Baseball Long Beach State

No. 25 Dirtbags Take Series From No. 6 Mississippi State

Less than 24 hours after having their five-game winning streak snapped, the No. 25 Long Beach State Dirtbags bounced back to beat No. 6 Mississippi State 6-2 on Sunday to take the series at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field.

The Dirtbags (8-3) have now won all three of their weekend series against Pac-12, ACC and SEC teams. LBSU shutout the Bulldogs (7-4) on Friday night before losing 9-0 on Saturday.

“We got punched in the mouth and good teams are going to come back,” center fielder Connor Kokx said. “The coaches are confident in us, and we’re confident in ourselves right now. We’re swinging hot bats, playing good defense and our pitchers are going to give us a chance every game.”

LBSU freshman pitcher Luis Ramirez gave up two runs in the first inning, but battled his way though seven innings. He scattered seven hits and three walks while striking out four.

“He had second and third with two outs and we had given up two runs (in the first inning),” LBSU coach Eric Valenzuela said. “He didn’t give in. He got that out, which was huge. And that was the last two runs they scored. The way he came back after that inning says a lot about a freshman.”

Ramirez said he wasn’t following through on his off-speed pitches in the first inning, and that his slider made the different after another rocky start.

“We mixed a lot with him,” Valenzuela said. “He’s a guy that throws 92-94 MPH and we used his change up and breaking balls. That’s what you have to do with a really good team like that.”

LBSU’s defense also shined with Kokx making a terrific catch at the wall in center field and Cole Joy throwing out a runner on a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play to end a Bulldogs rally in the fifth.

Kokx also got the Dirtbags on the board in the third inning, and left fielder Aidan Malm tied the game 2-2 with an RBI single in the fourth. Kokx and Luttrell put LBSU in front in the fifth, and Leonard “LJ” Jones homered in the seventh.

“I got that one up and I just put a good swing on it and it happened to go for me,” Jones said.
Jones finished with three hits and leads LBSU with two home runs and eight RBIs. Kokx, Malm and Luttrell each had two hits. Kokx has an even .500 batting average.

“I’m just trying to simplify things and not do too much when I’m up there,” Kokx said. “I don’t know the last time I hit in the three hole. Probably Little League. But it’s been fun. (Coach Peters) has good approaches for us and we’re confident at the plate and ready to go.”

Lakewood High alum Matt Fields came in to pitch two perfect innings and earn the save. He has six strikeouts in five innings this season.

The Dirtbags visit San Diego State on Tuesday at 6 p.m. and Dirtbags will host another home series next weekend against Xavier.

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.