The Long Beach State Dirtbags completed their first sweep of a ranked opponent in front of a spirited crowd Sunday, shutting out No. 17 Wake Forest 6-0 at Blair Field.
“It feels like the Dirtbag name is back,” redshirt senior right fielder Calvin Estrada said. “Everything’s changed. The whole era has changed.”
The Dirtbags dominated the Demon Deacons on both sides of the ball all weekend, outscoring Wake Forest 19-5 through three games.
The Dirtbags sent junior RHP Jonathan Lavallee to the mound for his first Dirtbags’ start. He made a solid first impression, pitching five shutout innings, allowing three hits with three strikeouts and two walks in a winning effort.
Long Beach used only two relief pitchers in the series coming into game three, giving it a fresh bullpen to attack the ‘Deacon hitters. The bullpen pitched four shutout innings, allowing just one hit.
“I’m proud of [the pitching staff], especially today,” Dirtbags head coach Eric Valenzuela said. “To have guys step up for Sunday’s game against one of the best hitting teams in the country is huge.”
Dirtbags’ junior third baseman Santino Rivera singled, sending sophomore left fielder Chase Luttrell to third base on a hit-and-run play in the second inning, setting up a sacrifice fly by sophomore shortstop Tanner Carlson for a 1-0 lead.
Redshirt sophomore DH Lenard Jones singled and redshirt freshman outfielder Connor Kokx advanced to third base in the first inning with one of his five hits in the series. Kokx and Jones are first and second on the team in batting average with .438 and .348, respectively.
“[The underclassmen] are just getting it done,” Estrada said. “They’re dogs out there. They’re not scared of anything.”
Kokx showed his defense is not to be overlooked either, making athletic sliding catches in the second and fourth innings, earning a standing ovation from the crowd.
Estrada fed off the momentum, launching a double to the wall in the fifth inning for his fourth RBI of the series. Senior second baseman Riki DeSa brought the fans to their feet, lining a two-RBI double of his own into center for a 4-0 Dirtbags lead.
“I was excited to be starting,” DeSa said. “I was just trying to play my best.”
Helped by two more runs in the seventh, Long Beach coasted to the series sweep.
“The joy is back,” Estrada said. “We’re having fun.”
The Dirtbags will host the University of San Diego at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field Feb. 25 at 6 p.m.