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SoCal Roundup: First Big West Title

The West Coast Conference regular season title was up for grabs on the final day of regular season play and so were the final two spots in next week’s WCC Tournament. Who would travel to Stockton wouldn’t be determined until a walk-off victory settled it. But was it the San Diego Toreros, sitting at home watching the final games unfold on their computers, or one of the teams in action when it was all settled?

Find out that plus more in Sunday’s Southern California college baseball roundup that features photo galleries from Cal Poly’s Big West title celebration at Cal State Northridge and UCLA.

#6 Cal Poly 3, Cal State Northridge 2

For the first time ever, the Cal Poly Mustangs (45-10, 19-5) are Big West Conference champions.

Cal Poly scored a pair of runs in the sixth inning to break a 1-1 tie and held off a Cal State Northridge (18-35, 6-15) rally in the ninth to take a 3-2 win, series sweep and conference crown. The Matadors scored a run on Nick Murphy’s RBI single and loaded the bases with two outs, but Reed Reilly got AB Blanchet to groundout for Reilly’s 10th save.

Reilly was then tackled on the mound and the celebratory dogpile commenced.

Danny Zandona pitched 3.2 scoreless innings to pick up his fourth win. Zack Zehner led the Mustangs, going 3-for-4 with a walk and two runs. Chris Hoo added two hits and an RBI.

Here’s the final play thanks to Josh Friedman from Cal Coast News:

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

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Pacific 6, Loyola Marymount 2

Loyola Marymount (30-22, 17-10) clinched a spot in the WCC Tournament last night with its series-clinching victory over Pacific, but the Lions had a shot to earn a share of the WCC title with a win and a Pepperdine loss.

It was not to be. Even though Pacific (26-26, 15-12) had nothing left to play for, the Tigers came out and knocked off LMU, 6-2. Taylor Murphy knocked a two-run double and a two-run homer, finishing 3-for-5 with four RBI to lead the Tigers to victory.

Cal State Fullerton 4, #27 UC Irvine 3

For the second time this weekend, UC Irvine brought on the nation’s saves leader, Sam Moore, for a six-out save. But for the second time this weekend, Cal State Fullerton found a way to keep Moore from tying the NCAA single-season saves record.

With a runner on first, the Titans (28-22, 11-10) knocked three straight hits to score three runs. Matt Chapman’s RBI double was followed by David Olmedo-Barrera’s two-run single that gave Fullerton a 4-3 lead.

UC Irvine (35-19, 15-6) loaded the bases in the bottom half of the inning, but Koby Gauna finished a scoreless three-inning appearance by getting a lineout and a groundout to second base. The ‘Eaters threatened again in the ninth inning, but Clay Williamson threw out Connor Spencer trying to score on Renae  Martinez’s single up the middle.

J.D. Davis got Jerry McClanahan, who had reached three times on the day, to fly out to end the game.

Chapman finished 3-for-4 with a run and two RBI for Fullerton while Grant Palmer and Chris Rabago both had two hits and a run for the ‘Eaters.

Gonzaga 13, #29 Pepperdine 10

Pepperdine looked like it was well on its way to wrapping up the WCC regular season title with a victory after jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning. But senior Matt Maurer couldn’t hold the Gonzaga offense down. The Bulldogs battled back with five runs in the fourth inning to even things up.

Gonzaga (25-27, 17-10) took a 6-5 lead the next inning only to have Pepperdine (36-16, 18-9) scored three runs over the next two frames to take an 8-6 lead. With their backs against the wall and the potential of being left out of the WCC Tournament, the Zags rallied for seven runs, highlighted by Mitch Gunsolus’ two-run triple and Cabe Reiten’s second two-run double of the day, in their final two at bats to take a 13-10 victory.

Aaron Barnett led the Waves, going 4-for-5 with a run and two RBI. Aaron Brown, Jack Ross and Manny Jefferson also drove in two runs each for the Waves. Brown, Jefferson and Brandon Caruso all homered, but it wasn’t enough.

However, the return trip to Malibu wasn’t all bad. Once the Waves got the news of Pacific’s victory over LMU, they knew they were officially the outright WCC champions — winning their second title in three years.

Long Beach State 12, UC Riverside 2

In the rubber match of a big series between a pair of NCAA Tournament bubble teams, Long Beach State put a 12-2 whoopin’ on the Highlanders.

The Dirtbags (29-24, 14-7) went ahead 1-0 in the first inning and then added three spots in the second, fourth and sixth innings. It was much more offensive support than Nick Sabo needed because the southpaw was lights out. Sabo shut down UC Riverside (24-26, 11-10) and its potent offense, holding the Highlanders to only one run on two hits and two walks.

All nine batters in the Long Beach lineup had a hit. Richard Prigatano led the offense, reaching base five times: 3-for-4, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB. In fact, eight of the nine batters recorded multiple hits and at least one RBI.

Prigatano also made this outstanding play after having trouble with a flyball getting lost in the sun:

The one highlight for Riverside came in the ninth inning when freshman outfielder Vince Fernandez knocked his first career home run.

San Francisco 8, UC Santa Barbara 4

After back-to-back strong and lengthy outings from its starters, UC Santa Barbara (31-17-1) unsuccessfully tried to tandem start its dynamite bullpen duo. Greg Mahle allowed five runs in 3.1 innings and Dillon Tate gave up three runs (one earned) in four innings.

The Gauchos weren’t able to complete the sweep of San Francisco (25-28), falling 8-4. Bradley Zimmer reached four times for the Dons while Dylan Parks had two hits and drove in three runs. Woody Woodward was 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs and an RBI.

#15 Oregon 5, UCLA 4 (11 innings)

UCLA dropped its 10th straight game. The Bruins have only won one of their last 15 games after falling 5-4 in 11 innings to be swept by No. 15 Oregon.

The Bruins jumped out to a 4-1 run lead on a pair of Shane Zeile RBI hits (a triple and a double) and a two-run single by Justin Hazard. But Oregon chipped away with a Mark Karaviotis sacrifice fly in the fifth inning before tying the game in the seventh inning. The Ducks (40-16, 17-10) got a run on a wild pitch before Karaviotis delivered another run — this time with a nicely executed squeeze bunt.

In the 10th inning, UCLA (23-29-1, 10-16) put a pair of runners on base and pinch hitter Darrell Miller Jr. ripped a two-strike pitch back up the middle. The ball bounced off the glove of Karaviotis on a diving attempt, sending the ball to a stop in shallow centerfield. Pinch runner Brett Urabe was waved around third base, but was cut down at the plate when second baseman Aaron Payne tracked down the ball and fired it home.

After the game, Payne talked about his heads up, game-saving play in the 10th inning and how Oregon manages to find so many different ways to win despite key injuries:

Payne’s instinctive play sent the game to the 11th inning where Oregon was able to scratch across the game-winning run. Mitchell Tolman reached on an infield single, was sacrificed over and went to third on a grounder to the right side.

With two outs and two strikes, Nick Catalano lined a sharp single up the middle right between reliever David Berg’s legs to score Tolman. It was only the second ball Berg allowed out of the infield in four innings of relief. He allowed only three hits, including two infield singles on slow choppers.

Oregon head coach George Horton talked about Brando Tessar’s struggles as the beginning of the game and the subsequent 8.2 scoreless innings of relief from the Ducks bullpen. Horton also discussed reaching the 40-win plateau and finally sweeping a road series:

CBD photographer Shotgun Spratling’s top photos from the Riverside Sports Complex:

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Santa Clara 7, St. Mary’s 6

After four innings, St. Mary’s held a 5-1 lead and San Diego was planning its travel plans for Stockton and the WCC Tournament, but Santa Clara came roaring back.

The Broncos (24-28, 16-11) took a 6-5 lead and St. Mary’s (16-39, 8-19) came back to tie the game in the seventh inning. But after not getting home a runner in scoring position in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, Santa Clara got the game winner with two outs in the ninth inning when T.J. Braff knocked a walk-off RBI single.

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