Feb. 18, 2013
Long Beach, Calif. -
It's time for the home opener for Long Beach State, and the Dirtbags will start things off with a bang by hosting the defending national champions, No. 10 Arizona, for two games on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week at Blair Field. First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 6 p.m., with a day game scheduled for 3:30 p.m. to follow on Wednesday. Then, after one day off, Long Beach State will host Valparaiso for a three-game series over the weekend, with start times at 6 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday, and Noon on Sunday. All Dirtbag games can be followed through live audio or Gametracker at www.longbeachstate.com.
Music City Blues
Long Beach State returns home for five straight games at home after falling in the opening series for 2013 on the road at No. 2 Vanderbilt. The Dirtbags dropped the first game after a couple of errors opened the door for a five-run third inning for Vanderbilt on the way to a 10-4 victory on Friday. 10 walks along with four errors doomed Long Beach State to a 12-2 loss on Saturday afternoon in near freezing temperatures, but the Dirtbags rallied to pick up the final game of the series on Sunday. Jeff McNeil, Eric Hutting, and Richard Prigatano each had three RBI on Sunday, and McNeil had three hits, finishing with six on the weekend as the Dirtbags prevailed 13-9 in a game shortened to eight innings due to a travel curfew. Prigatano finished the weekend with a trio of doubles, while Michael Hill had two doubles, leading the team with a .444 batting average. The win over the No. 2 team in the nation was the highest ranked victory for the Dirtbags since LBSU won a series against then No. 1 CS Fullerton in 2005.
Arizona, one year removed from a College World Series and a championship run, began the season with a three-game sweep at home over Coppin State, piling up a .363 batting average, led by Tyler Parmenter, who went 3-for-5 while walking six times and getting hit by a pitch once. Starting pitchers Konner Wade and James Farris each had eight strikeouts, while expected starters Nick Cunningham and Tyler Crawford each made relief appearances. Cunningham struck out one in 2.2 innings, while Crawford retired both batters he faced in less than an inning. Overall, Long Beach State trails the all-time series with Arizona by one, 21-20, but has won 18 of 24 games since 1989. The Dirtbags lost a weekend series to UA back in 2011, dropping a pair, but swept two games in Tucson during the 2010 season.
Hitting It Off
Despite facing a Top 5 team on the road in below 50 degree temperatures all weekend, it was the Long Beach State offense that impressed on the road at Vanderbilt. As a team, the Dirtbags hit .283 overall, and tied the Commodores with 30 hits over the three-game series. Jeff McNeil led the way with six hits total, while Michael Hill added two triples, hitting .444 overall, and four key returning pieces of the puzzle for Long Beach State also had multiple hits on the weekend. Richard Prigatano had three doubles, hitting .333 with a team-best five RBI, while Jeff Yamaguchi had four hits and Juan Avila and Ino Patron each added three. In all, eight Dirtbags had multiple hits on the weekend, and the team reached base at a .384 clip, also successfully stealing bases 75% of the time.
In Buck We Trust
Long Beach State enters the 2013 after two full seasons under Troy Buckley. After year one, the Dirtbags lowered their team ERA from 4.67 to 3.55, and that trend continued again in 2012, as Long Beach State posted the 17th-lowest ERA in the nation at 3.08. Long Beach State has been forced to turn over the whole rotation, but the last time that happened under Troy Buckley (as pitching coach), Jered Weaver, Cesar Ramos, and Jason Vargas were all drafted in 2004, and the 2005 Dirtbags led the nation with a 2.53 team ERA.
Scheduling The Best
In addition to the season opener against No. 2 Vanderbilt, the Dirtbags have again put together a tremendous schedule for the 2013 season. Long Beach State opens its home schedule by hosting the defending champions, No. 10 Arizona, and 11 out of the 21 teams on the schedule received votes in at least one poll entering the year. The Dirtbags will also host Valparaiso and Seattle in weekend series before resuming two traditional series in Blair Field against Wichita State and a non-conference meeting with Cal State Fullerton. The Dirtbags also have a trip to No. 16 Arizona State on the schedule, and weekday contests with LMU, UCLA, USC, San Diego State, and Pepperdine. Finally, Long Beach State will host Cal State Northridge, UC Davis, Cal Poly, UC Riverside, and first-year member Hawai'i in Big West play.
Long Beach State had 12 players make their debut in a Dirtbag uniform last weekend at Vanderbilt, and saw a number of players impress. Shane Carle had the best ERA of any starter, allowing one earned run in five inings of work while striking out three on Saturday. Zack Rivera is tops on the team in batting average, going 2-for-4 on the weekend while Eric Hutting had two hits, including a double in two starts behind the play, driving in three RBI. Also starting for the offense were Jonathan Serven, who went 1-for-4, and Colby Brenner, who had four walks. Nick Rosetta, Ty Provencher, and Logan Lombana each had scoreless appearances out of the bullpen. Zack Belanger, Alex DeGoti, Ryan Millison, and David Hill all also saw the field for the first time in 2013 at Vanderbilt.
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