Long Beach off to a good start

Dirt­bags get three in the first and hold off Ti­tans. McCaughan goes strong seven.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - sports@la­times.com By Cur­tis Zupke

Dirt­bags score three runs in the first in­ning and hold off Cal State Fuller­ton 3-0 in su­per re­gional opener.

When the fi­nal out was made, Chris Rivera pumped his fist and let out a yell as he turned to­ward the Cal State Fuller­ton dugout.

It was the ex­cla­ma­tion point on a post­sea­son clash that de­liv­ered as promised, with out­stand­ing pitch­ing, spiked with late drama and edgi­ness.

Rivera pro­vided the last in­gre­di­ent when he closed out a 3-0 win for Long Beach State in Game 1 of the NCAA su­per re­gional Friday at Blair Field.

It was the top­ping for the Dirt­bags, who rode seven score­less in­nings by starter Darren McCaughan and a three-run first in­ning, plus Rivera’s wild-ride save, to get the first win in the be­stof-three se­ries that con­tin­ues Saturday. The win­ner of this se­ries ad­vances to the Col­lege World Se­ries.

McCaughan was per­fect through four in­nings and gave up two hits in pos­si­bly his last start at the packed house, which fea­tured Ti­tans’ orange on one side, Dirt­bags’ black-and-white on the other and the blond locks of McCaughan on the mound.

“I think the fans are huge,” McCaughan said. “You kind of build off them, but at the same time you don’t re­ally make the game big­ger than it is. You kind of let the fans do that. They get all fired up. It’s a great at­mos­phere, and you just kind of feed off that.”

McCaughan’s work was nearly un­done when Fuller­ton loaded the bases with one out in the ninth on closer Rivera, who then struck out Hunter Cullen and Chris Hud­gins to end the game.

“Noth­ing’s going to be easy, es­pe­cially at this time of the year, and es­pe­cially going through those guys,” Long Beach State coach Troy Buck­ley said. “They’re al­ways going to make a push. They’re al­ways going to make a run, and they did in the ninth and Riv found a way to wig­gle his way out of it.”

Fuller­ton coach Rick Van­der­hook seemed to re­fer to Rivera when asked if his starter, Connor Se­abold, was too amped up at the start.

“You should wait till the end and you get amped up and pop off and show some­body up like their guy did at the end of the game, but we didn’t get that op­por­tu­nity. And if we do, I’m sure our guys will do the same thing,” Van­der­hook said.

Van­der­hook be­gan his postgame re­marks with frus­tra­tion over balls and strikes calls and said he needed to re­view the game be­fore he com­mented fur­ther.

Taylor Bryant’s two dou­bles were Long Beach State used its trade­mark small­ball game to start the scor­ing.

Daniel Jack­son’s sac­ri­fice bunt moved Jar­ren Du­ran to sec­ond base. Lu­cas Tan­cas sin­gled, fol­lowed by a double just inside the left­field line by Ram­sey Ro­mano, and Luke Ras­mussen dou­bled to right for a 3-0 lead.

Se­abold needed 38 pitches to get through the first in­ning, nine of which were spent on a lead­off walk of Du­ran.

“I thought it was a good start to the game,” Du­ran said. “Make him throw a lot of pitches. It let them know that we’re here to battle.”

The Dirt­bags also made Se­abold work deep counts and fought off pitches around the zone. Buck­ley liked the ap­proach, even though it pro­duced only three runs.

That small mar­gin of er­ror was an­other given be­tween the ri­vals, play­ing each other for the first time with a trip to Omaha on the line.

Van­der­hook had seen this movie be­fore from Long Beach State’s of­fense.

“When they get it going, they put the pedal to the metal,” he said. “That’s how they score.”

Pho­to­graphs by Luis Sinco Los An­ge­les Times

LONG BEACH STATE’S Jar­ren Du­ran, left, is greeted by team­mates af­ter scor­ing the first run of the game in the first in­ning on a sin­gle by Lu­cas Tan­cas. The Dirt­bags would add two more runs in the in­ning.

LUKE RAMUSSEN BEATS the throw to Timmy Richards for an RBI double in the first in­ning.

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