The Dirtbags wanted a fresh start in their conference-opening series at No. 22 UC Irvine this weekend, but were met familiar disappointment instead. Long Beach was swept by the Anteaters (21-5, 5-1 Big West) in three games.
The sweep is more damaging than those suffered so far, as a strong performance in conference is the the only hope for Long Beach (4-26, 0-3 Big West) to reach the postseason.
Irvine batted for over 15 minutes in the bottom of the second inning of game one. Dirtbags sophomore LHP Adam Seminaris hit a batter to load the bases then walked in a run. Irvine center fielder Mikey Filla broke the game open with a two-run single into right field. The Anteaters led 4-0 after the inning and won 9-4.
The Dirtbags’ best chance for a win came Saturday behind a stellar start from junior RHP Nick Avila. Avila allowed one run on three hits in seven innings, and threw his breaking ball with noticeably sharper movement than usual. He struck out four while walking two and threw 97 total pitches according to UCI athletics.
Junior outfielder Calvin Estrada put the Dirtbags ahead one run in the second inning with a homer down the left field line. The offensive support for Avila ended there. Irvine scored the tying run in the seventh and rode a complete game from pitcher Tanner Brubaker to a 4-1 victory.
The Dirtbags failed to administer offensive pressure in Sunday’s game as UCI’s starting pitcher Trenton Denholm threw a complete game of his own. He threw just 77 pitches through the first seven innings while Dirtbags’ junior LHP Zak Baayoun (1-6) threw 95 pitches in his six innings.
Meanwhile, Irvine pressured the Dirtbags by putting the ball in play. The Anteaters scored first, taking a 2-0 lead in the second inning without hitting a ball to the outfield. Dirtbags sophomore RHP Dylan Spacke entered in the seventh. Irvine hit back-to-back homers taking a 4-0 lead.
Long Beach finishes the road trip in a non-conference game 6 p.m. Tuesday at the University of San Diego.