The Dirtbags were struggling with making contact during non-conf games and were averaging 7 K's per game but have cut that number down to averaging around 5 K's per game during Big West games. Long Beach has struggled offensively in conf games and despite scoring 13 runs last Saturday has hit only .279 and averaged under four runs per game in the five series when they were not hitting against the poor pitching staffs of Pacific and UC Davis.
A few areas that the Dirtbags have excelled at are in being patient at the plate, stealing bases and moving runners over. Long Beach is among the leaders in the conf with 171 BB's and 71 HBP's. The Dirtbags will put runners in motion early and often and are far and away the leaders in the conf and are 10th in the country with 116 SB's. The Fullerton catchers will be tested by Long Beach but Dustin Garneau and Billy Marcoe have often been up to the task of stopping the opponents running game by throwing out runners 61% of the time. Long Beach will move runners over by playing little ball via the hit and run and bunting and are sixth in the country with 58 SAC bunts.
With all of the players that Long Beach lost from last year it was not surprising that the Dirtbags struggled defensively to start the season but they have been playing better defensively as the season has gone on. Long Beach has committed 62 errors for a .968 fielding % but have been better during conf games with a .972 fielding %. The infield defense has become more solid and so has the OF defense, which is necessary at Blair Field with all of the space to cover in the outfield. The catchers for the Dirtbags have been solid at stopping the running game (35-61 SB's, 4th in the conf) and blocking pitches and have allowed 36 WP's/PB's (3rd in the conf).
C/DH – JC transfer Kellen Hoime (RH – .262-0-19-5) was sharing time pretty evenly with Soph John Hill (LH – .264-1-7-1) during non-conf games but Hoime is a little better defensively, although he made three errors last weekend, and has started behind the plate in 13 of the last 15 games. Hoime was hitting better earlier in the season but has worn down a little bit down the stretch and is only hitting .196 in conf games including 2-11 last weekend. Hill has been the DH in the last three games that Long Beach has faced a RHP due to injuries to other players and has hit better in conf games at .286. Hill would likely hit 6th and Hoime 7th when both are in the lineup and both are willing to take a HBP (8 for Hoime, 6 for Hill in 53 AB's). Baserunners are 26-41 against Hoime (11-20 in conf games) and 13-18 against Hill. Hoime has also picked off four runners so Fullerton will have to be watching for Hoime trying to catch runners sleeping on the bases.
1B – JR Steve Tinoco (RH – .359-4-29-5) leads the team in SLG % and usually hits in the middle of the lineup but he is questionable for this weekend due to a concussion he suffered in batting practice prior to last Tuesday's game against UCLA. If Tinoco is unable to play he would be replaced at 1B by JR Taylor Krick (RH – .321-2-28-7), who is a versatile player and has played 1B, 2B and 3B during his career. Krick does lots of little things well like occasionally stealing bases and he leads the team with 9 SAC's. Krick usually hits 8th but hit 5th last weekend due to all of the injuries for Long Beach and went 5-11.
2B – FR Derek Legg (Both – .315-1-19-11) has stepped right into the lineup from day one and has played well both offensively and defensively. Legg usually hits 5th but due to the lineup shuffling caused by injuries batted 2nd last weekend. Legg handles the bat well and has good speed.
SS – Soph Devin Lohman (RH – .314-4-34-13) looks like he could be the latest in the long line of shortstops at Long Beach who were selected in the first few rounds of the draft. He has struggled at times defensively and has made 12 errors but has been a force offensively and usually bats 3rd. Lohman is a threat on the bases and is 10th in the conf in SB's. He leads the team in OBP and gets on base often by BB's (2nd on the team) and HBP's (leads the team). The one thing that Lohman has had trouble with is making contact and he is 2nd in the conf with 46 K's.
3B – Taylor Krick has been starting at 3B most of the time during conf games after Rylan Sandoval was suspended from the team. If Tinoco is unable to play it would open a spot in the lineup for FR Kirk Singer (RH – .289 in 38 AB's). Singer can play SS or 3B and is solid defensively. After only going 4-22 for the season Singer started and hit 9th in all four games last week due to Tinoco's injury and he went 6-12 against Cal Poly and had seven RBI's in Long Beach's come from behind win last Sat.
LF – Soph Jonathon Jones (RH – .293-1-23-14) has good speed, is 9th in the conf in SB's and was the starting CF last season (2008 – .343-0-18-6) but has been moved over to CF this year. Jones was hitting leadoff earlier in the year but has settled in at 2nd in the lineup. He missed all four games last week due to a concussion suffered when he was hit in the face with a pitch against UCSB and is questionable for this weekend. If Jones is unable to play, JC transfer Tre Dennis (LH – .239-1-13-10) would play LF. Dennis has good speed but is not as good offensively as Jones is.
CF – Soph Jordan Casas (LH – .322-0-24-22) has gone from a part-time player last season (2008 – .302 in 53 AB's) to one of the team leaders offensively. Casas has moved into the leadoff spot and is 2nd in the conf in SB's. He is also dealing with injury issues and was hit in the hand last Friday while trying to bunt (leads the team with 9 SAC's) and it was thought that he had broken a finger but he was able to put a splint on his hand and play Sat and Sun, when he went 4-10.
RF – JR TJ Mittelstaedt (LH – .318-6-46-6) is one of the more experienced players on the team and is having an outstanding season after a subpar 2008 when he only hit .219. Before this year he hadn't shown much power but Mittelstaedt has been a very good run producer in the cleanup spot and is 6th in the conf in RBI's. With the increased power has come more strikeouts and he is 8th in the conf in K's. Mittelstaedt has always been known for drawing lots of walks and this year is no exception because he is 7th in the conf in BB's. He is 7-19 with 4 RBI's in his career against Fullerton.