May 5, 2009
Long Beach, Calif. -
The Dirtbags host their final Tuesday game of the year, playing Pepperdine at Blair Field beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Blair Field. The team has one more midweek game following that contest next week. Long Beach State also has three conference series remaining, starting with UC Santa Barbara on the road this weekend. Uyesaka Stadium does not have lights, so game time for all three games is in the afternoon, with Friday starting at 2 p.m. and the weekend games each starting at 1 p.m. in Santa Barbara.
The Stretch Run
Long Beach State moved one step closer to a potential playoff berth with a sweep of UC Davis last weekend, but still has plenty of work to do. With an eye on 30 wins with an RPI that will improve over the final three weeks and a strong conference, that will give Long Beach State a good chance of receiving an at-large bid. To get there, the team would finish in the top 3 in the conference, since it would likely require wins in all three of the team's remaining conference series against UC Santa Barbara, No. 12 Cal Poly and No. 5 CS Fullerton, as well as one of the midweek games against Pepperdine or UCLA.
After starting out the season ranked in the Top 25, Pepperdine had a seven-game losing streak in the middle of the season that put the Waves out of the rankings. More recently, Pepperdine won a three-game series with LMU, but dropped two midweek games against Big West opponents and fell in a series with USF. Nate Simon leads the team offensively, with 40 RBI and 7 homers.
Long Beach State vs. the Waves
Dirtbags lead the all-time series with Pepperdine 60-58-2, getting a little more breathing room after a 5-4 win on the road earlier in the year. Long Beach State put together a four-run seventh, which helped the Dirtbags come back from behind to get the win.
Scouting UC Santa Barbara
UC Santa Barbara entered the year boasting some of the best starting pitching in the Big West, but saw Mike Ford drop off with a 4-4 record and a 5.64 ERA. However, junior college transfer Joe Gardner has picked up some of the slack, posting a 6-1 record and a 3.91 ERA. Recently, the Gauchos have struggled in conference play, losing their last two series and dropping a game to UC Davis.
Long Beach State vs. the Gauchos
Long Beach State has an all-time record of 83-68 against UC Santa Barbara in one of the most consistent series for the team. In the Dirtbag era, Long Beach State has a 48-22 record over the Gauchos. In the last meeting between the teams, Long Beach State took two of three games at Blair Field last season, winning 3-0 Friday and 10-8 Saturday before taking a 5-3 Sunday loss.
Keeping It Small
Dirtbag Baseball has always been about doing the little things, and Long Beach State has filled its quota this year. Long Beach State moved closer to the program's stolen base record of 123. The team topped 100 this weekend, and with 11 games to play, needs 21 steals to tie the mark. The Dirtbags have five players with more than ten, led by Jordan Casas with 20, and every starter on the team in 2009 has at least five with the exception of Kellen Hoime, who has 4. The team also has dropped 45 sacrifices, which also ranks among the nation's best.
The Dirtbags claimed a second straight conference sweep, defeating UC Davis in three games. The sweep started with a 16-3 blowout on Friday Night, as Long Beach State used a seven-run seventh to down the Aggies. After taking a 5-2 win Saturday, the Dirtbags finished the series with a come-from-behind 3-2 win behind TJ Mittelstaedt's 2 RBI triple. The team stole 14 bases over the course of the series, and walked 19 times to make the most of their opportunities on base.
Coming To You On Fridays
Adam Wilk has come up big in his junior year. Coming into the year having spent two seasons in long relief, Wilk has started 10 games, compiling a 7-1 record with a 2.60 ERA. The lefty has been even better in conference play with a 4-0 record and a 1.73 ERA.
The Truly Big West
The Big West is living up to its reputation as one of the best college baseball conferences in the nation. UC Irvine became the second team in the conference this season to be ranked No. 1, and the league currently has three teams ranked with the Anteaters, Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly. The league RPI also remains among the nation's best, currently fourth.
Around The League
UC Irvine swept again to stay on top at 14-1. Three teams including LBSU, remain locked in a tight race for second place, with all three still scheduled to play each other. No. 12 Cal Poly and No. 5 CS Fullerton play this weekend while the Dirtbags travel to UC Santa Barbara, and then Long Beach State will face the Mustangs and Titans in consecutive weeks to close out the season.
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