Liebel (7-2) pitched a five-hit complete game shutout, his fourth complete game of the year, and second consecutive shutout. Ford (5-4) also went the distance, but made one bad pitch in the bottom of the third inning, surrendering a two-run homer to Jason Corder.
UCSB fell to 30-18 overall and 9-7 in Big West Conference play in Friday’s two-hour, 14-minute special, while Long Beach State improved to 29-17 overall and 10-6 in the Big West.
The Dirtbags jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. After surrendering a leadoff single to center fielder Jonathan Jones, Corder’s infield groundout advanced Jones to second base. In the ensuing at-bat, cleanup hitter Shane Peterson singled through the left side, scoring Jones for the first run of the game.
Long Beach lengthened its lead in the bottom of the third, scoring two runs on two hits. With Steve Tinoco on first, Corder belted a home run into the street beyond the left field fence. Corder’s two-run shot, his 13th of the year, broke a tie with Gauchos left fielder Mike Zuanich for the Big West lead. After three innings of play, the Dirtbags held a 3-0 advantage.
Ford settled down nicely after the home run, retiring the next eight batters he faced. It wasn’t until the bottom of the sixth that Long Beach reached base again. In addition, Ford struck out four Dirtbags over that stretch, and all of them were swinging. On the day, he allowed only five hits in eight innings of work, striking out eight and walking none.
Liebel faced only three batters over the minimum, including a four-pitch fourth inning, and he induced three double plays. In his most recent start, Liebel recorded the first shutout of his career, a six-hitter against UC Davis.
Click here for Friday’s official box score and play-by-play.
UCSB and Long Beach play again at 6 p.m. Saturday. The Gauchos’ Mario Hollands (6-2, 2.97) battles Dirtbags starter Vance Worley (5-3, 4.40).