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SoCal Weekend Wrap: Home Field Advantage

Cullen Mahoney laces a double down the line.Loyola Marymount and UC Irvine played great ball at home. In typical Cal State Fullerton fashion this season, the Titans won their series, but couldn’t put it all together to sweep Cal State Northridge.

Ranked squads UCLA and San Diego played well on the road while USC and Pepperdine womp…womp’d in a pair of series in Eastern Washington.

We provided you with live updates on Twitter (@SoCal_CBDaily) throughout the weekend, but here’s a recap of all the weekend action:

High Heat

There were only three series played in Los Angeles and Orange County this weekend. I was able to make it out to parts of each series, so we’ll start this week’s rundown there:

Cal State Northridge at #13 Cal State Fullerton — The only matchup between two SoCal teams was won by Cal State Fullerton. The Titans took the first two games of the series, continuing their hot hitting with head coach Rick Vanderhook manning the third base coaches’ box, knocking 26 hits. They also took advantage of five Northridge errors and a handful of mental mistakes like overthrown cutoff men and letting a runner escape a rundown.

Dylan Floro threw Fullerton’s first complete game of the season in the series opener. He had a shutout going until the ninth inning when the Matadors were able to get two across with the help of two errors. In the second game, the Matadors battled back from a 5-0 deficit with a four-run fourth inning. While they kept it close, they could never pull even. They managed to get the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning, but Northridge’s Miles Williams couldn’t tie the game with one pitch. Instead, he went down swinging to closer Michael Lorenzen, who picked up his 10th save of the season — second best in the nation.

Williams got his revenge in Sunday’s series finale, launching a two-run home run to cap the Matadors’ four-run third inning. The big inning killed Fullerton once again as that was all the offense Jerry Keel needed. The left-handed freshman went the distance, scattering nine hits and two walks in a 5-1 Northridge win.

While they did not get the sweep, it looks like Vanderhook and the Titans have finally found the right lineup. Since Anthony Trajano has been inserted in the No. 2 spot in the batting order, the offense is averaging more than 13 hits per game. During the weekend series, Trajano and leadoff batter Richy Pedroza got on base 15 times, setting the table for Lorenzen and Carlos Lopez.

Lorenzen (8 games) and Trajano (7) both extended their hitting streaks while Lopez’s was snapped at 11. Northridge’s Cal Vogelsang pushed his current hitting streak to 11 games, including a triple in his final opportunity to keep the streak alive in Saturday’s matchup.

St. Mary’s at Loyola Marymount (Sweep City) — Colin Welmon’s scoreless inning streak ended, but that was about the only bad thing to happen to the Lions starting rotation. Welmon wasn’t great allowing four runs, but he pitched efficiently, needing only 107 pitches in eight innings of work. The offense provided him with plenty of support, scoring nine runs led by the five driven in by Welmon’s battery mate, Colton Plaia.

Plaia provided the offensive firepower in Sunday’s 5-3 win as well, hitting a two-run homer and scoring three runs. Veteran John Lally went seven innings, giving up only one run on four hits to pick up the win. His performance came on the heels of freshman Trevor Megill throwing seven scoreless innings Saturday. Megill won the pitcher’s battle with St. Mary’s Martin Agosta, who is likely to be an early round draft choice this season. Scott Harkin and Mitchell Esser hit back-to-back doubles off Agosta in the seventh inning to score the first run of the game and Alex Guthrie singled home Esser with what proved to be the deciding run a batter later.

For the weekend, LMU starters were 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA. Plaia extended his hitting streak to nine games, batting .500 (5-for-10, 4 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI) for the weekend. Cullen Mahoney (15 games) and Matt Lowenstein (11) also collected hits each game to improve upon hitting streaks.

Pacific at UC Irvine (Sweep City) — Taylor Sparks had to play hero twice for the Anteaters to pull off the sweep, but UC Irvine did just enough to win all three games. Friday night, when the ball notoriously doesn’t travel well at Anteater Ballpark, Irvine trailed 4-3 heading into the ninth inning.

Christian Ramirez singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, but the ‘Eaters were down to their final out when Sparks strolled to the plate. The gangly freshman connected with the first pitch and clanged it off the left field foul pole for a walk-off two-run homer.

On Saturday, Sparks was in a similar position. Irvine had trimmed Pacific’s lead to 4-3 with a pair of runs in the eighth inning. The Anteaters had runners on second and third when Sparks got his opportunity. But instead of another homer, Sparks flared a ball just over the second baseman that died in shallow right field allowing both runners to come around to score to put Irvine on top. The ‘Eaters scored six runs in the inning to take the game 7-4. In both come-from-behind victories, they got a great relief appearance as Nick Hoover and Mitch Merten both pitched three innings without allowing an earned run.

Rather than waiting for a come-from-behind win on Sunday, Irvine jumped ahead 3-0 in the first inning and added another three-run inning in the sixth to take a 6-0 victory. Phillip Ferragamo pitched a career-high seven innings, striking out three. He allowed only five hits and no runs in only his second start of the season. Connor Spencer was 6-for-11 for the weekend to earn Big West Player of the Week honors.  D.J. Crumlich collected hits in all three games to push his hitting streak to nine games.

Diamond Studs

Shawn Stuart threw a one-hitter.

Pitcher of the Week:
Shawn Stuart (Long Beach) —
 Stuart was sensational Sunday afternoon. He helped the Dirtbags get back-to-back weekend series wins and open Big West conference 2-1. Stuart began the season as Long Beach’s Friday starter, but was pushed back to Sunday last week due to a hamstring strain. He showed no ill effects of that injury this week as he threw a one-hitter, striking out nine.

Honorable Mention: Calvin Drummond (San Diego), Phillip Ferragamo (Irvine), Dylan Floro (Fullerton), Jerry Keel (Northridge),  Trevor Megill (Loyola Marymount)

Player of the Week:
Tyler Heineman (UCLA)
Heineman was 6-for-9 for the weekend. That may seem like a good weekend, but not necessarily worthy of being this week’s Diamond Stud until you consider that he also reached base three times by hit by pitch and walked three times. Heineman accumulated a .750 on base percentage (he also had a sacrifice fly to reach base in 12 of his 16 plate appearances). He also scored six runs and drove in three as the Bruins swept Utah.

Honorable Mention: Jake Hernandez (USC), Brennan Metzger (Long Beach), Colton Plaia (LMU), Joe Sever (Pepperdine), Connor Spencer (Irvine), Anthony Trajano (Fullerton)

Caught in ‘The Rundown’

Grant Watson picked up his sixth win.

Sweep City:
#6 UCLA at Utah The Bruins improved to a program-best 8-0 away from Jackie Robinson Stadium doing exactly what they needed to do at Utah — pound the Utes. UCLA sent the message early, scoring runs in all but two innings of Friday’s 16-0 drubbing. Beau Amaral and Jeff Gelalich both had three hits, two RBI and combined for five runs. Utah kept it close throughout Saturday’s contest, but Scott Griggs slammed the door with a 1 1/3 inning save. On Sunday, Grant Watson picked up his sixth win of the season with six solid innings.

Tyler Heineman reached base his final nine plate appearances, finishing the weekend 6-for-9 with three walks and three hit by pitches. He is now hitting .400 on the season. Beau Amaral and Trevor Brown both extended their hitting streaks to 11 games, as well.

Air Force at San Diego State The Aztecs took advantage of a ton of Air Force mistakes in the series. San Diego State scored 16 unearned runs as Air Force committed 10 errors. Michael Cederoth’s roller coaster freshman season continued. He was pulled Friday after walking the bases loaded in the third inning. In total, he allowed four walks and five runs in just two innings. Ryan Muno was 7-for-12 on the weekend. He’s now hitting .526 in his last five games. Ryan Doran got his first win of the season pitching seven innings and allowing one run on Sunday.

Series Win:
#24 San Diego at San Francisco  — It wasn’t that surprising that San Francisco was able to shut down San Diego’s potent offense in one game. What was surprising is that it wasn’t potential top five draft pick Kyle Zimmer who did the shutting down…it was sophomore Abe Bobb. On Sunday, Bobb struck out six in 7 1/3 innings of a 1-0 victory for the Dons. The loss was disappointing, but Dylan Covey’s seven innings without allowing an earned run is a very encouraging sign. If he continues to get better as he has done his last two starts, San Diego could be a very dangerous team in the postseason.

Calvin Drummond showed Friday that he could step up under the spotlight when he outpitched Zimmer. Drummond scattered seven hits and allowed one run in a 6-1 complete game victory. Paul Sewald didn’t have his best stuff, allowing four runs in 6 1/3 innings, but he picked up his fourth win of the season. The offense picked him up, giving him a big lead to pitch with early.

Long Beach State at Cal Poly Cal Poly entered the weekend with the best record and some of the best numbers in the Big West, including a .283 team batting average. But Long Beach was able to hold them to 18 hits for the weekend and took two of three. The Dirtbags brought a little offense of their own. Brennan Metzger hit the team’s first home run of the season on Friday and they held on for a 4-3 win with Ryan Friedrichs stranding the tying run on third base to end the game. Metzger batted .400 for the weekend with three runs scored and four RBI.

Long Beach took a 4-3 lead late in Saturday’s game, but errors led to a pair of runs. Cal Poly scored four unearned runs in total to win 6-4. Sunday was the Shawn Stuart show. The right-hander, who was shuffled to Sunday last week after a hamstring strain, completely shutdown the Mustangs with a complete game one-hitter, striking out nine batters.

Disappointing Series Loss:
UC Riverside at UC Santa Barbara — Once again, Eddie Orozco was Riverside’s rock, allowing only one run in seven innings despite giving up eight hits and four walks. He helped the Highlanders pick up their only win of the weekend with a 4-1 win Saturday. But Riverside had its chances — bringing the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning of Friday’s 5-3 loss and giving away the game in the eighth inning of Sunday’s 3-1 loss. Tied 1-1 in the eighth inning Sunday, Santa Barbara got a runner to third base on starter Trevor Frank. Ben Douchette entered the game but didn’t provide any relief. He walked two batters to load the bases and hit a batter to score the game-winning run.

Joe Sever was one of few bright spots for Pepperdine.

Pepperdine at Gonzaga — Once 16-5, the Waves are crashing against the rocks right now. They’ve dropped six of seven. Everything they were doing well to get off to a hot start, they haven’t done the last two weeks. Outside of Scott Frazier’s win Saturday (7 IP, ER), the starting pitchers have been hit hard, allowing 33 runs. The defense has committed 15 errors after committing only 14 in the first 21 games. They committed two errors in each game this weekend. One bright spot was the production of Joe Sever, who was 11-for-15 with four RBI.

USC at Washington State — The cold and rainy Pacific Northwest wasn’t kind to the Trojans either. While USC split a pair of games, they needed another ninth inning comeback to win the series opener and should have taken the second game to win the series. On Friday night, the Trojans trailed 10-7 entering the ninth inning after four errors led to five unearned runs. After getting one run across, USC was down to their final out. With two outs, the Trojans scored seven runs on three singles, a double, three walks and a hit by pitch before Washington State could record the final out of the inning.

Saturday produced another crazy game. USC fell behind 5-0 in the first two innings, but battled back to take a 7-6 lead in the eighth inning. However, the defense again let them down as Washington State was able to score three unearned runs when Dante Flores and Adam Landecker both committed errors. There was no ninth inning magic and the Trojans fell 9-7. Both of their senior starting pitchers struggled. Andrew Triggs allowed nine runs (four earned) in 5 2/3 innings and Ben Mount lasted only two innings, giving up five runs.

Kevin Swick, Kevin Roundtree, Dante Flores and Jake Hernandez all recorded five hits in the two games. Hernandez was 5-for-6 and reached base seven of his eight plate appearances. He scored three runs and had five RBI after entering as a pinch hitter in the opener and starting Saturday.

But the worst part of USC’s split with Washington State? Sunday’s game was postponed due to early snow and high winds, meaning the Trojans will have to make a return to trip to Pullman to play a single game. The plan is for USC to make the trip after finishing a series at Oregon.

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