When San Francisco beat Cal State Fullerton in a 19-inning contest earlier this year, the game lasted 4 hours, 55 minutes. On Wednesday night at Page Stadium, Loyola Marymount and Cal State Northridge battled for a full 45 minutes longer, despite only needing 13 innings to decide a victor.
But on the 453rd pitch of the night, LMU cleanup hitter Tanner Donnels sharply chopped a ball to first base. William Colantono bobbled the ball and fired home late, allowing David Fletcher to slide in with the winning run to give the LMU Lions a 12-11 win in the bottom of the 13th.
“The first pitch I saw, I just tried to take a good swing to it,” Donnels said. “I barreled it up pretty good and I was lucky enough that the first baseman bobbled it a little bit and we got the win.”
Here are the top photos from the contest from CBD photographer David Cohen:
Donnels was credited with a hit — his sixth on the night and second dramatic one after he had tied the game in the bottom of the 11th inning.
It was a dramatic back-and-forth contest full of sloppy play and missed opportunities.
Northridge left a man on third base in the 10th, 11th and 12th innings. Loyola Marymount knocked 24 hits, but left 19 men on base and appeared to be going for a scoreboard totals triple-double, scoring 12 runs on 24 hits, but committing seven errors!
Even Fletcher, the Lions’ sure-handed freshman shortstop, had a throwing miscue. An LMU assistant joked the coaching staff felt there was a hex for the night after seeing Fletcher make his first collegiate error in 70 chances.
Cal State Northridge looked to be in control after taking a 10-7 lead with a five-run seventh inning that featured only three hits, highlighted by Nicolas Osuna’s two-run single to centerfield. (None of CSUN’s first six runs were scored via a hit.)
But Donnels led off the eighth inning with a single and after a hit by pitch and a bloop, LMU loaded the bases for the fourth time on the night. Northridge went to closer Shay Maltese to try to record a six-out save.
Maltese struck out the first hitter he faced, but a hit batsman and a sacrifice fly made it 10-9. Northridge was able to escape the jam. On the sacrifice fly, right fielder Chester Pak decided to fire the ball to third base. He one-hopped the ball perfectly to Osuna to easily nail the runner and end the inning.
But Maltese couldn’t keep the tying run off the board in the ninth inning as the top of Loyola Marymount’s lineup got to him. Fletcher led off with a single and advanced to third on a bunt-and-run call by LMU. Tommy Cheek then blasted a fastball over the left fielder’s head for a game-tying RBI double.
Here’s Cheek’s thoughts on the game:
Brice Savage pinch ran for Cheek, but after moving to third on a Donnels infield single, Savage was gunned down at the plate on a chopper to Colantono — a play very similar to the eventual game-winner.
In the 11th inning, Nick Blaser put Cal State Northridge back ahead with a RBI single up the middle to score Brett Balkan, who led the inning off with a walk.
Maltese looked to be in line for redemption against the top of LMU’s lineup. Burying his 80-83 mph slider in the dirt, Maltese struck out Fletcher and Austin Miller bringing up Savage for his first at bat of the game.
On a 3-2 pitch, Savage hit a towering fly ball to left-centerfield that bounced off the wall about two feet shy of being a game-tying home run. That brought up Donnels, who also battled to a 3-2 count before hitting a hard chopper up the middle. Ryan Raslowsky made a great diving play to glove the ball, but he couldn’t get a throw off.
After stranding a runner at third in the 10th inning, leaving two in scoring position in the 11th inning and not being able to score with the bases loaded in the 12th inning, Northridge was sat down 1-2-3 in the 13th inning, which was an inauspicious sign with LMU’s dangerous top of the order due up.
That sign proved true when Fletcher doubled and advanced to third on a wild pitch. A pair of walks loaded the bases and created force outs at each base, bringing up Donnels for the game’s 127th and final plate appearance.
Pitcher Kyle Ferramola, who had just entered to become the 42nd player used in the game, delivered a fastball that Donnels turned on.
“I was just hoping Fletcher was going to get in there and score,” Donnels said. “I know I hit it pretty good, but Fletcher got a good jump and the first baseman bobbled it a little bit…but man what a game.”
Freshman Brenton Arriaga picked up his first collegiate win with two scoreless innings for LMU. He struck out four. Kenny Rosenberg took the loss for Northridge.
Donnels finished 6-for-6 with a walk and a hit by pitch. He scored two runs and drove in two more. It was LMU’s first six-hit performance since at least 1998. Cheek finished 5-for-6 with two runs and the big ninth inning RBI double.
Miller and Chris Barnett also chipped in three hits in LMU’s offensive barrage. The 24 hits were the most the Lions have produced since having 24 in a 2008 matchup with St. Mary’s.
Osuna had three hits to lead Northridge. Osuna and Pak both drove in two runs with Pak finishing 2-for-4 with a walk.
Loyola Marymount outfielder Tanner Donnels talks about his dramatic night that included the game-tying hit in the 11th inning and the game-winning hit in the 13th inning.
LMU head coach Jason Gill talks about his team’s competitiveness after the Lions beat Cal State Northridge 12-11 in 13 innings Wednesday night at Page Stadium.