Long Beach State University and Cal combined for a hearty 17 hits, but the LBSU Dirtbags couldn’t convert their hits into runs, unlike the Golden Bears. On top of double-digit hits, Cal smacked four no-doubters over various portions of the fence, aiding them to a concise 7-1 home victory.
Through the fourth to the seventh innings, the Bears went on a scoring tirade. They scored at least one run in four straight innings while only allowing one from the Dirtbags.
Andrew Vaughn continued adding to his impressive collegiate career with the start of the game. He took a heater to the opposite side of the field for his ninth home run of the season. The Bears were able to start off with a 2-0 lead thanks to Vaughn’s power hitting.
The bottom of the fourth inning was a hot, cheap, meatball sandwich left on your kitchen counter after it’s taken out of the microwave. It started off hot and promising but ended cold and disappointing.
Catcher Korey Lee made solid bat-to-ball contact for a lead-off home run. His third homer of the year got the ball rolling for the Bears second offensive affair of the game.
”I just stayed the same I’ve been doing all year, just stick it in the right side, that’s where my strength is,” Lee said.
Max Flower followed in Lee’s footsteps with a double that snuck right down the foul line past LBSU’s first baseman.
Things started to cool down when Sam Wezniak attempted a safety squeeze and botched his bunt, resulting in the pitcher quickly assisting the catcher at home to tag Flower for the first out of the inning.
Shortly after, things went from ‘not great’ to ‘oh jeez’ when Darren Baker got caught in a rundown between second and third. This savvy defensive play from the Dirtbags got them one out closer to retiring the sides.
Vacaville native Cole Elvis batted in the designated hitter spot with two outs. Elvis fought against LBSU’s pitcher for what seemed like 50 pitches. His fight at the plate proved to be a losing battle, as he was struck out with a fastball right over the middle.
Stoutenborough ground out another inning to reach the bottom of the fifth. The Golden Bears started out with hot bats again, scoring their fourth run.
The dirtbags responded promptly with their first score of the game.
Stoutenborough could feel the pressure increasing. There were two runners in scoring position. He baited the Dirtbag batter into biting on a curve and flying out to right field for an easy out.
In the next inning, Lee waited patiently at the plate for a perfect pitch to hit his second home run of the game. That pitch arrived at his bat as the second throw of the inning and left over the left-center field.
Lee’s two homers accounted for half of the teams home run total.
”It kind of got inside on me, so I had to pull my hands in, and I haven’t really pulled the ball up in the air this year, and that was the first time, and it felt good,” Lee said. “Anything I can do to score, anything I can do to get on (base) is the best thing.”
The trend of home runs and extra-base hits continued into the seventh. Third baseman Quentin Selma hit his first home run of the season and collegiate career, making four total in the victory over Long Beach.
Selma said on his first career homer, “It felt great. I got two strikes, was trying to protect, and I got a fastball over the dish that I was able to hit. I was honestly trying to stay back a little more, I felt a little jumpy in my first two ‘AB’and was just trying to see it in.”
The Dirtbags pitcher psyche started to unravel afterward. He committed a balk, unenforced by the umpire despite the Cal crowd behind the infield clearly stating in unison, “BALK, HE BALKED.”
He then threw a wild pitch behind the catcher allowing Vaughn to run home for their seventh score.
This required the infield and manager to huddle up around him to let him know his appearance on the mound was over for the day.
The fresh arm provided Long Beach with a cushion against Cal’s potent offense. Bases were loaded, and Garrett Nielsen stepped up to the plate, literally. He did not, however, step up to the plate figuratively, and promptly grounded to the third baseman ending the inning with two runners in scoring position.
Cal earned this victory with their smart batting, strong defense and gritty pitching.
Up Next: Cal (12-11) plays Long Beach(3-21) in the second game of their three-game series at 3 p.m. March 20, at Evans Diamond in Berkley, Ca.