LONG BEACH, Calif. — The Dirtbags played perhaps their most complete game of the season in a convincing 7-0 win over No. 3 TCU (12-4) on Tuesday night at Blair Field. Long Beach State (7-8) held the visiting Horned Frogs to just five hits, as five Dirtbags pitchers combined for the shutout.
Junior AJ Jones made his first start for Long Beach State and was effective in his three innings of work, allowing two walks and a hit while striking out four batters. The rest of the bullpen did the job, as Eli Villalobos (3 Ks) and Connor Riley (4 Ks) each worked a pair of scoreless, on-hit innings in relief. Zak Baayoun and Chris Rivera worked the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, each allowing a hit with a pair of strikeouts.
Offensively, the Dirtbags were opportunistic in putting two big innings together, scoring three times in the fourth inning and four times in the eighth to bust the game open.
Luke Rasmussen started the initial rally in the fourth with a leadoff knock the other way. Lucas Tancas followed that up with a hot shot just inside the first base bag, motoring around for an RBI triple to give the Dirtbags the lead. After an RBI groundout from Domenic Colacchio made it 2-0, Ramsey Romano launched a ball over the left field fence for his first career home run. That hit also extended Romano’s hitting streak to 10 games.
In the eighth, Joey Sanchez started a one-out rally when he was hit by a pitch, then moved to second on a single from Rasmussen. After a wild pitch, the Horned Frogs elected to intentionally walk Tancas to load the bases. David Banuelos was then unintentionally walked to force in a run, making it 4-0. Two batters later, Romano sent a hot shot over to third, where third baseman Elliott Barzilli had it go between his legs into left field. That allowed three runs to score and pushed LBSU out to a 7-0 advantage.
Tancas recorded a pair of triples on the night, the first of his career. It’s the first time a Dirtbags batter has tripled twice in a game since Garrett Hampson did it Apr. 8, 2016 at Hawai’i. Long Beach State’s pitchers recorded 15 strikeouts, setting a new season high for the staff. It was also LBSU’s second shutout win of the year after blanking Fordham, 6-0, on Feb. 24.
TCU had its best chance to score in the top of the eighth when Austen Wade hit a leadoff double. After he advanced to third on a groundout, Baayoun faced the 3-4 hitters in the TCU lineup, striking out both Evan Skoug and Luken Baker swinging to strand the runner. That was the only time a TCU runner reached third base all night.
Long Beach State is back in action tonight as the Dirtbags host Washington State at 6 p.m. at Blair Field.