Coming off a series win against CSUN last weekend, the Long Beach State Dirtbags came out on top in an ugly, three-hour and 50 minute midweek game against Loyola Marymount Tuesday at Blair Field. The contest saw 16 total walks, five wild pitches and over 300 pitches thrown, but the Dirtbags came away with a 9-6 win.
“I think we’re beyond presentation and appearances at this particular point,” Long Beach head coach Troy Buckley said. “But we got a lot of free opportunities tonight and took advantage of those.”
LMU (17-19) jumped all over Long Beach redshirt sophomore pitcher Jacob Hughey in the first inning as four hits and an error gave the Lions a 4-0 lead. Sophomore Trevin Esquerra and senior Niko Pacheco both had 2-run base hits in the inning to give the Lions the early advantage.
The LBSU (16-21) starter was able to settle in over his five innings on the mound and induced 11 flyball outs in his second start of the season.
In the bottom of the third, the Dirtbags’ lineup showed their first sign of life after junior center fielder Clayton Andrews singled with the bases loaded, scoring Long Beach’s first two runs of the game. Buckley put on the safety squeeze with the next batter as junior Brooks Stotler got the bunt down and allowed freshman Santino Rivera to score the third run of the inning.
Loyola Marymount surrendered the lead in the bottom of the sixth when the Dirtbags scored two runs without a hit, taking advantage of a balk and then a wild pitch that gave Long Beach a 5-4 lead.
“It was really important that we stuck with our approach and stayed in the strike zone,” said Andrews, who was 2-for-3 with two RBIs. “We knew that a couple of their guys had trouble throwing strikes consistently and they helped us out a lot.”
The Lions tied the game in the very next inning on an RBI single from sophomore second baseman Nick Sogard. Neither team would capitalize on key scoring opportunities until the bottom of the eighth when Long Beach took the lead for good.
Hughey, who remained in the game as the designated hitter, led off with a single and was pinch ran for by senior Joey Sanchez. Loyola Marymount pitcher Sean Paquet got two outs but walked two batters to load the bases and then threw a wild pitch which allowed Sanchez to score the go-ahead run easily. Later in the inning, Stoter hit a 3-run triple to pad the Long Beach lead to 9-5.
“I was just thinking ‘be early to the fastball,’” Stotler said. “It was huge, but everyone contributed and did their part tonight by getting on with the free opportunities.”
Sophomore Dylan Spacke pitched 2 ⅓ innings of relief to earn the win and improve to 2-1. The Loyola pitching staff walked 10 batter, hit three, threw two wild pitched and balked once to provide most of the nine runs Long Beach scored.
“The free opportunites was the offense but we had the hits from Andrews and Stotler,” Buckley said. “It is what it is. You have to take what people give you and I thought tonight we did a good job of that.”
After winning four of their last five games, the Dirtbags will ride into another Big West Conference series against Cal Poly with momentum. The series is scheduled for April 20-22 at Baggett Stadium in San Luis Obispo.