Baseball Long Beach State

Long Beach State Dirtbags Sweep Fullerton In Big West Play For First Time Since 2002

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March Madness college basketball is defined by last-minute moments deciding everything, and  while most of the country was sweating their brackets on Sunday, one shining moment changed everything for the Long Beach State Dirtbags.

LBSU freshman shortstop Adrian Lopez came to the plate in the eighth inning of a tie game against Fullerton with two runners on and no outs.

“I had the bunt sign on and they picked off twice, and I don’t know what made me change it, but after two picks I took the bunt sign off and let him swing,” Dirtbags coach Bryan Peters said.

Lopez proceeded to hit a 3-run home run over the left field wall to help the Dirtbags beat Fullerton 9-6 and sweep the rival Titans in Big West play for the first time since 2002.

“I put my best swing on it, I was able to catch a little barrel out in front and it kept going,” Lopez said. “This is something you dream of when you come here. Everyone knows this is like the biggest weekend for us, we’re just trying to make a statement and what better way to do that than against Fullerton?”

Even though the ball jumped off his bat, Lopez didn’t release his arms for a big follow through, and there was a very good reason.

“It was either going to go 500 feet foul or right where it was supposed to go,” Lopez said.

Lopez has been a huge addition to the team and he leads the Dirtbags with 19 RBI and five home runs. 

“He’s been special,” Peters said. “We stayed gritty, we stayed with it and came through in the end.”

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In a back and forth battle on Sunday, the Dirtbags had an answer three times after the Titans tied the game or took the lead. Leadoff hitter Kyle Ashworth had four hits, two RBI and three runs scored. Center Fielder Alex Champagne had three hits with an RBI and a run scored.

The sweep of Fullerton comes after a five-game losing streak as Big West play begins.

“We went back to winning baseball,” Lopez said. “In the first two weekends of the season we were having long team at-bats over and over again and we were finding success. We kind of got away from that a little bit, but now we’re back to it. You have to take that into consideration on every single pitch. It’s okay if you strike out but you saw eight pitches and you’re giving the next guy a better opportunity.”

The Sunday crowd at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field of 3,246 fans was the second largest in school history behind the 3,342 who saw the Dirtbags play USC on Feb. 21, 2009. Over the three games, the 8,948 fans who came through the turnstiles broke the school record for a regular season series. The previous regular season mark was 8,035 against Fullerton in 1996.

The Dirtbags (13-8-1, 3-3) visit Cal State Bakersfield this weekend.

PHOTOS: Long Beach State Dirtbags vs. Cal State Fullerton
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.