The 2018 Long Beach State Dirtbags season isn’t over quite yet, but fans witnessed the death rattle at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field over the weekend while the Dirtbags (18-26, 4-8) dropped a Big West Conference series to UC Davis in familiar fashion. The loss moves defending conference champion LBSU into last place.
After Zak Baayoun picked up his conference-leading seventh win of the season on Friday in an 8-0 victory, LBSU wasted another stellar starting pitching performance, lost a team leader due to a disciplinary issue and left 15 runners on base in Saturday’s 1-0 extra innings defeat. The Dirtbags were going for their third consecutive win, something they haven’t done this year. They finished the weekend with a whimper, and a 10-1 loss Sunday.
Dirtbags coach Troy Buckley agreed that Saturday’s performance was a microcosm of this season that has been full of devastating injuries and missed opportunities.
“It was fundamentally poor,” Buckley said. “Outside of talent, we’re just not doing things right. Honestly, if I was in the stands I would say, ‘do these guys practice at all?’ and it’s frustrating.”
Starting pitcher Clayton Andrews (3-7) went seven scoreless innings while striking out nine, walking one and allowing three hits. The junior lefty retired the first nine batters he faced and lowered his ERA to 2.75. The Dirtbags offense has only scored 22 runs in Andrews’ 11 starts, and only four runs in the last five starts.
“I feel bad for Andrews, he competed his butt off,” Buckley said. “I really like watching him complete, and obviously he’s talented.”
LBSU had 10 hits, but Shaq Robinson’s leadoff double in the ninth inning was the only hit for extra bases. He was stranded at third on a failed bunt attempt from backup catcher Antonio Torres, who was in the game because second baseman Jarren Duran was removed in the sixth inning after not running out a pop out with a runner in scoring position. Buckley said after the game that he didn’t have a choice in pulling Duran.
“He’s one of our better players, and it hurt us as the game went along,” Buckley said. “But that’s not more important than the integrity of how you need to play the game. I’m sure he understands that now. And its unfortunate that his actions led to a decision. I’m not going to turn a blind eye to that. Doesn’t matter who it is, and Tulowitzki was the same way. It made us suffer today.”
Torres struck out on three pitches in the eighth inning with the bases loaded. LBSU was 3-for-22 with runners on base. Right fielder Steven Rivas had three hits, and first baseman Leonard Jones had two hits.
Eli Villalobos pitched two innings of scoreless relief for LBSU, but UC Davis (15-23, 7-8) scored three runs in the top off the tenth inning off of Dylan Spacke.
“They have to get more present,” Buckley said of his struggling squad. “That would give them more chances to at least be more successful, instead of being on the previous pitch or trying to be on the next pitch.”