Battling wet field conditions, the Dirtbags routed No. 17 Wake Forest 6-2 at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field Friday.
“Our offense was awesome tonight,” Dirtbags head coach Eric Valenzuela said.
Sophomore RHP Alfredo Ruiz got the start for the Dirtbags (3-2) after being named the National Pitcher of the Week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association for his performance last week. He allowed more contact than he did last Saturday, but the cold and heavy air helped keep the ball in the ballpark.
“I just lost command with the fastball a little bit,” Ruiz said, “but the way I play is I just compete every single inning. That’s what kept me in the game.”
Wake Forest (3-2) was hitting over .300 as a team coming into the game, but was limited to just two hits. Ruiz pitched seven shutout innings with four strikeouts and earned the win.
“[Ruiz] did an unbelievable job against one of the best hitting teams in the country,” Valenzuela said.
Wake Forest sophomore starting RHP Ryan Cusick gave the Dirtbags trouble with his 97-mph fastball. However, Long Beach jumped on his breaking pitches to limit his effectiveness and emerge from its brief offensive slump. Cusick went six innings and was given the loss.
Dirtbags redshirt sophomore right fielder Leonard Jones woke up the small crowd in the first inning, launching a two-RBI triple for a 2-0 lead. Jones had two hits on the night.
The occasional light rain benefited the Dirtbags in the fourth inning, when Demon Deacons’ graduate-student third baseman William Simoneit slipped on the wet grass trying to field a bunt, leaving two runners on base with no outs.
The error enabled four unearned runs, capped by a two-RBI single by senior first baseman Jacob Hughey for his second hit of the game and a 6-0 Dirtbags lead.
“I was trying to be on time to a fastball,” Hughey said. “He left a slider up and I was able to get the head [of the bat] out and stay behind it a little bit.”
Wake Forest struggled defensively, often missing targets on throws and failing to field ground balls cleanly, with each mistake bringing cheers from the bleachers behind the Long Beach dugout.
“We have each other’s backs and we’re ready to keep rolling and keep fighting,” Hughey said.
The Dirtbags will face Wake Forest in game two of the series Saturday, at 3 p.m. at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field. Rain is forecasted Saturday morning, but should clear by the afternoon.