Daily 49er

From zero, to hero; Dirtbags pull off a top-10 upset

Dirtbags offense goes from being no-hit to stealing a 4-3 win over No. 10 Vanderbilt thanks to three-run seventh.

Long+Beach+State+celebrates+its+4-3+comeback+win+against+No.+10+Vanderbilt+on+Tuesday+at+Blair+Field.+Freshman+catcher+Chris+Jimenez+was+1-for-2+with+two+RBI%E2%80%99s+including+the+game+winner+in+the+bottom+of+the+seventh.
Long Beach State celebrates its 4-3 comeback win against No. 10 Vanderbilt on Tuesday at Blair Field. Freshman catcher Chris Jimenez was 1-for-2 with two RBI’s including the game winner in the bottom of the seventh.

Long Beach State celebrates its 4-3 comeback win against No. 10 Vanderbilt on Tuesday at Blair Field. Freshman catcher Chris Jimenez was 1-for-2 with two RBI’s including the game winner in the bottom of the seventh.

Luke Ramirez | Daily 49er

Luke Ramirez | Daily 49er

Long Beach State celebrates its 4-3 comeback win against No. 10 Vanderbilt on Tuesday at Blair Field. Freshman catcher Chris Jimenez was 1-for-2 with two RBI’s including the game winner in the bottom of the seventh.

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When the sixth inning ended between No. 10 Vanderbilt and Long Beach State at Blair Field Tuesday, a home crowd of 1,712 collectively groaned and looked up at a zero in the Dirtbags’ hit column. The despair gave way to euphoria just one inning later after a Long Beach rallied for three runs in the seventh on its way to a 4-3 victory Tuesday.

“It wasn’t a very clean game…but as we all know things can happen when you stick around like that,” head coach Troy Buckley said.

Vanderbilt (10-4) had dominated the Long Beach (5-8) lineup deep into the game, but it took one hit to get the ball rolling for the Dirtbags. That hit came courtesy of junior third baseman, Domenic Colacchio, who singled and later scored on a wild pitch to cut the 3-1 Vanderbilt lead to just one run. With two outs and the bases loaded, freshman catcher Chris Jimenez came up to battle Vanderbilt reliever Reed Schaller.

“We’ve been struggling recently [with] getting hits early in games,” Jimenez said. “It happened again tonight but we continued to just push through and we knew we had a chance.”

On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Jimenez hit a sharp ground ball to Infante at first base who dove to make the stop but could not get up and make the toss to first for the out.

The base runners had a head start on a full-count, which allowed both Jarren Duran and Clayton Andrews to score, giving Long Beach a thrilling lead in the late innings.

“It means a lot,” Jimenez said of the game-winning hit. “I’m always trying to do a job for my team, and in that situation it was just to put the ball in play hard.”

Vanderbilt began the scoring with a one out walk issued by Long Beach junior starting pitcher Tyler Radcliffe in the top of the second. He went on to give up four consecutive hits, including a two-run single by freshman third baseman Jayson Gonzalez. The inning ended on a sharp line drive right at Dirtbags’ freshman shortstop Santino Rivera who was able to double up the runner at second.

Freshman Jake Eder went to work against a struggling Long Beach lineup hitting .225 entering Wednesday’s game. He walked Duran on four pitches but was able to strand him at second base after a sacrifice bunt and two ground balls. From there, he retired 10 consecutive batters until a one-out walk in the top of the fourth inning.

The Dirtbags got some key innings of relief from sophomore Dylan Spacke, who normally pitches late in games.

“I think we’re just trying to… I don’t want to say survive…but with so many injuries… there are no roles,” Buckley said “It’s more ‘Just go out there and be ready to go.’”

Vanderbilt added another run in the top of the fifth inning from the bat of Gonzalez once again. He hit a towering solo home run off of senior relief pitcher Sebastian Sanchez for his third RBI of the game. The blast gave the visitors a 3-0 lead.

Eder showed poise on the road in only his third career start for the Commodores. The freshman threw five innings and struck out seven.

Jimenez also played a role in keeping the Commodores from taking over early in the game with his defense. He threw out two runners trying to steal second base in the first four innings. Vanderbilt came into the contest having successfully stolen 32-of-34 bases.

After the Dirtbags took the 4-3 lead, they put the game in the hands of two of the team’s best relief pitchers. Junior pitcher Eli Villalobos retired the side in the eighth inning and junior Chris Rivera entered for the ninth.

Stalking his fourth save of 2018, he loaded the bases with Vanderbilt baserunners but got Gonzalez to strike out looking and seal the victory.

“This team has a lot of fight in it,” Rivera said. “Especially at the end of games. We have to figure out how to bring that in the beginning of games but I think we showed out tonight against a good club.”

Long Beach has no time to dwell on the upset as it travel to College Station for a three-game series against No. 9 Texas A&M (13-1). It will be the fourth top-25 ranked opponent the Dirtbags will face this season in one of the toughest environments in college baseball. Buckley preached that the lineup will have to do a better job to come out of a weekend matchup against the Aggies.

“I want them to be as present and competitive as possible,” Buckley said. “We’re just very passive in the hitting box at times. We take a lot of fastballs that are out over the plate that they need to swing [at].”

Game one is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Friday at Blue Bell Park in College Station, Texas.

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