There haven’t been many games this season where the Long Beach State Dirtbags have put it all together, but they certainly did on Saturday in the second game of the doubleheader against No. 25 UC Santa Barbara at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field. There were also limited fans admitted to the stadium for the first time this year.
LBSU (12-11, 10-10) got contributions from nearly everyone in a 5-4 win over UCSB, and it was a perfect time for that to happen. Considering the quality of opponent and where they are in their season, Dirtbags coach Eric Valenzuela agreed that it is the most complete team win of the year.
“They’re a pretty damn good team,” Valenzuela said. “We were able to get back on the horse and win a tough game here.”
Unfortunately, The Dirtbags gave up a three-run lead in the ninth inning on Sunday to split the four-game series with UCSB.
The Dirtbags had some legitimate momentum coming into the doubleheader after back-to-back home runs from Chris Jimenez and Kokx propelled LBSU to a 4-3 win on Friday night. The last time the Dirtbags hit consecutive home runs at home was during the 2005 NCAA Regional.
“The more at-bats we get the more experience we get and the better we get,” Valenzuela said. “These guys are getting more comfortable in the box.”
The LBSU bullpen was also strong in the opener as Basilio Pacheco and Devereaux Harrison combined to pitch 3.2 scoreless innings. They each gave up one hit.
The first game of the doubleheader on Saturday was a pitcher’s duel between LBSU’s Luis Ramirez and UCSB’s Rodney Boone until Jordan Sprinkle’s grand slam in the seventh inning ended Ramirez’ outing. He only gave up four hits before the home run with four strikeouts and two walks.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the Dirtbags didn’t threaten until the bottom of the fourth inning when Troye lost his control and walked Javier Rosales and Brennan Rozell after a single by Connor Kokx. The consecutive two-out walks chased Troye from the game (3.2 IP, H, 4 K, 3 BB) and was replaced by Connor Roberts, but the junior was greeted by Jesse Lopez who singled through the left side to score Kokx and Rosales for a 2-1 lead.
“We’ve gone though a lot of adversity this year and this its just another thing that shows the resiliency of this group,” said Kokx, who extended his streak of reaching base safely to 24 games with a home run on Sunday.
UCSB responded quickly and tied in up in the top of the fifth inning on an RBI single from Cole Cummings. Ruiz had struck out the side in the fourth inning, and was replaced by Matt Fields in the sixth inning.
UCSB took the 3-2 lead off Fields in the top of the seventh, but the Dirtbags bounced right back and scored in the bottom of the seventh on Calvin Estrada’s RBI double down the right field line that scored Tanner Carlson. Then with the bases loaded and two outs, Toren Craig came home to take the lead on a wild pitch. After Jimenez drew a walk, Javier Rosales drew another one to bring home Estrada for a 5-3 lead. The Dirtbags left the bases loaded and stranded 17 runners in the two games on Saturday.
The extra insurance run meant a lot more when Mortensen led off the eighth inning with a home run. A walk brought Harrison out of the bullpen again, but he also walked a batter to put two on with one out. Harrison got a pair of pop outs to end the threat.
In the ninth, Harrison gave up a pair of 2-out singles but got a strikeout to end the game. Harrison let out a let directed towards the UCSB dugout, and the two teams traded shouts at each other as they exited the field.
“That is just the heat of the moment,” he said. “It’s a big game and a lot of things were on the line.”
The Dirtbags travel to UC Irvine this weekend.
Long Beach State senior Holland Shourds won the individual championship at the Big West Championship at Yorba Linda Country Club this week. She posted a one-under par 71 in the final round.
“Being able to win this year represents how good our team is and the potential we have in the future,” Shourds said. “It’s an honor to be able to win and be able to just play.”
Shourds is the third consecutive Big West individual conference champion for LBSU after Jennifer Yu and Haley Tygret won the 2018 and 2019 titles, respectively. The Beach finished third as a team.
LBSU (22-6, 15-2) had its 11-game winning streak snapped but went on to win its sixth consecutive Big West series over Cal Poly last weekend at the LBSU Softball Complex in front of limited fans.
Junior Alyssa Gonzalez is riding a 15-game hitting streak with a conference leading .494 batting average this season.
The Beach visits Hawaii this weekend.
LBSU (15-12) won their final two duals of the regular season as the duo of Mari Molina and Tyler Spriggs finished their season with a 17-7 record in the first flight. That is the fourth most for the flight in program history.
The Beach hosts the Big West Championship this weekend at Rosie’s Dog Beach.
Track & Field
LBSU had a tremendous day at the Matador Invitational on Friday by winning 11 of the 16 events. Alec Jones won the men’s hammer throw, and Samantha Perez won the women’s hammer. Marcos Gonzalez and Hannah Katches swept the javelin.
The Beach will host the LBSU Throws-Fest at Jack Rose Track this weekend.