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Baseball Lakewood Long Beach State Millikan

Anthony Eyanson Leads UC San Diego Past Myles Patton And Long Beach State Dirtbags

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Friday was a special moment for the Long Beach baseball community.

Not only did Long Beach State Dirtbags ace Myles Patton and UC San Diego pitcher Anthony Eyanson renew their high school rivalry as graduates of Millikan and Lakewood, respectively, they also did it on Bohl Diamond at Blair Field where they played the majority of their Moore League matchups for the rival Rams and Lancers.

“Unreal,” said Eyanson of coming back and playing in a familiar setting with friends and family in the stands. “It’s a full circle moment. To be able to pitch here and get memories of Lakewood and Millikan games and all of that… It’s really exciting, and there’s no better feeling.”

Eyanson made the most of his homecoming by taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning and leading UC San Diego to a 5-1 victory. Patton also pitched well, but a pair of home runs from Brock Kleszcz were the Dirtbags undoing.

“I was pretty excited, it was pretty cool to have that matchup again,” said Patton, who spoke with Eyanson before the game. “Even though it stings a bit right now, we’ve pitched against each other a couple times and it’s awesome to see.”

“Anyone has to appreciate that this is a good day for Long Beach, it’s good Long Beach stuff,” said Dirtbags coach Bryan Peters. “Obviously, we would love to have had the Long Beach day go Long Beach State’s way but they were able to string some hits together and capitalize on some of our mistakes.”

Patton was fantastic working his slider off an accurate fastball, but the two pitches he left up for Kleszcz to launch over the left field fence ended up being the difference. The lefty pitched 6.2 innings while scattering six hits and a pair of walks. He also stuck out nine, but gave up all five earned runs.

“Obviously those two pitches really hurt,” said Patton. “It sucks to get two balls in the wind to get them out of here. It’s hard to look past that but it’s not going to slow us down or slow me down or take away confidence. It’s not going to happen often. I’ll take my chances with the stuff I was doing and just continue to do the same thing.”

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Eyanson took control early by featuring his elite curve ball to keep the Dirtbags hitters off balance. He worked 6.1 innings and only gave up one hit in the sixth. He struck out eight and walked three. He also hit a batter.

“That’s kind of who I am now as a pitcher, just pitching backwards,” said Eyanson of the curveball. “That’s how I play the game and it’s comfortable for me. I feel like it worked.”

Eyanson moved to 4-1 on the season and after the game he was still soaking up all of the Lakewood love from the Lancers in attendance who waited to give him a round of applause as he and his teammates went to the bus.

“When I ran out there I had to look at everybody in the stands and just take in the moment, and understand it probably won’t happen again here, but I’m glad that it did,” said Eyanson, who felt the uniqueness of the moment. “Everything (was different). Long Beach baseball, it’s never normal.”

After pitching around a pair of walks in the first inning, Eyanson retired 11 batters in a row before hitting Justin Roulston in the fifth inning. Eyanson stranded him at second base with a pair of strikeouts thanks to the curveball.

Leadoff hitter Kyle Ashworth’s clean single to leadoff the sixth inning was the first hit for the Dirtbags, and he ended up scoring on a perfectly executed double steal with two outs to make it 2-1.

UC San Diego responded with Kleszcz’ second 2-run home run of the night and tacked on another run after Patton’s exit. Patton gave up the second homer on his 99th pitch of the game and made a career-high 109 pitches in the game.

The Dirtbags only managed one more hit off of UC San Diego reliever Izaak Martinez.

“The game wasn’t as ugly or dark as it seemed,” said Peters. “It was two really good pitching performances. They got some balls up and did damage with runners on base. That’s what any good team would do and obviously that’s a good team. There’s no such thing in this program as a moral victory. We’ve got a challenge in front of us to get better and that’s what is in front of us right now.”

After the game, both Patton and Eyanson talked about representing Long Beach baseball.

“I definitely try to always keep that in mind to always be a good teammate, be a good person on and off the field, and just do my part to keep baseball strong in this community,” said Patton. “It’s a historic community for baseball. Some of the best baseball players ever come from a five mile radius of Blair Field. It’s a pretty sweet thing to just keep that legacy going and just compete every day for Long Beach.”

The second game of the series is Saturday at 6 p.m.

VIDEO: Long Beach State vs. UC San Diego, College Baseball
PHOTOS: Long Beach State Dirtbags vs. UC San Diego, 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.