Baseball, Sports

Long bombs lead Dirtbags first baseman to National Player of the Week honors

It was a flashy and theatrical week for the “naturally quiet” Dirtbag junior first-baseman Jonathon Long who hit two walk-off home runs earning him National Player of the Week honors.

“I mean, he’s gotten some really clutch hits for us this year. But I think the biggest takeaway for this year, at least, and the biggest improvement is him being patient early, and being able to lay off some bad pitches that he’s normally swinging at,” head coach Eric Valenzuela said.

Unsurprisingly he was also the Big West Player of the Week putting together a .444/.500/1.167 slash line. In the four games played Long recorded a hit in every one of them finishing with eight total at the end of the weekend. He didn’t hit the ball he slugged it having five of his eight hits fall for extra bases with four of them being long balls.

“It was a good week for me I felt really comfortable at the plate, kind of translated into the results,” Long said. “It’s just sticking to the course, overall, biggest thing at this point in the year is, you know, you get enough at-bats and repetitions that, I wouldn’t say things get easier, but you see it enough, and you start to adjust.”

02/19/2023 - Long Beach, Calif: LBSU freshman infielder, Ty Borgogno (front), scores a run at the bottom of the sixth inning and celebrates with teammate Jonathan Long at Blair Field against Wichita State.
02/19/2023 - Long Beach, Calif: LBSU freshman infielder, Ty Borgogno (front), scores a run at the bottom of the sixth inning and celebrates with teammate Jonathan Long at Blair Field against Wichita State. Photo credit: Naoki Gima

It’s hard to call it a breakout season for such a consistent hitter as Long has been at The Beach. In his first two seasons, the former walk-on has batted over .300 and was good for an OPS of over .850 while logging double-digit extra-base hits in each season.

The biggest change this season though has been an improvement in putting the ball in play and lowering his strikeout rate. Long has been walked 17 times this season while keeping the strikeouts down to just 14 after the game against UCLA on Apr. 4.

“I think it’s a swing change. Last year I struck out a ton, didn’t put the ball in play as much, so this year putting the ball in play more hitting the ball harder than I previously did,” Long said.

Long also credited his improved approach to the time he spent in the Cape Cod Summer League this offseason with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.

During the regular season there, he batted .210 across 105 at-bats striking out 41 times. In a shorter sample size albeit during the playoffs he batted .353 hitting two home runs across 17 at-bats. For a premier league and on the biggest stage Long showcased he could play, something that has carried over to his best collegiate season here in 2023.

“Seeing great pitching out there and, you know, that really helped develop me and made me realize what I needed to work on to become a better hitter,” Long said.

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