June 1, 2008


Long Beach State eliminates California


By Abbey Mastracco



LONG BEACH, Calif. - What Long Beach State failed to figure out Friday night against Fresno State came easy to them Saturday afternoon, as the No. 1-seeded Dirtbags piled on the hits to overtake No. 3 seed California 9-2 and knock off the Golden Bears Saturday afternoon at Blair Field in the Long Beach Regional.

“We just got cold at the wrong time,” said Cal head coach David Esquer. Cal went down in the regional 0-2, losing in a 5-0 shutout to No. 2 seed San Diego, Friday afternoon. “The opposition was able to take a lot of advantage of our mistakes today. We didn’t play good baseball.”

The Dirtbags got to the Golden Bears’ bullpen early, as they quickly hit up starter Craig  Bennigson (4-5) for two runs, before moving on to five other relievers for seven more. Brett Lorin (5-3) pitched Long Beach into Sunday, going five innings, giving two runs, both off a Blake Smith homer, four hits, walking two and fanning five for the win. Bennigson was charged with the loss

“I felt great today,” Lorin said. “My curveball was better than it had been probably all season. Everything was just working today.”

“As always, it starts with pitching,” Weathers said. “I thought Brett Lorin matched up real well against Cal. I thought he set the tone.”

Former Golden Bears Jason Corder and Travis Howell led the game for the Dirtbags. Corder went 2 for 4 with a walk and a double, three RBI and scored once. Howell finished 3 for 5 with a double, a run and an RBI. Jonathan Jones went 2 for 4 with a run, an RBI, a walk, a hit by a pitch and two stolen bases.

“The other thing I think we did today was we got key hits,” Weathers said. “As I said here last night, we didn’t have very many quality at-bats, we had a whole bunch today. We moved some runners around and got some key hits.”

A stellar defensive play by Jones set the tone for the game. Lorin walked Rich Gorman to start off the bottom of the first inning, and after Gorman was moved over on a sacrifice bunt, David Cooper hit a lazy fly ball just over a leaping Danny Espinosa’s head into shallow left field. Jones, playing in, scooped up the ball and gunned down on the fly to catcher Travis Howell for the putout, preventing the lead run from crossing the plate.

“That play was big because the momentum shifted,” Jones said. “If they would have scored, of course they would have had the momentum, so we took their momentum and used it to our advantage.”

Smith’s homer in the top of the fourth put the Golden Bears within three runs of tying. But the Dirtbags, playing as the visiting team in their home ballpark, responded by taking three straight singles and a double off closer Scott Gorgen in the bottom of the inning to put Long Beach up 7-2.

“I would hate to get caught when we get a chance to not use one of our best pitchers all weekend,” Esquer said of the decision to bring his closer on the mound in the fourth inning.

Corder blew the game open against his former team in the top of the eighth, adding two more runs with a sharp double through the left field gap to drive in Jones and Brandon Godfrey. The Dirtbags then capped off the game with four innings of hit-less relief.

The Dirtbags will face the loser of the 6 p.m. contest between San Diego and Fresno State, Sunday at 1 p.m. at Blair Field. The Dirtbags advanced to 37-20 on the season, while the Golden Bears ended theirs as 33-21-2.