Dirtbags Boast Record 12 All-Big West Honorees
LBSU led the Big West with 11 players and head coach Troy Buckley earning All-Conference recognition or awards.
LONG BEACH, Calif. - After going 20-4 in conference play to win the Big West Championship going away, Long Beach State was honored with 12 All-Big West selections, the conference office announced on Wednesday. The Dirtbags picked up three of the six major All-Conference awards, led by Darren McCaughan's second consecutive Big West Pitcher of the Year honor. David Banuelos was named the Defensive Player of the Year and head coach Troy Buckley picked up Big West Coach of the year for the first time in his career.
McCaughan joins elite company as just the third pitcher in Long Beach State history to win multiple Big West Pitcher of the Year awards, joining Abe Alvarez (2002-03) and Jered Weaver (2003-04). McCaughan is the first Long Beach State pitcher to win the award outright more than once, with Alvarez and Weaver each sharing the honor in at least one of their award-winning seasons.
The native of Downey, Calif. was a workhorse on the mound for the Dirtbags this season, throwing 108.1 innings with two shutouts and four complete games. He posted an 8-2 record with a 2.66 ERA in his 15 starts, striking out 94 batters with just 16 walks. Opposing batters are hitting just .193 against him this season, a mark that led the Big West. McCaughan was also top four in the conference in ERA (3rd), innings pitched (2nd), strikeouts (4th) and wins (t-2nd).
Banuelos becomes the second straight Dirtbags player to claim Defensive Player of the Year honors, following shortstop Garrett Hampson last season. The junior catcher has been a weapon behind the plate, throwing out 17 of the 28 potential base-stealers he's faced. Banuelos has a .992 fielding percentage on the year, committing just three errors in 49 starts as the primary catcher.
Buckley earns Coach of the Year honors after leading the Dirtbags to a Big West title and an impressive 20-4 conference record. That's the first 20-win season in conference play for Long Beach State since 1998, and the first time a Big West school has won 20 conference games since 2013. Buckley is coming off his winningest campaign in 2016, when the Dirtbags won 38 games, and LBSU needs two wins in the regional to surpass that mark, entering at 37-17-1. Also, with a 3-1 victory at Cal earlier on Mar. 27 this year, Buckley picked up his 200th career win as the Long Beach State head coach.
The Dirtbags had four players earn first-team All-Big West recognition, as junior third baseman Ramsey Romano and senior relief pitcher Josh Advocate join McCaughan and Banuelos on the first team. Both Romano and Advocate are first-time All-Big West honorees after having strong seasons. Romano is LBSU's leading hitter with .338 average and a team-best 36 RBIs. Advocate was one of the key bullpen arms for the Dirtbags this season, going 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA in 22 appearances. The redshirt senior threw 33.0 innings, striking out 32 batters while issuing just four walks. He was also second on the team with four saves.
Long Beach State had five players earn Second Team All-Big West recognition: second baseman Jarren Duran, outfielders Brock Lundquist and Lucas Tancas, starting pitcher Dave Smith and closer Chris Rivera. Duran was the team leader in stolen bases (15) and sacrifice bunts (11), while starting 50 games at the keystone. Lundquist is now a three-time All-Big West selection, becoming the 15th player in program history to earn that distinction. He led the team with five triples and was second on the squad with 10 stolen bases and 20 extra-base hits. Tancas led the Dirtbags with 21 hits going for extra bases, led by his team-high nine home runs. The redshirt junior has a .312 batting average and a .518 slugging percentage this season.
On the pitching side, Smith earns second team All-Big West after leading the conference in ERA at 1.55. The senior was 8-1 in 14 appearances, making 11 starts for the Dirtbags and throwing 75.1 innings. Smith has surrendered just nine walks, and only 13 of his 81 hits allowed went for extra bases. The sophomore Rivera was once again LBSU's saves leader this season, racking up 11 in his 23 appearances. Rivera is 1-1 with a 2.51 ERA this season, recording 41 strikeouts in 28.2 innings pitched.
Two more Dirtbags were Honorable Mention selections: first baseman Daniel Jackson and shortstop Laine Huffman. The senior Jackson was an iron man at first base and catcher this season, and was the only Dirtbags player to start all 55 games. Huffman worked his way into the starting shortstop role and took off during Big West play. The junior hit .319 in conference action with a pair of home runs and 18 RBIs in 23 games.
The 11 All-Conference selections sets a new program high for the Dirtbags, surpassing the previous record of nine in 1992, 2003 and 2004. LBSU had eight All-Big West honorees after last season.
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