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Long Beach City College Long Beach State

College Notebook: LBSU, LBCC Winning At Home

Less than 24 hours after having their five-game winning streak snapped, the 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) are off to their best start since 2008, and are now ranked as high as No. 16 in the nation after three weekend series wins against Pac-12, ACC and SEC teams. It’s LBSU’s first series win against an SEC school since 2003.

Sophomore Leonard Jones said the confidence to take on these top teams comes from the new coaching staff.

“It’s a big culture change for everybody,” Jones said. “We feel amazing out here doing what we do. We want to impress him, and we want to impress these fans. We want to show that we’re here to play.”

LBSU showed up ready and dominated the Bulldogs (7-4) on Friday night in a 4-0 victory. Starting pitcher Adam Seminaris was phenomenal in eight scoreless innings and struck out 10 while giving up a hit and two walks.

“Coach calls a great game,” Seminars said of Valenzuela. “I just throw what he puts down. It’s all different, he just keeps them on his toes.”

The junior lefty threw 77 of his 102 pitches for strikes, and got out of the only jam of the night in the sixth inning with a fly out and a ground out. Seminaris retired 14 MSU batters in a row in one stretch, and was named Big West Pitcher of the Week.

LBSU took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run single from left fielder Aidan Malm, and doubled it in the seventh inning on a double from shortstop Tyler Porter and an error.

“We talked about bullying them,” Valenzuela said. “That’s how you beat a team like this. Teams that are ranked this high take advantage of teams playing scared. You have to be aggressive in the zone and at the plate and we sure did that.”

Mississippi State responded with a 9-0 victory on Saturday, but the Dirtbags bounced back to take the rubber match on Sunday.

“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.”

Kokx was named Big West Player of the Week after posting a .688 on-base percentage in four games. The redshirt freshman was 7-for-12 (.583) with a double, three runs scored, three RBIs and a stolen base. Kokx has an even .500 batting average this season.

“It’s easy when other guys around you are playing well,” Kokx said. “I’ve been coming to games (at Blair Field) forever and to be able to come out here and take it all in and play… There’s no better place on the West Coast. I love it, it’s awesome.”

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),” 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 on Sunday 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 got the Dirtbags on the board in the third inning, and Malm tied the game 2-2 with an RBI single in the fourth. Kokx and Luttrell put LBSU in front in the fifth, and Jones homered in the seventh. It’s his second home run of the season.

“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 on Sunday and leads LBSU with eight RBIs. Kokx, Malm and Luttrell each had two hits in the rubber match.

“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.”

The new Dirtbags offensive system is a complex one taught by associate head coach Bryan Peters, and the keys are adjustments on a player-by-player basis.

“There’s never a swing without a purpose in our program,” Peters said. “We put in all of that stuff in the fall. Once they really get it, individually and as a team, we have a simplified approach. We give them an intense, hyperfocus so they know exactly what their job is and what they want to get done.”

The Dirtbags have a .352 on-base percentage as a team, and eight key players are hitting over .300 this season. LBSU is outscoring opponents 47-28, with an impressive 97-71 advantage in hits.

“It was a whole new system thrown at us and we all had to adapt,” right fielder Calvin Estrada said. “It’s not so much my swing, per say, but more how I’m trying to manipulate the baseball.”

The 6’1” 225-pound Estrada is hitting leadoff for LBSU and has 13 hits, six RBIs and four doubles.

“He’s a constant threat,” Peters said of Estrada. “A power and speed combination like Calvin, you want that guy to come to the plate as often as possible.”

“It’s definitely different,” Estrada said of leading off after years of trying to produce runs in the middle of lineups. “My job is to get on base and find a way to score. I’m just trying to do my job. I love it. I get so many fastballs.”

“We have a lot of good offensive players,” Valenzuela said. “We want to get those guys in and in different spots and matchups. We’re letting guys play because they’re producing. It’s a good problem to have.”

The Dirtbags are at San Diego State tonight, and host Xavier this weekend.

LBSU Men’s Volleyball

No. 4 LBSU men’s volleyball team got some revenge last Saturday with a thrilling five set victory at No. 12 UCLA. The Bruins had snapped LBSU’s home winning streak earlier this year, but some career performances carried the Beach to a 25-21, 16-25, 25-17, 23-25, 15-13 win.

LBSU (9-1) had an impressive .417 attack percentage on the night while junior setter Carlos Rivera dished out 45 assists. Junior Ethan Siegfried put down a game-high 15 kills, while freshman Mason Briggs came up with a career-high 15 digs, and sophomore Shane Holdaway had a career-high seven blocks.

Long Beach City College Baseball

The Vikings (15-3, 6-0) extended their winning streak to seven games by sweeping Rio Hondo in SCC action last week. LBCC got stellar starts from pitchers Noel Soto, Sebastian Irwin and Matthew Pinal. After producing seven hits, nine RBIs and four runs scored at the plate, Pinal gave up one hit in seven innings on the mound in the series finale.

LBSU Men’s Basketball

The Beach (10-20, 5-9) suffered a pair of Big West losses last week against Cal State Northridge and UC Davis. LBSU nearly erased a 14-point deficit on the road against the Aggies, but it just ended up being a third conference loss in the last four games.

Losing 73-64 to CSUN at home was much more demoralizing for coach Dan Monson and his young team.

“That was just a disappointing performance,” Monson said. “I think we were playing our best basketball coming into this game… I’d like to say I didn’t recognize that team, but I did. That’s who we were a month ago.”

LBSU had won 10 of its last 11 home games against CSUN. The Matadors used a 10-0 run with about eight minutes remaining to win going away.

“We were worried about the wrong things,” Monson said. “That falls on me because you have to be more ready to go.”

CSUN led 13-6 at the under-12 minute timeout, and the Beach got back into the game with a spark off the bench from Colin Slater and Max De Geest. They both hit 3-pointers down the stretch to cut CSUN’s halftime lead to 31-25. De Geest went 3-for-3 from behind the arc and finished with a team-high 11 points. Slater scored 10.

Freshman Joshua Morgan had three blocks in both games, and has now entered the Big West single-season top 10 list for blocks.

“At halftime the numbers were where we wanted them to be,” Monson said. “It was our pace … but these kids lose confidence in each other too much, and that was the case with a lot of our issues.”

CSUN forward Lamine Diane took over and scored 23 of his game-high 28 points in the second half. The Matadors led by as many as 16 points in the final five minutes.

LBSU opponents are scoring just 56 points per game in its five conference wins, and almost 80 points in the eight losses.

The Beach hosts Cal Poly on Thursday, and travels to Cal State Fullerton for the regular season finale.

LBCC Men’s Volleyball

The Vikings (8-1, 2-0) extended their winning streak to six games with victories over El Camino and Moorpark last week. Freshman Arsene Ponsin put down a game-high 25 kills against El Camino, and 23 in the four-set win over Moorpark. The freshman leads LBCC with 134 kills this season.

LBSU Track & Field

Senior Jason Smith picked up another victory by winning the MPSF Indoor Championships men’s long jump at the event with a mark of 25’ 4.5”.

LBCC Swimming

The Vikings men’s and women’s teams both took home victories from the first conference meet of the year against Cerritos and Chaffey at Cerritos College.

Sophomore Rory Kleven won the 200-yard freestyle, and was part of the winning 200-yard medley relay team on the men’s side. Sophomore Michael Baker was also on that relay, and earned first in the 100-yard backstroke and the 200-yard backstroke. Freshman Sullivan Moore also took home three three first place finishes in the 100-yard breaststroke, the 50-yard freestyle and the medley relay.

Freshman Jillian Schultz and freshman Rachel Westphal took first and second place showings in the 200-yard freestyle. Sophomore Karissa Qualley won the 100-yard freestyle, and sophomore Alejandra Villa was tops in the 100-yard butterfly.

LBSU Women’s Basketball

The Beach (11-16, 6-8) suffered a pair of tough setbacks on the road last week. Sophomore Justina King led LBSU with 14.5 points per game to go with eight assists and four steals on the week.

LBSU Beach Volleyball

Junior Mari Molina and graduate student Tyler Spriggs were undefeated at the top of the lineup as No. 12 LBSU started its season with a trio of dominant victories over Vanguard, Concordia and Santa Clara at home.

LBCC Softball

The Vikings (9-5, 6-3) extended their winning streak to seven games with victories over Cerritos and El Camino in SCC action. Center fielder Yazmin Zendejas and catcher Ayanna Gamble combined for four hits, four RBIs and three runs scored in the 8-6 win over Cerritos.

LBSU Softball

The Beach (11-9) stayed above .500 by winning three of the five games at the San Diego Classic last week. Senior Breezy Wise hit .556 and slugged 1.222 with three doubles and a home run in the tournament.

LBSU Women’s Water Polo

No. 15 LBSU took three of its four games at the Wolverine Invitational in Michigan last weekend. Junior Elena Kotanchyan scored 19 goals in the tournament. She set and matched her career-high in goals with seven against St. Francis and Bucknell.

LBSU Women’s Tennis

The Beach (6-3, 2-1) dropped its first Big West match of the year at Hawaii last weekend, but also picked up a neutral-site victory over Grand Canyon.

LBSU Women’s Golf

Senior Maria Davis and Sophomore Hannah Ko both finished in the top 10 as the Beach hosted The Gold Rush at Old Ranch Country Club. LBSU finished third overall.

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.