Long Beach State Holds On For 4-2 Win vs. San Diego State
The Dirtbags worked around three hits and two walks allowed in the ninth inning to escape with a 4-2 win over the Aztecs.
Long Beach, Calif. - The Dirtbags were in firm control of Tuesday night’s game with San Diego State (12-26), until the ninth inning rolled around. Long Beach State (23-16) withstood a late Aztec rally and ended up with a 4-2 victory on Tuesday night at Blair Field. LBSU’s combination of Jacob Hughey and Dave Smith held the Aztecs to just one hit through eight innings, as Smith threw five full innings before allowing his first hit, striking out seven with just two walks on the night.
“I thought that was huge for (Smith),” said Dirtbags head coach Troy Buckley after the win. “He’s been grinding through, but he hasn’t had a lot of success numbers-wise even though he has three wins for us. That was huge for us—you’re going to need a whole village in order to make this thing happen … If you’re going to win, you’re going to need guys to step up like that, and he did.”
Hughey received his second career start (both against SDSU), and first at Blair Field as a Dirtbag. The freshman worked 3+ innings allowing just one hit and five walks with two strikeouts. Smith entered with a runner on in the top of the fourth, retiring the next three batters in order to strand the runner. He continued to roll through the Aztecs lineup, striking out the side in the fifth and pitching to contact as he worked into the ninth.
Both pitchers had the luxury of an early lead as the Dirtbags put up a three spot in the bottom of the first. Zack Domingues started the rally with a one out walk and a stolen base, and he was doubled home by Garrett Hampson—his first of two doubles on the evening. A double steal with two outs put Hampson and Daniel Jackson into scoring position and an infield single from Luke Rasmussen scored both runs thanks to heads up baserunning from Jackson.
LBSU added another run in the third as Alex Muzzi and Rasmussen opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Muzzi would later score on a two-out wild pitch.
The Dirtbags sailed through with a 4-0 advantage up until the ninth when things got testy. Smith issued a leadoff walk, then allowed consecutive singles as he began to fatigue on the mound. With the bases loaded, Kyle Brown came in and walked his only batter to force in a run. With the bases still loaded and no outs, Austin McGeorge was tasked with locking down the save in a 4-1 game and the potential go-ahead run at the plate.
After falling behind 3-0 to the first batter, McGeorge battled back with a huge strikeout for the first out. David Hensley then battled in a long at bat and barely looped a single over a leaping Hampson at shortstop. That brought in the second run to put the potential tying run in scoring position with just one out. McGeorge showed great composure to record another strikeout (this one looking) and induced a game-ending fly ball to left field to earn his second save.
This weekend brings a huge Big West series to Blair Field as Cal Poly comes to Long Beach. The Mustangs are currently tied with Cal State Fullerton for first place in the conference. The Dirtbags are currently tied for sixth but are just 2.5 games behind the leaders in what has shaped into a compelling Big West race this season. First pitch on Friday is at 6 p.m., which is Superhero Night at Blair Field.
NOTES: Rasmussen recorded a pair of RBIs, increasing his team-leading total to 28 on the season and extending his hitting streak to a season-high five games … It’s also Rasmussen’s ninth multi-RBI game, which is tops on the team … Hampson hit two doubles on Tuesday, giving him his 16th multi-hit game of the season … Domingues drew a pair of walks, meaning he has recorded eight base on balls in his last four games … The Dirtbags stole three bases (Domingues, Hampson, Jackson) and all three runners would later come in to score … McGeorge made his conference-leading 22nd appearance on Tuesday and recorded his second save of the year. He also lowered his ERA to just 0.79.
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