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For the second consecutive night the Long Beach State Dirtbags made some serious noise in the bottom of the night inning only to fall short and lose to Cal State Northridge 3-2 on Bohl Diamond at Blair Field.
This is the first series loss for the Dirtbags (21-12, 8-6) since March 19.
“We’re not panicking at all, that’s a really good team and they’re hungry,” Dirtbags coach Eric Valenzuela said of CSUN. “We’ve been in a lot of these battles and it will only continue to help us moving forward.”
CSUN (21-8, 8-3) scored all three of its runs with two outs in the fifth inning.
“It’s the same way we felt Friday where you have to take some of the positives,” Dirtbags catcher Connor Burns said of his team’s mindset. “We got the bats going finally (in the ninth) and seeing them not be sharp late is good. We have to come into tomorrow, step on their throats early and ride that for the rest of the game.”
The Big West Conference series concludes on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Dirtbags starter Nico Zeglin pitched very well while scattering five hits across five innings. He struck out six and walked three. He fell to 4-3 on the season with a 2.95 ERA.
“He’s an older guy who is experienced and composed,” Valenzuela said of Zeglin. “He’s been in there with some really good teams and he continues to just pound the strike zone. When he’s on the mound the other guys feel that energy.”
Burns, who had a hit, a walk and a run scored, said Zeglin’s changeup has been the difference maker.
“He’s probably got one of the best changeups I’ve ever seen, caught or try to hit,” he said. “It’s really plus stuff.”
CSUN starter Thomas Bainton was the star of the night with 6.2 scoreless innings. He struck out seven and walked two.
“He was getting that down call from the umpires and he was living there,” Valenzuela said. “Our guys were hitting it into the ground and swinging over top of it.”
The Dirtbags got to CSUN closer Joshua Romero thanks to a pair of walks drawn by Rocco Peppi and Burns to lead off the ninth. Kyle Ashworth singled to score Peppi, and Burns scored on an error, but a strikeout and groundout stranded the game-tying run at third base.
“I thought we’ve been taking good swings all weekend but they’re just not falling our way,” Burns said. “We just have to stay with it and we’ll figure it out.”
“It seems like everyone is beating everyone,” Valenzuela said of the Big West where his team is now in fifth place. “We just have to continue to play good baseball and we’ll come around. We have to get this one tomorrow.”