The Long Beach State Dirtbags took two out of three games against the reigning College World Series champions in Mississippi State over the weekend, displaying a potent offense and dominant pitching performance.
Luis Ramirez, the Dirtbags opening day starter, took home the Big West Pitcher of the Week award, while Jonathon Long won Big West Player of the Week after hitting .545 with a 1.182 slugging percentage.
Ramirez set the tone for the Dirtbags by pitching early on in the series. On opening day, Ramirez was perfect until the bottom of the fifth inning when he gave up a walk. The 6-foot-2-inch sophomore finished the day with six strong innings pitched and five strikeouts.
Mississippi did not receive its first hit until the bottom of the seventh inning off of reliever Matt Fields. Fields and closer Devereaux Harrison finished off the rest of the game without allowing another runner to reach base.
Freshman Kaden Moeller hit a go-ahead home run in the top of the seventh, giving the Dirtbags a 1-0 lead. RBIs by Chase Luttrell and Long gave the Dirtbags a 3-0 opening day victory.
While the first game of the season was a pitching duel, the second game was a slugfest. After getting off to an early 2-1 deficit on Saturday, freshman Alex Pimentel hit a two-run homer to put the Dirtbags up 4-2.
Long Beach did not relinquish the lead after the second inning. The Dirtbags scored four runs in the fourth inning and ninth inning, giving them a 13-3 win and the series victory.
Long had his best day of the series, going 4-4 with two home runs and three RBIs.
The Dirtbags could not keep the offensive groove going into the series finale, dropping the game 12-4. The game was in reach for the Dirtbags only being down 3-0. However, a seven-run bottom of the fifth put the game out of reach.
Even with the blowout loss, the Dirtbags put on one of the biggest upsets in the 2022 college baseball opening weekend. Taking a series from the No. 3 ranked reigning champions on their own field is no easy task.
“I’m proud of my team, proud of what we were able to do on the road in that environment,” coach Eric Valenzuela said to BaseballAmerica. “They made us better. A lot comes out this weekend—not only the wins—but what we learned about the team.”
The Dirtbags will prepare for its home opener series against Sacramento State with the first game set for Friday at 6 p.m. The Beach will also travel to play one game against No. 21 UCLA on Tuesday, March 5.