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SoCal Roundup: Rivalry Shutdown Central

The Long Beach/Fullerton rivalry started off with plenty of drama courtesy of a 1-0 game. But whose way did it go? And could No. 4 Cal Poly rebound from its three-game losing streak? Find out below.

That plus more, including how a dropped flyball changed the Pepperdine/LMU opener in Friday’s Southern California college baseball roundup that features photo galleries from Irvine and Northridge

UC Riverside 7, #4 Cal Poly 4

Cal Poly is a mini-spiral having lost four in a row after losing only five of its first 41 games. The Mustangs (36-9, 12-4) got only three innings from ace Matt Imhof, who departed early after allowing seven hits, two walks and five runs. Though he’s 2-2 since tweaking his back in the UC Santa Barbara series at the beginning of April, Imhof hasn’t been the same dominant pitcher. He’s struggled with his command and has been hit around at times unlike earlier in the season.

The Mustangs did get leading hitter Mark Mathias back in the lineup after he injured his heel last Sunday at Long Beach State. But by the time he got his first of two hits in the fifth inning, Cal Poly was already down 5-1. Jacob Smigelski held the potent offense to two runs in 5.2 innings before ace reliever Dylan Stuart came on to pitch the final 3.1 frames to pick up his third save.

Both teams had 13 hits, but UC Riverside (20-21, 8-5)  did more with its baker’s dozen. Joe Chavez was 3-for-4 with a double and a solo homer. Thomas Walker was 3-for-4 and drove in three runs while David Andriese had three hits, two runs and two RBI. Peter Van Gansen was 2-for-3 for Cal Poly, driving in two runs.

UCLA 7, Stanford 2

UCLA brought 11 men to the plate in the first inning, scoring six runs. The Bruins never looked back. James Kaprielian struck out 10 and allowed just one run in 6.2 innings to pick up his sixth win of the season. Pat Gallagher reached three times and Luke Persico hit a two-run triple.

UC Irvine 6, USC 2

For the second week in a row, UC Irvine’s offense bailed out ace Andrew Morales, rather than the other way around like it normally is. After Morales blew an early 2-0 lead, the ‘Eaters (30-14, 12-1) put up another four runs over a three-inning stretch to help the junior right hander improve to 8-0 this season.

Here’s Morales talking about offense picking him up and the “huge” win in the series opener:

After Irvine jumped out to a 2-0 lead when Jonathan Munoz doubled home a run and came around to score in the second inning, UC Santa Barbara (25-12-1, 7-9) was able to quickly even things up. Tyler Kuresa fouled off three straight two-strike pitches and then laced a two-run single into the right-centerfield gap. He stole second to put two men in scoring position, but Morales was able to strike out Robby Nesovic on a changeup to keep the game even.

Nesovic had a shot at redemption in the fifth inning with two men, but he nubbed one back to the mound to end the inning. The Anteaters posed their own threat in the bottom half of the inning.

With two men on base, Connor Spencer spoiled a handful of two-strike pitches. Mike Gillespie rolled the dice and put the runners in motion. Spencer lined a pitch inside the third base line just out of the reach of a diving Nesovic for a two-run double.

After the game, Gillespie called it the “single biggest at bat of the game:”

The ‘Eaters added single insurance runs in the sixth and seventh inning. John Brontsema had one an RBI single. His father, Bob, was the Gauchos’ head coach for 18 seasons prior to Andrew Checketts taking over in 2011.

In the ninth inning, Santa Barbara got the tying run to the plate, loading the bases, but the nation’s saves leader, Sam Moore came on to get the final two outs to record his 20th save of the season.

With the win, UC Irvine passed its first true Big West test and moved to 12-1. Coupled with Cal Poly’s loss, the ‘Eaters have opened up a two-game lead in the conference standings.

Pitching coach Daniel Bibona, a former Friday night starter at Irvine, talked about the differences between Morales and himself. He also discussed how his staff is pitching with confidence:

CBD photographer Shotgun Spratling provides his top shots from the action at Anteater Ballpark:

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San Diego State 6, New Mexico 5

Michael Cederoth really must like the drama of the closer role. No matter the situation, Cederoth always seems to find a way to produce some final-inning drama before he ultimately blows a hitter away with his 95+ mph fastball or gets them to chase his wipeout slider.

Friday night was no different. After starter Bubba Derby (8 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, BB, 3 K) gave up a leadoff double in a 6-3 game, Cederoth was summoned from the pen. A strikeout, walk and fielder’s choice put runners at first and second with two outs.

To make things interesting, Cederoth gave up a two-run double and then allowed a wild pitch to put the tying run 90 feet away in a critical Mountain West series. Unfazed, the junior got the hottest hitter on the day for New Mexico (31-15-1, 14-8), Danny Collier, who already had three hits, to ground out to second base to end the game and collect his 17th save — second best in the nation.

The Aztecs (32-14, 13-9) had that lead thanks to Ryan Muno, who finished 2-for-4 with two runs, a double and three RBI. Spencer Thornton also added a 4-for-5 night.

Washington State 5, USC 2

USC starter Wyatt Strahan had his scoreless streak snapped in the second inning after 21.1 innings and he eventually took the loss. Washington State broke a 2-2 tie with three runs in the seventh inning. Jake Hernandez was 2-for-4 with 2 RBI for USC while P.J. Jones did the same for the Cougars (19-22, 9-10).

Long Beach State 1, #28 Cal State Fullerton 0

UCLA showed last year that an offensively limited team can win consistently. UC Irvine is showing the same this year. But both of those teams also did all the small things correctly. That’s the difference between Cal State Fullerton being a top tier team and potentially missing the postseason this year.

Trailing 1-0 in the eighth inning Friday night, the Titans got back-to-back singles from its 8-9 hitters. The tying and likely go-ahead runs seemed imminent for Fullerton. All it had to do was put down a sacrifice bunt and turn it over to the Titans’ top three hitters, Tanner Pinkston, Matt Chapman and J.D. Davis. Instead, none of the three registered an at bat in the inning.

Long Beach State starter Andrew Rohrbach sprung off the mound and made a great defensive play on Clay Williamson’s sacrifice bunt attempt. He spun and fired the ball to third base for the force out. Keegan Dale then got thrown out at third base trying to advance on a ball in the dirt. Williamson followed by getting hosed trying to steal second.

Rohrbach closed out the game striking out David Olmedo-Barrera with his 110th pitch of the game for his second shutout of the season. He scattered seven hits, but did not walk a batter and struck out nine.

The only run of the game came in the fourth inning when Richard Prigatano led off the inning with a double, moved to third on a groundout that Fullerton ace Thomas Eshelman kick saved right to the shortstop. Cameron Pongs followed with an RBI groundout to second base for the winning/only run.

Eshelman took the tough, tough loss despite a complete game effort of his own. He allowed four hits — none after Prigatano’s double — and one run while striking out seven. He needed just 79 pitches and retired the final 15 batters.

Loyola Marymount 3, #25 Pepperdine 2

Colin Welmon tossed a 103-pitch complete game and got the assistance of some gift runs to give Loyola Marymount (27-19, 14-8) a 3-2 victory in the series opener of a crucial West Coast Conference series with Pepperdine. The Waves (31-11, 14-5) took a 1-0 lead but couldn’t hold it after the tying run scored on a botched double play and the go-ahead runs came in when Bryan Langlois dropped a flyball that would have been the final out of the fifth inning.

Pepperdine ace Corey Miller also went the distance, taking a tough-luck loss after allowing one earned run in eight innings. Austin Miller was the Lions’ catalyst, reaching three times, swiping two bags and scoring the go-ahead run.

San Diego 6, St. Mary’s 2

The Toreros (31-16, 13-9) won their fourth straight after having dropped 7 of 10 prior. Lucas Long (4-3) pitched a strong six innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and a walk. But the story was the long ball. San Diego scored five of its six runs via the home run. Kyle Holder hit a solo shot to tie the game, 1-1. Connor Joe followed in the same inning with a three-run shot to put the Toreros ahead. Jesse Jenner answered St. Mary’s (14-31, 6-13) second run with a solo homer to lead off the fourth inning.

Cal State Northridge 13, UC Davis 6

Cal State Northridge (17-24, 5-8) scored six runs in the first and broke out to a 9-0 lead en route to a 13-6 victory. All nine starters recorded at least one hit, led by Nico Garbella’s 4-for-5, 2 R, 2 2B, 4 RBI performance. William Colantano knocked his first collegiate home run.

Here are CBD photographer David Cohen’s top photos from the game:

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