Eric Valenzuela has quickly left his mark in two short seasons as Long Beach State Dirtbags head coach and he’s been rewarded for getting the famous program back on track.
Last week, LBSU announced that Valenzuela received a contract extension that runs through the 2026 season.
“That trust that President Conoley, Andy Fee and the department in general has for me and my staff says a lot,” Valenzuela said. “I’m thanking the players. No coaches get extensions if the product isn’t good and that’s the players.”
LBSU had its worst record of the Dirtbags era in 2019, but Valenzuela led his team to a 10-5 record before the COVID-19 shutdowns halted the season. This season, the Dirtbags got off to a slow start after being the last NCAA baseball team to return to practice. However, they went 25-10 the rest of the way while winning 15 of their last 17 games and narrowly missing out on an at-large selection for the NCAA Regionals.
Valenzuela said the contract extension will be a huge help on the recruiting trail.
“We’re recruiting so young nowadays and the number one question to us a coaches is, ‘My son is a sophomore in high school and it’s going to be a few years until he would get to Long Beach State, are you going to be there?’ and now we have a good answer during those recruiting battles,” Valenzuela said.
“While the past two seasons have been challenging due to COVID-19, he has rebuilt the very core of our program with significant recruiting and on the field successes,” Fee said of Valenzuela. “In addition to the on-field performance, Eric has continued to develop a culture of growth and winning.”
The Dirtbags finished the 2020 season fourth in the nation in WHIP and 12th in ERA. They also closed the 2021 season in the Top 25 in the country in team ERA.
LBSU had eight players earn Academic All-Big West honors including Big West Co-Pitcher of the Year Johnathan Lavallee and the Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year, Devereaux Harrison.
“For me and my family, I couldn’t be more blessed to be the head coach at Long Beach State with this unbelievable tradition of great players, coaches and teams,” Valenzuela said. “My family and I are blessed to be able to wear this uniform and be part of this family.”