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Dropped Fly Ball Gives Dirtbags 3-2 Win at Fullerton

Long Beach State took a 3-2 victory to even its annual non-conference series with rival Cal State Fullerton with the assistance of a Titan blunder on a routine fly ball to centerfield Saturday night at Goodwin Field.

The Dirtbags chased Fullerton starter Phil Bickford in the sixth inning after tying the game, 2-2, on an Ino Patron RBI single to plate Garrett Hampson. Reliever Willie Kuhl entered and induced a routine fly to centerfield.

Junior Austin Diemer broke back on the ball initially, but had a good bead on the ball coming in. Patron had strayed halfway from the bag after Diemer intially broke back and Diemer potentially could have doubled him off. That may have caused him to take his eye off the ball because he missed the catch, allowing the ball to drop and running past it. Patron was able to round third base and score the go-ahead run before the ball could be relayed home.

Fullerton head coach Rick Vanderhook talked about the defensive struggles after the game, saying the Titans will be a .500 team until they figure it out:

A pair of walks loaded the bases, but Diemer made a diving catch on a shallow pop that bounced out of Jake Jefferies’ glove to keep it a one-run game.

It was a web gem by Long Beach State’s Michael Hill that saved the game in the seventh inning. With two outs and a runner on second base, Tanner Pinkston hit one down the left field line that was slicing toward the line, away from Hill, but he laid out with a full-extension dive and gloved the ball to keep the tying run from scoring.

Long Beach State head coach Troy Buckley discusses the Dirtbags’ win, including finishing talking about the selflessness of Hill, who has moved to the outfield this season after being a left-side infielder previously:

Relievers Ty Provencher and Kyle Friedrichs didn’t allow a hit the final three frames as Fullerton finished with only three hits in the game.

The Titans took an early 2-0 lead in the third inning. A walk and a hit by pitch came back to bite Andrew Rohrbach when J.D. Davis blasted a two-run double into the left-centerfield gap.

Long Beach State got one back in the next half inning when Hampson snapped Bickford’s streak of nine consecutive retired with a double to left field. Hampson scored on a Richard Prigatano line drive up the middle.

Hear what freshman shortstop Garrett Hampson had to say after knocking two doubles and scoring two runs:

But a pair of stellar defensive plays saved a run as Matt Chapman erased a beautiful bunt attempt by Hill right down the third base line and Clay Williamson made a nice running catch in the right-centerfield gap to end the inning.

Rohrbach improved to 3-1 while Friedrichs collected his fourth save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning. Kuhl struck out five in 3.2 scoreless innings.

Here’s the top photos from the game from CBD photographer Shotgun Spratling:

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