The Long Beach State Dirtbags continue their mid-season struggles as the team suffered their sixth straight loss over the last two weeks.
The Dirtbags played the Fresno State Bulldogs Wednesday April, 20 as they lost in a game that ended 4-3 making their overall record 15-20 on the year.
Fresno State began scoring early in tonight’s game as designated hitter Tommy Hopfe drove in two runs with a line drive to center field. The Bulldogs would go on and score two more runs in the top of the fourth inning.
In the sixth inning, The Dirtbags would find themselves finally in the score column as second baseman Eddie Saldivar hit a triple to center field and would come around to score on a wild pitch.
Following the game, Saldivar said his triple was a big moment in the game for the team as they were able to build momentum from it.
“It was a big excitement and energy boost for us,” Saldivar said. “We still got another one after that.”
Going into that inning, Dirtbags head coach Eric Valenzuela said they were looking for fastballs early in the count but knew that once Saldivar was down 0-2, he was going to throw an offspeed pitch.
“When we got to two strikes, we’re just gonna battle up and maybe look for something off-speed. And he kind of did that,” Valenzuela said. “He took some good swings early, got to two strikes, and then he sat on that breaking ball and did a triple.”
Followed by Saldivar, first baseman Peyton Schulze would smash a ball to deep left field as Fresno State left fielder Ben Newton just missed catching the ball, allowing Chase Lutrell to score making the ball game 4-2 Fresno State.
Long Beach State would also put runs up again in the bottom of the eighth inning just after a chip shot to left field by Chris Jimenez. He would end up bringing Tyler White home who got on base earlier in the inning just after pinch-hitting for Kaden Moeller.
In the top of the ninth inning, Fresno State would once again be on the attack to increase their lead more. But just after a ball was hit to deep left field, Ben Newton made a tremendous diving play to prevent Fresno State from doing even more damage on the Dirtbags.
Valenzuela said he believes that catch was a huge momentum filler for the Dirtbags as they had a chance to increase their lead by two more runs over the Bulldogs.
“He made a great play and gave us a chance there in the ninth,” Valenzuela said.
In the bottom of the ninth inning when everything seemed to be coming to a complete end, Saldivar would beat out an infield single to become the potential tying run. But Fresno State pitcher Angelo Roman would strike out freshman Rocco Peppi to finish the game.
Followed by tonight’s game, Dirtbags head coach Eric Valenzuela said there was a lot of progress that went on as the game went on. One adjustment he said the team made going on later in the game was being more aggressive in the count.
“I think we started to be more aggressive early in the count with fastballs. Tyler Porter’s, at-bat comes to mind, you know, left on left fastball that he pulled over the first baseman’s head. I think that was a that was a good start,” said Valenzuela. “I thought we had some good [at bats] throughout the stretch, that put us in a position where we’re one swing away from winning this game.”
Moving forward, Valenzuela believes there is still a lot of work for the team to do as they are in seventh place in the Big West and are five games under .500.
The Dirtbags will hit the road again this weekend for a three-day series at first-place UC Santa Barbara.
Saldivar said the message going forward for the team after this series and into Santa Barbara is to take it day by day and keep playing hard.
“I would say game by game and not look into the future day by day,” Said Saldiviar.
The first game of the series against UC Santa Barbara will take place April 22 at 5:30 PM.