Dirtbags rally for 3-2 win over VCU to take opening series
Feb. 19, 2012
Long Beach, Calif. - Long Beach State got 6.2 strong innings from starter Ryan Strufing, and pushed across two runs in the fifth inning in support of the sophomore to take the lead 3-2 and held on the rest of the way in a victory over Virginia Commonwealth.
With the win, the Dirtbags (2-1) took the series, their first series win on opening weekend since 2008, when Long Beach State took two of three from Rice.
A sophomore from Niwot, Strufing got the start after making nine last season, and got off to a rocky start after leadoff hitter Bill Cullen hit a triple to open the game. Cullen held at third in a 163 groundout, and after a fly ball to right was quickly sent in by junior Juan Avila, Strufing got out of the inning with a second groundout to keep the Rams (1-2) from scoring in the first inning.
VCU did in face score first, picking up a pair of runs in the third inning, stringing together four straight hits, with the big damage coming from a two-run double by Joey Cujas with no outs. Strufing recovered to strike out Taylor Perkins, and induced a ground ball for an inning-ending double play.
A double from Brennan Metzger scored Long Beach State's first run in the fourth inning, and the Dirtbags took the lead in the fifth inning. Robert Vickers led off the inning with a single, and scored from first on a double down the line from Avila. After advancing to third base on a hard grounder from Richard Prigatano, the Dirtbags executed some excellent small ball, as Kellen Hoimelaid down a suicide squeeze to score Avila in what would end up being the winning run.
Landon Hunt recorded the last out of the game after two innings of strong relief from Kyle Friedrichsto pick up his first save of the season. The two relievers allowed just one hit following the departure of Strufing, who earned his first win of the season. The lefty threw 6.2 innings, striking out three and allowing no walks in his first start of 2012.
Long Beach State will play four more games at Blair Field before hitting the road. The Dirtbags face USC at 7 p.m. on Tuesday before hosting No. 22 Cal for three games over the weekend of Feb. 24-26.