Greg Bergeron and Dan Ricabal bring opposite perspectives to Dirtbags.
Long Beach celebrates a cathartic win in uncertain times.
At least it’s almost over. It’s been hard to watch most of the year. I came into this season ready for another playoff berth after the Dirtbags made an appearance in the NCAA Super Regional. The season quickly became an uphill battle just to get to an even record, and while the team is as close as it has ever been to .500, the excitement has fallen off the face of the earth. An easy and unsettling way for me to describe this season is by examining the Los Angeles Dodgers’ very own. It has become an eerily close comparison for both teams. They went through a promising playoff run in the prior season but would face a plethora of injuries to start the 2018 season. My high hopes for another great season diminished for both teams and every game has become a chore to watch. All year the Dirtbags denied this season being a rebuild, but the harsh reality was the team did not have enough talent compete. The first of the bad omens began when senior starting pitcher, John Sheaks, suffered a complete tear of his ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow just one week before
Long Beach State’s athletic program has seen much success recently with the men’s volleyball team after claiming the No. 1 spot in the nation and winning the NCAA Championship. Other teams, like the 2017-2018 men’s and women’s basketball program, have not been so relevant after disappointing seasons. While talented athletes have come in and out of Long Beach, it’s the head coaches who have propelled their respective programs into the upper echelon of college athletics, mid-major or otherwise. Long Beach State Athletic Director Andy Fee recently extended the contracts of men’s basketball head coach Dan Monson and men’s volleyball coach Alan Knipe, which poses the question: How much does performance matter in each sport when head coaching contracts are negotiated? In Monson’s extension he was given a base salary of $283,560, with a supplemental base compensation of $16,440. This is a $75,080 pay cut from his previous contract, largely due to an unsatisfying past few seasons for the men’s basketball team. In 11 seasons, Monson has led the 49ers to three regular-season Big West Conference titles, one Big West Tournament title and a NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012 and three NIT appearances. On the other hand, newly-crowned national champion Alan
Tensions were high for the Long Beach State Dirtbags as the team held a 5-0 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth against No.11 UCLA. The Bruins managed to score a run to get on the board, following it up with a bases loaded situation and zero outs. Head coach Troy Buckley quickly made a pitching change by plugging in sophomore Dylan Spacke, who went on to strike out three straight UCLA batters for the last midweek game of the season for Long Beach. Spacke earned his third save of the season as Long Beach upset No. 11 UCLA, 5-1, in a nonconference game Tuesday at Jackie Robinson Stadium. This is the second time this season that the Dirtbags have defeated the Bruins. Long Beach (22-26, 7-8 Big West) junior outfielder Brooks Stotler started the rally by hitting a single up the middle. Following Stotler at bat, junior second baseman Jarren Duran forced UCLA pitcher Jack Ralston to walk while the Dirtbags had runners on first and second base with no outs. Long Beach took advantage as freshman Leonard Jones laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Stotler and Duran in scoring positions. Two-way player Jacob Hughey singled
A recent trend among some of the successful sports teams at Long Beach State is the recruitment of international athletes. They travel thousands of miles to devote multiple years of work to a program, while putting trust into a coaching staff they’ve never met in person. The presence of foreign-born players has become impactful for many 49er teams this academic year. Long Beach has teams on both sides of the spectrum, from the California-centered style of recruiting exhibited by baseball to the women’s tennis team being comprised of athletes born outside of the U.S. A team’s need for talent from specific types of student-athletes has played a role in several Long Beach State programs going international to fill those requirements for certain sports. While some teams have a mixed bag of athletes from home and around the world, the women’s tennis team is known for a tendency to travel abroad for its talent. All seven of the team’s players this season were scouted internationally, hailing from countries such as Spain, India, France and Brazil. Head coach Jenny Hilt-Costello said although her team is foreign-born, this was not intentional on her part, or the athletics program. “As a coach, my philosophy
It was Bark at the Park day at Blair Field, but the only barks in the park came from the Long Beach fans after witnessing another disappointing performance by the Dirtbags. The bats came alive for the Aggies at the top of fourth inning, bringing home seven runs and demoralizing the Dirtbags early on. Long Beach’s (17-26, 4-8 Big West) 10-1 loss against UC Davis (15-23, 7-8 Big West) gave the Aggies the season series. Long Beach accounted for 10 hits, but failed to take advantage of having runners on base, only bringing one home. “They capitalized on a few poor pitches, and when we get down significantly we have a tough time putting runs together,” head coach Troy Buckley said. “They didn’t walk us, hit us, or make an error, so now it’s on us to go out there and produce.” The Dirtbag’s struggles stemmed from junior right hand pitcher Chris Rivera’s performance. Rivera, who usually closes for the team, got the start but had an underwhelming performance. He began with an optimistic three strikeouts, but would find himself out of the game early on. “Your best pitcher needs to be out there, and if we're not going
Long Beach State junior second baseman Jarren Duran’s high-bouncing single in the ninth inning with one out gave the Dirtbags hope. After head coach Troy Buckley was ejected earlier in the game for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Jeff Macias, the Dirtbags were ready to leave Dedeaux Field just as Duran got the green light to steal second base. Freshman first baseman Leonard Jones hit a line drive to left field that brought Duran home as Long Beach sealed the game. Long Beach (17-24) rallied late and defeated USC 8-5 to end a three-game losing streak Tuesday. Jones as the clean-up batter was 3-for-4 with one RBI. “I was just thinking of getting him over to get the next man up to try to score,” Jones told the LBDirtbags on Twitter. “I honestly came up with a clutch hit anything to put on the team.” USC (18-19) managed to get a run in the bottom of the ninth but it was not enough to complete a comeback. It took four innings to get the first run in the game after an error by USC triggered a two-run rally for the Dirtbags. In the bottom of the