Feb. 25, 2008

Around the Bases

Around the Bases

No. 6 Rice salvages final game at No. 17 Long Beach State

By Abbey Mastracco


LONG BEACH, Calif. — Long Beach State and Rice battled more than just the elements in the Dirtbags’ home opener this weekend. Throughout the series a consistent theme emerged. Instead of fighting the rain, the biggest element the two teams battled this weekend was pitching.


The No. 17 Dirtbags (2-1)  were unable to close out the series with a sweep Sunday, at Blair Field, as they fell to the No. 6 Owls (1-2) 3-1. Yet again, another low scoring game was seen as Rice pitcher Matt Langwell nearly shut out LBSU, giving up just one run, a solo homer deep in left field by Zach Barger, and just three hits, striking out eight in the win.


Despite the series win, the loss, according to LBSU head coach Mike Weathers, exposed some of the newness in the Dirtbag club.


“Overall it was a very successful weekend, I was more than happy with our performance,” Weathers said. “Sometimes I think when you win a series it covers up some of your problems still. I think there’s still things that we’re trying to find out about ourselves.”


Both teams struggled with the bats Sunday. LBSU managed only four hits while Rice had only five. Jake Thompson, the Dirtbags’ true freshman who skipped his senior year of high school at nearby Wilson High to pitch this season, surrendered just one earned run and two unearned off only two hits in six innings.


“He can feel good about that. That was a good outing,” Weathers said.


The outing was the first in more than a year for the young righty. Eligibility issues from a transfer forced Thompson to redshirt last season in high school. Thompson said it was just another start, and they’re all the same no matter what level he’s pitching at, be it high school or Division I.


“I just don’t try and think about it too much,” Thompson said. “I just think about another batter another game; keep the ball down; just throw strikes.”


Thompson cruised for four innings, hitting his mark with his fastball and utilizing a changeup, until his outing was spoiled in the fourth. Second baseman Jason Tweedy dropped a ball, missing an easy throw to second, allowing Chad Mozingo to reach first with no outs. Diego Seastrunk then dropped a ball into the right field gap for a double, and Aaron Luna hit a sac fly to drive in Monzingo. A fielder’s choice by Abe Gonzales cleared the bases for the Owls, putting LBSU in a 2-0 hole.


The Dirtbags responded in the next inning with Barger’s one-out homer, but couldn’t drive in Brandon Godfrey after he reached base when first baseman Gonzales let a ball dribble through his legs down the right field line.