March 4, 2013
Long Beach, Calif. -
Long Beach State concludes their current homestand this Tuesday, hosting No. 7 UCLA at Blair Field with first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m. Against the Bruins, the Dirtbags will be looking for their third victory this season over a ranked opponent, previously defeating No. 2 Vanderbilt and No. 10 Arizona. All Dirtbag games can be followed through live audio or Gametracker at www.longbeachstate.com.
A Tough Weekend
Seattle University visited Long Beach State for the first time in baseball last weekend, and the Redhawks got the last laugh as they took two out of three from the Dirtbags. In Friday night's contest, junior Shane Carle had a quality start, but was victimized by errors to allow two runs, and Seattle held onto take a 5-4 victory. Long Beach State turned the tables on Saturday, rallying from a 3-1 deficit in the eighth inning to take a 4-3 victory. The Dirtbags pulled back a first run in the bottom of the eighth inning, and then scored two in the bottom of the ninth inning, the key hit coming from Ino Patron, who singled with the bases loaded to give Long Beach State the walkoff win. In the series finale however, Jon Maciel struck out eight batters with no walks over six innings, but also gave up nine hits and five earned runs as Seattle won the final game 8-3 and took the series. Jeff Yamaguchi scored twice, walked twice and had two hits on Sunday, while Zack Rivera had two RBI to lead the offense in the final game.
UCLA has started off the season strong, staying in the Top 10 courtesy of three series wins over Minnesota, Baylor, and most recently, a three-game sweep of Wright State over the weekend. The Dirtbags represent just the second midweek opponent for the Bruins; UCLA previously won easily over another Big West opponent, taking down the Gauchos 12-2 on the road. Brian Carroll and Kevin Kramer have both started all 10 games for the Bruins, and are hitting an identical 13-for-35 on the season for a .371 average, while the pitching staff has posted a 2.50 ERA on the year. However, projected Tuesday starter Cody Poteet has the highest ERA of the group, allowing eight runs over 8.1 innings with a 6.48 ERA.
Hitting It Off
On the season, the Dirtbags are out-hitting their opposition .266 to .246, and have four regulars hitting over .330. Freshman Zack Rivera has come on recently, and now leads the team with a .357 batting average, while Michael Hill is hitting .355 with a team-best .581 slugging percentage on the strength of a Big West- best three triples. Junior Jeff McNeil is hitting .340, leading the team with 17 hits, while Jeff Yamaguchi is batting .333 on the season. In the heart of the order, Juan Avila, Ino Patron, and Richard Prigatano have combined for 35 hits, 19 RBI, and 9 doubles on the year. On the whole, the team is reaching base at a .361 rate, and have also stolen 11 bases in 12 games.
Jekyll And Hyde
After 12 games, the Dirtbags have one streak that stands out; Long Beach State has had excellent success against right-handed starters, going 6-2 overall on the year, but has lost all four games against left-handed starters, accounting for the team's .500 record. That included both losses from last weekend against Seattle, as the Dirtbags fell late on Friday before dropping the Sunday contest behind seven innings pitched by Redhawks starter Kyle Doyle. Among the team's averages, the success has been similar, but the Dirtbags have just three extra-base hits against left-handed pitching thus far on the season.
Long Beach State still holds the only victory over the nation's No. 2 team, Vanderbilt, as part of an opening weekend that showed good promise. Opening the year 2-3 against Vanderbilt and Arizona, two ranked progams, the Dirtbags then swept Valparaiso to take a 5-3 record into last week, but dropped a mid-week contest at USC before falling to Seatte in two of three games. As a team, Long Beach State stands in the middle of the pack in the Big West in all three major categories through the beginning of March: 5th in batting average (.266), 5th in ERA (3.81), and 7th in fielding (.964).
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