Feb. 23, 2013
Long Beach, Calif. - Long Beach State scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning, and strong pitching and defense carried the team the rest of the way in a 3-2 win over Valparaiso on Saturday. Ino Patron had a pair of RBI on a 1-for-3 day for the Dirtbags.
Colby Brenner started off the day for Long Beach State (4-3) offense with a base hit, and after Jeff McNeil followed with another single, Juan Avila was plunked to load the bases for Patron. The junior designated hitter came through with a double to bring home two runs, and Richard Prigatano hit a sacrifice fly to score Avila, putting Long Beach State up 3-0.
Even though that was the end of the scoring on the day for Long Beach State, the Dirtbags made a number of strong defensive plays to take the win over the Crusaders. Starting pitcher Landon Hunt loaded the bases in the top of the second inning with two singles and a walk, but induced a 463 double play to get out of the inning unscathed.
That inning was part of five scoreless innings that Hunt pitched in his best start of the season to date, striking out three total. However, coming back out in the sixth inning, Valparaiso (1-4) was able to pull back a run on an RBI double by Andrew Bynum that just snuck past Juan Avila on down the third base line. The Dirtbags got out of the inning on another strong defensive play by shortstop Michael Hill, who ran down a grounder on the far side of the bag, and after a pump fake to first base, instead turned and gunned down Bynum at the plate, who had turned for home trying to get an extra base on a throw to first.
The momentum from that play carried into the bottom of the sixth, as the Dirtbags immediately threatened as Ino Patron walked and Richard Prigatano singled to put two runners on base for Long Beach State. Pinch hitter Zach Belanger sent a liner just foul, but then hit a shallow fly ball that would end up clearing the pitchers' head in the infield and landing just in front of second base.
With both runners advancing on a ball that did drop into play, a late infield fly call led to an easy double play for Valparaiso, ending the inning on the out for the infield fly given to Belanger and a second out on Prigatano added later in the play without a tag and credited to the Crusader shortstop.
Freshman David Hill came on in relief for the Dirtbags, and retired the side in order in both the seventh and eighth innings. Hill surrendered a solo home run to Bynum in the top of the ninth with one out, but recovered to hold on and collect the save, his first. Hunt picked up the win, and is now 1-0 on the season.
The Dirtbags and Valparaiso conclude their series on Sunday afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for Noon owing to the Crusaders travel schedule. Long Beach State will send right-hander Jon Maciel to the mound to face Valpo's Chris DeBoo.
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