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Long Beach State and No. 9 Ole Miss split day and night double header

Both teams traded strong pitching performances and each came away with a 4-3 victory.

Long+Beach+junior+pitcher+Clayton+Andrews+had+his+best+start+of+the+season+against+Ole+Miss+in+game+one+of+the+doubleheader+Saturday.
Long Beach junior pitcher Clayton Andrews had his best start of the season against Ole Miss in game one of the doubleheader Saturday.

Long Beach junior pitcher Clayton Andrews had his best start of the season against Ole Miss in game one of the doubleheader Saturday.

Benjamin BuBow

Benjamin BuBow

Long Beach junior pitcher Clayton Andrews had his best start of the season against Ole Miss in game one of the doubleheader Saturday.

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Long Beach State and No. 9 Ole Miss clashed in over six hours of baseball Saturday, splitting a double header with 4-3 wins for each team.

The weather didn’t cooperate Friday night as rain forced the opening game to be postponed until the following day. Junior pitcher Clayton Andrews was pencilled in by LBSU (4-7) head coach Troy Buckley as the new game one starter instead of sticking with his ace, sophomore Zak Baayoun. The decision was made in order to keep Baayoun closer to his routine schedule of pitching at night.

The Dirtbags stole five bases in a 2-run third inning that gave them the early advantage in game one. Junior second baseman Jarren Duran began the rally with a 1-out single against Ole Miss (9-1) sophomore starter Ryan Rolison. Rolison has been touted as one of the top college pitching prospects in the 2019 draft class and entered the game 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA and 21 strikeouts over 10 innings pitched.

Long Beach’s electric lead off hitter proceeded to steal second and third base while Andrews drew a walk in his at-bat.

That brought up senior first baseman Luke Rasmussen, who hit a weak chopper to Rolison on the mound. Duran began to break toward the plate on contact, but was caught in a rundown between third base and home plate. Duran scampered back to third base safely, but was eventually granted another base because of an obstruction call on Rebel’s third baseman Tim Elko. Elko blocked Duran from returning to third base without the ball inducing the call by the umpires after a brief conference.

Long Beach added another run in a more conventional way when junior right fielder Brooks Stotler hit a sacrifice fly.

The Dirtbags went on to score one run on the bottom of the fourth but Ole Miss would tie the game in a big inning against Andrews. In the bottom of the fifth, freshman catcher Chris Jimenez laced a double to left field that scored freshman Leonard Jones to put Long Beach back in the lead.

Andrews left his best start of the season after seven innings allowing two earned runs on five hits and struck out four.

“I thought Andrews did a really really good job on both ends of the baseball,” Long Beach head coach Troy Buckley said.

The game was put in the hands of junior closer Chris Rivera who retired the side in order, handing the Rebels their first loss of the season. Ole Miss was also plagued by three errors in the opener, the most of any single contest this season.

“If you’re going to draw it up that’s how you want to draw it up,” Buckley said. “You want a quality start, and then you want to shorten the game with your best relievers and that’s pretty much what we did.”

After a 45-minute intermission, Long Beach was ready to send its ace to the mound to try to win two in a row. Baayoun navigated through the first inning unharmed but was touched up for two runs in the second after a wild pitch and a RBI ground out from Elko.

In the third, Rebel’s junior first baseman Nick Fortes crushed a solo home run off of Baayoun to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.

The Dirtbags answered with a 3-run bottom of the fourth as senior left fielder Tristan Mercadel, junior catcher Antonio Torres and freshman designated hitter Steven Rivas each added an RBI.

It was the first earned runs charged to Ole Miss junior starting pitcher Brady Feigl this season.

The inning was the only blemish of Fiegl’s strong start that helped the Rebels even the series.

Ole Miss would reclaim the lead after scoring one run in the top of the fifth on a RBI groundout by Grae Kessinger. That lead would be held through the end of the game after Ole Miss’ junior closer locked down his fifth save out of five attempts.

“[Game two] just boiled down to frustration,” Buckley said. “I have no issues with how they compete. I’m having issues with their philanthropic endeavors out there; that we are some organization that wants to give people things and we can’t do that. Either by not playing catch [making simple mistakes on defense], by hitting guys with breaking balls or by walks.”

Long Beach has another chance to win its first series of the season tomorrow in game three. The start time has been adjusted to 11:30 a.m. Sunday at Blair Field. The Dirtbags will start junior Tyler Radcliff, who will make his first start of 2018 after dealing with a knee injury, against Ole Miss’ Sunday starter James McArthur (0-0, 0.87 ERA).

“There’s no doubt, after two 4-3 games, that it will be a dog fight tomorrow,” Bianco said.

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