Around the Bases
especially good as No. 17 LBSU nips No. 6 Rice
By Abbey Mastracco
LONG BEACH, Calif. — The Dirtbags’ timing could
not have been more perfect.
J.P. Padron took a big hack at Long Beach State
closer Bryan Shaw’s nasty ball, as catcher Travis Howell framed
it perfectly. Just as home plate umpire Larry Randall called
strike three for the third out, it started to rain. Shaw
recorded the save, as LBSU defeated Rice, as well as the
elements, for the second game in a row, Saturday at Blair Field.
Once again, it was Danny Espinosa who came up big
for the Dirtbags for the second game in a row, hitting just a
triple away from the cycle and scoring all three of the No. 17
Dirtbags (2-0) runs in their 3-2 victory over No. 6 Rice (0-2).
“I think our guys are just scrappin’,” said LBSU
head coach Mike Weathers. “They’re doing what they’ve got to do
to win right now against really good pitching.”
Cole St. Clair, a local product out of Foothill
High School in Santa Ana, faced off on the mound against the
Dirtbags Saturday. The preseason All-American pick was a recent
seventh-round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians. St. Clair
earned a no decision in his third career start, as he was
recently converted from a closer.
“We’ve never seen the guy, he’s a local guy, but
he’s always been hurt,” Weathers said. “But he’s a preseason
guy, he’s got all the scouts here, so you know you’re in for a
On a pre-determined pitch count, St. Clair
surrendered four hits over four innings, giving up two runs (one
earned) and striking out three.
The Dirtbags got going early. With two outs in
the bottom of the first, Danny Espinosa got aboard with a
stand-up double through the right field gap. Shane Peterson
reached base on an error, sending Espinosa home to make the
score 1-0. Espinosa added a run in the third with a leadoff home
The Owls came back in the fourth, cutting the
lead in half, and tying in the top of the fourth when Jared
Gayhart hit an RBI single to right and catcher Kip Masuda
narrowly missed laying the tag down on J.P. Padron.
The Dirtbags retaliated, scoring the go-ahead run
in the bottom of the eighth. Espinosa reached with a leadoff
single, and with one out Lohman drove him home on a single to
Espinosa, the Dirtbags’ star shortstop, clinched
the win for LBSU Friday night against the Owls as well, with a
walk-off hit to drive in Zach Barger for the win. Espinosa, who
struggled playing for Team USA over the summer, has yet to
struggle back in Long Beach, and has been the Dirtbags’ biggest
producer in the series so far.
“I hope I can come through when the situation
calls for it,” Espinosa said. “I know I’m not the only guy who
can do it, anybody in this lineup can do it. But hopefully when
the situation calls like I said, I’ll be the guy who can come
Also coming through for the
Dirtbags was freshman Devin Lohman. Lohman earned a start at
second base Saturday and made the most of it by going 1 for 2
with an RBI, a sacrifice bunt and was hit by a pitch. Lohman
started in the DH spot Friday night in the LBSU’s 10-inning
shutout over Rice, and went 2-for-4 and reached base on error.
“Every opportunity you get
you’ve got to take advantage of,” Lohman said. “I just go out
and have fun pretty much.”
Weathers feels these big games
are valuable to Lohman as a true freshman, as he is being
groomed to take over at short for Espinosa next season.
“For a young kid he really takes
good at-bats,” Weathers said. “He’s got an inside desire in him
to do well, he really hates to fail.
Nick Vincent pitched for the win
for LBSU, while Chris Kelley received the loss.
Diego Seastrunk and J.P. Padron
led the way for the Owls. Seastrunk went 2 for 4 and Padron hit
3 for 4 off the bench. Both scored Rice’s only runs.
Weather permitting (and Weathers
permitting, no pun intended) the series concludes Sunday at 1
p.m. at Blair Field.