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Long Beach State Dirtbags feel at home in N.C.

LBSU makes a statement against No. 8 North Carolina.

Long+Beach+State+celebrates+a+victory+over+University+of+North+Carolina+Saturday.+The+Dirtbags+went+on+to+win+the+weekend+series+2-1+against+the+Tar+Heels.
Long Beach State celebrates a victory over University of North Carolina Saturday. The Dirtbags went on to win the weekend series 2-1 against the Tar Heels.

Long Beach State celebrates a victory over University of North Carolina Saturday. The Dirtbags went on to win the weekend series 2-1 against the Tar Heels.

Nathan Klima

Nathan Klima

Long Beach State celebrates a victory over University of North Carolina Saturday. The Dirtbags went on to win the weekend series 2-1 against the Tar Heels.

Luke Ramirez, Assistant Sports Editor

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Despite what has been an up-and-down start to the season, the Long Beach State Dirtbags gained some momentum after winning two out of three games against No. 8 North Carolina in Chapel Hill this weekend.

“It was good to see the guys go on the road against a quality team and compete,” head coach Troy Buckley said. “Overall, I’m very pleased with how the weekend went.”

The Dirtbags (6-5) got two solid starting pitching performances from junior pitchers Darren McCaughan (1-1) and John Sheaks (1-1) in games one and two.

McCaughan and Sheaks held the Tar Heels (9-3) to just three earned runs in a combined 12.1 innings pitched. Offensively, the Dirtbags’ hitters collected 25 hits and scored 14 runs in the series.

“Being the third week into this season, it looked like [the team] finally got their feet on the ground,” Buckley said.

Sheaks earned his first win of the season in game two after throwing 5.1 innings, allowing one run over four hits, and struck out three batters.

“It felt great to get the first [win] out of the way,” Sheaks said. “It was a great team win and I couldn’t have done it without the offense clicking and the bullpen coming in after me.”

Junior third baseman Ramsey Romano had the most productive weekend at the plate, going 5 for 13 with three RBI’s against the North Carolina.

“I always knew that was in me,” Romano said. “I just had to prove it to my teammates and show that I can be a part of this offense and be a guy that makes things happen.”

In the ninth inning of game one, Romano hit a single with the bases loaded and two outs that scored two runs, giving the Dirtbags the lead after being tied 2-2.

“Ramsey did a great job in every at bat this weekend,” Buckley said. “They were all quality plate appearances and he showed me that he can be one of the more competitive guys in this lineup.”

The Tar Heels managed to avoid the sweep in game three, winning 8-5. LBSU took a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning, but could not keep the Heels at bay as they answered with a five-run bottom half of the inning.

“This series was huge for us,” Sheaks said. “Those two wins are going to help us out a lot when it comes to making the playoffs.”

LBSU’s strong performance helps with the team’s morale and confidence at this point in the season.

“We definitely got a better understanding of what this team is capable of when we work as a team,” Romano said.

The Dirtbags will try to keep up their recent success on the road when they head to Phoenix for a three-game series against Arizona State March 10-12.

“This weekend showed that we can go out and beat just about anyone, even on the road,” Sheaks said.

LBSU’s next home game will follow the Arizona State University series on March 13 against No. 1 Texas Christian University.

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