The Dirtbags strung together their fourth consecutive weekend series victory beating the University of Southern Florida 8-0 in back-to-back games, before dropping the finale 6-2 Sunday afternoon on Bohl Diamond at Blair Field.
“It’s kind of a good vibe, it’s a good feeling we are playing good baseball,” head coach Eric Valenzuela said after the opening victory Saturday night.
Weather impaired the games from being played on their scheduled dates with the Dirtbags taking Friday off entirely, playing one game Saturday, and finishing the series with a Sunday doubleheader.
Midweek saw the Dirtbags drop a close match against UCLA 7-6 after the Bruins plated the winning run in the bottom of the eighth.
It was the team’s first game after an undefeated weekend at the LeClair classic where they took down No. 9 East Carolina 3-2, the biggest win for the Dirtbags early on this season.
Back home for the first time since Feb. 27, the Dirtbags worked around the rain and picked up two one-sided victories to claim another series.
On the mound in the opener was redshirt junior lefthanded pitcher Graham Osman who replicated his debut outing putting together seven scoreless innings in the 101-pitch performance that saw him strike out eight batters and limit the Bulls to just two hits and two walks.
“It felt really good,” Osman said about the outing. “I went out in the seventh knowing it was gonna be my last inning so I went out and just gave it my all.”
Good pitching continued in the opener of the doubleheader with righthanded graduate student Nico Zeglin, also tossing seven scoreless innings but doing something else as well.
Zeglin no-hit South Florida and punched out 13 batters before being removed in the eighth inning. He became the first Dirtbag to reach double-digit strikeouts this season and worked hard to get there, throwing 103 pitches in his best outing of the season.
The no-hitter was broken up in the ninth inning, but the Dirtbags shut out the Bulls again.
Held scoreless for 18 innings, South Florida finally got on the board plating four runs in the first inning of the final game. They would tack on another two but didn’t need to as the team had an improved pitching performance and held the Dirtbags to just two runs.
Lefthanded freshman Myles Patton was charged with the loss struggling in the outing and going just two innings. He last appeared in relief against Indiana pitching one and one-third scoreless innings. Patton drops to 1-1 after picking up a win in his last start against Seattle University.
Offensively, the Dirtbags got production from a multitude of positions with junior catcher Connor Burns, and junior first baseman Jonathon Long picking up base knocks in all three contests.
“Just feeling good. It’s all about just whatever we can do to get the team to get wins,” Burns said. “Finding a way on base is huge and just figuring out how to keep doing that as best I can.”
Burns has already showcased his ability defensively but had not necessarily been known for his bat during his career at LBSU. Over the last week though he’s been a key contributor going 2-3 against UCLA with two doubles, before going 4-11 during the USF series with two RBIs and two walks.
“He’s coming into his own you know he’s confident at the plate,” Valenzuela said. “He is what he is behind the plate but if he can do it offensively as well that’s a pretty special kid.”
The Dirtbags will face California Baptist midweek and then open Big West play as they travel to UC San Diego for a weekend series starting on Mar. 17.