May 2, 2014
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Andrew Rohrbach went the distance for his second complete game shutout of the season to lead the Long Beach State Dirtbags to a 1-0 win in Friday night’s opener against Cal State Fullerton. Rohrbach threw the third consecutive shutout for the Dirtbag pitching staff, which hasn’t allowed a run in 30 innings.
A truly pitching duel took place in front of the 1,530 fans at Blair Field Friday night as Rohrbach and Titan starter Thomas Eshelman both dazzled on the mound for the Dirtbags (22-21, 8-5 Big West) and the Titans (22-19, 6-7 Big West), respectively. First off, neither pitcher allowed a free pass of any kind in the game – no walks and no hit by pitches.
Rohrbach struck out nine and Eshelman fanned seven. Rohrbach allowed seven hits and needed 110 pitches to get through the night while Eshelman needed just 79 pitches in eight innings of work and limited the Dirtbags to four hits.
Unfortunately for Eshelman’s nearly lights-out performance, one of those hits was a leadoff double to Richard Prigatano in the fourth inning. Michael Hill nearly had the RBI single in the next at bat but Eshelman stuck out his leg at the last moment to redirect the ball to his shortstop, who retired Hill at first. Had the grounder gone up the middle Prigatano would have found his way home but instead ended up on third.
Reigning Big West Hitter of the Week Cameron Pongs came to the plate and did just enough to ensure Prigatano would score. Pongs grounded out to second base, which allowed Prigatano to sprint home while the Titans recorded the second out of the inning at first.
Eshelman would not allow a baserunner after Prigatano as he retired the last 12 Dirtbags in order.
Rohrbach was up to the challenge. He had six strikeouts through the first three innings on the way to tying his career-high and allowed only one runner as far as third base. That was the first batter of the game, Clay Williamson. He led off with a single went to second on a passed ball and to third on a balk. Rohrbach struck out JD Davis to end the inning.
It wasn’t until the eighth that the Titans challenged again. A couple of singles put two runners on with no outs. A quick trip to the mound from head coach Troy Buckley set the defense for the inevitable sacrifice bunt attempt. When Williamson’s attempt finally went down, Rohrbach bounced off the mound, picked up the grounder, wheeled and threw to third in time to get the lead runner for the first out.
A few pitches later, a pitch in the dirt squirted away from Eric Hutting but Hutting corralled in the loose ball and fired to third in time to get Keegan Dale as he tried to move up 90 feet on the wild pitch. Just a few more pitches later, Wiliamson took off for second but the Dirtbags dialed up a pitch out. Hutting came out of his crouch and threw down to second in time to get the runner and end the inning.
A single in the ninth made some noise for the Titans in the ninth before Rohrbach ended the game with his ninth strikeout.
The Dirtbags and Titans will meet again tomorrow at 2 p.m. in Blair Field with the Dirtbags looking to clinch the series.
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