Feb. 25, 2013
Long Beach, Calif. -
Long Beach State returns to the road for this first time since the team's trip to Vanderbilt on Tuesday, playing a single game on the road at USC, the only time the Dirtbags will face the Trojans during the 2013 season. First pitch in that game is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Dedeaux Field. The Dirtbags then return home to play Seattle in a three-game series, the first time that Long Beach State has faced the WAC foe. Game times on the weekend are set for 6 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 p.m. on Sunday. All Dirtbag games can be followed through live audio or Gametracker at www.longbeachstate.com.
Bringing The Brooms
SWEEP! Long Beach State took their first home series of the season, winning all three games against the visiting Valparaiso Crusaders. In the most complete performance of the three games, the Dirtbags pounced on Valpo errors while adding 12 hits of their own in a 7-2 victory on Friday night. On Saturday, Long Beach State scored three runs in the first inning, and Landon Hunt, Logan Lombana and David Hill combined to hold Valpo to two runs in a 3-2 win. Hunt went 5.2 in the start, and Hill added three innings of relief to collect the save. Finally, on Sunday, Richard Prigatano was 3-for-3 and drove in both of Long Beach State's runs in a 2-0 win to cap off the sweep. Jon Maciel had a fine start, scattering four hits over seven innings while getting out of occasional trouble, helping his own cause with a career-high seven strikeouts. Josh Frye pitched a scoreless inning, and Eddie Magallon set down the side in order in the ninth inning with two strikeouts to collect his 12th career save.
Long Beach State will play a single game with the Trojans this season, facing USC for the only time this Tuesday, the fewest games between the teams since the 1992 season. The Dirtbags and Trojans had played a weekend series annually for a number of years, and have played weekday home-and-homes since 2010, with USC holding a 78-43 record in the all-time series. This season's Trojan ballclub is led by A.J. Ramerz, who is hitting .462 in four games, while Kevin Swick is the top everyday player for the Trojans, batting .375 in 2013. Trojan starter Brent Wheatley pitched five scoreless innings in his only appearance during the season.
Hitting It Off
On the season, the Dirtbags are out-hitting their opposition .278 to .247, and have five regulars hitting over .300. Michael Hill has had a strong start, leading the Big West in slugging at .682, and is leading the team as well with a .409 batting average. Freshman Eric Hutting is just behind him at .400, while Jeff McNeil leads the team with 13 hits and is hitting .382. Richard Prigatano has eight RBI on the year, bringing home both runs while hitting .323, and first baseman Jeff Yamaguchi is hitting .320 in seven games. Ino Patron and Juan Avila also both have multitple hit games. On the whole, the team is reaching base at a .373 rate, and have also stolen eight bases in eight games.
Return To Form
After struggling on the road at No. 2 Vanderbilt, Long Beach State's pitching returned to the form that carried the team in the last two seasons. Last week, the Dirtbags held opponents to .213 hitting and a 1.40 ERA, allowing just seven earned runs in five games while going 4-1. Jon Maciel had a pair of decisions, picking up a save on Wednesday in the conclusion of game one against Arizona, before returning for a start on Sunday against Valparaiso, getting the win and combining in a shutout with Josh Frye and Eddie Magallon, who earned his first save of the season. Also earning his first save was freshman David Hill, finishing off Saturday's game in support of Landon Hunt (1-0), and Shane Carle had another strong start on Friday, striking out six over seven innings in a win. Carle's ERA is the best among the starters at 1.50, and as a team, the Dirtbags now have a 3.65 ERA through eight games.
A Busy Week
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 last 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.
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 opened 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. 24 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.
This and That
The Dirtbags opened the season with eight games in 10 days ... Jeff McNeil is now riding a nine-game hitting streaks after picking up a hit in the season finale a year ago against Cal State Fullerton ... Long Beach State is responsible for Vanderbilt and Arizona's only loss of the year thus far ... Long Beach State faces three first-time opponents this season, the most since the 1998 season (Texas Tech, Tulane, Kentucky, Alabama) ... Pitchers Ryan Strufing and Kyle Friedrichs are both out for the season with arm injuries ... Standings for the Uni Watch for 2013: Pinstripes (1-0); White (1-0); Black (1-2); Grey (0-1); Gold (2-0) ... The 2012 winner was far and away the Gold tops, as the team went 9-4 in them.
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