One of the craziest stories in the 2014 college baseball season is about to get a little sticky as the Dirtbags tango with the Tar Heels!
After five years of watching the NCAA Tournament from the comfort of their dorm rooms, the Long Beach State Dirtbags are finally amongst the members of the field of 64.
In a somewhat of historic turnaround, the Dirtbags finished the 2014 regular season with a 32-24 overall record including a 17-7 record in the Big West Conference; Long Beach State finished the year remarkably well after a 13-14 start. The Dirtbags were on the outside looking in until a 14-3 finish propelled them into the tournament talks. That 14-3 finish ultimately earned them a spot as the #2 seed in Gainesville, Florida.
The Dirtbags will face #3 seed University of North Carolina Friday morning at 10 am. North Carolina wrapped up their regular season with a 34-25 overall record to finish fourth in the Coastal Division of the ACC. For the Tar Heels this is their 13th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament and 29th overall tournament berth.
For the Dirtbags this is their 20th appearance in the NCAA Tournament but first since 2008. In ’08 CSULB hosted a four-team regional but did not fair to well, going 1-2 and losing in the opening round to eventual national champion Fresno State before being eliminated by University of San Diego just a couple days later.
Despite having a much better season in 2008 – going 37-19, finishing with a Big West title and #1 seed in the tournament – CSULB in 2014 has one of the best pitching trios in the nation. Vance Worley led the way in 2008 and Josh Frye, Andrew Rohrbach, and Ryan Millison are leading the way this time around.
Frye, who is expected to get the start against the Tar Heels Friday morning, was untouchable throughout the regular season going 8-0 with a 1.51 ERA since joining the rotation in March. When Frye starts the Dirtbags are a perfect 9-0 — a stat CSULB should feel confident about heading into uncharted territory for every member of the Dirtbag roster. For such an outstanding season, Thursday morning it was announced that Frye was selected to the Louisville Slugger All-American Second Team – the first Dirtbag All-American since both Andrew Liebel and Shane Peterson were selected back in 2008.
Friday’s opening round game will mark the second time Long Beach State and North Carolina have faced one another in school history with UNC edging out CSULB 7-6 back in 1992. In the Gainesville Region, University of Florida is the #1 seed following their 40-21 season and will play host to the Gainesville Regional opening round. College of Charleston rounds out the four team region as the #4 seed. The winners of the two games – CSULB vs. UNC, UF vs. C of C – will face each other Saturday at 4 pm (PT).
For a bunch of Dirtbags, Long Beach State was not supposed to be here and the 2014 season is truly a tale of two teams. The team that finished the season did not resemble the team that began the season and the team that started off 2014 could not have imagined earning a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. UNC head coach Mike Fox said Monday that his Tar Heel team ‘didn’t really know to much about Long Beach State’…………. PERFECT, because come Friday morning the North Carolina Tar Heels are going to wish they had never met them and unfortunately for UNC they may end up knowing more about CSULB than they ever wanted!
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