Fall Report: Long Beach StateFall Report
LONG BEACH, Calif. — For the second year in a row, I find myself starting a fall write-up on Long Beach State by talking about how close the Dirtbag came to making it to Omaha back in June.
In 2016 it was The Beach taking Miami down to the wire in the seventh game of the Coral Gables Regional. And of course, had the Dirtbags beaten the Canes, they would’ve hosted Boston College in the supers, making them favorites to make a trip to Omaha.
Last year, it was a knock-down-drag-out regional win over Texas and then a knock-down-drag-out super regional vs. Big West rival Cal State Fullerton. The Dirtbags ended their season in 2017 with the tying run 90 feet away from home plate in a 2-1 loss to the Titans. Once again, it was close but no cigar.
“Obviously you are never satisfied,” Long Beach coach Troy Buckley said. “It’s been seven or eight years since I became head coach and it’s taken a while to get the program back to relevance and back into the national spotlight.”
The Dirtbags coaching staff used this fall session to remind the players that they’ve been to the postseason and know the amount of work and effort it takes to get there.
“There’s a lot to be said for making strides too,” Buckley said. “You’ve gotta have experience because if you haven’t been there before… just ask Schloss (Jim Schlossnagle) at TCU, his teams benefit from the steps they’ve made every year. That DNA keeps getting passed down and benefits you every new season.”
The other thing that last June’s postseason run did was to bring the Dirtbag community together and get the fan base stoked again. The atmosphere at Blair Field was electric for the regional finals vs. Texas and the super regionals against Fullerton. In Shotgun Spratling’s write-up from that supers weekend, the coaches on both sides mentioned how rabid and involved the fan base was for those games and how it was a highly charged atmosphere.
“I’m happy for the program, the community, all the boosters, the ex-players,” Buckley said. “I told Sully (Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan), it wasn’t our Omaha but it was pretty special. Those were some really loud crowds.”
Buckley and the staff spent a good bit of time this fall extolling the virtues of what it took to get the program back to where it is now. He knows how galvanizing those games were for the fans of the Dirtbags and would love to use this fall as a springboard to bigger things this spring.
“If you win, people come back,” Buckley said. “It’s as simple as that. I think we’re moving in the right direction. We like where the program is going.”
FYI, last year Long Beach State set a program record for single season attendance and has already surpassed the record number of season ticket holders going into 2018.
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