LONG BEACH, Calif. — The 2017 Long Beach Super Regional came to a dramatic conclusion on Sunday afternoon at Blair Field, with visiting Cal State Fullerton (39-22) hanging on for a 2-1 win over host Long Beach State (42-20-1) in front of a sellout crowd of nearly 2,900 fans. The teams combined for just three runs on six hits as pitching ruled the day, and Fullerton was able to make its two-run fourth inning stand up.
RHP John Sheaks got the start for Long Beach State and did his part to keep the Dirtbags in the ballgame, allowing two runs on two hits with four strikeouts in his five innings of work. He was undone by a pair of hit batters, which came at the start of the fourth inning. After a sacrifice bunt, Hank LoForte’s two-run single proved to be the game-winning hit, even though it was the first of the game for either team.
The LBSU bullpen worked four scoreless, hitless innings and only allowed a pair of walks. Eli Villalobos (IP), Zak Baayoun (IP) and Josh Advocate (2 IP) kept things where they were, allowing the Dirtbags offense a chance to chip away.
Long Beach State got a run back in the sixth inning, as Jarren Duran manufactured his own offense at the top of the order. He led off the inning with LBSU’s first hit of the day, then stole second as the ball squirted out of the glove of Fullerton shortstop Timmy Richards. After a sacrifice bunt moved Duran to third base, he was in position to score on a passed ball and make it a 2-1 game.
The Dirtbags got a runner in scoring position in each of the next three innings to finish the game, but couldn’t find a way to get them home. The potential tying run was just 90 feet away in the eighth and ninth innings, but Fullerton closer Brett Conine was able to escape trouble to pick up his 15th save of the season.
Duran’s two hits led the offensive attack, and Brock Lundquist was on base three times with a pair of walks and a leadoff double in the ninth inning that gave LBSU its best chance to get the game tied in the final inning
Despite the loss, this will go down as the most successful Dirtbags season in recent memory. Long Beach State won 40+ games for the first time 2004, won its first Big West title since 2008 and hosted its first Super Regional since 2004. The Dirtbags also had a record 11 players, plus head coach Troy Buckley, honored as All-Big West selections this season.