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Baseball Long Beach State

Long Beach State Dirtbags Beat USC At Angel Stadium

The562’s coverage of Dirtbags Baseball for the 2023 season is sponsored by P2S, Inc. Visit p2sinc.com to learn more.

Tuesday was a rare game at Angel Stadium for the Long Beach State Dirtbags, and they got a few fantastic performances in an 8-4 win over USC.

The game, organized by both universities and the Angels, is the tenth time the Dirtbags program played at a big league park after visiting the Kingdome in Seattle, AT&T Park in San Francisco and Petco Park in San Diego.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Dirtbags coach Eric Valenzuela said. “I want to thank the Angels and USC for hosting us, that’s two historic programs that get to come together in front of about four or five thousand people. It was awesome. And I saw a lot of Dirtbags fans there too.”

Dirtbags junior Jashia Morrissey-Jakel delivered the most exciting moment of the night when he blasted a grand slam home run down the right field line to put his team up 4-0 in the second inning. According to MLB Statcast the home run came off his bat at 102.5 MPH and would’ve been out of all 30 MLB ballparks.

“That view rounding the bases was kind of insane, I’m not going to lie,” Morrissey-Jakel said. “That was my mom’s first time ever seeing me hit a home run. That was huge for me to see my mom (Danielle) in the stands.”

A young Dirtbags fan retrieved the home run ball, and Morrissey-Jakel signed it for him after the game.

“The support was great and we greatly appreciate it, from the whole club,” he added.

The Dirtbags finished with 12 hits as Morrissey-Jakel, Rocco Peppi, Connor Burns, Nick Marinconz and Kyle Ashworth all had multiple hits.

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On the mound, LBSU starting pitcher Jake Rons had one of his best outings of his career in six innings of work. The righty scattered five hits and two walks while striking out nine and only giving up one run in the fifth inning.

“Right before the first pitch I kind of just took a second to take it all in,” Rons said. “I looked up and around to see the whole stadium. It was pretty cool. That was the best mound (I’ve ever pitched off of).”

“I’m so proud of him because he’s been here for years and had his ups and downs, even this season, but he’s always stayed positive,” Valenzuela said of Rons. “If there’s anyone who deserves this outing and performance it’s definitely him. He’s been great for the last month and that’s why he got the start tonight.”

When Rons got into some trouble in the sixth inning, Valenzuela came out for a mound visit with plans to remove his starter. Rons and catcher Connor Burns convinced him otherwise.

“(Rons) basically told me to get my butt off the mound,” Valenzuela said. “He was convincing, and Connor said ‘He’s got it.’”

Rons then got a strikeout to stand a pair of runners in scoring position.

“It’s Angel Stadium so I thought (Rons) came out a little more focused,” said Burns, who led off the seventh inning with a home run over the scoreboard in right center field. “His stuff looked good and was hitting spots early. He got ahead and got himself out of a few jams.”

The Dirtbags (25-17, 9-9) host CSU Bakersfield for a Big West Conference series this weekend, and have 13 games left in the regular season.

“It’s huge,” Burns said of the win. “USC is having a good year, and going into the last part of the season we need wins. Coming off not as great a weekend as we wanted to have and being able to bounce back right away with a grand slam… and we didn’t let the ball park get to us, which I think we handled pretty well tonight.”

PHOTOS: Long Beach State Dirtbags vs. USC Baseball at Angel Stadium
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.