Baseball, Sports

Dirtbags salvage 3-game series with Sunday win

Box score

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Devin Lohman had a night to forget on Friday, striking out all four times he came up at Dedeaux Field.

Sunday afternoon, he got the game-winning RBI on a soft ground ball with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the ninth inning to give Long Beach State a 5-4 win over No. 24 Southern California.

USC first baseman Keith Castillo fielded the ball and stepped on first but an alert Brandon Young got caught up in a run-down, allowing Derek Legg to score before Taylor Krick was thrown out behind him at home.

“I was real proud of them,” head coach Mike Weathers said. “We came from behind which we talked about after Friday’s loss, where we didn’t mount anything and we mounted some offense today. I thought we improved in a lot of areas.”

Charlie Ruiz (1-0) got the win for the Dirtbags (1-2) by retiring all five batters he faced in front of 674 at USC.

Philip Urso (0-1) took the loss for USC.

With the game tied at 4 in the top of the ninth, the Dirtbags got back-to-back one-out singles from Legg — his third hit of the game — and Krick. Young walked to load the bases and put the go-ahead run just 90 feet away and set up Lohman’s at-bat.

Catcher Kellen Hoime also had three hits for LBSU.

Freshman Andrew Gagnon looked good in his first start as a Dirtbag, going five innings, giving up just one run and five hits. He walked two Trojans and struck out one for a no-decision.

The 6-foot, 2-inch right-hander from nearby Brentwood was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 10th round of last spring’s draft but turned down a lucrative signing bonus to come to The Beach.

“We lost the first two games,” Gagnon said, ” [so coming] back it’s time for a win. I felt motivated to get that win so I came out and gave it everything it had.”

Anthony Vazquez went 7 1/3 innings for USC, giving up four runs on 10 hits and striking out four. He also got two hits hitting out of the fifth spot in the lineup.

Just like on the basketball court for Long Beach State, the underclassmen are leading the way.

“The young kids are doing a good job. It’s kind of like Monson’s team,” Weathers said, referring to basketball coach Dan Monson. “We’re so young, it’s kind of the same deal. He’s playing all those freshmen and we’re playing some young guys. It’s a learning process.”

Long Beach took a 2-0 lead, its first of the series, in the top of the third.

Legg singled between shortstop and third and Krick was hit by a pitch. Designated hitter Trever Blood grounded out for the second out of the inning but his slow roller down the line allowed the runners to move up. Lohman hit a two-out line drive single to right, scoring Legg and Krick.

Gagnon went five strong innings before running into trouble in the sixth. All-American USC shortstop Grant Green finally broke through, lacing a long leadoff home run to left field and catcher Robert Stock followed with a single.

Sophomore transfer Jeff Lease relieved Gagnon, another Dirtbag making his first career pitching appearance.

Lease fielded a bunt off the bat of Castillo with time to go to third but fired a rocket to third baseman Krick, who dropped the hard throw to load the bases with no outs.

He induced a 4-6-3 double play off of the bat of pinch-hitter Joe De Pinto but the tying run came across on the play and Vasquez moved up to third on the play. Ricky Oropesa hit a hard grounder that went through Krick’s legs at third and Vasquez scored, giving USC the 3-2 lead.

Lease then caught Oropesa trying to steal to end the threat.

LBSU bounced right back to tie it at 3 in the next half inning. With two outs in the top of the seventh, Jonathan Jones drove a double to deep left. Legg then hit a line-drive single to center that scored the speedy Jones standing up.

Lease retired the Trojans in order in the bottom of the seventh and the Dirtbags got after it again in the 8th.

Blood reached on an infield single then advanced to second when the shortstop’s throw got by the first baseman. Blood was lifted for the pinch-runner Young, who went to third on a single from Lohman then scored on a hit by Steve Tinoco to give the Dirtbags a 4-3 lead.

Green led-off the bottom of the eighth with a single then went to second after a one-out hit from Vasquez. He stole third and scored an infield single by Castillo to tie the game at 4, chasing Lease.

Ruiz relieved the left-hander with runners on first and second. Krick fielded a chopper and tried to tag Vasquez, who was running on the pitch, but missed before narrowly getting De Pinto at first. Ruiz then got Oropesa to ground to second to end the inning and send the game to the ninth knotted at 4.

With runners on second and third and two outs, Jones made a diving catch in left-center to save two runs and end the first inning.

The Dirtbags are back in Los Angeles on Wednesday to take on Loyola Marymount. First pitch is at 2 p.m.

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