The Dirtbags pitching staff silenced Wichita State as the team blanked the Shockers 2-0 on Bohl Diamond at Blair Field.
Redshirt junior Graham Osman was the starter for the Dirtbags and corralled batters forcing them to fan on his pitches throughout a convincing seven innings of one-hit baseball.
Opening Day was a strong starting effort from the left-handed pitcher who transferred from Arizona State and struck out eight batters giving up a single walk and allowing a runner to reach on an error in the top of the 3rd inning.
“I think it was trusting my stuff and trusting the process coach V put me through,” Osman said. “His trust in me is a big thing that I believed in and just believing in the guys behind me and my offense to put up runs for support.”
It didn’t take long for the Dirtbags to score its first run of the 2023 season with redshirt sophomore left fielder Rocco Peppi hitting a double in the first inning that ended up with him crossing home plate one batter later when first baseman Jonathon Long hit a single to left field.
Long and junior catcher Connor Burns were both named to the first Preseason All-Big West team voted on by the conference’s coaches. The 11-man team featured the two Dirtbags who are amongst just eight returnees from last season’s roster that saw an overhaul during the off-season that included 34 new faces occupying places on the roster.
Last season Burns was named the Big West Defensive Player of the Year, an honor that has improved his draft status. Working with a new pitching staff it’s his job to form batteries with the new additions and see continued success similar to Osman’s debut outing.
“I started with my fastball, really just the first two innings,” Osman said. “We decided to start flipping some sliders in there and it was working so we stuck with that.”
In the 5th inning the Dirtbags would score the only other run of the contest when Rocco Peppi hit a bases loaded sac-fly to score junior right fielder Jashia Morrissey-Jakel.
Recording the final six outs were senior right-handed pitcher Ethan Clough who gave up a hit and a walk in 0.2 innings and redshirt senior left-handed pitcher Josh Haley who locked in the Dirtbags first save of the new season.
“I think last year we got caught up in the results,” head coach Eric Valenzuela said. “This group is different and we really have emphasized just playing good baseball, and even tonight after this we didn’t even talk about the win we talked about how we played.”
The Dirtbags will play Wichita State two more times finishing the series on Sunday, before going on the road to play a single game against Loyola Marymount on Feb. 21.