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Baseball Long Beach State

Huge First Inning Boosts Dirtbags Past San Diego State

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It’s not everyday that you see a team holding a five-run lead while being outhit 3-2 in the first inning. But on Tuesday night at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field the Dirtbags were that team. 

Long Beach State batted around in the first inning against visiting San Diego State, using four walks and three hit-by-pitches in an empathetic seven run first inning en route to the win, 12-5.

“It’s a part of what we’ve been stressing to our offense as a whole,” said Dirtbags coach Bryan Peters. “There was a stretch two or three weeks ago when we were easy outs, didn’t have any plate discipline, and we weren’t making the pitchers work at all. It’s good for us to be able to see the fruits of our labor, being able to have better plate discipline, make better swing decisions, be tougher outs, make the guys work and put up tougher fights. It wasn’t necessarily smash, smash, smash, but it was good quality at bats, taking walks, getting hit by pitches, and scoring some runs in bunches and I think it was a bunch of good quality at bats wrapped up together which is good for us.”

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After giving up two in the top of the first, the Dirtbags started a rally of their own with two consecutive walks and a HBP to load the bases. LBSU then scored three runs with an RBI single from Jack Hammond alongside RBI’s from Armando Briseno and Nick Marinconz, before a huge two-RBI double from Justin Roulston. LBSU added another run off an HBP to conclude their seven run first inning.

Coming into the game Roulston had been in the mix at left field with trouble seeing the field in his sophomore season, but came up big delivering his two-RBI double in the first to give LBSU their first and final lead. He had totaled just four RBI coming into Tuesday, and said it was nice to come up big for the Bags’ and contribute to a huge opening inning.

“It’s been a little struggle coming into the lineup getting some at-bats off the bench and I know I haven’t been getting the results that I wanted,” he said. “But I just kept on working my swing out and I knew that big swing was gonna come eventually. I just thought, ‘see the ball, hit ball,’ keep it simple. I think that’s the best thing to do in baseball.”

After two scoreless innings the Dirtbags added insurance runs from Armando Briseno’s RBI sac-ground in the fourth while Cole Santander hit an RBI double alongside an Alex Champagne RBI sac-fly in the fifth. LBSU added two more in the sixth from back-to-back RBI doubles by Santander and John Newman Jr..

Newman went 1/2 at the plate with two RBI while Kyle Ashworth reached on all six of his at-bats and added three runs, meanwhile Cole Santander swung 2/4 at the plate with three runs and three RBI.

“Ashworth has been doing it all year long,” said Peters. “He’s a really tough at-bat, he puts up a tough fight and the pitcher has to work his butt off to get him out. Now Santander is one of the ones who was making it easy as it can be on pitchers a couple weeks ago. So to see Cole one, be willing to make adjustments, two, put it into play, and three, turn it into good quality at bats was good. It was something that we knew he was capable of and we’re perfectly timed to get him back to having good at bats and good decisions. He’s lining up good plate discipline with good swings, and you put those things together and he’s a dangerous hitter.”

“It felt great tonight,” added Santander. “We’ve all been working super hard so to be able to get that to pay off is great.”

With SDSU’s young roster of 18 freshmen, the Bags were able to pick on a young defense and forced a pitching change before the final out of the first inning. On the other end, Peters made sure to keep a fresh arm on the mound for LBSU spreading work between pitchers Van Larsen, Nathan Morris, Nick Williams, and Jonathan Largaespada.

“We had to be really strategic with how many arms we were able to use,” he said. “We wanted to put everyone in a position to succeed so we used the guys that were fresh and used the guys who were good matchups for the game today while also being able to save a bit for the weekend series at the same time. So the guys we used were very strategic and they all did a good job.”’

After the first inning SDSU added three more runs in the fourth and fifth. Jake Jackson went 3/3 with a run and an RBI, meanwhile Shaun Montoya, Jacob Mccombs, and Brady Lavoie recorded a hit and a run each.

LBSU will look ahead to the weekend for their three-game series at home against UC Riverside starting on Friday at 6 pm.

“We have to keep learning,” said Peters. “There were some things in this game to celebrate, but definitely some learning opportunities. (After the game) I wanted to hammer the message that there are several things in this game that we could and should have done better. We pride ourselves on preparation, so let’s not get comfortable and let’s carry this into some success into the weekend.”

Eli Aquino
Eli Aquino is a high school student with plenty of writing and technology skills. He has a healthy knowledge and passion for sports and looks to take on journalism as a future career.