Long Beach State struck first on Friday night with a solo home run in the Top of the 2nd and never looked back. After allowing a quick run to start the 4th, Jake Kelzer found himself in a huge jam with the bases loaded and one out. After a single and a walk gave the Dirtbags a 4-0 lead, Evan Bell entered the game to try and keep Indiana in the game. But Long Beach turned a 3-1 meatball into a grand slam, essentially ending the game. The Dirtbags would add one more in the 4th for an 8-run inning en route to an easy 12-5 win in the series opener.
The lone bright spot in the loss was Christian Morris, the beleaguered Indiana pitcher who has struggled mightily for most of the season. Morris threw 4.0 innings in, albeit meaningless, relief allowing two runs, just one of them earned. And, in my opinion, the earned run was actually unearned, as it scored after a grounder up the middle that Casey Rodrigue booted into left field that the scorer ruled a hit rather than an error.
Now, Indiana will have to quickly forget about Friday night and face Long Beach's Chris Mathewson, who comes in with a 1.93 ERA.
Saturday and Sunday would appear to be must-win games at this point. The loss on Friday has already dropped Indiana to 53rd in the RPI, down from 50th on Friday. A series loss to the sub-80 RPI Long Beach State probably spells doom for the Hoosiers' postseason hopes.
Game time has been moved to 3 p.m. EST on Saturday due to impending weather.