Rick Vanderhook didn’t travel with the team to San Luis Obispo and probably wouldn’t have liked what he saw had he went anyway. The nation’s top two closers, Sam Moore and Michael Cederoth, ended up deciding a game. See who came out on top.
But two unlikely heroes headline Thursday’s Southern California college baseball roundup that features video interviews and photo galleries from Northridge and Long Beach State:
#27 UCLA 3, Utah 1
UCLA has struggled to find big hits all season, but maybe there’s been a hidden gem on the roster the entire time. Why hasn’t John Savage tried it out then? Well, because that gem happens to be the Bruins top setup man in the bullpen.
With the game tied 1-1 in the ninth inning, Savage made the call to have redshirt freshman Nick Kern pinch hit with a runner on third and two outs. In his first collegiate plate appearance, Kern fell behind 0-2, took a ball and then took a massive hack, connecting with a high fastball over the middle of the plate.
Watch it fly:
But Kern didn’t just launch a go-ahead, ninth-inning, two-run homer. After a popup ended the inning, Kern grabbed his glove and headed to the pitcher’s mound where he set down the Utes to also record his first career save.
Kern probably never would have got an opportunity, if not for the effort of Grant Dyer in the eighth inning. With two men in scoring position, Dyer struck out back-to-back batters to keep the game tied 1-1.
Starting pitchers James Kaprielian and Dalton Carroll battled back-and-forth through six innings before
#3 Cal Poly 8, #19 Cal State Fullerton 0
Cal Poly (32-5, 9-1) thoroughly dominated a Cal State Fullerton 18-14, 3-4) team dealing with off-the-field issues as well as on-the-field performance. Matt Imhof struck out nine and allowed only two hits in 6.1 innings as he improved to 8-2 this season.
Mark Mathias had three hits and three runs, setting the table for Nick Torres, who had three hits and three RBI. Chris Hoo added two hits and two RBI.
Fullerton committed three errors and managed only four hits while head coach Rick Vanderhook did not accompany the team after being placed on paid administrative leave by the university.
UC Riverside 12, UC Davis 9
The Highlanders (15-18, 4-3) jumped out to a 10-1 lead after three innings, but when Jacob Smigelski (5 IP, ER) turned the ball over to the bullpen, UC Davis (16-18, 3-7) rallied for a seven-run sixth inning.
Luckily, UC Riverside’s versatile bullpen ace Dylan Stuart came on and pitched four innings to close the game out and record his second save of the season. Thomas Walker led the Highlanders’ 14-hit attack, going 2-for-5 with a homer and four RBI. Francisco Tellez and David Andriese both drove in three runs. In the loss, Aggies centerfielder Kevin Barker had five hits.
Long Beach State 3, #23 UC Santa Barbara 2
The shaving cream had filled every crevice of his left ear and was burning his eyes, but Long Beach State sophomore catcher Eric Hutting said it tasted great. Entering Thursday night’s contest, Hutting was batting .220 in 59 at bats and had still yet to record his first RBI this season.
But Hutting was able to get off the RBI schneid, get his team off the mat and get his closer off the hook, leading the Dirtbags (17-18, 4-3) to a 3-2 walk-off win over No. 23 UC Santa Barbara (23-9, 4-6).
Here he is after the game talking about the win…and taking a face full of shaving cream:
In the fourth inning, Long Beach State took a 2-0 lead. After a Richard Prigatano single and Michael Hill double put two runners in scoring position, Alex Bishop and Hutting cashed them in with RBI groundouts. It was the only two runs UC Santa Barbara starter Justin Jacome gave up in his six innings of work, making his first start since March 28 due to lingering shoulder tightness.
The score remained 2-0 until the ninth inning behind the masterful pitching of Dirtbags’ righty Andrew Rohrbach (8 IP, 6 H, ER, BB, 5 K), but a leadoff double chased him from the game, bringing forth closer Kyle Friedrichs. After a flyout and a walk, Friedrichs got a groundball, but freshman Garrett Hampson booted it. A run scored and an at bat later “Big Hit Billy” Fredrick hit a hard grounder through the right side to tie the score.
UC Santa Barbara head coach Andrew Checketts talks about Jacome’s performance and his team battling back before ultimately losing:
Long Beach State could have allowed the collapse to engulf and consume itself, but instead the Dirtbags rallied in the bottom half. Hill led off with a single. Bishop failed to get a sacrifice bunt down, but Hutting picked him up, lacing a belt-high fastball down the left field line for a walk-off RBI double that scored Hill from first base.
Hutting had built on his productive at bat early in the game with a base hit in the seventh inning. Faking a sacrifice bunt to pull the defense in, Hutting pulled back the bat and slashed a hit through the left side. There was no feigning bunt in the ninth inning, however. Instead, he just ripped a poorly placed fastball.
Long Beach State head coach Troy Buckley talks about his squad’s resiliency and the contributions of Hutting and Rohrbach:
CBD photographer Shotgun Spratling provides his top photos from the game:
Loyola Marymount 2, BYU 0
Loyola Marymount (24-14, 12-4) got an outstanding outing from Colin Welmon as he tossed his second career shutout. Welmon threw 117 pitches, scattering six hits and two walks to help the Lions win their seventh straight game.
The only runs of the game came in the sixth inning when Jimmy Jack delivered an RBI double and came around to score on Ted Boeke’s bloop single. Jack reached base three times as did Tommy Cheek.
San Diego State 3, UC Irvine 1
Andrew Morales struck out 11 and didn’t allow a run in seven innings, leaving with a 1-0 lead. Morales turned the ball over to the nation’s leading closer Sam Moore, who entered with 15 saves, but San Diego State (27-11) rallied.
A hit by pitch and an error put runners on corners with one out, UC Irvine intentionally walked SDSU top hitter Ty France. Seby Zavala and Brad Haynal made the Anteaters (24-13) pay. Zavala and Haynal both singled to drive in San Diego State’s three runs.
Irvine threatened in both the eighth and the ninth innings, getting the tying runs into scoring position, but Michael Cederoth, who entered the game as the nation’s second leading closer, struck out Ryan Cooper to end the eighth-inning threat and fanned both Connor Spencer and Taylor Sparks to finish the game off and pick up his 14th save — one behind Moore.
Mike Robards (4-3) earned the win, throwing 7.2 innings, allowing eight hits and one earned run. Spencer finished with two hits, a double and an RBI to lead UCI.
USC 1, Arizona 0
Wyatt Strahan went the distance, throwing 132 pitches, for the complete game shutout of Arizona (17-21, 6-10) to give the Trojans (18-17, 7-9) the victory. After putting two on the first and loading the bases in the second before escaping jams, Strahan allowed only four baserunners the rest of the game. In total, Strahan allowed only five hits and two walks while striking out eight to improve to 3-3. Jeremy Martinez went 3-for-3, singling home Garrett Stubbs in the first inning for the only run of the game.
Here’s the USC highlights:
#28 Pepperdine 13, San Francisco 2
Struggling to get consistent starting pitching, San Francisco (17-19, 6-10) inserted closer Houston Hibberd into the role. The gamble did not pay off. Hibberd allowed 11 hits, 11 runs in 3.2 innings. Pepperdine (29-8, 13-3) scored three runs in the first inning and exploded for an eight-run fourth inning.
Corey Miller improved to 7-2 on the year: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER. Aaron Brown was 3-for-5 with three RBI while Brandon Caruso had three hits, two runs, two RBI and a stolen base. Jack Ross also added two hits and two RBI. Pepperdine held the Dons top of the lineup hitless (0-for-12), including an 0-for-5 performance from Bradley Zimmer.
Santa Clara 8, San Diego 5
PJ Conlon didn’t make it out of the fifth inning, allowing five runs on 10 hits and the San Diego offense couldn’t make up the early deficit. T.J. Braff was 4-for-5 with a homer and four RBI for the Broncos (16-22, 6-7) while Jose Vizcaino Jr. reached five times (3-for-4, R, 2 BB). For the Toreros (25-12, 11-5), Andrew Daniel was 2-for-4, R, 2 2B, RBI, HBP.
Cal State Northridge 6, Hawai’i 2
Northridge (14-23, 3-7) took the opener against Hawai’i (14-20, 2-8) winning 6-2 behind 7.1 strong innings from Brycen Rutherford, who allowed only an unearned run on two hits and three walks. Nick Blaser and Brett Balkan both drove in two runs. Balkan also stole two bases.
Check out CBD photographer David Cohen’s top photos from the game :