Daily 49er

LBSU baseball will travel to the desert to play Arizona State in weekend series

The Dirtbags look to bounce back on the road after a tough loss on Tuesday.

Eddie Rivera, contributing writer

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An emerging pitching staff and improved offense will lead the Long Beach State baseball team into Phoenix to take on No. 21 Arizona State for a three-game series starting Friday night.

The Dirtbags (8-4) rank 13th in the country in earned run average and fifth in strikeouts per inning. Freshman right-hander Darren McCaughan said he was confident the team’s pitching performance would continue away from home.

“We’ve taken it to the teams out here at Blair Field,” McCaughan said. “Now it’s our first time really on the road. We have a young team so we will see how we can handle it.”

Freshman right-hander Chris Mathewson earned Big West Pitcher of the Week after throwing seven no-hit innings against Wichita State. He said he was looking forward to this weekend’s matchup against the Sun Devils (7-4).

The Dirtbags crushed the Sun Devils 11-0 at home on Feb. 21 in last year’s lone matchup. This year’s showdown will take place in Phoenix starting at 5:30 p.m. at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

LBSU head coach Troy Buckley said it would be good for the team to head out on the road to get out of their comfort zone.

“It’s our first road weekend, and it’s against a high quality Pac-12 opponent,” Buckley said.

Sophomore shortstop Garrett Hampson and junior right-fielder Zack Rivera were part of the rout last year. Hampson has a .326 batting average and leads the Dirtbags in runs (12), hits (14) and runs batted in (10). Rivera leads the team in slugging percentage with a .512 and is tied in hits (14) and second in RBI (9).

“I’ve been more aggressive at the plate lately,” Hampson said. “It’s really paying off.”

The Sun Devils are part of the loaded Pac-12 conference that includes No. 6 UCLA and No. 8 Oregon. Two-time Big Ten coach of the year Tracy Smith leads ASU in his first year as head coach.

 

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