April 23, 2013
Long Beach, Calif. -
Long Beach State faces a tough stretch of games this week, playing four games against ranked opponents. The week starts on Tuesday, when the Dirtbags travel to No. 7 UCLA for a 6 p.m. game at Jackie Robinson Stadium. After that game, the team will return home to Blair Field for three Big West games against No. 18 Cal Poly. The series starts at 6 p.m. on Friday, followed by games Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. All Dirtbag games can be followed through live audio or live statstics at www.longbeachstate.com.
Split At Santa Barbara
Long Beach State's road struggles continued in a pair of tough losses on the road at UC Santa Barbara last weekend, which dropped the Dirtbags into a tie for third place with Cal Poly and UC Irvine in the Big West standings. In the opener, the Dirtbags scored a run in the top of the first inning, but the Gauchos scored two in the bottom half, and that score held up the rest of the way behind the pitching of LBSU's Shane Carle and UCSB's Austin Pettibone in a 2-1 loss. Back-to-back home runs from Michael Hill and Jeff Yamaguchi were unable to deliver a win on Saturday in another one-run loss, but Long Beach State rallied in the finale, winning 8-4 and grabbing a win in the third of four straight games on the road. After the weekend, the Dirtbags are 7-5 in the Big West, three games behind Cal State Fullerton and one behind Cal State Northridge, who stands in a surprising second place after a sweep of Hawai'i on the islands.
UCLA moved back into the Top 10 in the rankings this week on the strength of a series win at Oregon this past weekend, helping the team move to 9-6 in the Pac-12 and 25-11 overall on the year. While the offensive numbers aren't particularly impressive for the Bruins, the UCLA pitching has been overwhelming this season. Starters Adam Plutko and Nick Vander Tuig each have ERAs under 2.50, while closed David Berg has pitched 42.1 innings, posting a 4-0 record with an 0.85 ERA. Tuesday starter Cody Poteet is 2-3 wiht a 4.47 ERA, but is holding opponents to a .226 batting average. The Bruins won a tightly contested game with the Dirtbags back in early March, winning 3-2, and now hold a 59-39 edge in the all-time series between the teams.
In league play, the Dirtbags rank first offensively, hitting .319 as a team behind a few standout performers. Junior Michael Hill ranks seventh in the conference in batting at .341 and is fourth in slugging percentage at .527 on the year. Additionally, Hill has five triples, tied for the league lead with teammate Ino Patron. Sophomore Richard Prigatano has 10 doubles on the season and is hitting .404 in Big West play, sixth in conference-only play this season, and his 11 RBI are fifth in the league as well while hitting .324 overall, second on the team. Jeff McNeil is also hitting over .300 on the season at .322 with 48 hits, while Juan Avila has played well since his return to the team from injury, batting .354 in Big West play while improving to .292 hitting on the year.
Long Beach State will continue to use a solidified rotation, as the trio of Shane Carle, Jake Stassi, and David Hill have strengthened the rotation for the Dirtbags, with all three throwing at least six innings last week at USCB after all collecting wins over UC Davis the week before. Carle leads the team in strikeouts and innings pitched, and has an ERA of 3.25 while pitching on Fridays. Jake Stassi has now had six straight starts longer than six innings pitched as the Saturday starter after moving from the bullpen, and leads the team in wins with a 4-1 record and a team-best 2.75 ERA. Finally, freshman David Hill has now made six straight starts for the Dirtbags in the third game of the series, earning three wins and striking out 24 on the year.
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