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SoCal Roundup: Best Catcher in the Country?

In college baseball, starting catchers often get the mid-week games off to rest their legs in preparation for the more important weekend series, especially during the conference season, but with an extra day of rest thanks to the Easter schedule, Shane Zeile was behind the plate for UCLA on Tuesday.

He proved to be a difference maker in the Bruins’ matchup with Loyola Marymount and afterwards his coach lauded high praise on him, calling Zeile one of the top catchers in the country.

Check out how Zeile impacted the game, what else Savage had to say about him and get the full roundup of Tuesday’s Southern California college baseball action. We’ve got you covered with photo galleries from San Diego State, USC and UCLA:

#3 Cal Poly 12, San Jose State 5

The Cal Poly (35-5) lineup continues to assault anyone that dares stand in front of them and throw a pitched baseball. The Mustangs knocked 16 hits and tallied 12 runs against San Jose State, scoring against all five pitchers the Spartans (12-29) placed on the mound.

After San Jose State trimmed a dominant 6-0 lead to mild concern 7-4 lead, the sticks came alive for a four-run seventh inning to put the game out of reach. Tim Wise’s 4-for-5, two RBI night led the way while Zack Zehner added a 3-for-4, three-run, two-RBI, stolen-base outing. 

Relegated back to the mid-week rotation slot, Slater Lee (3-1) picked up the win, allowing five hits and a run in five innings. Brett Bautista was 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI for the Spartans.

USC 10, Hawai’i 4

With the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning, USC closer Kyle Davis jogged to the mound from the bullpen. Hawai’i (15-22) had trimmed USC’s lead to 6-4 in the seventh inning and were looking for another two-spot to tie the game.

Instead, Davis slammed the door shut, striking out Kaeo Aliviado to end the threat and then tossing a 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn his fifth save of the season. In case, Davis needed a little extra cushion, the Trojans’ offense rode the wave of Davis’ shutdown and scored four runs in the eighth inning.

Seniors Jake Hernandez (3 H, R, RBI) and Kevin Swick (2 H, 3 R, RBI) led the way offensively for USC (21-17) while Jeremy Martinez and Timmy Robinson each drove in two runs. A really positive sign for the Trojans came in the form of another solid outing by lefty reliever Kyle Twomey, who needed only 14 pitches to collect four outs without a baserunner. He picked up his second win of the year.

Also, check out the top shots from the game from CBD photographer Mark Alexander:

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San Diego 7, UC Riverside 6

San Diego (27-14) just doesn’t know how to play an uneventful mid-week game. The Toreros can’t simply win or lose 8-1. Instead, the game must have plenty of dramatics and Wednesday’s matchup with UC Riverside (17-19) definitely fit the bill.

After jumping out to an early 3-1 lead, San Diego gave the Highlanders three runs in the sixth inning — all three scoring by way of back-to-back errors. David Andriese pushed UCR’s lead to 5-3 the next inning with a solo homer, but San Diego answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning and bounced back to take a 6-5 lead on a Kyle Holder two-run homer in the eighth inning.

Not wanting to allow any potential suspense to escape, the Toreros allowed a leadoff double. The runner moved to third on a groundout, but was still standing there with two strikes and two outs. But rather than breathing a sigh of relief with the third out, USD fans either buried their faces in their hands or yanked some hair out as Shuyo Chang singled off PJ Conlon to tie the game.

But in the Toreros’ half of the ninth inning, Andrew Daniel led off with a single and advanced all the way to third on an error by the right fielder. A strikeout and intentional walk preceded the walk-off…wild pitch. UC Riverside closer Kevin Sprague spiked a breaking ball and Daniel was able to score from third for the winning run.

Connor Joe was 3-for-5 with two doubles, a run and two RBI.

San Diego State 7, Cal State Northridge 5

A pair of two-run triples by Greg Allen and Seby Zavala helped San Diego State (29-12) produce a six-run third inning  that the Aztecs rode to a 7-5 victory over Cal State Northridge (15-25).

The Matadors made things interesting in the ninth inning when they loaded the bases with two outs. After a walk cut the lead to 7-3, Michael Cederoth came on to pitch for Steven Pallares. Nick Blaser greeted Cederoth with a double down the line, scoring two runs and putting the tying run in scoring position.

But Cederoth bared down and struck out Michael Livingston on three pitches to collect his 16th save — tying him with UC Irvine’s Sam Moore for the national lead.

Allen had two hits, two runs, two RBI and a stolen base while Ty France was 2-for-3, reaching three times with a run and an RBI. For Northridge, Ranny Lowe and Chester Pak both had three hits. Pak had a double, scored a run, knocked a run in and was hit by a pitch.

Check out CBD photographer David Cohen’s top photos from the game :

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#27 UCLA 0, Loyola Marymount 0

“We dodged a lot of bullets early. They had a lot of opportunities,” UCLA head coach John Savage said. “They had [Grant] Dyer up against a wall several times.”

Loyola Marymount (24-16) had runners on second and third with one out in the third inning and twice had the bases loaded, but still couldn’t muster a single run against Dyer.

In the fifth inning, the Lions loaded the bases with one out, but UCLA’s freshman righty recorded back-to-back strikeouts — his only two punch outs on the night — on curveballs in the dirt to end the threat.

Even in his sixth and final inning, Dyer ran into trouble. Tanner Donnels led off with a double and LMU eventually loaded the bases on Dyer’s fifth walk and his only hit batsman. Rather than turn to the bullpen, Savage trusted his freshman to get himself out of the jam and that’s exactly what he did.

Here’s Savage talking about the game and showing trust in a young pitcher to further their development:

For the Lions after the game, the discussion was on the early missed opportunities. LMU head coach Jason Gill liked the performance of his pitchers, but said the bats have just gone cold lately:

The Bruins’ offense came in the form of single runs in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings with the hitters “passing the baton.” Following a leadoff Trent Chatterton double down the left line, Pat Gallagher knocked in the first run with a flare over the shortstop’s head after he wasn’t able to get a sacrifice bunt down with the first two strikes in the count.

After scoring the first run, Chatterton got Kevin Williams home the next inning with a chopper between the pitcher’s mound and first base that left LMU with only a play at first base.

It was then Williams’ turn to drive in a run in the eighth inning when Shane Zeile and he hit back-to-back doubles to make it 3-0. Zeile and Williams both finished with two hits, but it was the defensive effort of Zeile that really stood out.

The Valencia catcher, making his first mid-week start in nearly a month, blocked at least eight or nine balls in the dirt, including a few Dyer curveballs that were spiked off of or before home plate. Dyer had one wild pitch — on a ball that bounced two feet in front of home plate and went over the shoulder of Zeile — when he could have easily had four or five with a lesser defender behind the dish.

After the game, Savage talked about Zeile’s development as a second-year catcher after converting from a high school infielder and not getting an opportunity to work on the craft until January of last year due to injury:

“He’s one of the best catchers in the country.”

Also, check out the top shots from the game from CBD photographer Shotgun Spratling:

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San Diego 4, Long Beach State 3

In classic San Diego mid-week fashion, the Toreros (26-14) rallied for three runs in the ninth inning for a 4-3 walk-off win over Long Beach State (18-20). After a Ben Wylly RBI single, Austin Bailey delivered the climactic hit with a bases loaded double down the left field line to score the final two runs.

Long Beach starter Ryan Millison (6 IP, 5 H, ER) took a tough no decision while San Diego’s Daneil Reitzler got the win after facing only one batter. Drew Jacobs provided 4.2 scoreless innings of relief for the Toreros while Ryan Kirby reached all four times, going 3-for-3 with a double and a walk. Garrett Hampson and Cameron Pongs both had two hits and drove in a run for the Dirtbags.

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