March 1, 2008

Around the Bases

Around the Bases
Peterson ends marathon for No. 10 LBSU vs. No. 13 WSU
By Abbey Mastracco


LONG BEACH, Calif. — Two near defensive collapses pushed No. 10 Long Beach State and No. 13 Wichita State late into Friday night at Blair Field.


The Dirtbags took Game 1 of the three-game series 3-2 in dramatic fashion when Shane Peterson crushed a fastball to the deep center-field warning track to drive in Devin Lohman in the bottom of the 12th inning for LBSU’s second walk-off win of the season.


The Dirtbags advanced to 3-2 on the season, while handing the Shockers (3-1) their first loss.


“Somebody has got to do it,” Peterson said. “I knew we had a pretty good chance [going into extra innings] because our bullpen was so good. So I knew we could do it as long as we could manufacture a run.”


Peterson finished 3 for 6 with a RBI, and Danny Espinosa continued his hot start for the Dirtbags, going 4 for 5 with a run and a double.


Ryan Jones led the Shockers, reaching base safely three times – two singles and on an error – and scoring once. Connor Gillaspie also went 2 for 5 and had a double.


The Shockers fell behind early as the Dirtbags put a run on the board in the third. In the bottom of the sixth, Long Beach was poised to break open the game with an offensive burst but managed to drive in just one run, despite four runners reaching base.


Andrew Liebel proved why he is the Dirtbags’ Friday-night ace. In his second appearance in the role, Liebel tied his career-high in strikeouts, fanning 11 for the second time in as many starts.


“There’s not much else to say about how outstanding he’s been,” LBSU head coach Mike Weathers said. “We stretched him out to 109 [pitches], and we tried to go 105. We went a little longer than we wanted to, but he didn’t want to come out.”


For three straight innings Liebel retired the side. The Shockers threatened in the fourth inning, but Long Beach escaped the inning with steady defense.


“He makes that happen,” Weathers said. “I think the guys like playing behind him.”


Liebel tossed 7.1 innings, surrendering four hits and walking one. He was on track for the win until the Shockers scored an unearned run in a disastrous eighth inning in which Devin Lohman committed two throwing errors in one at-bat to allow the Shockers to score two and knot the game at 2.


“Freshman mistake,” Weathers said. “He got out of control, trying to do something not knowing the situation…Young mistakes, hopefully he learns from them. He’s a good player.”


The series continues Saturday at Blair Field at 2 p.m. The right-handed matchup will feature WSU’s Aaron Shafer (1-0, 1.50) facing off against Vance Worley (0-0, 2.57).