For the Dirtbags, baseball may have been the last thing they were concerned about on Sunday.
In an emotional win, Long Beach State managed to score three late runs en route to a 5-2 victory over Cal State Northridge at Blair Field.
With the Dirtbags up three, Josh Corrales entered the game to record the final out and pick up his first save of the season.
Corrales pitched with a heavy heart as his father — who was diagnosed to have just a couple days to live and recently released from the hospital — was in attendance.
“There’s times baseball is really important and there’s times it’s not important,” head coach Mike Weathers said. “This is one of those [unimportant] times. Would it have been important if we had lost the game? Not really.”
Up a run in the eighth inning, the Dirtbags (17-18, 4-5 Big West Conference) scored two runs to push the lead to three.
Steve Tinoco roped a deep fly ball to center field, allowing pinch-runner Tre Dennis to score from third. Moments earlier, pinch-hitter John Hill smashed an RBI single up the middle and a fielding error by CSUN center fielder Jeff Pruitt allowed Hill to advance to third.
The Matadors (16-22, 4-8 Big West) threatened in the eighth with two men on and two outs. However, LBSU reliever Charlie Ruiz took the mound and recorded three straight outs.
The game was tied in the seventh before Dirtbag Jordan Casas grounded a one-out single down the third base line off Matador pitcher Ryan McCarney to bring home Taylor Krick.
“I’m working hard at it, and I was just trying to put the ball anywhere but up the middle for a double play,” Casas said. “We needed that run, so if they were going to throw it outside, I was going to take it down the line.”
Casas had another strong performance, going 2-for-4 with three RBIs. For the series, he went 5-for-10 with three stolen bases and three RBIs — including the game-winner on Friday.
“He is our catalyst, he makes everything happen,” Weathers said about Casas. “He’s been our most productive guy — and I don’t mean by driving runs in — but he’s just been really productive [getting in scoring position].”
Down one in the seventh, CSUN’s Chris Hannick roped a double down the left field line, bringing Richard Cates around to score from first. Hannick went 1-for-4 on the day while Cates went 2-for-4. Both had one RBI.
Dirtbag starting pitcher Jake Thompson was replaced by reliever David Born (1-0) after giving up the double. Born picked up the win after 1 2/3 innings of work.
Thompson — a normal Saturday starter who was moved to Sunday after an illness — went 6 1/3 innings, giving up two runs while striking out three and allowing four hits.
“You’re not going to pitch a perfect game and put zeros up every time, but I thought the good thing was he came back [after being rattled early on],” Weathers said. “He’s had strep throat all week. I think it says a lot about Jake’s performance.”
With the game scoreless and the bases loaded in the second, LBSU got on the board after a two-out single to right field by Casas. A pair of miscues by Matador shortstop Jason Dabbs allowed Dirtbags Krick and Hoime to score.
CSUN cut the Dirtbag lead in half in the fourth after an RBI single up the middle by Cates.
LBSU returns to action Tuesday at San Diego State in a game to be televised on CBS College Sports network. First pitch is at 6 p.m.