Banuelos Powers Dirtbags to 8-5 Win vs. Fullerton
The Dirtbags set a season high with 15 hits on Saturday, the most the Titans have allowed all season.
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Explosive innings were again the story for Long Beach State (12-9) on Saturday afternoon at Blair Field. The Dirtbags scored four runs in the fifth inning, then four more in the sixth to turn a 3-0 deficit into an eventual 8-5 win over No. 5 Cal State Fullerton (15-7). With the win, Long Beach State clinches a series win over the Titans, with a chance to sweep on Sunday.
Junior catcher David Banuelos led the offense with a pair of home runs and three RBIs on the day. It’s the first multi-homer game for Banuelos and the first for a Dirtbags player since Joey Sanchez went yard twice at CSUN on Apr. 10, 2016. Jarren Duran set a new career high with four hits and also scored twice. Lucas Tancas remained red hot at the plate with three hits and a career-best three RBIs. Tancas is now 6-for-7 in this series with two runs scored and three more batted in.
On the mound, junior John Sheaks had the longest outing of his Dirtbags career, working 6.1 innings to pick up his second win of the season. Sheaks allowed four runs (one earned) on four hits with one walk and three strikeouts while eating up innings. His offense eventually picked him up to earn a second straight comeback victory over the Titans. Sophomore Chris Rivera pitched a perfect final two innings to record his third save of the season.
Cal State Fullerton took a 3-0 lead in the third inning on a sacrifice fly and a two-run home run by Timmy Richards. The Titans lead stood until the fifth inning, when LBSU was able to reclaim the lead for good.
Banuelos led off the fifth inning with a home run to left, and the rest of the order followed his lead. Laine Huffman followed with a single, then Duran smacked an RBI triple to the opposite field to make it a 3-2 game. Domenic Colacchio’s pinch-hit single scored Duran to tie the game, but the rally wasn’t done there. After a sacrifice bunt, Tancas ripped a double inside the left field line to score pinch-runner Garrett Nelson and put the Dirtbags on top, 4-3.
Daniel Jackson started the sixth inning with a single, then trotted home on the second Banuelos home run, a deep shot to left center. After Huffman was hit by a pitch, Duran singled through the right side. A sacrifice bunt put both runners into scoring position and it was Tancas who delivered an RBI single off the third base bag and into left field.
The Titans loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth inning, but could only muster one run as Rivera came in and got a strikeout, a sacrifice fly and a lineout.
Long Beach State will look for a sweep on Sunday, which would be its first over Cal State Fullerton since 2002. The Titans will send reigning Big West Pitcher of the Week, LHP John Gavin (3-0, 1.65 ERA), to the hill while LBSU’s starter is still to be determined. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Blair Field.
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