March 18, 2013
Long Beach, Calif. -
After Long Beach State's sweep of Wichita State at home this past weekend, the Dirtbags will make one stop out of town, traveling to San Diego State on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. game before returning to Blair Field for a three-game series with No. 8 Cal State Fullerton. The rivalry series will kick off with a 6 p.m. start on Friday, followed by first pitch at 2 p.m. on Saturday before a matinee Sunday at 1 p.m. All Dirtbag games can be followed through live audio or Gametracker at www.longbeachstate.com.
Home Sweet Home
Coming off of a six-game skid, the Dirtbags relished a chance to come home and right the ship, and that's exactly what the team did, breaking out the brooms against Wichita State in a three-game sweep over the previously 11-5 Shockers. Shane Carle had a dominant performance on Friday Night, setting the tone by scattering three hits over seven innings, and giving the LBSU bats a chance to come alive late and grab a 4-1 win. Jake Stassi followed with another tremendous start, also allowing just one run in seven innings in a 3-1 win to take the series on Saturday, and then the offense came through on Sunday, as six different players had hits and Long Beach State held on to take a 5-4 win and complete the sweep. Jeff McNeil had six hits for the Dirtbags on the weekend, hitting .545 overall, while Michael Hill had a double and a triple among his five hits, and Jeff Yamaguchi added four for Long Beach State. With the three wins, the Dirtbags are now 8-4 on the year in Blair Field, where they will return this weekend to host the rival Cal State Fullerton Titans beginning on Friday.
Scouting San Diego State
Led by legendary hitter and SDSU alum Tony Gwynn, the Aztecs started off the season with a bang, sweeping local rival San Diego in the Toreros' new ballpark to enter the rankings in the early part of the year, but has since fallen to 9-11 on the year, an identical mark to the Dirtbags as each team enters Tuesday's game. The Aztecs won their first conference series of the year last weekend at Fresno State however, and like Long Beach State, many of their losses, nine total, have me against ranked opponents. Senior catcher Jake Romanski is having a huge season, leading the team with a .382 batting average and a .455 OBP, while the pitching staff is led by Michael Cederoth, who has a 2.23 ERA in five starts with 31 strikeouts. Tuesday's tentative starter, Mike Robards, also has good numbers in 9.1 innings, striking out seven and posting a 2.89 ERA, but has no decisions on the year. The Aztecs hold a commanding lead in the all-time series, 78-49-1, but much of that is from before the modern era; since 1989, the Dirtbags are 22-11 against San Diego State. The teams split last season's meetings, with the LBSU win coming on the road in a coming-out party for Josh Guerra, who had three hits and forced his way into the lineup for the second half of the season.
Junior Michael Hill has been the bright spot for the offense throughout the 2013 season. In 20 games played, the shortstop is batting .356 (21-for-59) and has three doubles, four triples, and a home run, putting together a .593 slugging percentage, second-best in the Big West. Additionally, Hill has a pair of walks and three HBP, reaching at a .400 rate with an OPS just under 1.000 at .993. The junior begins the week sixth in the Big West in hitting.
Jekyll And Hyde
After 20 games, the Dirtbags have one streak that stands out; Long Beach State has had excellent success against right-handed starters, going 8-5 overall on the year, but has gone 1-6 in 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 nine extra-base hits against lefties on the year. However, after dropping the first six, Long Beach State finally grabbed a win against a southpaw, fighting fire with fire as LHP Jake Stassi pitched seven innings to get the win Saturday against Wichita State.
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