The Dirtbags (1-4) lost to the Cal State Northridge Matadors (2-3) 3-1 in their first home game since March 8 of last year.
Long Beach outhit CSUN 9-7, but failed to get that one big swing that would have won them the game. The Dirtbags haven’t gotten off to the start they hoped for, only winning one game in the season so far.
“I apologized to the team after the game tonight,” head coach Eric Valenzuela said. “Teams play how your coach is. I’ve been tense these last two series, there has been so much emotion and I’ve been really tight. That’s how they are playing right now: they’re playing tight and playing tense.”
Left handed pitcher Alfredo Ruiz looked to build off a solid outing against Hawai’i last week, where he went five innings only allowing one run off five hits. Ruiz looked vulnerable in the first inning however, as CSUN’s leadoff batter, Denzel Clarke, hit a solo shot over the center field wall to give the Matadors an early 1-0 lead.
CSUN’s offense looked to do more damage early. A single and a hit batter put runners on first and second with no outs, and Long Beach was potentially facing a deficit they couldn’t overcome. Ruiz was able to recollect himself and strike the next batter out.
“I got to find a way to get it going earlier,” Ruiz said. “It seemed like [CSUN] was jumping ahead early on my pitches.”
Ruiz calmed down after the shaky first inning and threw five innings only allowing the one run off of five hits, which is almost the exact same pitching line as his start against Hawai’i.
Matador starting pitcher Blake Sodersten kept the Dirtbags offense off balance to open the game. Long Beach scattered only two hits through the first 4.1 innings. Sophomore Chase Luttrell, one of the only two lefties in the lineup, made some adjustments in his second at-bat and launched a homerun to right field, tying the game at one.
“We were talking in the dugout trying to adjust our plan at the plate,” Luttrell said. “I was able to see they were trying to throw a lot of off-speed pitches to me, especially in a hitter’s count. I was sitting on changeups and curveballs and was able to put a good swing on one.”
The game remained tied in the top of the ninth. Pitcher Jonathan Lavellee looked to keep the score that way and give his team a chance. With two outs and a runner on first, Lavellee induced a fly ball to left field that looked like the third out. Left fielder Aidan Malm over ran the ball however, allowing the runner to score all the way from first.
CSUN tacked on one more run to extend their lead to 3-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth. The bats were unable to score in the bottom of the ninth, sealing the loss.
The Dirtbags will look to win their first home game in over a year Saturday when they face CSUN for a double header starting at noon. Right handers Luis Ramirez and Jack Noble will start games one and two respectively.
“I think as a team we are really close, especially offensively,” Luttrell said. “Tomorrow we are going to come out firing, get our swings off, and get our pitchers some runs.”