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SoCal Roundup: West Coast Champs Crowned

Have to keep the roundup of the exciting final full day of Southern California action to a minimum tonight as I’m headed out from Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, Calif. after the WCC Championship and driving to Las Vegas, Nev. for the Mountain West finale tomorrow.

(Well, I ended up getting booted from Banner Island before I could finish up, so I made a pit stop in Barstow to rest the legs and finish up the SoCal Roundup. I will have more from the WCC Championship later when I arrive and settled in at UNLV.)

But here’s Saturday’s SoCal Roundup complete with photo galleries from Cal State Fullerton and Banner Island Ballpark:

Cal State Fullerton 6, Cal State Northridge 0

A day after Justin Garza’s no hitter, Grahamm Wiest pitched a three-hit shutout as Cal State Fullerton (32-22, 14-10) finished off the sweep of Cal State Northridge (18-38, 6-18) with a 6-0 victory.

The Titans scored five runs in the fourth inning, using two big opposite field knocks from Austin Diemer and Taylor Bryant to drive in three of the runs. Jared Deacon and Clay Williamson both had two hits for Fullerton while Ryan Raslowsky had two of the Matadors’ three hits.

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

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Long Beach State 2, UC Irvine 1

For the fourth time in five games, UC Irvine has had its heart broken late in the game. The ‘Eaters took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a Jonathan Munoz infield single. But in the eighth inning the Dirtbags (31-24, 16-7) loaded the bases against starter Evan Brock.

Mitch Merten came in to pitch to Richard Prigatano with one out. Looking for a ground ball, Merten got Prigatano to hit the top of the ball, but in accordance with Irvine’s luck the last three weeks, Prigatano’s ball took a Baltimore chop over the head of third baseman Taylor Sparks. Prigatano hustled into second base with a two-run double.

The ‘Eaters (35-22, 15-9) got out of the inning without any further damage, but a pickoff in the ninth inning helped seal the sweep. Ty Provencher picked up his fourth save while Nick Rossetta collected the win with 1.2 scoreless innings of relief. Adam Alcantara was 3-for-4 in the loss for Irvine.

UC Santa Barbara 6, UC Davis 3

Once firmly in the NCAA Tournament, before a downturn at the beginning of conference play, UC Santa Barbara did what it could on the final weekend, sweeping UC Davis (23-31, 7-17) to keep its hopes alive.

The Gauchos (34-17-1, 12-12) got to .500 in Big West play by following the same formula that has been successful this season…six solid innings from a starter followed by three shutdown innings from Greg Mahle and Dillon Tate. UC Davis had an opportunity in the eighth inning, scoring a run to cut UCSB’s lead to 5-3, but Mahle stranded the bases loaded and the Gauchos added an insurance run in the following half inning.

Joey Epperson also did his part to carry the offense, going 3-for-4 with an RBI. Scott Quinlan had two hits and scored two runs while Ryan Clark had a big two-run double.

UC Riverside 8, Hawai’i 6

UC Riverside (26-28, 12-12) dropped its season finale at Hawai’i, falling 5-1. The Rainbow Warriors (22-31, 6-18) took a 3-0 lead and chased Ben Doucette in the third inning. The Highlanders had 10 hits, but left 10 men on base. Francisco Tellez reached three times and scored UCR’s only run.

Matt Cooper struck out 11 in 7.2 innings and lowered his season ERA to 1.60 while Tyler Young had three hits and drove in two runs for Hawai’i.

#1 Oregon State 2, USC 0

Pitching on “short rest” after starting Monday, Wyatt Strahan struggled with his command and it ended up being the difference maker. In the first inning, Strahan walked two of the first three batters and both ended up coming around to score on back-to-back RBI singles by Gabe Clark and Kavin Keyes.

Strahan allowed only one hit in the next six innings (though he did finish with eight walks total), but the damage had been done because the Pac-12’s best pitcher was on the mound for No. 1 Oregon State (42-11, 23-6).

Ben Wetzler allowed just two singles and a double in a five-strikeout, 104-pitch shutout. He was helped by the Beavers’ defense, which made a number of strong plays seen in these OSU highlights at USC (28-24, 15-14), including Jeff Hendrix incredible home-run-robbing catch starting at the 1:35 mark:

UCLA 6, #13 Washington 3

For the first time in three weeks, UCLA scored more than four runs and the Bruins (25-29-1) did it with a big five-run ninth inning rally to drop No. 13 Washington (38-15-1, 20-9) for the second day in a row.

Justin Hazard finished 3-for-4 and delivered a two-run single in the ninth-inning rally. Later in the inning, Aaron Weimer provided another two-run knock. Ty Moore was 2-for-3 with two doubles and two runs.

West Coast Conference Tournament
GM 6 –  #29 Pepperdine 6, Loyola Marymount 1

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Brenton Arriaga took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but that’s when the wheels fell off for Loyola Marymount. Chris Fornaci led off with a double and Manny Jefferson reached on a bunt single. Brandon Caruso delivered the first run with a bloop single to centerfield, but the big knock came on a line drive from Bryan Langlois down the right field line.

The ball was called fair and even though replay looked to show it foul, the evidence was inconclusive, allowing the two-run double to stand.

Pepperdine (39-16) scored a run the next inning on Manny Jefferson’s double to right field that bounced off the outstretched glove of Tanner Donnels. The Waves added two insurance runs in the eighth inning to put the game out of reach.

Head coach Steve Rodriguez talks about watching his team celebrate with a dogpile in the middle of the diamond:

Jackson McClelland earned his eighth victory of the season with six strong innings (7 H, ER, BB, 2 K). The normally even-keeled McClelland even showed some emotion when he struck out back-to-back batters to strand a runner at third base in the fourth inning.

In the following inning, LMU threatened again, but Jefferson stole the momentum with an outstanding running and diving catch in shallow left field. That led into the Waves’ three-run frame against Arriaga.

After the game, Jefferson, who also finished 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, talked about his momentum-shifting web gem and the bottom of the lineup producing:

With the loss, Loyola Marymount’s season is over. The Lions finish a very respectable 32-24 and were a squad multiple coaches, over the course of the season, said would have been dangerous in the postseason. LMU head coach Jason Gill talks about the emotions of losing the championship game:

Here are CBD photographer Shotgun Spratling’s top shots from Dedeaux Field:

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Mountain West Tournament
GM 10 – San Diego State 3, Nevada 2 (10 innings)

In only his second start of the season, freshman Marcus Reyes went 7.2 innings and turned the ball over to closer Michael Cederoth with a 2-1 lead. But for the second day in a row, Cederoth couldn’t hold the lead. Bryce Barger singled up the middle to tie the game up in the eighth inning.

The Wolfpack loaded the bases with one out in the ninth inning, but Cederoth induced a double play to get out of the jam. In the tenth inning, Seby Zavala produced his third RBI single of the game, scoring Ty France from second base to win in walk-off fashion and advance the Aztecs to the championship.

GM 11 – San Diego State 9, UNLV 1

Freshman lefty Brett Seeburger shut down UNLV, allowing one run in 8.1 innings to improve to 4-0 on the season. With the game tied 1-1, Greg Allen knocked a bases-clearing double and came around to score on a Tim Zier RBI single. The Aztecs built on their 5-1 lead with two runs in the fifth inning, one in the sixth inning and a final insurance run in the ninth inning.

Allen finished 3-for-5 with three runs and two RBI. Ty France also drove in two runs and Ryan Muno went 2-for-5 with two runs and an RBI. The win forces a winner-take-all finale on Sunday at 1 p.m. PT.

Acting head coach Mark Martinez said he was unsure who would pitch, but nearly everyone would be available. With both teams thin on pitching, Sunday’s finale could quickly turn into a slugfest.

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