Beach basketball bounces back, Dirtbags open strong

After bottoming out in the depths of the Big West standings, the Long Beach State men’s basketball team bounced back, winning a pair of conference games last week.

A loss to UC Irvine on Wednesday of this week keeps the Beach in peril of missing the Big West Tournament at 9-18 overall and 4-7 in conference, one loss up of last-place UC Riverside and Cal Poly, each 4-8 but each having beaten Long Beach once this year.

The Beach will host Hawaii on Saturday at 4 p.m., and then face CSUN and UC Davis next week. The following week they’ll close the regular season with games against Cal Poly and Fullerton. With the margin of error so thin in the conference this year, all of those amount to must-wins if the team doesn’t want to miss the conference tourney.

On the women’s side, it’s been a frustrating middle stretch for coach Jeff Cammon and the squad. We bumped into Jeff at the Long Beach Poly playoff basketball game earlier in the week, where he admitted that his team’s inconsistency had frustrated him at times this year.

“I hate talking about the process and all of that, but it’s part of the process,” he said. “We’ve got to learn to make big plays and win close games.”

The Beach are in fourth in the Big West at 6-6 in league and 11-14 overall. They have the weekend bye and will travel to CSUN and UC Santa Barbara next week, trying to stop a skid that’s seen them lose four of their last five games.

Dirtbags

While it’s been an objectively terrible year for hoops in the Big West (only three men’s teams and three women’s teams have winning records with three weeks left in the season), the 2020 baseball season started off great. Six of the nine teams in the conference are .500 or better after the first week of play, with some impressive series wins.

The Dirtbags took 13 games to get two wins last year, and just two games to do it this year. They won their season-opening series against Cal thanks to some thrilling heroics, with a walkoff 13th inning win on Friday thanks to an RBI from Millikan alum Jacob Hughey, and then a defensive battle on Saturday.

The team helped new manager Eric Valenzuela start his LBSU tenure off right, and the difference in energy and enthusiasm from the players this year is obvious.

The ‘Bags host highly-ranked Wake Forest this Friday/Saturday/Sunday back at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field.

LBSU Softball

The Long Beach State softball team pulled off a huge win last week too, handing No. 2 Oklahoma its first defeat of the season. The Beach has had some up and down results, beating Oklahoma just days after losing to Utah Valley. The team, fittingly, is 5-5, and will be in Palm Springs for five games this weekend.

LBCC

Probably the craziest news of the last week was the defending state champion Vikings men’s volleyball team retook their spot at No. 1 in the state rankings after knocking off previously unbeaten Orange Coast.

That would be noteworthy on its own, but consider that LBCC won the deciding fourth set 43-41. That’s absolutely nuts.

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Mike and JJ go together like mac and cheese: they’re best friends, business partners and Long Beach sports experts. They’ve been working together for over a decade covering Long Beach local sports and now run the562.org, a community-funded nonprofit media outlet.
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