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SoCal Roundup: Midweek Bubble Watch

The only two Southern California teams that seem secure in the postseason matched up for the second week in a row with No. 27 Pepperdine traveling to No. 7 Cal Poly this time. A familiar middle-of-the-lineup face who had been struggling seems to be back in the groove as he led his team to a victory.

It only took one swing in the UCLA/Fullerton game and Michael Cederoth had an unusual outing as he tried to lead San Diego State to a win at Long Beach State. Cederoth also tried to trim the national saves lead on Sam Moore, but Moore got into Irvine’s game at San Diego even though the ‘Eaters jumped out to a 13-2 lead.

That plus more in Tuesday’s Southern California college baseball roundup that features photo galleries from San Diego and UCLA:

#7 Cal Poly 5, #27 Pepperdine 1

Outside of Matt Imhof and Casey Bloomquist, Cal Poly has struggled with its starting pitching, but maybe the Mustangs (39-9) just found another option. Danny Zandona, making his second start this season, allowed just one hit and no runs in five innings to pick up his second win.

A questionable safe call at third base on a nicely executed hit-and-run by Mark Mathias brought the ire and hustle of Pepperdine head coach Steve Rodriguez, who sprinted out of the dugout faster than an overzealous bat boy retrieving a foul ball behind the plate. A Jordan Ellis’ RBI double plated the lead runner and after a line out, Brian Mundell’s NCAA leading 11th sacrifice fly made it 2-0. (Two runs that would not have scored had the runner John Schuknecht been called out at third.)

Mundell singled home two runs in his next at bat and scored the final run of the game on a wild pitch after knocking a stand-up triple to leadoff the eighth inning. He finished 2-for-3 with a run, triple and three RBI. Schuknecht was 2-for-3 with two runs. Pepperdine’s only run came on an Aaron Brown RBI single.

Cal State Fullerton 1, UCLA 0

Thank goodness no one was on base when Matt Chapman came up to bat in the third inning. The Cal State Fullerton third baseman launched a solo home run over the left-centerfield wall for the game’s only run.

If someone would have been on base, some cosmic force would have stopped Chapman’s ball and pushed it into the glove of a fielder because Fullerton and UCLA (23-22-1) combined to go 2-for-30 with runners on base on Tuesday night. Even worse, the two squads were 0-for-17 with runners in scoring position with 13 of those at bats coming from the Titans (24-20).

But in the end, it only took one swing of the bat from Chapman. Phil Bickford  (4-3) picked up the win: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K. Koby Gauna picked up his fourth save.

Here’s CBD photographer Mark Alexander’s top shots from the rematch of last year’s Fullerton Super Regional

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San Diego State 6, Long Beach State 3

Michael Cederoth had one of his best statistical outings of the season, allowing no hits and only one walk in 2.1 innings, yet he took a blown save when Long Beach State (23-23) manufactured a run with a stolen base/wild pitch and a sacrifice fly after Richard Prigatano had reached base on an error.

Not a problem, however. The San Diego State offense picked up their closer in the ninth inning. Ty France, whose error allowed Prigatano to reach, led off with a walk. A hit by pitch and walk loaded the bases. Steven Pallares “drove in” the go-ahead run by taking a walk. Evan Potter followed with a two-run single.

In the bottom half of the inning, Cederoth did the rest, striking out the final two batters to end the game and give the Aztecs (33-16) a big midweek win over a fellow bubble team.

Pallares was 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI. France finished 1-for-1. He walked once and tied a school record with three hit by pitches.

UC Santa Barbara 7, Bakersfield 3

Desperately needing to win, UC Santa Barbara scored four runs in the eighth inning to break a 3-3 tie and win on the road at Bakersfield (20-27).

After loading the bases without a hit (K/PB, BB, HBP), the Gauchos (27-14-1) sent a pinch hitter up to face new pitcher Max Carter. Big Hit Billy Fredrick delivered with a single up the middle to put UCSB ahead. After a groundout scored another, Peter Maris solidified the lead with a two-run double.

Closer Dillon Tate, who picked up the win after entering in the seventh inning, needed just 19 pitches for a pair of 1-2-3 innings in the eighth and ninth. Tate allowed just one hit in three innings as he improved to 2-1.

Maris was 3-for-5 with a run, two doubles and two RBI. Relief pitcher Greg Mahle showed his hitting prowess, going 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Chance Gusbeth led the Roadrunners, going 2-for-4 with  a run and an RBI triple . Oscar Sanay reached three times, going 2-for-4 with a walk, a run and an RBI.

#25 UC Irvine 16, San Diego 11

UC Irvine (33-14) took advantage of five San Diego errors, scoring eight unearned runs to take a 16-11 game that only got close after the Toreros scored nine straight runs in the sixth and seventh innings.

The ‘Eaters jumped out to a 10-0 lead and pushed that to 13-2, scoring in each of the first six innings. But when starter Evan Manarino came out after five innings (8 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K), the ball started jumping off the bats of San Diego’s hitters.

Louie Lechich homered in a six-run sixth inning and then led off the seventh inning with a single and came around to score on a Connor Joe double. Andrew Daniel’s RBI double and a Jesse Jenner sacrifice fly made it a full-blown ballgame once again at 13-11.

Mikey Duarte provided an insurance run for Irvine. But even with a three-run lead, head coach Mike Gillespie had seen enough from his middle relievers after a leadoff single in the eighth inning. Gillespie called for the nation’s leading closer, Sam Moore, to get a six-out save.

Moore did exactly that. He struck out three and didn’t allow a hit in two innings to notch save No. 22 — putting him just two saves shy of tying the NCAA record of 24 established by UCLA’s David Berg last season.

Ryan Cooper was 1-for-2 with three RBI to lead the ‘Eaters while Connor Spencer & Jonathan Munoz both had three hits. Daniel finished a home run shy of hitting for the cycle, going 4-for-6 with two runs and two RBI. Austin Bailey was 3-for-4 with a run, two doubles and two RBI in the loss while Jenner was 2-for-4 with a run and three RBI.

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

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