Tensions were high for the Long Beach State Dirtbags as the team held a 5-0 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth against No.11 UCLA. The Bruins managed to score a run to get on the board, following it up with a bases loaded situation and zero outs.
Head coach Troy Buckley quickly made a pitching change by plugging in sophomore Dylan Spacke, who went on to strike out three straight UCLA batters for the last midweek game of the season for Long Beach.
Spacke earned his third save of the season as Long Beach upset No. 11 UCLA, 5-1, in a nonconference game Tuesday at Jackie Robinson Stadium. This is the second time this season that the Dirtbags have defeated the Bruins.
Long Beach (22-26, 7-8 Big West) junior outfielder Brooks Stotler started the rally by hitting a single up the middle. Following Stotler at bat, junior second baseman Jarren Duran forced UCLA pitcher Jack Ralston to walk while the Dirtbags had runners on first and second base with no outs.
Long Beach took advantage as freshman Leonard Jones laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Stotler and Duran in scoring positions. Two-way player Jacob Hughey singled up the middle gap and brought Stotler home for the first run of the game. Freshman catcher Chris Jimenez’s sacrifice bunt brought Duran home for a 2-0 lead.
Despite a pitching change from the Bruins to take out Ralston for Nick Scheidler, the Dirtbags continued their aggressive hitting. Junior Shaq Robinson hit a 3-run homerun to left field off of Scheidler, where the Dirtbags finished the inning with a 5-0 lead.
“Yeah, Robinson did a good job on the hanging breaking ball and he hit it out,” UCLA head coach John Savage told the Pac-12 network.
Ralston finished the game with 3.2 innings pitched, allowing four hits and three runs.
UCLA (30-14, 14-7 Pac-12) managed to gather 10 hits in the game that saw four different Long Beach pitchers to contain the Bruins offense to one-run. The pitching and defensive efforts from Long Beach kept the Bruins hitting 4-for-23 with runners on base and 1-for-14 in scoring position. One of the highlights of the game came from redshirt senior Tristan Mercadel, as he leapt over the wall and robbed UCLA’s Chase Strumpf of a homerun in the eighth inning. Strumpf’s 0-for-5 night broke his hitting streak due to Mercadel’s highlight catch in left field.
Long Beach will play Big West Conference opponents the rest of the season, with a weekend series May 11-13 against UC Santa Barbara. Game one begins 6 p.m. Friday at Blair Field.