It took the Long Beach State Dirtbags nine innings to get a hit against Nevada on a cold Friday night at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field, and despite loading the bases in the bottom of the ninth, they were edged by the visiting Wolf Pack 1-0.
Left fielder Calvin Estrada and Jacob Hughey got the first and only hits for LBSU in the ninth inning, and pinch-hitter Dominic Campeau drew a controversial walk to load the bases with two outs. Nevada coach TJ Bruce, who is also a former Dirtbag, got ejected from the game for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Bill Van Raaphorst. However, Dirtbags shortstop Santino Rivera was called out on strikes five pitches later to end the game.
“That game wasn’t as close as the final score,” LBSU coach Troy Buckley said. “We got a couple breaks that went for us. I told (the team after the game) that you’re never as good as what you are, and you’re never as bad as what you are. They have to stay together, get a good night sleep, and baseball is a beautiful deal because you get another one tomorrow. We have to be better and bounce back.”
This three-game nonconference series against Nevada continues at 6 p.m. on Saturday, and concludes at 1 p.m. on Sunday. LBSU redshirt senior pitcher John Sheaks will make his return to the mound on Saturday.
Nevada starting pitcher Ryan Anderson struck out 11 and walked four batters in his seven scoreless innings. He only allowed one runner to reach scoring position when he hit Tyler Porter and walked Calvin Estrada in the sixth. However, Anderson struck out pinch hitter Laine Huffman and got Jacob Hughey to fly out to end the best scoring opportunity for the Dirtbags. He finished the night with 109 pitches an no hits allowed.
“I think we could’ve been more competitive with more energy,” Buckley said. “We’re not very aggressive and external. We’re not Type A and I want Type A guys out there. I want guys swinging the bat and playing the flat.”
Reliever Shane Gustafson pitched a scoreless eighth inning for Nevada, and gave up the no-hitter with one out in the ninth. There hasn’t been a combined no hitter at Blair Field since LBSU pitchers Chris Mathewson and Darren McCaughan combined to no-hit Wichita State in 2015.
Lakewood High alum Matt Fields got the first start of his career for the Dirtbags, and the redshirt sophomore pitched 3.2 scoreless innings while stranding six runners on base. Fields walked two and struck out three, but also hit two batters. His ERA is still 0.00 after two appearances and six innings pitched.
“I thought he grinded,” Buckley said of Fields. “He’s a little outside of a year from his (Tommy John surgery) and the ups and downs are the normal process. He’s very trustworthy, and I give him a lot of credit for his maturity and growth.”
Fields was relived by Adam Seminaris with two outs in the fourth inning when Nevada loaded the bases after two singles and a hit by pitch. Seminaris struck out pinch-hitter Tyler Bosetti on four pitches.
Nevada finally opened the scoring in the top of the sixth inning when Weston Hatten led off with a single to left field, and Jaylon McLaughlin reached on a bunt single. They both moved into scoring position on a Seminaris balk, and Hatten scored on a clean single to left field from catcher Marco Valenzuela, but the damage was limited by a few interesting calls from home plate umpire Bill Van Raaphorst.
Nevada second baseman Keaton Smith was hit by a pitch in the next at bat, but was called out on strike three when Van Raaphorst ruled he leaned into the pitch. That is a new NCAA baseball rule this season where any player who leans in to get hit by a pitch will be called for a strike. The next batter struck out, and Van Raaphorst called the base runner out on interference on the resulting throw to second base from LBSU catcher Chris Jimenez.
Seminaris pitched 5.1 innings while striking out six, but he hit three batters and had was called for two balks. The first balk moved the eventual winning run to third base.