The weekend series against visiting No. 23 TCU was one step forward and two steps back from the Long Beach State Dirtbags. After producing their best offensive performance of the season on Saturday, the Dirtbags lost their chance at taking a series with a 10-4 loss on Sunday at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field.
LBSU (2-12) took a 1-run lead in the bottom of the first and third innings, but a 4-run sixth gave TCU (9-5) the lead it needed to take the series.
“The positive is this team likes to compete,” LBSU coach Troy Buckley said. “We at least played the game this weekend. We didn’t look at the scoreboard, we just played. That was a step forward for this team, and I see a comfort. Guys are starting to get their feet on the ground a little bit.”
Right fielder Calvin Estrada had two hits, a run scored and an RBI to cap a productive weekend. The junior transfer from College Of The Canyons had five hits in the three games.
“We knew the bats were going to come around if we keep grinding,” Estrada said. “The game is a bit faster (than junior college) but I’m feeling good and I still think we’re going to do some damage this year.”
Redshirt junior Riki DeSa was the only Dirtbag with three hits in his first start in left field. Freshman Kaden Hogan also got his first hit in the ninth as a pinch hitter. Laine Huffman reached base for the seventh consecutive game.
The Dirtbags used a season-high six pitchers in the game after starter Ruiz only lasted 2.2 innings. The lefty gave up five hits, three walks and three runs. Freshman Jonathan Carlos stopped the bleeding with 1.1 clean innings. Junior Dylan Spacke had to do the same thing after Basilio Pacheco and Nick Avila gave up a combined six runs in the sixth and seventh innings. LBSU has a 4.11 ERA as a pitching staff.
“Our bullpen has got to get figured out,” Buckley said. “We don’t have any rules about building a bullpen. We’ve got three weekends left before we open up against UC Irvine in conference. Everybody has, and will continue to get an opportunity to show progress.”
The Dirtbags will be back in action on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. when they welcome the No. 2 UCLA Bruins. LBSU will likely finish the nonconference with the toughest schedule in the nation, according to RPI.
“We love playing the best competition,” Estrada said. “It’s going to really prepare us for conference. We have a lot of L’s on our record, but this is just building up scar tissue and getting us tougher.”