Nothing has come easy for the Long Beach State Dirtbags this season, and that included their first win of the year. LBSU took a big lead after scoring six runs in the third inning on Tuesday at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field, but had to hold on tight for a 8-7 victory over visiting No. 16 Michigan.
The Dirtbags (1-10) posted season-highs with 11 hits, eight runs and three errors.
“You always have to get the first one of anything,” LBSU coach Troy Buckley said. “We’ll take it. Right now you have to take a big deep breath. We know what our warts are, and where we’re at, but it was good to see some 2-out hits.”
The Dirtbags got their 2-out third inning rally started when Brooks Stotler drew a walk. The center fielder was running on contact and scored when Jacob Hughey doubled over the left fielders head. Stotler was one of five Dirtbags to reach base twice in the game, and he also made a few highlight catches on defense. He made a sprinting catch at the wall to slow down a ninth inning rally.
“It’s always harder to get that first win,” Stotler said. “We’ve been doing the small things right, and going pitch-by-pitch and slowing everything down. It’s all about flushing what happened and getting to the next pitch and staying present where your feet are.”
After his team-leading second double of the season, Hughey scored on Tyler Porter’s opposite field RBI single. Jake Vander Wal then singled off of Michigan starting pitcher Blake Beers’ arm, and Cole Joy brought both runners home with a double off of the left field wall for a 4-1 lead.
Michigan brought pitchers Angleo Smith and Isaiah Paige in from the bullpen, but LBSU scored two more runs in the third inning when Tanner Calrson drove home Chase Luttrell and Santino Rivera with a single to center field for his first RBIs of the season.
Freshman pitcher Basilio Pacheco was much better in his second Tuesday start for LBSU. The left-hander allowed two hits and a run in five innings, while striking out three and walking two. Pacheco lowered his ERA to 2.03 in 13.1 innings.
“I think he did a better job of just going after hitters today,” said the catcher Joy. “He felt a lot more comfortable today hitting his spots and doing a good job mixing speeds. His changeup was phenomenal.”
LBSU led 7-1 until Tyler Gums came on in relief in the top of the sixth inning. Michigan’s Jordan Brewer led off with a single, and after the third error of the day for the Dirtbags, Miles Lewis hit a 3-run home run to straight away center field to cut the lead to 7-4.
Hughey and designated hitter Laine Huffman got one run back in the bottom of the sixth. Huffman led off with his team-high eighth hit of the season, and after he was sacrificed to second by Stotler, he took third on a passed ball. Hughey scored him with a ground out RBI up the middle.
Michigan scored again in the top of the eighth inning on Lewis’s 2-out RBI double. Dylan Spacke came out of the bullpen to get a fly out and end the inning, but he gave up a 2-run home run to third baseman Jimmy Kerr in the ninth that cut the LBSU lead to 8-7 with no outs.
Christian Bullock hit a 1-out single in the ninth for Michigan, and he was 7/7 on stolen base attempts coming into the game, but Joy caught him stealing for the second out. Ako Thomas singled to left field on the next pitch, and then Jack Blomgren singled to right field, but Spacke got a pop up to end the game.
“I think everyone out here did a good job of staying in the game,” Joy said. “Obviously it was frustrating to get that big lead that we’ve been looking for all year, and then to have them come back… but we fought every pitch and did what we needed to do.”
LBSU will host No. 23 TCU this weekend at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field.