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Long Beach State’s Darren McCaughan shuts out Cal Poly

Dirtbags win game one 3-0 behind “ace” performance.

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Long Beach State junior pitchers Darren McCaughan pitched a complete game shutout against Cal Poly Friday in a 3-0 win.

Long Beach State junior pitchers Darren McCaughan pitched a complete game shutout against Cal Poly Friday in a 3-0 win.

Luke Ramirez

Luke Ramirez

Long Beach State junior pitchers Darren McCaughan pitched a complete game shutout against Cal Poly Friday in a 3-0 win.

Luke Ramirez, Assistant Sports Editor

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Darren McCaughan, the Dirtbags’ junior ace, tossed his second shutout of the year on Friday at Blair Field as No. 8 Long Beach State jumped ahead to a 1-0 advantage in their Big West Conference series against Cal Poly.

With all the recent national attention LBSU has received, the team’s dominating 3-0 win only reaffirmed the Dirtbags as a top 10 team in the country with McCaughan spearheading the rotation.

Along with his shutout, McCaughan won his 20th game to become the tenth pitcher in LBSU history to reach that mark.

The Dirtbags’ (30-14-1, 14-2 Big West) starter was hurling his “invisible mid-80’s fastball” that many scouts and writers have titled the most effective pitch in his arsenal. McCaughan’s complete game was highlighted by 11 strikeouts while only allowing three hits and one walk. The junior improved to 6-2 on the season and lowered his ERA down to 2.97.

“To do what he did [tonight] in a first place versus second place game and be able to come back from last week is huge,” head coach Troy Buckley said. “That shows resolve and mental toughness and adds to his legacy here as a pitcher.”

McCaughan admits he was pitching with a little extra energy due to a personal rivalry with the Cal Poly (20-24, 8-5 Big West) baseball program.

“I’ve been fired up since last night to play them; I couldn’t sleep,” McCaughan said. “Tonight, I took it pitch by pitch and didn’t really think about the end until I got there and it worked.”

The Mustangs coaching staff decided to pass on McCaughan when he was a pitcher in high school and have paid the price dearly the last two seasons. Cal Poly now has a .120 batting average and have yet to score a single run against him in the 17 innings it has faced him.

With this start circled on his calendar, McCaughan also had to recover from a poor outing in his last start against UC Davis April 28 (4.1 IP, 7 H, 8 ER, 5 Ks).

“I started preparing for this start last Saturday,” McCaughan said. “My intent in practice was pretty good, my [bullpen] was nails and it carried over into the game.”

McCaughan’s performance overshadowed Cal Poly junior starter Erich Uelmen’s respectable outing (6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 9 Ks).

LBSU combined for nine hits including an RBI double by junior left fielder Lucas Tancas (1 for 4) that plated senior first baseman Daniel Jackson in the bottom of the third.

Jackson had a great offensive performance going 2 for 2 with two runs scored and two walks. The Dirtbags’ veteran leader has had a great turn around after a very slow start to the season and has been very good out of the No. 2 spot in the lineup recently.

Junior right fielder Brock Lundquist provided some spark out of the lead off spot going 3 for 4 with a run scored.

On a lower note, junior designated hitter Luke Rasmussen continued a slump that’s lowered his batting average to .261 after an 0 for 4 night.

“Until we have some other options, he needs to dig himself out,” Buckley said. “He needs to figure it out and make our line up a little deeper by giving us quality at bats again.”
Game two of the series will feature Cal Poly sophomore Spencer Howard (4-1, 2.24 ERA) and junior John Sheaks (7-1, 3.15 ERA) of LBSU, who leads the Big West in wins this season. First pitch at Blair Field is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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