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SoCal Roundup: Conference Tourney Time

The Mountain West and West Coast conference tournaments got underway in Las Vegas and Stockton, Calif. How did the Southern California squads perform in tournament action? Find out…

All that plus the Big West teams in action in their final regular season weekend in this Thursday edition of the Southern California College Baseball Roundup.

Long Beach State 3, UC Irvine 2

Head coach Troy Buckley recently said that his Long Beach State team has been finding multiple ways to win, but the final hurdle was a significant come-from-behind victory. The Dirtbags are sprinting toward the finish line after clearing that hurdle with perfect form on Thursday night at Blair Field.

UC Irvine scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning to take a 2-1 lead in a classic pitcher’s duel between Andrew Morales and Andrew Rohrbach. But Long Beach State responded by chasing Morales in the bottom half of the inning and getting two runs off NCAA saves leader Sam Moore to take a 3-2 victory that likely assures the school’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2008.

Troy Buckley talked about the come-from-behind victory and if reaching the 30-win plateau is enough for the Dirtbags to get into the NCAA Tournament:

With two outs, Ino Patron singled through the right side to put runners on the corners, forcing UC Irvine to go to its closer, Moore, for a potential four-out save. But Richard Prigatano ended any save thoughts on Moore’s second pitch when he chopped a splitter up the middle and into centerfield to score Colby Brenner with the tying run.

A hit by pitch on a 1-2 count loaded the bases and Moore walked pinch hitter Daniel Jackson on four pitches to put Long Beach State ahead, 3-2. It was Moore’s third consecutive blown save in his third opportunity to tie the NCAA single-season saves record of 24 set by UCLA’s David Berg last season.

After the victory, Richard Prigatano talked about facing the “filthy” Morales, getting “lucky” against Moore and the team “playing like Dirtbags:”

Reliever Ty Provencher, who got the final two outs of the eighth inning, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to pick up his fifth win of the year.

After winning his first 19 decisions with Irvine, Morales ended up taking his second straight loss, despite leaving with the 2-1 lead. His final stat line (7.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, BB, 8 K) does not indicate just how dominate he was, allowing just three hits through the first seven innings.

UC Irvine head coach Mike Gillespie talked about the quality ballgame, what the ‘Eaters plan at the back of the bullpen is with Moore struggling and his opinionated thoughts on the Big West’s chances in the NCAA Tournament:

Here are the top photos from the dramatic game at Blair Field from CBD photographer Shotgun Spratling:

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UC Santa Barbara 7, UC Davis 1

UC Santa Barbara needed another big outing from Justin Jacome and he delivered even without his best stuff. Jacome scattered nine hits in seven innings, but walked only one batter and allowed just a single run.

The Gauchos (32-17-1, 10-12) were outhit 13-10, but took advantage of four Aggie errors to take a 7-1 victory. Cameron Newell had a big game for UCSB, going 3-for-4 with two runs, two doubles and two RBI. UC Davis (23-29, 7-15) had four hitters record multiple hits, but Spencer Brann (2-for-4) drove in the only Aggies’ run.

Hawai’i 5, UC Riverside 1

Lefty Scott Squier struck out nine in a complete game effort to lift the Rainbow Warriors over UC Riverside (25-27, 11-11) that officially ends the HIghlanders’ postseason chances with only two games remaining.

Hawai’i took advantage of Riverside’s mistakes, scoring their first three runs on an error, a wild pitch and another error. In total, the Highlanders committed three errors and left 10 men on base. Drake Zarate’s RBI triple provided the only UCR highlight.

Cal State Fullerton 4, Cal State Northridge 2

The bottom third of Cal State Fullerton’s lineup reached base six times and scored four runs to help the Titans (30-22, 12-10) defeat Cal State Northridge.

Supplied with a four-run cushion, Thomas Eshelman pitched seven strong innings, allowing two runs in the sixth inning after loading the bases with no outs, but otherwise, going unscathed for the duration of his outing. Koby Gauna struck out five batters in two innings to collect save No. 5.

Nick Murphy and Chester Pak were each 2-for-4 with an RBI for the Matadors (18-36, 6-16) while the top third of the Fullerton lineup stayed hot. Clay Williamson extended his consecutive games on base streak with an RBI single. Keegan Dale extended his hit streak with an RBI single. And J.D. Davis was 2-for-5 with a triple and an RBI to continue his recent dominance at the plate (19-35, 7 R, 7 2B, 3B, 8 RBI in last eight games).

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

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West Coast Conference Tournament
GM 1 – #29 Pepperdine 5, Santa Clara 2

Santa Clara jumped on Pepperdine ace Corey Miller early, taking a 2-0 lead in the second inning on a Quinton Perry two-run homer to left field. But the senior right hander settled in and did not allow another run in his seven-inning outing.

The Waves picked up Miller in the fourth inning. Brad Anderson hit the first of his two doubles to get Pepperdine on the board. Aaron Barnett followed with a sacrifice fly and Hutton Moyer delivered a two-out RBI single to put the Waves ahead 3-2.

Miller stranded the tying run at third in the seventh inning and turned the ball over to the bullpen duo of Chandler Blanchard and Eric Karch, who did not allow a runner in final two frames. Barnett added a two-run single  for some extra insurance in the eighth inning. He drove in three runs while Anderson had three hits, two runs and an RBI.

“Today was a good start,” said Rodriguez. “We’re in a good spot going into tomorrow and know exactly what we need to do. A win is always good, but in this format getting that first victory can be especially big.” — Pepperdine head coach Steve Rodriguez

Here are the highlights:

GM 2 – Loyola Marymount 5, Gonzaga 1

Gonzaga scored an unearned run in the third inning. That would be all the Bulldogs would get against Colin Welmon. Loyola Marymount’s junior ace pitched his third consecutive complete game and fourth in five games to lead the Lions to a 5-1 win in their WCC Tournament opener.

Welmon allowed six hits and two walks while striking out four. He needed 123 pitches to finish off the Bulldogs. The offense gave him the lead with a pair of runs in the fourth inning when Tanner Donnels hit an RBI double into the corner and came around to score on a Jimmy Jack single.

Jack drove in two more runs in the sixth inning when he doubled down the right field line. Kevin Garcia later singled Jack home to make it 5-1. The Lions advance to play Pepperdine in the winner’s bracket while Gonzaga plays Santa Clara in an elimination game.

Mountain West Tournament
GM 4 – Nevada 4, San Jose State 0

Jason Dietrich fired 128 pitches for a 10-hit shutout of the Spartans. The Wolfpack (29-26) scored three runs in the second inning — two on a Kyle Hunt single — and a single run in the fourth inning. That was plenty enough for Dietrich.

***San Jose State (19-38) was eliminated from the Mountain West Tournament.

GM 5 – San Diego State 11, New Mexico 5

With the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning, San Diego State freshman lefty Brett Seeburger was summoned from the bullpen to hold the game steady at 3-3. Seeburger delivered, getting a lineout to end the frame.

The Aztecs’ offense built off that momentum, broke the tie…and then added seven more runs in the inning. A single and two errors put SDSU ahead 4-3. A hit by pitch loaded the bases and Steven Pallares quickly unloaded them with the first home run of the Mountain West Conference.

But they weren’t done, the Aztecs (39-18) tacked on three more runs in the seventh inning on an Evan Potter RBI single and a two-run double from Greg Allen.

San Diego State ended up taking an 11-5 win behind a 12-hit attack that featured hits from eight of the nine batters in the lineup. Tim Zier and Allen both finished 2-for-5 with two RBI. Potter was 2-for-2 with a walk, two runs and an RBI.

GM 6 – UNLV 5, Fresno State 3

Joey Swanner’s two-run single in the fourth inning put UNLV ahead and propelled the Rebels (34-21) to a 5-3 victory over Fresno State (28-28). John Richy allowed three runs in 7.1 innings to improve to 11-3 and Brayden Torres struck out three of the five batters he faced to get his eighth save.

GM 1 – San Jose State 11, Air Force 3

San Jose State (19-36) got a complete game from Kalei Contrades (7 H, 3 ER, 11 K) and knocked 16 hits to win the play-in game against Air Force. Kyle Gallegos was 3-for-3 with three runs and two RBI. Jacob Valdez drove in three.

***Air Force (20-34) was eliminated from the Mountain West Tournament.

GM 2 – San Diego State 15, San Jose State 1

It took San Diego State a couple of innings to get going full speed, but once the Aztec train got running, it steamrolled over the Spartans, 15-1, behind a 19-hit offensive attack. Tyler Adkison knocked a two-run single in the second inning and San Diego State (38-18) added another pair of runs in the fourth inning.

By this point, ace Bubba Derby was cruising. He picked up his eighth win of the season, scattering seven hits in eight innings. More importantly, Derby did not walk a batter after walking seven in his last outing and threw just 92 pitches against the Spartans (19-37).

The 2-0 or 4-0 leads would have been plenty for Derby, but the offense kept adding. Brad Haynal had a two-run double in a three-run fifth inning and San Diego State put up a whopping eight-run eighth inning, highlighted by a two-run standup triple by Greg Allen.

Adkison reached base four times, going 3-for-4 with a run and four RBI. Haynal was 4-for-5, scoring three times and driving in a pair of runs and Ty France continued his Mountain West Conference Tournament torrid-ness with three more hits. France is now 19 for 26 in the conference tournament in his two-year career.

Here are the highlights of the throttling:

GM 3 – Fresno State 4, Nevada 3

Fresno State pushed a 2-1 lead to 4-1 in the eighth inning and that proved crucial as Nevada (28-26) scored a pair of runs in the ninth inning, but stranded the tying run against Bulldogs’ closer Derick Velazquez. Kevin Viers scored three of Fresno’s four runs.

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