Baseball Long Beach State

Myles Patton Deals, Dirtbags Walks Off Winners Against Milwaukee

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Over the first three weeks of the season the Long Beach State Dirtbags have proven they can do a lot of things, but going away quietly at the end of games isn’t one of them.

On Friday night against Milwaukee on Bohl Diamond at Blair Field, the Dirtbags tied the game in the eighth, ninth and eleventh innings while coming back to win 5-4 on a walk-off wild pitch in the eleventh.

“It’s just no quit,” said catcher John Newman Jr., who was at the plate to draw the ball four wild pitch that allowed Ty Borgogno to score the game-winning run.

“We saw it at the end of our winter scrimmages,” he added. “It never felt like we were just giving away at bats. It never felt like we were quitting. We were always just gritty and there’s just a good team vibe. We never feel like we’re out of it. Ever.”

The Dirtbags (6-1-1) have now played four extra innings games and the 84 innings over the first eight games of the season is by far a program record. In those extra innings games against Washington, Omaha, UCLA and Milwaukee the Dirtbags have come back to tie the game eight different times in the sixth inning or later.

“It’s uncanny that this team has this kind of grit,” said Dirtbags coach Bryan Peters. “But, the things we preach the most about our brand are toughness and competitiveness. When you’re constantly tough and you’re constantly competitive you’re never out of a game.”

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Millikan High alum and sophomore lefty Myles Patton also delivered a stellar performance in his first Friday night start for the Dirtbags. He recorded a career-high 13 strikeouts in six innings while scattering five hits, a walk and giving up two runs.

“It’s for sure a lifelong dream, it’s something I’ve been hoping to accomplish and get out of the way for a while,” said Patton of his first Friday night start on the field where he played his most important high school games. “I’m really thankful for the opportunity. It was awesome.”

Patton struck out five of the first six batters he faced, and then got into trouble in the third inning. Milwaukee’s Tai Walton crushed a slider to center field that Alex Champagne seemed to have a beat on, but he overran it for a triple. Three pitches later on another slider, Thomas Otto put a fly ball RBI double onto the warning track in left field that Connor Charpiot couldn’t get to as the visitors took the lead.

After a sacrifice bunt and a misplayed foul ball, another mistake on a bunt allowed Milwaukee to take a 2-0 lead. Patton got a strikeout and pickoff to get out of the jam. He only gave up one hit for the rest of the game, and stuck out the side on his way out of the sixth.

“They put some good swings on some pretty well executed sliders, but they didn’t put any good swings on the heater so we’re just gonna shove it down their throat and dominate with that,” said Patton.

“He pitched masterfully,” said Peters of Patton. “They burned our outfielders twice on some pretty good pitches.”

Patton has 30 strikeouts and five walks in 16.2 innings pitched this season. He started the first two Saturday games before taking the ball Friday.

“He’s completely earned it in every way possible from his work ethic, his character, his makeup, his leadership and most importantly he’s got Friday night stuff, demeanor and mentality,” said Peters. “He’s a very poised and competitive killer on the mound. What’s going on inside isn’t reflected on the outside. He’s in complete control with so much poise.”

Newman Jr., who was catching Patton in a game for the first time, echoed his coach.

“Myles is electric so I’m just back there kind of just catching the ball,” he said. “I just try to keep him locked in, motivated and on the right stuff at the right times. He kind of just does the rest. He’s got the good stuff so he just trusts it and lets it eat.”

Patton returned the compliment to his battery mate.

“He’s got a very high baseball IQ and he can just see little things in the game that other people don’t notice and that makes a big difference,” he said.

Patton and relievers Nathan Morris, Nick Wallerstedt, Cristien Banda, Alexander Mihalakis, Nick Williams and Jonathan Largaespeda racked up 21 strikeouts, which is fifth most by any NCAA team this season.

“The execution is off the charts,” said Newman Jr. of the staff. “(Pitching coach Jeff Opalewski) comes in with a good game plan and the guys trust him, they trust me back there and they’re just executing pitches and the strikeouts just come.”

The Dirtbags had a lot of hard contact throughout the game, but as Peters said, “It felt like they were playing someone everywhere we hit the ball early in the game, I thought we deserved a little bit more success.”

In the eighth inning, freshman shortstop Adrian Lopez delivered a two-run home run to tie it 2-2. After Milwaukee retook the lead in the top of the ninth, Jack Hammond hit a two-out home run to send the game to extra innings.

Singles from Champagne and Borgogno led off the bottom of the eleventh, and then an Ashworth bunt was misplayed to load the bases. Hammond grounded out to score a run and tie the game, and then after a strikeout, Newman Jr. worked a full count before watching ball four go to the backstop allowing Borgogno to score the game-winning run.

When asked what his team can improve on, Peters pointed to his dugout where the energy for comebacks come from.

“I know that the vibe is still good, but (during the postgame talk with the team) I said, ‘This is the worst our dugout was all year.’ A good dugout is hard to define. It’s not cheerleading. It’s not trash talking. It’s just being so engaged in the game that you’re willing success for your teammates. It wasn’t our best, so we have to get better at that.”

The Dirtbags and Milwaukee (0-7) play against Saturday at 6 p.m.

PHOTOS: Long Beach State Dirtbags vs. Milwaukee, NCAA Baseball
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.