April 16, 2011
Long Beach, Calif. - Long Beach State got out to a quick start behind four hits from sophomore Matt Duffy and Matt Johnson finished the game on the other end with 4.2 innings of one-hit relief as the Dirtbags defeated UC Riverside 7-5.
The Dirtbags (18-15) had one of their best offensive nights of the season, pushing across seven runs on 14 hits in support of Johnson and starting pitcher Shaun Stuart. Stuart struggled in the first inning, giving up four straight hits to start the game, but the Dirtbags caught the first runner stealing second and got out of the inning allowing just the lone run to UC Riverside (15-14).
In the bottom half of the first, Duffy cracked the first of his four singles as the sophomore was the leadoff batter for the first time all season. Jeff McNeil beat out a sacrifice, and Duffy advanced to third on a wild throw, coming home on an RBI groundout to tie the game.
Long Beach State added to their lead in the second. Juan Avila was plunked to start the inning and scored on a triple from Michael Hill as the Dirtbags took the lead. A wild pitch then scored Hill, and LBSU added one more run in the third to take a 4-1 lead.
Stuart, who had gotten out to such a slow start, settled down and ended up striking out eight batters in total, but ran into more trouble in the top of the fifth. Trevor Hairgrove started out the inning with a hit, and after an error on a sacrifice attempt, a single by Justin Shults and a triple from David Andriese tied the game at four, bringing home three runs.
The Dirtbags answered back in the bottom of the inning, however. Matt Hibbert lined the first of two doubles into left field, and Duffy singled to put runners on the corners, and McNeil was able to lift a sacrifice fly into left field. Ino Patron, Mike Marjama and Jeff Yamaguchi followed with a trio of singles to give Long Beach State a 7-4 lead.
Johnson allowed a hit to the first Highlander batter in the sixth, who would come around to score with some small ball, but would not allow another hit over the final four innings to collect his second win of the year.
Long Beach State will try to get their first sweep of a weekend series tomorrow as the Dirtbags host UCR Sunday for one final game. Freshman Ryan Strufing will get the start for Long Beach State, facing RHP Trevor Frank with a first pitch set for 1 p.m.
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