May 14, 2012
Long Beach, Calif. -
Long Beach State finishes the season with seven home games, playing four this week. The Dirtbags start by hosting Pepperdine in the team's final non-conference game at 6:30 p.m. The Dirtbags will then host Pacific for three games in a packed weekend, featuring a Jered Weaver bobblehead giveaway on Saturday, May 19 followed by "Game Day" on Sunday, co-presented by Steel Magnolias benefitting the Stramski Children's Development Center. All Dirtbag games can be followed through live audio or Gametracker at www.longbeachstate.com.
On The Road
The Dirtbags ran into some hard luck in the team's final road trip, losing two of three at UC Davis. Long Beach State lost in a walkoff for the eighth time in the season, wasting a two-run comeback in the top of the ninth in a 6-5 loss. Long Beach State then fell in the team's second shutout of the season 5-0 on Saturday, but rebounded with a 4-1 victory on Sunday behind a 3-for-4 day from Richard Prigatano and seven strong innings from senior starting pitcher Shawn Stuart, who improved to 6-0 on the season.
Pepperdine is in the thick of the West Coast Conference championship race with a 29-19 overall record and a 12-6 record in WCC play. Let by Joe Sever, who is hitting .385, the Waves are hitting .282 as a team and bring a strong offense into Blair Field. The Waves won the first meeting between the teams 12-2, and pulled one game closer in a tight all-time series that the Dirtbags lead 65-60.
Pacific has really struggled in 2012, and brings up the rear of the conference with a 12-37 overall record and a 2-16 mark in the Big West. Erik Lockwood is the team's top hitter at .371; Dustin Torchio is next at .296. However, it's been Pacific's pitching that has really hurt the Tigers; the team has a 5.81 team ERA. Long Beach State has won 12 straight series against the Tigers, and holds a 76-23 record in the all-time series.
Let's Talk About the Postseason
Since Long Beach State dropped two games at UC Davis, it forces the Dirtbags to do some scoreboard watching. With an estimated RPI of 60, Long Beach State is probably on the outside looking in terms of an at-large bid, particularly with three games against Pacific that will likely hurt the team's RPI even with three wins. A record of 31-24 might get the team in, but it would be in the hands of the NCAA. That requires a win against Pepperdine; a sweep of Fullerton would win the league for Long Beach State with a sweep of Pacific. Winning the series against Fullerton only gives Long Beach State the conference title with a sweep of Pacific if the Titans lose a game at Goodwin Field against UC Riverside this weekend.
In Buck We Trust
After one season under head coach Troy Buckley, the Dirtbags lowered their team ERA from 4.67 to 3.55, and the starting pitchers are again impressing in 2012, with a team ERA of 3.15. Long Beach State dots the league leaders in many of the top pitching categories. All three pitchers are under 3.25 on the season, with Stuart leading the way at 2.40, in third place in the Big West. All three are in the top ten in opponent batting average, with Stuart's .216 6th, Strufing's .234 8th, and Anderson's .236 9th. Stuart also holds the nation's longest scoreless innings streak, having thrown 26.2 scoreless innings from March 9 to April 7.
The Hard Way
Senior Brennan Metzger passed Dan Twiss to reach third place in doubles in a LBSU career with 48 total. Doubles is just one category where Metzger is climbing the ladder; with 53 career HBP, he is four away from setting the Long Beach State record held by Bryan Kennedy. The senior has started every game in 2012, ranks fifth in career games started (180) and seventh in games played (192) in a Dirtbag uniform.
Long Beach State has totally turned around the team hitting in Big West play, improving what is still an overall mark of .257 to a league mark of .282, led by Senior Brennan Metzger, who is hitting .418 in Big West games along with Josh Guerra, who is hitting .419. The pair are two of three players hitting over .300 for the team in conference, leading a surge for the Dirtbags in offense, as the team ranks third in the league in hitting in balance to the team's league-best 2.58 ERA in conference play.
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