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SoCal Roundup: Morales Outduels Imhof

In the Big West battle of the season, UC Irvine ace Andrew Morales matched up with Cal Poly stud Matt Imhof. The two pitchers definitely flashed their stuff, combining for 21 strikeouts on the night. See how the game played out.

That plus more, including how the San Diego squads did in crucial conference battles for both teams, in Friday’s Southern California college baseball roundup that features photo galleries from Fullerton, Santa Barbara and Pepperdine.

UC Irvine 3, #7 Cal Poly 2

Andrew Morales remains unbeaten in his UC Irvine career, improving to 9-0 this season and 19-0 in his two seasons with the ‘Eaters. He won one of the premier Big West pitching matchups, going toe-to-toe with Cal Poly ace Matt Imhof Friday night.

Cal Poly (39-10, 14-5) took a 2-1 lead in the third inning on Mark Mathias’ RBI single and Jordan Ellis squeeze bunt. Grant Palmer evened the score with an RBI single for Irvine in the fifth inning and a throwing error by Imhof later in the  frame set up Chris Rabago’s sacrifice fly that gave Irvine (34-14, 15-1) the lead.

That was all Morales (8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 9 K) needed. With the assistance of a caught stealing, he retired the final 17 Mustangs he faced before turning the ball over to the nation’s leading closer, Sam Moore. Nick Torres led off the ninth inning with a bloop single, but Moore struck out the next three batters to claim his 23rd save of the season — one shy of UCLA reliever David Berg’s NCAA record set last season.

Imhof took the loss despite allowing just three hits and striking out 13 batters. Justin Castro had two of those hits, finishing 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI.

#1 Oregon State 4, UCLA 2

Ty Moore staked UCLA (23-23-1, 10-12) to an early 2-0 lead with a two-run double against the top-ranked Beavers (36-8, 18-4), but the Bruins gave it away and gave away the game with two bases loaded walks in the eighth inning. Christoph Bono had two hits against Oregon State ace Ben Wetzler, who improved to 9-1 with eight strong innings : 8 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 K.

UC Riverside 3, Cal State Fullerton 2

UC Riverside made an early 3-0 lead against Thomas Eshelman stick behind the combined pitching performances of Jacob Smigelski and Dylan Stuart. Click through to check out the full recap, photo gallery and video interviews.

San Diego 5, #27 Pepperdine 4 (11 innings)

Pepperdine pinch hitter Chris Fornaci brought home the tying run with two outs in the ninth inning to give the fans some free baseball, but the Waves couldn’t pull out a victory for the home fans.

Connor Joe laced an RBI single in the 11th inning and San Diego closer Josh Goossen-Brown sat down the Waves for the 5-4 extra-inning victory.
Here’s head coach Rich Hill and Connor Joe talking about the victory in the big West Coast Conference series opener:

Here are the top shots from CBD photographer Shotgun Spratling:

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UNLV 6, San Diego State 1

San Diego State (33-17, 13-12) was shut down by John Richy (8 IP, ER) as the Aztecs fall 6-1 in the opener of big Mountain West series with UNLV (30-18, 17-8), who just announced ace Erick Fedde will need Tommy John surgery and miss the rest of the season.

Greg Allen had two hits and scored SDSU’s only run. Erik Vanmeetren had three hits for UNLV while Joey Armstrong reached three times, including knocking his third home run.

USC 2, Cal 1

USC centerfielder Timmy Robinson exploded for a huge game when the Trojans (26-20, 14-11) needed it the most. Robinson had three hits, including a pair of triples, a run, an RBI and a stolen base in a 2-1 victory over Cal (19-25, 7-15). In the fifth inning, Robinson tripled home Dante Flores and then scored on Reggie Southall’s two-out infield single. It was all the support Wyatt Strahan needed.

Strahan allowed one run on five hits in seven innings before turning the ball over to Kyle Twomey and Kyle Davis. The Kyle & Kyle Show tossed a pair of scoreless innings to secure the win. Daulton Jefferies took the tough luck loss: 8 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K.

Long Beach State 3, Hawai’i 1

Andrew Rohrbach (9 IP, 5 H, ER, 2 BB, 9 K) pitched his second consecutive complete game and the Dirtbags (24-23, 10-6) scored two runs in the ninth without getting the ball out of the infield to take the series opener at Hawai’i (19-26, 3-13).

After a Marc Flores RBI single in the seventh inning tied the game, Long Beach State was able to break free in their final at bat thanks to the wildness of the Rainbow Warriors pitchers. A bunt single and four walks brought home the go-ahead and insurance runs for the Dirtbags.

UC Santa Barbara 4, Cal State Northridge 3

UC Santa Barbara relievers Greg Mahle and Dillon Tate came up huge once again for the Gauchos, pitching the final 3.1 innings without allowing a run after Cal State Northridge (17-31, 5-11) had cut a 4-0 lead down to a one-run deficit.

Mahle also did it with the bat, knocking two hits, walking once and scoring a run in the DH role. Robby Nesovic added two RBI for UC Santa Barbara (28-14-1, 8-11). The Matadors got four hits from Ranny Lowe and two each from Nico Garbella, Nick Murphy and William Colantano, but couldn’t overcome a four-run third inning.

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

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