LONG BEACH — The Long Beach State baseball team has found its finishing kick, albeit too late to climb into the postseason mix.
Long Beach outlasted rival Cal State Fullerton for a 4-3 victory on Saturday afternoon at Blair Field, earning its fourth consecutive series victory and its ninth win in its last 10 games overall. Fullerton lost its fifth straight and has dropped 10 of its last 12.
LBSU (26-26 overall, 14-12 Big West Conference) has won five of its past six games against Fullerton (19-32, 11-15), winning consecutive series against the Titans for the first time since 2017, when the Dirtbags won both the nonconference and conference matchups.
Redshirt freshman Juaron Watts-Brown (3-4) allowed three runs on nine hits in seven innings, with 11 strikeouts and no walks. It is the third time in his last four starts that he has recorded double-digit strikeouts.
Fullerton took an early lead on an RBI single by Austin Schell in the first inning, then doubled the lead on an RBI single by Zach Lew in the third inning.
LBSU answered in the bottom half of the third, when Alex Pimentel and Tanner Carlson had back-to-back singles then Rocco Peppi singled to score Pimentel.
Fullerton added a run on a sacrifice fly from Schell in the fifth inning, but Long Beach responded in the bottom of the frame. After a double and a walk put two runners on with two outs, Peppi delivered another RBI single to cut the Titans’ lead to 3-2.
Long Beach took the lead in the bottom of the sixth. A single, a hit by pitch and a walk loaded the bases, forcing the Titans to go to the bullpen. Michael Weisberg’s first pitch hit Pimentel to force in the tying run. Two batters later, Connor Burns’ sacrifice fly gave the Dirtbags the lead.
Sophomore Devereaux Harrison allowed just a bunt single in two innings out of the bullpen, striking out three to earn his fourth save. Carlson joined Peppi with a multi-hit game, finishing 2 for 3 with a run scored.
Fullerton starter Evan Yates allowed two earned runs on six hits in his five-plus innings, with two strikeouts and one walk. Caden Connor went 3 for 4 with two runs scored for the Titans.
Long Beach will try for the series sweep on Sunday afternoon.
Cal State Fullerton at Long Beach State, Sunday, 1 p.m.