March 21, 2013
Long Beach, Calif. -
It's rivalry week as Long Beach State hosts No. 8 Cal State Fullerton for a three-game series at Blair Field, the first of two series between the Dirtbags and the Titans this season. First pitch Friday is scheduled for 6 p.m., followed by a 2 p.m. start Saturday and a 1 p.m. game time on Sunday. 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 Cal State Fullerton
Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton resume their annual series this season, as the teams will play two weekend series, a non-conference matchup this weekend at Blair Field before heading to Goodwin later in the year in a Big West meeting. Pitching has been the strength of the Titans so far, particularly behind freshmen Thomas Eshelman and Justin Garza. Garza is 5-0 with an 0.99 ERA, while Eshleman is 4-1 with a 1.29 ERA, both Top 5 in the Big West. Offensively, senior Carlos Lopez is having a big year, averaging .351 with 11 RBI, while Michael Lorenzen is hitting .329 while slugging .544. In one of just a handful of series west of the Mississippi to have been played over 200 times, Fullerton leads the all-time record 130 to 80, and won four of six last season, including the season finale to determine the winner of the Big West.
Junior Michael Hill has been the bright spot for the offense throughout the 2013 season. In 21 games played, the shortstop is batting .371 (23-for-62) and has three doubles, four triples, and a home run, putting together a .597 slugging percentage, second-best in the Big West. Additionally, Hill has a pair of walks and three HBP, reaching at a .412 rate with an OPS just over 1.000 at 1.009. The junior begins the week sixth in the Big West in hitting.
Jekyll And Hyde
After 21 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 1-7 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 and Tuesday's 12-2 loss at San Diego State. The overall average of the team has been similar against left-handed hitting, but that success has not transferred into victories. 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.
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 also hosted 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 had a trip to No. 20 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.
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