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Baseball Long Beach State

Dirtbags Play (Jonathon) Long Ball To Walk Off Cal Poly, Win Seventh Straight

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For the second time this week, Jonathon Long had a once-in-a-lifetime moment.

On Tuesday of this week, Long Beach State’s junior slugger drilled a walk-off home run to lift the Dirtbags to a win over Cal Baptist. Then on Saturday night, he struck again. 

In the bottom of the 9th inning, with Long Beach State (17-8, 5-3 Big West) stuck in a 4-4 tie with Cal Poly (7-16, 3-5), Long drilled a solo shot to straightaway center, sending Bohl Diamond at Blair Field into a frenzy as the Dirtbags celebrated their seventh consecutive win in thrilling fashion.

“That was fun,” said Long of his walk-off homer, delivering the understatement of the night. “I mean, there’s not many greater feelings than that, so living it twice in one week is kind of surreal.”

Not only was it twice in a week for Long, that was also his second home run of the night. His solo blast in the seventh inning was a no-doubter to left field to make it a 3-1 Dirtbags lead. In total, he finished the night 3-for-5 with 3 RBIs. Long leads the Dirtbags with six homers on the season, tied for third-most in the conference.

“We still have a long way to go and we have a lot of work to do, but I’m so proud of them that they’re starting to become a team and they’re picking each other up,” said Dirtbags skipper Eric Valenzuela after his team’s seventh consecutive victory. “At the beginning of the season, we were kind of scuffling with that a little bit … so it’s good to just see team baseball. The culture has to come together to where there’s no individuals–everything’s together. And when we’re down in one area, the other areas have got to pick each other up. And that’s what we’ve been able to do.”


Not to get lost in the late-game heroics was the quality start delivered by senior Nico Zeglin, who tossed seven strong innings, allowing just one run on three hits and a walk. Zeglin also racked up nine strikeouts to give him a Big West-leading 57 punchouts on the season.

Cal Poly took the lead in the top of the fifth inning with an RBI double, but Long Beach answered back immediately, just as they did all night long. In fact, every time Cal Poly scored in the top half of an inning, the Dirtbags responded with at least one run in the bottom half.

Eddie Saldivar ripped an RBI double to left to put LBSU on the board, then Long flared an opposite field single to score Ty Borgogno and make it a 2-1 Dirtbags lead.

The Dirtbags went on to score one run in each of the final three innings, all by way of solo home runs. Long went deep in the seventh, then Connor Burns drilled a homer to center in the eighth, and finally Long’s walk-off shot in the ninth set off the celebration.

“To be honest with you, I was looking breaking ball, and they threw me a first-pitch fastball right down the middle,” said Long of his game-winning at-bat in the ninth. “My previous at-bat I homered on a fastball, so I was like, ‘Okay, there's no way they're gonna go back-to-back’, but he left one up and I put a good swing on it.”

The Art of the Walk-Off Home Run has not historically been synonymous with Long Beach State Baseball and Blair Field’s cavernous dimensions, but the Dirtbags have made it into somewhat of a habit the past few seasons. Going back to Connor Kokx’ walk-off homer on May 16, 2021, Long Beach State has hit five in the past three seasons with half of 2023 left to go. Including Rocco Peppi’s walk-off from the opening weekend against Wichita State, the Dirtbags now have three walk-off home runs this season.

One area for improvement was with the bullpen, where Valenzuela believes he’s got the pieces to be successful, it’s just about putting players into the right spots and using them correctly to get those crucial outs late. On Saturday, three LBSU relievers combined to allow three runs on three hits and three walks in the final two innings.

“We just don't have those back-end guys with experience and stuff, but we have a lot of guys that can get outs,” said Valenzuela of his bullpen. “A lot of it is on me making sure that I call good games for these guys. And I made some mistakes right there and these guys executed, but (Cal Poly) hit the ball, you know. So I like our bullpen. I just think that I’ve got to do a better job of piecing it together.”

The next task for Long Beach State is to finish off a second consecutive sweep in conference play. They’ll hand the ball to freshman and Millikan High alum Myles Patton (2-2, 4.79 ERA) for Sunday’s finale against the Mustangs. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Tyler Hendrickson
Tyler Hendrickson was born and raised in Long Beach, and started covering sports in his hometown in 2010. After five years as a sportswriter, Tyler joined the athletic department at Long Beach State University in 2015. He spent more than four years in the athletic communications department, working primarily with the Dirtbags baseball program. Tyler also co-authored of The History of Long Beach Poly: Scholars & Champions.