Long Beach State

Long Beach State Notebook: Dirtbags Win Series

The Long Beach State Dirtbags upset No. 17 UCLA 5-2 last week at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field, and then rode that momentum into a Big West Conference series victory at Cal State Northridge over the weekend. The win over UCLA is the fourth win over a ranked opponent for the Dirtbags, and the road series victory is the first of the year. LBSU is hosting Loyola Marymount at 6 tonight.

Millikan High alum Jacob Hughey was the standout player against UCLA as the starting pitcher and designated hitter in the cleanup spot. The redshirt sophomore, who is coming off a labrum injury, gave up three hits and two runs in a career-high six innings. Hughey retired 10 batters in a row after giving up a third inning home run, and then delivered two hits and three RBIs at the plate.

On Friday at CSUN, the Dirtbags came from behind to score six runs in the fifth inning of a 7-5 victory. Seven different players scored runs while Hughey, Chris Jimenez and Sonny Rivera provided the RBIs.

Junior Clayton Andrews was the tough-luck loser on Saturday in a 2-1 defeat. He scattered seven hits in six innings while giving up a pair of runs in the second. Andrews had eight strikeouts and no walks. LBSU stranded nine runners on base.

LBSU rebounded on Sunday as Andrews drove in the go-ahead run with two outs in the seventh, and then the center fielder made a great throw home in the ninth inning to complete a game-ending double play.

Men’s Volleyball

In the fifth set, in the final match of the regular season, the Long Beach State men’s volleyball team finally lost last Saturday night. The 49ers had won their first 24 matches of the season, the best start in program history and the longest win streak in program history.

But the night after an epic five-set battle in front of 5,000 fans in Hawaii, the 49ers were back at it, and once again got caught in a fifth-set battle with the Rainbow Warriors.

This time, late Saturday evening (around 1 a.m. Long Beach time) the 49ers fell, 25-21, 22-25, 23-25, 25-20, 15-11.

“We played really hard, I know that,” 49ers coach Alan Knipe said. “Execution-wise we’re going to go back and watch the match and I have a feeling we’ll be kicking ourselves a little bit.”

Hawaii desperately needed the win — they’re likely now in the driver’s seat for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament should they not win the Big West Tournament, and they earned the No. 2 seed in the tournament with the victory, which comes with a quarterfinal bye. They were flying around the court diving for balls and ended up out-digging Long Beach State 49-34.

“There’s no doubt, they threw caution to the wind with their serving and they laid out on every play,” Knipe said. “We had a huge effort too, but they definitely had a purpose.”

A possible bid for rare history comes to a close with the loss. Long Beach State could have become the first team since UCLA in 1984 to go undefeated for an entire season, and just the second college team ever to do it. The 49ers now turn their attention to the postseason, where the true goal of their season has always loomed: a national title.

The 49ers will need to win four matches to make it happen. They host the Big West Tournament this week with the semifinals on Friday and the Finals on Saturday. Two weeks after that will be the NCAA Tournament at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion.

“We hope it will be a big crowd, I hope the community will come out in droves,” Knipe said.

The way the seedings break down, fans could end up with better matches in the Pyramid than at the actual NCAA Tournament. If all the favorites win on Thursday, Long Beach State would face CSUN on Friday at 7:30 p.m. while fans would be treated to a battle of two of the top five teams in the nation in the 5 p.m. semifinal if Irvine and Hawaii meet up. That match would be high-intensity since it would in all likelihood decide which team nets an NCAA at-large should they fail to win the tournament.

Then Saturday evening at 7 p.m., the winners of the two semifinals would play for the first-ever Big West Tournament championship, and the conference’s automatic NCAA bid.

Beach Volleyball

No. 6 LBSU (22-4) celebrated senior day on Sunday with a pair of wins over No. 16 Loyola Marymount (5-0) and Utah (4-1) on campus. The 49ers won every match against LMU in straight sets. Nele Barber and Sasha Karelov swept both of their matches, and the second was the 80th win at LBSU for Barber.

Senior Rachel Nieto and Junior Megan Kruidhof were named the Big West Pair of the Week after competing together for the first time. They went 4-0 on the week, and Nieto also reached 80 career wins.

Women’s Tennis

LBSU (11-8, 5-2) swept the singles and upset Big West leading UC Davis 4-1 on Saturday morning at Rhodes Tennis Center. The Aggies had won seven of their last eight matches. Senior Lena Pacholski, Carlota Casasampere, freshman Lalita Devarakonda, sophomore Natalia Munoz all won their singles matches.


After thumping rival Cal State Fullerton 11-2 on the road to kick off a Big West series for first place, the 49ers (33-9, 7-2) suffered their first two conference losses of the year in a doubleheader on Saturday. The Titans took over the top spot in the Big West with tight 2-1 and 8-7 victories. LBSU freshman Naomi Hernandez hit .600 on the weekend with a pair of doubles, four RBI and three walks. She reached base at a .692 rate.

Track & Field

Both men’s and women’s throwers and pole vaulters competed at the Triton Invitational in San Diego last weekend. Freshman Ryan Coy set two personal bests in the hammer and the discus.

Men’s Golf

Junior Joe Fryer shot 68 in the final round of the Wyoming Cowboy Classic last week to finish in a tie for third place. LBSU finished tied for fourth in a 15-team field.

Women’s Golf

LBSU won the Black and Blue Rivalry Match against UC Irvine for the fifth straight year last Monday at Strawberry Farms Golf Course. It is the same course that will be used for the Big West Championship this weekend.

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.