Fall Report: Long Beach State

Fall Report

Long Beach State is one of college baseball’s most storied programs, but sometimes it’s obvious that change is needed.

That was the case with the Dirtbags after the past two seasons. LBSU reached a regional final and a Super Regional in 2016 and ’17, respectively, before falling on hard times the last two seasons under head coach Troy Buckley. Not only did the Dirtbags fail to reach the NCAA tournament, they went 27-30 two seasons ago and hit rock bottom last season with a 14-41 overall record and a dismal 8-16 Big West record.

As the Dirtbags underwent a national search for a new head coach, they vetted several candidates, with Saint Mary’s head coach Eric Valenzuela standing out. Along with being from Southern California, Valenzuela was a huge key to San Diego’s success before also helping San Diego State turn its program into a consistent winner. In addition to having a winning background, Valenzuela has a hard-nosed approach that certainly fits in well with the Dirtbags culture.

Can Valenzuela and his coaching staff turn the tide of the program in one season? Maybe so, even though the Dirtbags have some sizable holes. It’s also worth noting the Big West appears to be wide open entering the 2020 campaign.

One thing is for sure — Valenzuela and the Dirtbags aren’t looking back at the failures of the past two seasons. They’re only looking ahead, trying to find that perfect formula for success.

“We talked to our players and we talked to our coaches, and one thing we’re not going to do or allow our players to do is dwell on the past,” Valenzuela said. “We’re not going to talk about the past — we’re moving forward around here.

“The best thing about our situation is everyone is on a clean slate,” he continued. “There are a lot of guys on this team that we recruited or that we played against in 2018. We were already familiar with a lot of these guys. It’s just good for everyone to have a clean slate.”

While several teams around the country had fall scrimmages, Valenzuela opted against playing fall games against outside competition. It’s not that he doesn’t think they make sense, or they aren’t beneficial, but he preferred to spend the fall implementing his system and turning the Dirtbags into a consistent, well-oiled machine.

“I really wanted to take a lot of time this fall getting to know the players, and the players getting to know us,” he said. “We had so much to put in this fall, it’s a brand-new system. I didn’t really want to waste two really long days playing scrimmages when we’re not exactly ready to compete in our system.”

LBSU returns plenty of experience from an offensive/positional standpoint, while the starting rotation is in good shape with the return of Adam Seminaris and rise of Alfredo Ruiz and others. However, pitching depth is limited for now.

It’s time to take an in-depth look at Long Beach State as a new era begins.


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