LBSU takes on Wichita State in weekend series

The Long Beach State baseball team hosts Wichita State for the start of a three-game weekend series that starts on Friday at Blair Field.

The Dirtbags (5-3) and the Shockers (3-4) settled for a two-game split in Wichita last year, after the third scheduled game was canceled due to temperatures below freezing. Sophomore shortstop Garrett Hampson said he does not have many fond memories of Kansas.

“It was really cold,” Hampson said. “That’s pretty much all I remember about [Wichita State]. Oh, and I remember the 29 hour bus drive.”

The Dirtbags’ team earned run average is among the best in the country at 2.38. They average 10.88 strikeouts per nine innings, which ranks the top in the Big West Conference.

Senior right-hander Kyle Friedrichs and junior right-hander Tanner Brown will be critical on the mound in this series as the Dirtbags are 5-0 this season when limiting their opponents to two runs or less.

Friedrichs earned his first Big West Pitcher of the Week honors after a career best performance on Feb. 20 against Utah Valley. He struck out 12 batters in seven innings without allowing a walk. Friedrichs said he plans to use a familiar plan that has been so successful.

“[I’m going to] put the ball across the plate and let them get themselves out,” Friedrichs said

The Dirtbags’ offense has failed to match the production of the pitching staff. Hampson and junior outfielder Zack Rivera have the lone bright spots, but the team’s batting average is just .228. The good news is it is still very early season, so there is time for those numbers to improve.

Todd Butler is in his second season as head coach at Wichita State. Butler led the Shockers to a 31-28 record, including a 13-8 record in the Missouri Valley Conference.

The Dirtbags and Shockers have played each other in seven of the last eight seasons, with LBSU holding a 13-7 overall record against Wichita State. The Dirtbags and Shockers first established the matchup in 1998, according to LBSU head coach Troy Buckley.

Wichita State junior right-hander Isaac Anderson is coming off a big game against Texas State on Friday in which he threw five shutout innings. Anderson is 2-0 this season with a 2.45 ERA.

Junior outfielder Tanner Dearman made his season debut over the weekend against Texas State. Dearman got to work quickly and compiled eight RBI over the weekend. Dearman already leads his team with 8 RBI with just four games played.

“They will be aggressive and fast,” Buckley said. “It will be a good test and help us get prepared for conference play.”

The Dirtbags will kick off a three-game series against Wichita State on Friday at 6 p.m. at Blair Field.

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