RIVERSIDE, Calif. — San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant had been quiet all game. But when he got an opportunity with a runner on first base and the game tied in the ninth inning, his bat suddenly got loud, even drowning out the raucous San Diego dugout.
After seeing a breaking ball early in the count, Bryant knew that UC Riverside closer Joie Dunyon was going to come back with one later in the count. When Dunyon did, Bryant laced the two-strike pitch into left-centerfield field, sending it knifing through the cold night.
Despite landing relatively shallow, the ball was hit so hard it bounded toward the wall, not getting cut off by speedy centerfielder Devyn Bolasky until just before the ball reached the warning track. By that time, head coach Rich Hill was already furiously swinging his arm in the third base coach’s box to send Jon Hotta, who had drawn a pinch hit lead off walk, to the plate for the winning run Tuesday night at Riverside Sports Complex.
The two less published members of the Toreros middle of the lineup, Corey LeVier and Bryan Haar, followed Bryant’s lead with hits of their own. LeVier singled home Bryant and then Haar doubled home Grant Melker, who pinch ran for LeVier. A sacrifice fly later and San Diego led 8-5 after trailing 5-3 two innings earlier.
Michael Wagner, the Toreros ninth pitcher of the night, threw a hitless ninth inning for his fourth save of the young season. San Diego’s dramatics in the final inning made James Pazos the winning pitcher for the first time this season. Dunyon took the loss for the UC Riverside.
Brief Notes and Observations:
- San Diego used 22 players, including nine pitchers. Coach Rich Hill called the nine pitchers used in the all-staff approach his “one-shot Navy Seal assassins.” “They go one inning; they’ve got one shot.”
- UC Riverside starter Max Patito struck out Bryant in the first inning. It was Bryant’s first K of the season.
- Julian Duran delivered a pinch-hit, game-tying, RBI single in the eighth inning. Though he has only started three games, he leads San Diego with a .588 batting average.
- For the first time in his short collegiate career, Highlanders’ centerfielder Devyn Bolasky failed to record a hit, breaking his seven-game hit streak. He did walk twice and stole a base.
- LeVier and Haar both had three hits each. Bryant, LeVier and Harr have combined for 30 hits the last five games.
- Mark Garcia was solid in relief, allowing no runs and just one hit in three innings.
- It was a game of streaks. San Diego scored the first three runs. Riverside then scored five straight to take the lead before the Toreros stormed back in the final two innings, tying the game in the eighth and then winning it in the ninth.
Check out the full photo gallery from the San Diego/UC Riverside Tuesday night matchup below: