Long Beach State took an early lead on preseason No. 2 Vanderbilt on the road, but two errors in three at-bats undermined the Dirtbags efforts, as five unearned runs in the third inning led to a 10-4 loss on the road in the first game of the year.
Starting pitcher Jon Maciel pitched well early in the first start of his career, facing the minimum over the first two innings of the game Friday, thanks in part to a heads up play from shortstop Michael Hill, who tagged out Tony Kemp on an overslide of second base in the first inning.
The Dirtbags took an early lead in the second inning. Richard Prigatano singled to start the frame, and then a double by Jeff Yamaguchi put two runners in scoring position with one out. An RBI groundout by Zach Miller brought home the first run of the game in favor of Long Beach State.
Vanderbilt jumped on Long Beach State mistakes in the third inning however. Maciel got the first out of the inning, but Joel McKeithan reached on a throwing error from Juan Avila. Following a single by designated hitter Xavier Turner, Tony Kemp lifted a ball into center field which kicked off of Josh Guerra’s glove, scoring two runs and kickstarting a five-run inning for the Commodores.
The Commodores scored three more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, and then a two-run home run by Connor Harrell ended Maciel’s day in the fifth inning. Ty Provencher, Nick Sabo, and Logan Lombana combined for four innings of one-hit relief, but the damage was already done.
Long Beach State scored a trio of late runs. In the seventh, Guerra scored after a leadoff walk on a triple by Hill, and in the eighth, the Dirtbags picked up a pair. Avila was hit by a pitch to reach base, and after a single by Ino Patron, scored on a double by Prigatano. Patron then scored on Yamaguchi’s second hit of the day, an RBI single, cutting the lead to 10-4 after seven and a half.
The Dirtbags return to action Saturday against Vanderbilt, with first pitch scheduled for Noon PT. Junior Shane Carle takes the mound for the Dirtbags against Vanderbilt’s Tyler Beede.