Daily 49er

Long Beach rallied late, but could not overcome a 1-0 Arizona State lead

The Dirtbags’ offense struggled again in game one of two against the Sun Devils this week.

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Long Beach State freshman pitcher Adam Seminaris delivers a pitch to an Arizona State batter during the game Tuesday at Blair Field.

Long Beach State freshman pitcher Adam Seminaris delivers a pitch to an Arizona State batter during the game Tuesday at Blair Field.

Hunter Lee

Hunter Lee

Long Beach State freshman pitcher Adam Seminaris delivers a pitch to an Arizona State batter during the game Tuesday at Blair Field.

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Long Beach came within inches of erasing a forgettable hitting performance Tuesday against Arizona State, but a ninth inning rally was snuffed out after Sun Devils’ left fielder Trevor Hauver dove and robbed a potential game-winning hit from the Dirtbags.

“He made a heck of a play,” Long Beach head coach Troy Buckley simply said.

ASU (3-4) beat LBSU (2-5) after holding the home team to just four hits, the fourth time this season that Long Beach has seen its offense total less than five in a game.

“We just didn’t have any competitive heart, and we didn’t put any pressure on the defense,” Buckley said.

Arizona State pounced on freshman starting pitcher Adam Seminaris for three hits and a run in the top of the first inning. The RBI came on a sharp single into right field by freshman left fielder Scott Mehan.

Seminaris was able to catch his breath and settle in nicely, allowing only two baserunners over the next three innings. He struck out the side in the top of the fourth inning, placing his mid 80s fastball on both sides of the plate and dropping in the occasional breaking ball to keep hitters off balance. He threw 5 ⅓ innings and struck out eight batters, but was ultimately tagged with his second loss of the season.

Seminaris ran into trouble in the top of the sixth inning after allowing a base hit and a walk with one out. That forced Long Beach to go to the bullpen and call upon junior Eli Villalobos, who had been pegged as the team’s Saturday starter for the first two weekend series.

His last outing came Feb. 24 when he only recorded one out and walked four batters against No. 7 TCU, using 30 pitches.

Villalobos needed only two pitches against ASU to induce a ground ball to freshman third baseman Chris Jimenez, who stepped on third for the force out and threw across the diamond to complete the double play.

Villalobos was impressive over his 3 ⅔ innings in relief. He struck out five consecutive batters in his first relief appearance and finished the game with six total. Long Beach pitching totalled 14 strikeouts between its two pitchers in the loss.

“I think I trusted my stuff out there more than I have been lately,” Villalobos said. “I needed that. Going out there and doing what I needed to do was good. I feel good.”

Jimenez gave the Dirtbags lineup a spark with two outs in the bottom of the seventh after dropping a flair in front of a diving Bishop Hunter in right field. The ball got away from Hunter and Jimenez was able to advance to second base for a double. Torres was the next batter and drew a walk which made Arizona State go to the bullpen and bring in junior closer Connor Higgins. Buckley countered by calling junior Domenic Colacchio on to pinch hit for Hughey but grounded out to end the threat.

In the bottom of the ninth, it was Jimenez again who doubled, following a single by junior right fielder Brooks Stotler. That brought junior Shaq Robinson up in a pinch hit situation and he lined a two-strike offering into shallow left. Hauver took about three steps before laying out full extension and snagging the baseball before it touched the ground. If the ball would have gotten by, Jimenez could have walked home as the winning run.

“Our best at-bats came at the end of the game, but what happened to the first eight innings,” Buckley said. “When you get that kind of pitching performance you’ve got to try to win… especially on a Tuesday.”

With the recent injuries, the team will need more freshman like Jimenez to step up and be a part of the team. Senior Laine Huffman will be out for around one month after injuring his right shoulder last weekend, thrusting freshman Santino Rivera into an everyday role.

“We just have to step up and be big for the team,” Jimenez said. “We’re not freshman anymore I can tell you that.”

Long Beach and Arizona State will square off again Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Blair Field.

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