Daily 49er

A historic bottom of the fifth inning propels Long Beach State baseball over Arizona State

The Dirtbags were able to put recent offensive struggles behind them with a 16 run explosion of offense.

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Long Beach State senior left fielder Tristan Mercadel celebrates with the team after scoring a run in the bottom of the fifth of Long Beach’s 16-4 win over ASU.

Long Beach State senior left fielder Tristan Mercadel celebrates with the team after scoring a run in the bottom of the fifth of Long Beach’s 16-4 win over ASU.

Julie Pavlacka

Julie Pavlacka

Long Beach State senior left fielder Tristan Mercadel celebrates with the team after scoring a run in the bottom of the fifth of Long Beach’s 16-4 win over ASU.

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One night after being shut out by Arizona State, Long Beach broke out for a 10-run bottom of the fifth inning Wednesday as part of a 16-4 victory over the Sun Devils. It was the first time a Dirtbags lineup scored 10 or more in a single frame since 2007. The offense entered the game with 16 runs scored over the first eight games of 2018 and evened that total in just one night.

“I thought [the offense] was very efficient with runners in scoring position, and I thought guys shortened up their swings much better tonight,” head coach Troy Buckley said.

The historic inning began with a leadoff walk to senior left fielder Tristan Mercadel, spelling the end for ASU (4-5) starting pitcher Fitz Stadler after he held Long Beach (3-6) scoreless for the first four innings. Two more walks loaded the bases for junior center fielder Clayton Andrews, who ripped a pitch from Sun Devils’ sophomore pitcher Spencer Van Scoyoc down the first base line and all the way to the wall in right field. He ended up with a triple and three RBIs on the play, but the Dirtbags were far from done doing damage.

“Tonight was a ton of fun,” Andrews said. “Everyone wanted to get a turn up at the plate.”

Andrews finished 3-for-5 with three runs scored and three RBIs.

Long Beach batted around as Mercadel came up in the inning again and singled through the left side of the infield, allowing senior first baseman Luke Rasmussen to score. Freshman designated hitter Steven Rivas and junior catcher Antonio Torres both came through with 2-run doubles.

When it was all said and done, Long Beach sent 15 batters to the plate and scored all 10 runs with one out in the inning. The Sun Devils needed five pitchers to record three outs.

“We stuck to our approach pretty well tonight and when you get going like that, hitting is contagious,” junior left fielder Brooks Stotler said. “Everyone was just rolling tonight.”

Arizona State had taken a 3-1 lead over the home team thanks to a 2-run home run by freshman first baseman Spencer Tolkerson in the top of the fifth. He added another long ball later in the game for his fifth and sixth home runs of the young season.

Stotler has emerged as one of the most consistent Long Beach hitters. He was 3-for-5 with 2 RBIs and scored three runs as the Dirtbags’ cleanup hitter.

“[Tonight] gave us huge confidence and more momentum than anything else,” Stotler said.

Long Beach had five players with multiple RBIs and six players with multiple runs scored in the game. They were 9-for-10 with a runner on third and less than 2-outs and 3-for-3 with the bases loaded in what Buckley dubbed a “sigh of relief” for the lineup.

“It was a good day for our first [weekday] win, which is going to be important for us as we continue to unfold here,” Buckley said.

Long Beach now looks ahead to a three game series against one of the SEC’s top teams in Mississippi this weekend at Blair Field. The Rebels (8-0) should be a good test for an offense who may have just hit its stride.

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