Long Beach, Calif. – The Long Beach State offense wasn’t overwhelming on Monday night, but it was relentless. The Dirtbags (8-4) kept constant pressure on Fresno State (11-2), and despite leaving 12 runners on base in eight innings, were able to scratch out enough runs to pull out a 4-3 come-from-behind win at Blair Field.
“It was a close game with two competitive teams,” said LBSU head coach Troy Buckley. “(Fresno State’s) a good club, they’ve won a lot of games and they’ve got some experience…The guys just kind of chipped away. They got on, got some guys around, (Zack) Domingues was huge, and there were some good at bats with runners in scoring position which is better than it has been.”
Buckley mentioned Zack Domingues by name thanks to his 4-for-4 performance on Monday night, including the go-ahead RBI in the seventh inning. Dominguez established his career high on Saturday with four hits against Nebraska and has reached that mark again just two days later. The senior third baseman is now hitting a team-best .500 on the year.
Domingues scored the first run of the night for the Dirtbags, who were facing a 3-0 deficit in the bottom of the fourth inning. The senior’s single up the middle was his second of the night and sparked a one-out rally. Eric Hutting followed it up with a bloop single to center, then Tristan Mercadel was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Garrett Hampson. The shortstop was robbed of a hit by a great diving play by third baseman Jesse Medrano, but it did serve as an RBI groundout to cut the deficit to 3-1.
The Dirtbags would then scratch in each of the next three innings to gradually take the lead. In the fifth, Alex Muzzi drew a leadoff walk and was moved around the bases for a Brock Lundquist sacrifice fly. The next inning, Domingues started things off with a leadoff single, followed by a fielder’s choice for Hutting. After a Mercadel single through the right side, an error by second baseman Jeremiah Burks allowed Hutting to score the tying run.
Finally, Long Beach State took the lead in the seventh thanks to two of its hottest hitters. Lundquist extended his hitting streak to eight games with a leadoff double hit sharply past first base. A flyout by Garrett Nelson moved him to third, setting the stage for Domingues. The Visalia, Calif. native pulled the ball through the right side of the infield allowing Lundquist to score easily for the 4-3 Dirtbags lead.
The LBSU bullpen was stellar once again, throwing three perfect innings with four total strikeouts. Ty Provencher picked up the win, his first of the year,Joshua Advocate worked the eighth for a key hold and Chris Rivera picked up his fifth save of the season, which is tied for the second most in the country.
The bottom of the order did most of the damage tonight, as the 7-8-9 hitters recorded seven of the eight hits. Along with Domingues’ fine evening, Mercadel was 2-for-2, his second multi-hit game of the year, and Hutting also added a hit and a run scored.
Fresno State took their 3-0 lead on RBIs from Kevin Viers, Nick Warren and Zach Ashford in the first, third and fourth innings, respectively. The loss is the second in a row for the Bulldogs who started out the season winning their first 11 games.
It was a quality start for Dave Smith on the mound for Long Beach State, as he was able to go six innings allowing just the three runs. The junior righty also racked up a career high eight strikeouts in the game.
Long Beach State hits the road for its first series away from home, taking on the Oklahoma Sooners for a three-game set this Friday-Sunday in Norman, Okla. Games can be heard live on KBeach Radio at KBeach.org, and start times may vary due to rain.
Edgar Gonzalez got his team-high fourth start on the mound for the ‘Dogs throwing four innings allowing four hits, one earned run and a notched a season-high six strikeouts. Kenny Varnell tossed a scoreless fifth inning allowing one hit and got his first strikeout as a Bulldog.Mark Reece and Brennon Williams also pitched for the Bulldogs.