Baseball Long Beach State

Hammond, Osman Lead Long Beach State Dirtbags To Sixth Straight Win

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Long Beach State Dirtbags designated hitter Jack Hammond and ace Graham Osman were the one-two punch that knocked out Cal Poly on Friday night.

Hammond went 4-or-4 with two home runs and a pair of doubles, and Osman pitched six shutout innings while recording a career-high nine strikeouts in a 10-2 victory on Bohl Diamond at Blair Field.

It is the sixth consecutive win for the Dirtbags (16-8, 4-3) who are tied for fifth in the Big West. The winning streak has come after getting swept at UC San Diego in the first Big West series of the year.

“We feel good,” Dirtbags coach Eric Valenzuela said. “I’m proud of the way they were able to respond (to UCSD series) and get on a roll playing good baseball. If you look at last year’s group we had some tough losses and it kind of spiraled a little bit… But I’m proud of this group and how we’re playing right now.”

Hammond, a sophomore transfer from Kansas, came into the game with only two home runs and eight RBI after riding the bench to start the year.

“He didn’t play for like the first two weeks of the season and then we gave him the opportunity and he hasn’t really come out of the lineup since then,” Valenzuela said of Hammond. “He was just getting used to the pitching out here, it’s a little different because he’s getting more off-speed stuff. So he’s become a much better well-rounded hitter. It’s good to see.”

After an RBI double in the first inning, Hammond blasted a 3-run home run over the left field wall in the third. He doubled again in the fourth, hit a 2-run homer in the sixth and capped his night with a clean single in the eighth. He scored three times.

“It was tough,” Hammond said of waiting for his opportunity with the Dirtbags. “I’ve always been a competitor with my wrestling background. It really ate at me, and it kind of made me work harder. I knew I was good enough to be out here so I just kept my head down, waited my turn and then showed why I should be in there.”

The five hits, two doubles and 12 total bases were career-highs for Hammond. He tied his single-game career-high in home runs and RBI. It’s also the first five-hit game by a Dirtbag since Chase Luttrell in 2021.

“I’ve been fortunate to have really good hitting coaches throughout my whole life and I just see the ball, hit it, and stay with that confidence,” Hammond said. “Good things will happen if you hit it hard so that’s all I try to do.”

Asked if he was surprised the second home run went out on a cold night at Blair, Hammond answered with a wry smile, “I kind of got both of them, so I wasn’t too surprised.”


On the mound, Osman scattered six singles and a walk in six innings while 62 of his 87 pitchers were strikes.

Three of those Cal Poly hits came consecutively to lead off the top of the third inning, so Valenzuela came out for a mound visit with no outs and the bases loaded.

“He just said to get ahead and we’ll play good defense,” Osman said. "He came out and took all the pressure off of me. It was a quick, easy conversation and I really appreciate him for it.”

Osman struck out the next batter and then induced a 5-4-3 double play turned by Ty Borgogno, Eddie Saldivar and Jonathon Long.

“He’s very mature,” Valenzuela said of the redshirt junior lefty. “All of the experience he’s had, whether it’s good or bad, when he gets into situations he’s able to be relaxed and under control.”

Cal Poly only had two base runners in the next three innings against Osman, who bookended his performance with strikeouts. He struck out the side looking in the first inning, and then stuck out the last two batters he faced in the sixth.

Osman (4-0, 1.54 ERA) is obvioulsy a huge reason why the Dirtbags pitching staff came into the weekend ranked in the NCAA Top 50 in strikeout-to-walk ratio (19th, 2.99), walks per nine (26th, 3.46), sac bunts (37th, 12), strikeouts per nine (42nd, 10.3), WHIP (46th, 1.35), and ERA (50th, 4.38).

“I don’t think I changed anything mechanically, it was more mentality,” Osman said of his fourth-inning turn around. “I knew after our big inning that we kind of crushed their morale and I was just going to go out there and attack them with first pitch strikes and make them put the ball in play.”

That big inning was the third when Hammond hit his first home run and the Dirtbags scored six times. The Dirtbags are second in the Big West with 28 home runs, and they’re on pace to break the program record for homers in a single season.

“I think it’s the way we’re recruiting and the change in baseball,” Valenzuela said of the increased power. “We still want to be good with all of the small ball stuff, but we definitely want to be more physical. We play in a big ball park, but we play other places too where we can make the field a little small.”

Both Hammond and Osman said they’re not surprised by this winning streak.

“We’re a really good team and we’ve had our struggles but we’re good at pushing through those,” Osman said. “I think we’ve had this winning streak coming for a long time, but I also think this is the start of something really big.”

“Ever since I got here I’ve known this is a special group of guys,” Hammond said. “We can go really far. The bond is there. It’s just about coming out here every day, staying focused, doing what we do and we’re going to make some noise for sure.”

Shortstop Nick Marinconz also had a phenomenal night at the plate going 4-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Long, Borgogno and Rocco Peppi each had two hits. Peppi and Connor Burns both scored twice. LBSU had 12 hits in the first three innings and finished with 18 hits.

Local baseball fans also got a treat when Wilson High alum Charlie Royle came out of the Cal Poly bullpen and pitched a perfect fifth inning with a strikeout. However, the true freshman gave up Hammond’s second home run of the night in the sixth inning. The last time a Dirtbag hit two home runs in a game it was Charlie Loust last season at Cal Poly.

The second game of the series with Cal Poly (7-15, 3-4) is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday. The series finale is Sunday at 1 p.m.

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.