The Long Beach State baseball team is on the outside looking in for the playoff picture and will host Hawai’i for a three game series beginning Friday night at Blair Field.
The Dirtbags (23-17, 8-7 Big West) are coming off of a Tuesday night upset over No. 2 UCLA. It was the third extra-inning game of the season and second victory in a row for LBSU. Head coach Troy Buckley said the win showed the team’s resolve and mental toughness.
“No question it’s a positive when you can win late in the game,” Buckley said. “It helps when your bullpen throws up zeroes to keep you there.”
The Rainbow Warriors (15-26, 6-9 Big West) just dropped their weekend series against No.7 UC Santa Barbara. However, junior right-hander Tyler Brashears picked up Big West Pitcher of the Week honors after throwing 7.2 scoreless innings in Hawaii’s 1-0 victory over the Gauchos. Brashears is fourth in the conference with a 1.97 ERA.
The rest of Hawaii’s starting rotation consists of junior right-hander LJ Brewster and senior left-hander Jarrett Arakawa. Brewster is 5-4 on the season with 2.51 ERA and Arakawa owns a 2-3 record with a 4.28 ERA.
Freshman first baseman Eric Ramirez leads the Rainbow Warriors offensively with a .286 batting average and 26 RBI. Junior Alex Sawelson has become more consistent since switching to designated hitter and is currently hitting .285 with a team leading 41 hits.
The Rainbow Warriors have the second lowest batting average and are second to last in the Big West in runs and hits. The only team worse than Hawaii in these offensive categories is LBSU. Freshman designated hitter Brock Lundquist said it’s no secret that hitting has been the team’s Achilles heel.
“Everyone knows that we just got to get in there and try to find a way on base,” Lundquist said. “Basically, we are doing anything we can.”
Shortstop sophomore Garrett Hampson continues to lead the way for the Dirtbags with 47 hits, 29 runs and a .294 batting average. He was also recently named to the Brooks Wallace Award watch list, which recognizes the nation’s top shortstop, for the second year in a row.
Freshman righty Chris Mathewson is continuing his breakout campaign on the mound for the Dirtbags with this season with a 1.42 ERA, good for 12th in the nation. Senior righty Kyle Friedrichs continues to rack up strikeouts on Friday nights and leads the Big West with 85 K’s through 72.2 innings.
The final cog in the starting rotation for the Dirtbags is junior righty Tanner Brown. Brown is 4-2 on the season with a 2.69 ERA while only issuing 12 walks. The starting three do not like to hand out many free opportunities. The Dirtbags are 10th in the nation in strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Buckley said it’s going to be an uphill battle to make the postseason and that the team should embrace the challenge.
“[We are] walking the tightrope with no net,” Buckley said. “[So just] shove everything out the door and let’s go compete.”
The first pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday night at Blair Field.