Baseball Long Beach State

Dirtbags Make Statement With Sweep Of No. 17 Wake Forest

A dominant 6-0 win on Sunday at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field proved this hot start for the Long Beach State Dirtbags is no fluke. The victory completed a sweep of No. 17 Wake Forest, and LBSU (5-2) is off to its best start since 2016.

“These guys want to be good,” said Dirtbags first-year coach Eric Valenzuela. “There’s a big chip on their shoulder. This is Long Beach State. This is Dirtbags baseball. This is what everybody expects, and they’re going out and playing like it. They’re playing good baseball.”

Dirtbags Junior Jonathan Lavallee delivered a third stellar start of the weekend with five scoreless innings. The righty allowed three hits and two walks while striking out three. Jake Rons, Jonathan Carlos and Matt Fields all pitched at least one scoreless inning out of the bullpen. The Demon Deacons finished the day with four hits. LBSU outscored Wake Forest 19-5 in three games.

“I’m proud of them,” Valenzuela said of his pitching staff. “Especially today when your ace wasn’t available this weekend… to have guys step up for Sunday’s game against one of the best hitting teams in the country is huge, obviously.”

“(Wake Forest) have a lot of older players which gave us information to see, so we had a really good plan and we worked on it in our bullpens.”

Second baseman Riki DeSa delivered a clutch two-out two-run double in the third inning, and then made a sliding stop and throw to end a bases loaded rally in the seventh inning.

“I thought I was going to have to wait my turn, for sure,” DeSa said of his mindset coming into the season. “We have a lot of good players on our team. You have to earn your right.”

DeSa hit a home run in his first start of the season on Tuesday. The senior started 14 games last season in his first year at LBSU.

“He didn’t even play the first three games of the season, so you can tell how much we know,” Valenzuela said with a smile. “Even if they haven’t played much they’re still being good teammates. And then when they get their opportunity they’re able to do something with it. Riki is a perfect example. He was pretty much our best guy in the lineup this weekend.”

DeSa had two hits, four RBIs, two runs and three walks against Wake Forest.

Right fielder Calvin Estrada (pictured) had two hits, an RBI and scored a run from the leadoff spot. The redshirt senior said the energy his team is playing with is partially responsible for their impressive results.

“The joy is back, we’re having fun and we’re rolling,” Estrada said. “Coach kind of told us ‘It’s your season, so we’re going to let you guys do what you do,’ and this is just how it’s showing up on the field.”

Estrada is hitting .300 from the leadoff spot with four doubles, five RBIs and five runs scored.

“It feels like the Dirtbags are back,” Estrada said. “Everyone is happy. Everyone is smiling. Hopefully we keep moving in the right direction. I feel like everything has changed so there’s no looking back at last year at all.”

After first baseman Jacob Hughey turned a double play to end the top of the first inning on Sunday, the Dirtbags took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when left fielder Chase Luttrell led off with an infield single. With one out, third baseman Santino Rivera single through the right side to advance Luttrell to third. Shortstop Tanner Carlson sent the second pitch he saw to center field, and Luttrell scored on the sacrifice fly.

LBSU sent nine batters to the plate in the fifth inning while scoring three runs. Carlson led off with another infield single, then Estrada and DeSa drove in runs with doubles.

The Dirtbags held the 4-0 lead in the top of the seventh inning when Wake Forest loaded the bases with one out. Carlos came out of the pen and got the first batter he faced to pop up for the second out. DeSa went into the outfield grass to get the final out.

LBSU proceeded to score two more runs in the bottom of the seventh inning thanks to a Thomas Greely RBI single and Rivera’s RBI on a fielder’s choice. Designated hitter Leonard Jones finished with two hits and two runs scored.

Carlos also pitched out of a bases loaded jam of hist own making in the eighth, and Lakewood High alum Matt Fields pitched a clean ninth with a strikeout to punctuate the final out of the weekend.


For the series, Dirtbags pitchers allowed just five runs on 12 hits facing a talented Wake Forest lineup. The Demon Deacons were also held scoreless over the final 16 innings of the series.

This is the first time LBSU has ever swept an ACC opponent.

The Dirtbags are back at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field on Tuesday (6 p.m.) against San Diego before hosting No. 6 Mississippi State next 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.