March 14, 2013
Long Beach, Calif. -
The Dirtbags return home this weekend, looking forward to the friendly confines of Blair Field as Long Beach State hosts Wichita State for three games as the two teams resume their annual series. Action starts on Friday night at 6 p.m., followed by a 2 p.m. start on Saturday, before wrapping up at 1 p.m. on Sunday. All Dirtbag games can be followed through live audio or Gametracker at www.longbeachstate.com.
A Tough Stretch
Long Beach State struggled on the road last week at No. 20 Arizona State after dropping a tough 3-2 game against No. 7 UCLA at Blair Field on Tuesday. After getting rained out on Friday night, the Dirtbags and Sun Devils returned to Packard Stadium for a doubleheader on Saturday, and Long Beach State dropped both halves, falling 4-0 and 6-0 for the team's first back-to-back shutouts since 1988. On Sunday, Long Beach State picked up a two-run home run from Michael Hill to get on the board, but surrendered nine runs in an error filled fourth inning that led to an 11-2 victory for Arizona State on getaway day. The team's struggles continued on Tuesday, as Long Beach State scored on back-to-back doubles from Richard Prigatano and Eric Hutting, but ultimately lost 4-1 at Loyola Marymount in the final game of the road swing.
Scouting Wichita State
After getting swept by Pittsburgh in Wichita State to start the season, the Shockers have rallied to win 11 of their last 13 games and come to California with an 11-5 overall record. Micah Green is the leading hitter for the Shockers at .385, but the team as a whole is hitting over .300 at .308, with nine players, including seven regulars. The pitching isn't as strong, with a 3.97 ERA overall, but the offense has carried Wichita State, ballooning opposing ERA's to over 6.00 at 6.04. The Shockers hold a 24-22 lead in the all-time series between the teams, who have met annually with one two-year gap since the 1994 season. Last year, the WSU series served as a springboard for the Long Beach State turnaround, as the Dirtbags rallied from an 8-7 walkoff loss to win the next two games, the first of seven straight weekend series victories that helped LBSU finish over .500 from a low-point on that Friday of 6-14.
Junior Michael Hill has been the bright spot for the offense throughout the 2013 season. In 16 games played, the shortstop is batting .340 (16-for-47) and has two doubles, three triples, and a home run, putting together a .574 slugging percentage, best in the Big West. Additionally, Hill has a pair of walks and three HBP, reaching at a .396 rate with an OPS just under 1.000 at .970.
Jekyll And Hyde
After 17 games, the Dirtbags have one streak that stands out; Long Beach State has had excellent success against right-handed starters, going 6-5 overall on the year, but has lost all six games against left-handed starters, accounting for the team's sub-.500 record. That includes both losses against Seattle, as well as the last two games against No. 20 Arizona State last weekend. The overall average of the team has been similar against left-handed hitting, but the team has just six extra-base hits against lefties on the year.
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