Johnathan Lavallee hurled a gem on the mound Friday night as the Dirtbags (7-6) took the series opener against Cal Poly (14-11) by a score of 7-0.
In just his second start this season, the right-handed junior dominated the Mustangs’ offense all night, throwing six no-hit innings before giving up a double in the seventh. In all, Lavallee pitched seven shutout innings, racking up eight strikeouts while walking two and hitting one batter on 94 pitches.
“My control on my fastball was working really well tonight, it’s been my bread and butter for years,” Lavallee said. “I was also able to use my slider for strike and then was able to bury it when I needed to.”
The win snapped a six-game losing streak against the Mustangs and put Long Beach State’s record above .500 for the first time this season.
“This is arguably the best team that we played all year, and to see [Lavallee] get ahead of them in the count was amazing to see and I couldn’t have asked for more,” head coach Eric Valenzuela said. “He’s hard to hit, and [Cal Poly] had a lot of trouble with him.”
The Dirtbags’ offense was able to score three runs early thanks to RBI singles by the number two and three hitters: Brennan Rozell and Chase Luttrell. One run was all Lavallee needed however, as he carved up Cal Poly’s lineup.
Long Beach’s offense broke it open late by scoring four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, sealing the Mustangs’ fate.
Lavallee made a spot start last week against UC San Diego to give the rest of the pitching rotation an extra day of rest. He impressed the team by going six innings only allowing one run off of two hits. He earned himself another start and after tonight’s performance, has earned himself a spot in the starting rotation.
“He has earned it 100 percent,” Valenzuela said. “He comes in and pounds the zone and saves our bullpen. That is what we need, so he will be starting every weekend now.”
Lavellee was pleased to have gained not only a starting spot, but the trust of his coach and teammates.
“Being a starter has always been a goal of mine,” Lavellee said. “To be able to have that kind of trust from my coach to have that starting role and be able to go that long is amazing. It’s not just me he is trusting, I can’t go that long without defense and offense making plays and scoring runs behind me.”