Long Beach State

Long Beach State Roundup: Dirtbags Win At CSUN


Long Beach State (14-20, 2-2 Big West) scored six times in the fifth inning, capitalizing on some key mistakes by CSUN (16-17, 4-3 Big West) to earn a come-from-behind 7-5 win on Friday afternoon at Matador Field. Five of LBSU’s runs were unearned, and the six-run inning helped erase a 3-0 deficit as the Dirtbags rattled off seven unanswered runs to win their first conference road game.

Tristan Mercadel reached base in all four trips to the plate, singling twice and drawing a pair of walks. He was one of four Dirtbags with multiple hits on Friday, joining Jacob Hughey, Chris Jimenez and Santino Rivera. For Hughey, it was his third straight multi-hit game, and his two-run single with the bases loaded in the fifth inning gave LBSU its first lead of the day. The Dirtbags also benefitted from some defensive miscues by the Matadors to score six runs on four hits in what proved to be a decisive fifth inning.

LBSU would add another run in the seventh as Hughey came home on a wild pitch, and that proved to be important cushion. Chris Rivera entered the game in the eighth inning with two on and two outs, getting a lineout to strand the runners. He would finish off his 10th save of the season with a perfect ninth inning, which started with a pair of strikeouts.

Sophomore Zak Baayoun picked up his sixth win of the season, covering seven innings while allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits with seven strikeouts. He struggled a bit early, and ran into trouble in the fourth allowing two runs on three hits, but really settled in over his final three innings to give Long Beach State a chance to come back for the win.

LBSU will look to win the series on Saturday, sending reigning Big West Pitcher of the Week Clayton Andrews (3-5, 2.66 ERA) to the hill. He will be opposed by another southpaw in Isaiah Nunez (0-0, 3.38 ERA) for a 1 p.m. first pitch in Northridge.


Long Beach State’s offense came through with plenty of support for Cielo Meza as the softball team extended its winning streak to 14 games with a 11-2 victory on the road at Cal State Fullerton.

Naomi Hernandez finished with three hits with two RBI, while Jamie Wren had a pair of hits including her first home run of the season to lead an offense that finished with 13 hits on the evening.

It was a familiar first inning as Long Beach State (33-7, 7-0 Big West) jumped out to an early lead behind a strong start from the top of the order. Nichole Fry and Naomi Hernandez opened the game with back-to-back hits, and after a walk to Lauren MacLeod, a sharply hit ball from Taylor Rowland was misplayed by Zoe Richard at first base, allowing two runs to score.

A base hit by Jamie Wren kept the inning going and scored MacLeod, and after a bunt from LT Torres moved two runners into scoring position, a sacrifice fly from Julia Lombardi made the score 4-0.

Two doubles in the second inning from Bryanna Ybarra and Shianne Brannan put Cal State Fullerton (21-10, 6-1 Big West) on the board, snapping Cielo Meza’s scoreless innings streak at 31.1 innings.

Jamie Wren answered back with a solo shot in the top of the sixth inning, and a strikeout with two on and nobody out from Cielo Meza helped limit a Titans rally to just one run in the bottom half, as LBSU led 5-2 after six.

Ultimately, Long Beach State would win convincingly on the back of a huge seventh inning. Hernandez doubled to start the inning, and after an RBI single from MacLeod, Rowland hit her tenth home run of the season to put the Beach on top 8-2. The Beach would tack on three more, the last two coming on an RBI single from Hernandez, the second hit of the inning for the freshman giving LBSU an 11-2 lead.

Meza closed out the Titans in the bottom of the seventh to finish off the game for her 18th win of the season.

Long Beach State returns to Anderson Family Field for two more games Saturday in a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m.

Men’s Volleyball

In an epic three-hour contest, top-ranked Long Beach State outlasted No. 6 Hawaii in a five-set showdown at the Stan Sheriff Center in front of an electric crowd of nearly 5,000. The Beach came away with a 3-2 [25-16, 17-25, 26-24, 25-27, 22-20] victory over the Rainbow Warriors to remain unbeaten on the season.

With the win, Long Beach State improved to a perfect 24-0 on the year and 9-0 in Big West Conference action. Meanwhile, Hawaii dropped to 17-7 overall and 5-4 in league play.

The conference foes played each other tough and battled it out to the very end. However, Long Beach State managed to outlast Hawaii with a thrilling 22-20 victory in the fifth set to clinch the victory.

The Beach hit .464 in the fifth set knocking down 15 kills on 28 swings and committed just two attack errors, while the Rainbow Warriors hit .231 (11-5-26). The final frame saw the two teams grind it out through 11 ties and four lead changes, before LBSU earned the win on a double block by Nick Amado and Josh Tuaniga.

Long Beach State used an all-around team effort in the win as the Beach saw a pair of double-doubles, four new career-highs, four double-figure dig efforts, and 14.5 total team blocks to collect the win.

The duo of Kyle Ensing and TJ DeFalco led the Beach as each registered a double-double. Ensing tallied 16 kills and a season-high 12 digs, while DeFalco led all scorers with 22 kills and a season-high 13 digs. Ensing has now recorded eight double-doubles in his career, while DeFalco has notched 12. The 20-kill contest was the 15th of DeFalco’s career and third this season.

Ensing had a solid night as he added a career-best five service aces to go along with four blocks in the match. Coming off the bench to contribute at the endline was freshman Ethan Siegfried who notched a career-best three aces in the match.

Dishing out 49 assists on the night to keep the Beach offense running was Tuaniga. He also contributed a career-high six blocks, four digs and three kills.

Joining Ensing and Tuaniga with a new career-high was junior libero Jordan Molina who tallied 15 digs in the contest.

At the net, Nick Amado was phenomenal posting seven blocks, while Tuaniga added six, and Ensing, DeFalco and Simon Anderson each added four.

The Beach came out firing right out of the gate as they opened the match on a 4-0 run. The first set was all Long Beach State as the Beach led throughout the set and used a 7-0 run to break the frame open (19-8). LBSU went on to cruise to a 25-16 victory.

Hawaii countered in the second set, kicking off the frame with three straight points. The `Bows went on a 6-0 run to take an 8-3 lead over LBSU as the Beach called a timeout to regroup. Following the break in action, Long Beach State cut Hawaii’s lead to three (10-7), but fell behind again when the `Bows went on a 5-0 run to go up 22-13 before winning the set, 25-17. That was the first time all season Long Beach State was held to under 20 points in a set.

LBSU battled back in the third set as the Beach posted three straight points to break a 3-3 tie and take a 6-3 edge. However, UH would tie the set a 12-all and Long Beach would be forced to rally. The Beach knocked down five straight points highlighted by back-to-back aces from Honolulu native Siegfried to take a 17-12 lead. Still, Hawaii managed to come back and even the score at 24-all before the Beach claimed the third set, 26-24.

The battle continued into the fourth set as Long Beach State jumped out in front 7-4, only to have Hawaii chip away at their lead and even the score at 12-12. From there, the two teams stayed close and found themselves deadlocked at 23-23 after a 6-1 LBSU run. However, Hawaii would come out on top 27-25, and force a fifth and deciding set.

The fifth and final set of the match was a nail-biter to say the least. With both teams fighting for the win, Long Beach State showed its grit and determination as the Beach outlasted Hawaii after battling through several match points before defeating the `Bows on their home court by a score of 22-20.

Hawaii boasted two 20-kill performances by Stijn van Tilburg and Rado Parapunov. Van Tilburg finished the match with a double-double as he added 11 digs. Setter Joe Worsley also notched a double-double with 54 assists and 12 digs. Larry Tuileta added 14 digs at libero, while Dalton Solbrig contributed 12 kills and seven blocks for the `Bows.

Long Beach State and Hawaii will be back at it on Saturday, April 14 at 7 p.m. (10 p.m. PT) at the Stan Sheriff Center to close out the regular season.

Track & Field

Senior Lauren Bartsch cleared 3.65 meters in the women’s pole vault to win the event at the Triton Invitational in a day that featured Long Beach State’s women’s field athletes.

Bartsch was the top seed in the event and lived up the billing as the only athlete among the 17 in the event to clear 3.65 meters, doing so in her first attempt. Junior Lea Fong was one of five competitors to clear 3.50 meters, finishing in fourth, while freshman Teresa Tamashiro set a PR by clearing 3.35 meters, finishing in tenth place.

In the women’s hammer throw, Erykah McNairy led the quartet of LBSU competitors with a throw of 50.51m, just over 165 feet, while Crystal Rodriguez finished just behind her throwing 49.74 meters in the first of two events Friday for the junior.

The day’s action finished with the women’s discus, where Rodriguez finished in eighth place with a toss of 45.92 meters, and was just in front of sophomore Amanda Truong who threw a career-best 45.20 meters. Brianna Uipi and McNairy also threw for season highs in the discus in San Diego.

Long Beach State’s men’s throwers and pole vaulters will compete tomorrow at the Triton Invitational, while Rodriguez will have a second day of competition at the Triton Invitational while participating in the javelin, competing alongside Cassy Nychay.

Women’s Tennis

On a windy day in Northridge, the Long Beach State women’s tennis team collected a 4-1 victory against CSUN on Friday afternoon at the Matador Tennis Complex.

“We earned a strong conference win in tough, windy conditions today,” Long Beach State head coach Jenny Hilt-Costello said. “I’m proud of the team’s performance.”

The Beach improved to 10-8 on the year and 4-2 in Big West action, while the Matadors dropped to 7-9 overall and 3-3 in league play.

Battling the elements, Long Beach State dominated doubles action. Natalia Munoz and Lalita Devarakonda rolled past Skyla Alcon and Monika Van de Vondel, 6-0, before Carlota Casasampere and Georgia Gulin cruised to a 6-1 win over Arpe Bagumyan and Emma Roenholt. With the two Beach victories, LBSU won the doubles point and headed into singles competition with a 1-0 lead.

That 1-0 lead quickly turned into a 2-0 advantage as Sadaf Sadeghavizir defeated Mai Taslagyan, 6-2, 6-1 to get singles action started.

CSUN managed to get on the board as Alcon collected a 6-3, 6-4 win over Maren Helgo at No. 3, but the Beach put the match away as Devarakonda and Pacholski picked up wins to give LBSU a 4-1 win.

Devarakonda’s win at No. 4 came in a two-set match against Kiryang Kim as Devarakonda earned a 7-6 (3), 6-3 win to put LBSU up 3-1.

After dropping the first set, 4-6, to Van de Vondel, Pacholski battled back and earned a 7-5 win in set two and picked up the victory with a 6-2 win in set three. Pacholski’s victory secured the win for Long Beach State.

The Beach will be back home at Rhodes Tennis Center on Sunday, April 15 at 10 a.m. when they host UC Davis.

Singles Competition
1. Lena Pacholski (LBSU) def. Van de Vondel, Monik (CSUN) 4-6, 7-5, 6-2

  1. Dinkelmeyer, Alicia (CSUN) vs. Natalia Munoz (LBSU) 6-0, 5-7, 6-4, unfinished
  2. Alcon, Skyla (CSUN) def. Maren Helgo (LBSU) 6-3, 6-4
  3. Lalita Devarakonda (LBSU) def. Kim, Kiryang (CSUN) 7-6, 6-3
  4. Sadaf Sadeghvaziri (LBSU) def. Taslagyan, Mari (CSUN) 6-2, 6-1
  5. Roenholt, Emma (CSUN) vs. Carlota Casasampere (LBSU) 4-6, 7-6, 1-0, unfinished

Doubles Competition
1. Natalia Munoz/Lalita Devarakonda (LBSU) def. Alcon, Skyla/Van de Vondel, Monik (CSUN) 6-0

  1. Dinkelmeyer, Alicia/Taslagyan, Mari (CSUN) vs. Lena Pacholski/Sadaf Sadeghvaziri (LBSU) 5-3, unfinished
  2. Carlota Casasampere/Georgia Gulin (LBSU) def. Bagumyan, Arpe/Roenholt, Emma (CSUN) 6-1
JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.