After going 16-4 on the road to start the 2018 season, Long Beach State lost its first home game to No. 12 Baylor Tuesday.
The excitement and energy level was high among 242 fans. Two costly errors by Long Beach and seven key hits sealed Baylor’s 5-2 victory over the 49ers.
“I was proud of the way we bounced back in the first couple of innings,” head coach Kim Sowder said. “They had some big hits and the pitcher kind of found her groove there in the third inning.”
The third inning showed Baylor’s ability to capitalize on mistakes by the 49ers. After a 2-run homerun by designated player Goose McGlaun and an RBI double by Shelby Friudenberg, Baylor took a 5-2 lead.
Long Beach sophomore pitcher Cielo Meza, coming off her second career no-hitter in her last start on March 3, threw 123 pitches and allowed five runs on six hits.
Meza was pulled from the mound going into the sixth inning and replaced by sophomore pitcher Devyn Magnett, who allowed only one hit and one walk in the final two innings of the game.
Baylor (12-3) head coach Glenn Moore knew the 49ers were a “tough team,” feeling the Bears responded well to the competition against Meza, who was 9-0 prior to the game.
“To be able to come here and play that well against her on her field I think really says a lot for our offense,” Moore said. “I’m very pleased with our team and I certainly have a lot of respect for Long Beach.”
Moore felt the first inning was also key, drawing 41 pitches from Meza which is tough psychologically to come back from for any pitcher.
Magnett was very confident going into the circle in the sixth inning, saying pitchers “love to have each other’s back on the mound.”
“I felt like we really came out strong and kept together as a team, no matter what,” Magnett said. “When we got behind, everyone stayed confident and tried to work for each other.”
Senior first baseman Julia Lombardi, who was 2-for-3 with one run, felt her team was ready for Baylor after defeating Auburn, but that the offense fell short in supporting its ace pitcher.
“We didn’t shut them out with pitching, but [Meza] did well,” Lombardi said. “They didn’t score that many runs, but I think we could’ve had better at-bats.”
Long Beach will host the Louisville Slugger Invitational from March 8-11 facing some tough competition including Michigan State (9-8), San Jose State (12-7) and No. 3 UCLA (19-0).