May 22, 2013
Long Beach, Calif. -
Long Beach State finishes off the 2013 season this weekend with the Black and Blue Rivalry, facing UC Irvine on the road at Anteater Ballpark. The series begins on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., then continues on Friday at 6:30 p.m. before concluding on Saturday at 1 p.m. All Dirtbag games can be followed through live audio or Gametracker at www.longbeachstate.com.
What's At Stake
Long Beach State enters the weekend riding a hot streak over the last two weeks, going 7-1, including a 4-0 week last week with a win over Pepperdine and a sweep of UC Riverside, with junior Shane Carle's complete game shutout on Friday with 13 strikeouts garnering the right-hander Big West Pitcher of the Week and National Co-Pitcher of the Week honors. In the process, the Dirtbags' RPI has risen to 72, and another series win, coupled with the team's schedule strength provides an argument for Long Beach State's inclusion into the postseason, as well as giving the team its first 30-win season since 2008. However, UC Irvine is also pushing for the postseason with an RPI of 77, giving both teams one final chance to impress the committee before at-large selections are made in advance of the announcement on Monday.
Scouting UC Irvine
UC Irvine boasts two of the top hitters in the big West in Connor Spencer, and Taylor Sparks, and that pair has led the Anteaters to a spot in the Top 25 for most of the year. However, UCI stands in sixth place in the Big West after dropping three games to Cal State Fullerton, and has as much to play for as the Dirtbags do, as even with their resume, a series loss likely knocks the Anteaters out of the postseason. Andrew Morales, starting on Sundays, has posted an unreal 10-0 record with a 1.85 ERA to lead the pitching staff. Long Beach State trails the all-time series with UCI 61-49-1, but won last year's series with the Anteaters despite giving up a second straight no-hitter in the Friday contest.
Home Sweet Home
Blair Field provided the Dirtbags a true home field advantage in 2013, as Long Beach State finished with a 23-10 record at home, a winning percentage of nearly .700 and better than the all-time winning percentage of .657 at Blair Field. The Dirtbags hit over 50 points better at home than their opponents, .285 to .233, and hit 44 doubles and an amazing 13 triples at Blair Field in 2013. Defensively, the Dirtbags' pitchers also held up well at Blair Field, understandably, posting a 2.85 ERA and giving up just three home runs at home on the year.
Scheduling The Best
With three games remaining on the 2013 slate, the Dirtbags' strength of schedule is just outside of the nation's top ten, ranking No. 12, according to boydsworld.com. The Dirtbags have now played nine games against two teams currently ranked in the Top 5 and faced five ranked foes in total before the beginning of Big West play. Vanderbilt and Cal State Fullerton are both in the Top 5, while UCLA, Arizona State and Arizona are all still in the rankings this week. The Dirtbags have one final series against a previously ranked opponent, finishing the season on the road against UC Irvine who dropped out of the polls after getting swept by Cal State Fullerton.
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