at the collegiate and professional levels. Since Buckley came to Long Beach State in 2001, the Dirtbags have earned five Big West Pitcher of the Year awards, and in 2004 Jered Weaver was named the National Player of the Year after posting a 15-1 record with 213 strikeouts and a 1.62 ERA.
Abe Alvarez, Jered Weaver, Jason Vargas, Cesar Ramos, Andrew Carpenter, Brian Shaw, Andrew Liebel, and Vance Worley were all drafted in the first three rounds of the MLB draft after developing their craft under Buckley, and all but Liebel have reached the Major Leagues. Buckley was also instrumental in the recruiting of fellow major leaguers Troy Tulowitzki and the 2008 American League Rookie of the Year, Evan Longoria. Most recently, Jake Thompson (2nd, 2009) and Andrew Gagnon (3rd, 2010) were selected in the top three rounds and are working through the minor leagues.
After his first season at Long Beach State as an assistant coach, the 49ers never ranked lower than 28th nationally in team ERA, and ranked in the top five nationally three times. In 2002, the 49ers posted a fifth-nationally 2.99 team ERA as Alvarez was named the Big West Pitcher of the Year, and the next year, Weaver joined Alvarez as co-pitchers of the year as Long Beach State reached the Super Regionals with a 39-21 record. Weaver led the staff in 2004 to a 3.11 ERA, fourth-best in the country as the Dirtbags again reached the Super Regionals.
Following the departure of Weaver, rather than suffering a decline, the Dirtbags posted a record ERA in 2005 under Buckley, leading the nation with a 2.53 mark, and posted a team ERA in 3.64 in 2006 and 3.59 in 2007, the latter being the 16th best in the Division I.
Buckley previously served three years at his alma mater, Santa Clara, as an assistant coach. From 1998 to 2000, Buckley was the Broncos' hitting coach, pitching consultant and recruiting coordinator.
Prior to his work with the Broncos, Buckley was a coach in the Montreal Expos organization from 1996 to 1997. In 1996, he served as the hitting and third base coach for AA Ottawa and in 1997 he was the pitching coach for the Gulf Coast League rookie league Expos in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Buckley was a ninth-round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in 1989. He spent three years in the Twins organization, including the 1991 season with AAA Portland. In 1993 and 1994, Buckley was a member of the Reds' AA Chattanooga team before moving to the Expos AA affiliate in Harrisburg in 1995.
Regarded as one of the greatest catchers in Santa Clara history, Buckley was the 1988 WCC Player of the Year and was a second-team All-American after batting .442 with 82 RBIs. Both marks set single-season records. Buckley drove in a school-record 188 runs and also entered himself among the Broncos' all-time greats in batting average (.364), hits (234), doubles (47), home runs (35), total bases (390), extra-base hits (84), and slugging percentage (.606).