Dirtbags Shut Out Fullerton to Close Regular Season
LBSU picked up a 1-0 victory, its 10th shutout of the season, on the road against rivals Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.
FULLERTON, Calif. - The 2017 regular season came to a close on Saturday evening in Fullerton, with No. 7 Long Beach State (37-17-1, 20-4 Big West) earning a 1-0 victory over No. 14 Cal State Fullerton (34-21, 15-9 Big West) to win the rivalry series. LBSU has now won 10 straight weekend series to close out the regular season and reaches 20 conference wins for the first time since the 1998 season.
The Dirtbags have now won back-to-back road series over Fullerton after taking two of three games at Goodwin Field last season. It’s the first time Long Beach State has accomplished that feat since 1999-2000. LBSU was also 5-1 against the Titans this season.
It took until the eighth inning for the first run to come across, and the rally started on a leadoff double from junior catcher David Banuelos, who pulled a sharp grounder over the third base bag. After a sac bunt from Brooks Stotler, Laine Huffman and Jarren Duran were hit by pitches to load the bases. That set the table for senior Daniel Jackson, who sent a deep fly ball to center field for a sacrifice fly, easily scoring Banuelos for the game’s only run.
Dirtbags starter Dave Smith continued to impress on the mound, tossing 6.1 scoreless innings to lower his Big West-leading ERA to 1.55 on the season. The senior righty allowed four singles and two walks with four strikeouts to help the Dirtbags to their 10th shutout win of the season. That total ranks 3rd in the country behind Oregon State and Illinois-Chicago.
The Long Beach State bullpen also deserves a lot of credit, as four arms combined to cover the final 2.2 innings. Eli Villalobos entered for Smith with two men on in the bottom of the seventh, promptly recording a strikeout before issuing a walk to load the bases. Freshman Zak Baayoun then entered the game and recorded a clutch strikeout of pinch-hitter Niko Pacheco to swing the momentum into the Long Beach dugout.
Josh Advocate allowed a leadoff single in a scoreless eighth inning to protect the lead, setting the stage for sophomore Chris Rivera to earn his 11th save of the season. Rivera worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning, picking up his 24th career save. He now moves into sole possession of fourth place on LBSU’s all-time saves list, passing current Cleveland Indians reliever Bryan Shaw.
Now the Dirtbags await the details of their postseason fate, starting with the announcement of the NCAA Regional host sites, which will be made public on Sunday at approximately 6 p.m. PT. The full field of 64 teams will be revealed on a live selection show Monday morning at 9 a.m. PT. The selection show will be televised on ESPN2, and you can join the Dirtbags at the official watch party at Legends on 2nd Street as LBSU learns its postseason draw.
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