Early Runs Hold Up As LBSU Tops Pacific In Rubber Game
Senior RF Allen Riley went three-for-four while senior SS Josh Simms added an RBI single, but Long Beach State escaped with a 5-1 win over Pacific in the rubber game of a three-game series.
In the second, Long Beach tallied twice as CF Brennan Metzger reached on an error, stole second and came in to score on a doubled to left field by SS Matt Duffy. DH Brennan Fulkerson added a single to right, and RF Richard Prigatano singled up the middle on a seeing-eye chopper to give Long Beach a 2-0 lead. Pacific starting RHP Bryce Lombardi then got the double-play ball to get out of the inning.
In the third, 2B Jeff McNeil tripled into the right field corner with one out, and took home on a wild pitch. 1B Ino Patron singled up the middle before Lombardi ended the frame with the 49ers on top, 3-0.
Long Beach State RHP Shawn Stuart kept the Tigers offense in check through seven shutout innings, allowing four hits, while striking out seven.
Pacific sophomore LHP Kyle Crawford tossed two hitless innings, retiring six of seven, and senior RHPThomas Berolzheimer needed just five pitches to record a perfect sixth inning.
In the Long Beach seventh, Tigers' LHP Joe Spizzirri entered and LBSU C Kellen Hoime was awarded first base on a walk. On an 0-1 pitch, LF Johny Bekakis chopped a foul ball down the third base line. But to the dismay of the Tigers, the home plate umpire signaled a fair ball, and Hoime came around to score from first, with Bekakis on second via the gift double as the ball rolled into the left field corner. Bekakis advanced to third on a groundout to first, and assistant coach Don Barbara - acting as the head coach following the ejection of Tigers skipper Ed Sprague on the Bekakis' play - brought the infield in. A hot shot to second base was knocked down, but the only play was to first as Bekakis scored on the ground out to stretch the lead to 5-0.
The double credited to Bekakis was the second controversial play of the game at third base, as sophomore 2B Curtis Gomez pulled a shot down the third base line off the glove of LBSU's Juan Avila in the second inning that would have loaded the bases, but was ruled foul. Pacific failed to score in that frame on a strike-out caught stealing double play with the runners in motion.
Pacific broke through in the eighth off Long Beach closer RHP Kyle Friedrichs. Gomez doubled down the left field line and took third on a groundout. With two outs, Simms roped a single to right field for his 22nd RBI of the year to pull Pacific within one.
The Tigers mounted a rally in the ninth, as junior 2B Tyger Pederson ripped a single up the middle with one out, and Riley ripped his third single of the game to center field to put runners on first and second. But Freidrichs came back with a strikeout and a game-ending groundout as Long Beach took the series, 2-1.
Friedrichs allowed four hits in his two innings of work, while Pacific's Jared Wagner tossed a scoreless eighth for the Tigers (13-40, 3-18 Big West).
Simms finished the series six-for-13 with a double and a pair of RBI, while Riley ended five-for-11 with a walk and two RBI, including his third three-hit game of the season.
Long Beach (27-25 overall) improve to 14-7 in the Big West. They entered the contest two games back of Fullerton in the BWC standings, who have yet to wrap up their three-game series against UC Riverside Sunday. Long Beach and Fullerton will meet in a three-game series next weekend to decide the Big West title.
The Tigers return to Klein Family Field for a season-ending three-game series against Cal State Northridge opening Friday at 6 p.m.