LONG BEACH, Calif. - Sunday’s rubber match between No. 8 Long Beach State (30-15-1, 15-3 Big West) and Cal Poly (21-25, 9-6 Big West) was pivotal in the ongoing Big West title race, and the first-place Dirtbags took another step in the right direction with a 5-2 victory at Blair Field. David Banuelos and Ramsey Romano each drove in a pair of runs to lead LBSU to a workmanlike victory, clinching a seventh straight series win for the Dirtbags.
Starting pitcher Dave Smith allowed 11 hits in 5.0 innings of work, but only gave up two runs by stranding seven Mustangs on base. He didn’t walk a batter and recorded three strikeouts on the afternoon, improving his record to 6-1 to go with his 1.83 ERA.
Sunday marked the seventh straight series win for the Dirtbags this season. LBSU hasn’t lost a series since a three-game set at Arizona State Mar. 10-12. The Dirtbags also hold a current four-game lead in the Big West standings, pending the result of Cal State Fullerton’s game at Hawai’i.
LBSU took the lead in the second inning on an RBI single from Banuelos to score Luke Rasmussen, who reached on an error to lead off the inning. After Cal Poly tied the game in the third, Long Beach State went right back to work in the bottom half of the inning. Daniel Jackson started it with a single, then Lucas Tancas doubled to left to put two men in scoring position. The team’s RBI leader Romano stepped in and did his job, singling to center field to score both runners and make it 3-1 Dirtbags. The junior third baseman has now driven in 32 runs on the season.
The final two Dirtbags runs came with two outs, as Jackson came through with an RBI double to left center in the sixth and Banuelos lined an RBI single to left in the seventh to make it 5-2 and give the bullpen some breathing room.
Speaking of the bullpen, redshirt sophomore Tyler Radcliffe did a terrific job in relief, working 3.0 scoreless innings after replacing Smith, allowing just one hit and picking up a strikeout. Chris Rivera stepped in and recorded his seventh save of the season, which now gives him 20 in his Long Beach State career.
Next up for the Dirtbags is a non-conference series next weekend at Minnesota. The series begins Friday, May 12, at 4:30 p.m. PT.
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