Loyola Marymount snapped the Long Beach State baseball team’s three-game winning streak on Tuesday night at Blair Field.
Freshman center fielder Tristan Mercadel jumpstarted the Dirtbags’ (8-4) offense in the second inning when he doubled down the right field line. A double by freshman David Banuelos kept it going when he smashed one to left-field to bring in two runs and the lead for the Dirtbags 2-0.
The Lions (8-4) came back in the third when sophomore shortstop David Fletcher ripped a double to deep center and Mercadel dropped the ball allowing two runs for Loyola Marymount. A successful double-steal of second base and home allowed Fletcher to score and gave the Lions a lead 3-2.
“Obviously that’s a catchable ball,” LBSU head coach Troy Buckley said. “We gave them too many free opportunities.”
The Dirtbags tied the game 3-3 when Lions sophomore left-hander Brenton Arriaga gave up two hits and two walks in the third. The Dirtbags scored again in the fourth as sophomore first basemen Daniel Jackson drove one to centerfield for an RBI single to take the lead 4-3.
Junior right-hander Ryan Cruz had seven strikeouts on the night, but also gave up seven hits and three earned runs through six innings.
“I just stuck to my game and kept pitching,” Cruz said. “All you can pretty much do is hit the reset button.”
Junior right-hander Trey Ferketic replaced Cruz to begin the seventh and promptly gave the Lions the lead. Ferketic hit sophomore Ted Boeke and freshman Jamey Smart, then gave up a double to sophomore Austin Miller to give the Lions the lead 5-4.
Ferketic walked two more batters before he was pulled for freshman left-hander Keola Paragas, who proceeded to hit another Lions batter to give Loyola Marymount the 6-4 lead.
“[Ferketic has been] kind of been a little Jekyll & Hyde throughout the whole fall,” Buckley said.
The Dirtbags were able to score a couple more runs in the bottom of the ninth to pull within a run. Banuelos, who finished with three RBI, had a chance to tie the game with a runner at second but grounded out to end the game.
“My goal was to be ready for the fastball,” Banuelos said. “But then I got the slider, and that was the game.”
The Dirtbags will travel to Arizona State for a three-game weekend series starting Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.