Down 5-4, the Dirtbags had bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the ninth. They struck out three straight times, handing the series sweep to first place Cal Poly (19-17, 10-2 Big West).
Long Beach’s (7-30, 2-7 Big West) chances of reaching the postseason are incredibly slim after the sweep.
“There really aren’t too many words of comfort at this point,” co-interim head coach Dan Ricabal said.
Bradlee Beesley, who homered Friday night, tormented the Dirtbags all series. He doubled down the third base line Saturday scoring the game’s first run. Opponents have outscored the Dirtbags in the first inning 37-18 this year.
The Mustangs attacked Dirtbags’ junior LHP Zak Baayoun. Beesley scored on a double to the track in dead center. Baayoun (2-7) threw 42 pitches and allowed four runs in the first inning.
The recent struggles of Mustangs’ RHP Darren Nelson were the only hope for a Long Beach comeback.
Freshman shortstop Kaden Hogan awakened the home crowd with his first career home run in the bottom of the second. The two run blast halved the deficit to 4-2.
“I was just looking for a fastball,” Hogan said. “He gave me a fastball down and in and I jumped all over it.”
Later in the inning, junior first baseman Jacob Hughey singled a runner to third. Hughey moved to second on defensive indifference. Senior second baseman Laine Huffman poked an arcing single into the gap in right center tying the game 4-4 and knocking Nelson out of the game.
The Mustangs struck back and took a 5-4 lead in a three-hit fourth inning.
Nelson was relieved by Michael Clark, who wreaked havoc on the Dirtbags in game one. The Dirtbags reached second base four times against him. However, Clark (4-1) won the battle and the game with six and a third innings of scoreless relief.
“Every time we get someone in scoring position we need to cash those in because those are very important runs,” Hogan said.
Hughey earned his sixth hit of the series with nobody out in the ninth. Huffman was hit by the pitch loading the bases. Clark was replaced. Senior pinch hitter Luke Rasmussen, left fielder Aiden Malm, and junior pinch hitter Dominic Campeau were the strikeout victims.
The Dirtbags start a four game road trip against LMU 6 p.m. Tuesday.