The first meeting between the Dirtbags and Titans since the rivals met in the playoffs last year should have been a thrilling affair under the lights of Blair Field Friday. Instead, an underwhelmed crowd left early as the Dirtbags surrendered to their biggest rival 9-3 in what was likely the least competitive game Long Beach has played all year.
“It’s one of those things where you’re at a little bit of a loss for words,” head coach Troy Buckley said.
First innings have caused problems all season for the Dirtbags, and Friday night was no exception. Junior starting LHP Zak Baayoun threw wide of first base after a bunt single. That allowed runners on the corners. A single into right and a double down the left field line put Fullerton ahead by two with no out in the top of the first. A groundout to short gave Fullerton a 3-0 lead after an inning.
“[Baayoun] looked lost out there tonight, and he wasn’t anywhere near the strike zone,” Buckley said.
Baayoun’s error may have been affected by the fact that freshman second baseman Kaden Hogan failed to cover first base quickly on the bunt single. Later in the inning, Hogan failed to cover second base thus eliminating a double play possibility. He moved to shortstop in the third inning.
“I’ve been playing shortstop for the past three years so I’m a little bit more comfortable over there,” Hogan said.
Hogan also had three hits and an RBI Friday.
Baayoun (0-5) had the least effective start of any Dirtbags pitcher this season. He allowed five walks, six runs and three hits while earning only four outs.
In the second inning Baayoun and senior RHP John Sheaks combined to throw five consecutive walks. That allowed Fullerton to score two runs helping it to a 6-0 lead after two innings.
“We’re behind mentally,” Buckley said.
Sheaks again threw consecutive walks in the sixth giving Fullerton its third RBI walk of the night and putting it ahead 7-1. An RBI groundout salted the Dirtbags’ wounds.
The Dirtbags are back at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field for game two of the series against Fullerton 6 p.m. Saturday.