Dirtbags Dominate Doubleheader, Clinch Series at CSUN
LBSU struck out 27 batters in 18 innings to take both games of Sunday's doubleheader in Northridge.
Northridge, Calif. -
It looks like the Dirtbags have got this doubleheader thing figured out. Three times this season Long Beach State has been asked to play two, and all three times the Beach has won both games. The wins Sunday were extra sweet, both in style and in substance, as the Dirtbags played some of their best baseball of the year to pick up two Big West wins on the road.
"I thought we were really productive with the opportunities we had," said head coach Troy Buckley after the wins. "We haven't scored that many runs with that number of opportunities in a long time, and that was really nice to see. I thought we pitched really good, and overall I thought it was a good step ... The guys put together better at bats and the pitching had more shutdown innings today than they've had in the last couple weeks."
No. 20 LBSU now has three straight conference wins to improve to 19-11 and 3-2 in the Big West. CSUN drops to 21-10 with the two losses and 0-5 in conference play.
"It's huge to win a series in one day," Buckley continued. "Hopefully it can keep us going and the team understands now what it takes to play Big West baseball and win in the Big West."
Game One: Long Beach State 6, CSUN 3
Joey Sanchez hit the first two home runs of his college career, driving in a career-best three runs to lead the Dirtbags to a win in the series opener. The No. 9 hitter drilled home runs to left in his first two trips to the plate, launching a two-run shot in the second and a solo blast in the fourth inning to stake his team to a nice early lead.
LBSU's offense went to work against a CSUN pitching staff that entered the weekend ranked 24th in the nation with a 2.99 ERA. The Beach scored twice in the first inning, then twice more in the second for a 4-0 lead off lefty Kenny Rosenberg. Sanchez's second dinger extended the lead to 5-1 in support of Dirtbags starter Chris Mathewson, who was in command of his stuff on Sunday.
The sophomore righthander had one of his better starts of the season, showing improved command of the fastball on his way to 10 strikeouts in seven innings pitched, allowing two runs with just one walk. Austin McGeorge worked the final two frames to earn his first save of the season, with five of the six outs he recorded coming via the strikeout. The 15 total strikeouts matches the season high for Dirtbags pitchers in a game.
Game Two: Long Beach State 12, CSUN 0
Following the victory, Long Beach State put together its most complete performance of the season with a resounding 12-0 win in the second game. Darren McCaughan was stellar on the mound, going seven scoreless innings while allowing just three hits and a walk. But most impressive was his ability to get swings and misses, striking out a career high 10 batters. He fanned six Matadors the first time through the batting order, recording six straight outs via the K at one stretch. The sophomore lowered his ERA to 1.54 while upping his record to 5-1 with the comfortable win.
He didn't have to wait long for a lead as the Dirtbags scored once in the second, then busted the game open with a four-run third inning. Sanchez started that rally with a single on an 0-2 pitch back up the middle. Garrett Hampson then drew a walk, and a bunt single from Jarren Duran loaded the bases with no outs. A wild pitch allowed Sanchez to score for a 2-0 lead, then Luke Rasmussen started his big game two with an RBI single through the left side.
Rasmussen would score the fourth run of the inning thanks to aggressive baserunning. The DH moved to third with two outs on a ground ball to third as he pushed the envelope on a casual throw to first. In the next at bat, he charged home on a passed ball and the Matadors defense was unable to make the play as he dove in head first for a 5-0 lead.
LBSU scored multiple runs in four different innings, including two each in the fourth and sixth. Those sixth inning runs came with a bang as Rasmussen crushed a no-doubt, two-run home run to left field. It was the sophomore's fifth bomb of the season, and he set a new career high with four RBIs in the game.
The Beach kept the pressure on, even with a big lead, matching a season high with 13 hits and establishing a new season best with the 12 runs on the board. Duran scored three times in game two to set a new personal best, while Hampson, Rasmussen and Sanchez each came in to score twice.
CSUN's expected starter, Conner O'Neill, was a scratch, meaning the expected game three starter Angel Rodriguez took the ball for the Matadors. He allowed seven runs in four innings on the way to the loss. That means there's a new starter in the rotation for tomorrow as RHP Andrew Weston (4-3, 3.66 ERA) gets the ball for CSUN while LBSU will send defending Big West Pitcher of the Week Tanner Brown (4-1, 3.02 ERA) to the hill. First pitch at Matador Field is at 2 p.m.
NOTES: With five RBIs on Sunday, Rasmussen extended his team lead in that category and is now up to 21 on the season ... With a pair of hits in game two, David Banuelos upped his batting average to .350 on the season ... McCaughan has now made quality starts in seven of his eight outings this season ... McGeorge's two-inning save is the first of the season for the junior and second of his career ... Sanchez is the first Dirtbag to hit two home runs in a game since Eric Hutting hit two at Indiana on May 10, 2015.
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