Feb. 21, 2013
Long Beach, Calif. -
Long Beach State hosts its first weekend series, welcoming Valparaiso to Blair Field for a three-game series. First pitch in the opener is set for 6 p.m. on Friday, followed by a 2 p.m. game on Saturday and an early start on Sunday, with first pitch scheduled for Noon. All Dirtbag games can be followed through live audio or Gametracker at www.longbeachstate.com.
Fresh off of facing a ranked opponent in the first series of the season at Vanderbilt, Long Beach State took on one more in the team's home opener, earning a split against No. 10 Arizona on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Dirtbags took a 5-4 lead in Tuesday's contest on the strength of a two-run home run from Josh Guerra and a solid start from Nick Sabo, who finished with a career high six strikeouts in a career long five inning start. The game was halted due to rain in the eighth inning, but Jon Maciel came out of the pen to pick up the save and grab the win for the Dirtbags Wednesday afternoon. The Wildcats came back to take the second game of the series, however, holding off the Dirtbags as Long Beach State loaded the bases three times and left 13 runners, but only scored one run in a 3-1 loss in the second game.
Valparaiso and Long Beach State will play for the first time in baseball this weekend, as the Crusaders make the trip out to Blair Field. Valpo comes into the game with a record of 1-2 after dropping a pair of games to Belmont while defeating Ohio in a tournament in Nashville, Tenn. during the opening weekend. Pitching carried the way for Valparaiso, allowing 12 runs over the first weekend, which included a shutout in a 1-0 win over Ohio, as starter Cole Webb went eight innings, striking out four and allowing just one hit. Last season, Valpo went 35-25 overall, going 22-8 in the Horizon League and reaching the NCAA Tournament.
Hitting It Off
After playing five games against ranked opponents, Long Beach State's offense is out-hitting its opposition, as the Dirtbags are batting .272 to an opposition .268 on the season. The Dirtbags are reaching base at a .375 clip, and have 46 hits in just five games on the season, a much better rate than in recent season. Freshman Eric Hutting is leading the way for the Dirtbags with a .444 average, while junior Michael Hill has three triples and is leading the Big West in slugging percentage at .857 while batting .429. Junior Jeff McNeil is also batting over .400, leading the team in hits with nine on the year, and overall, five players are hitting over .350 through the first five games of the season.
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.
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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