All posts by Shotgun Spratling

Shotgun Spratling covers the Southern California area. He has attended more than 125 games the last two seasons. Spratling attended graduate school at USC where he covered USC sports for a variety of publications. He has previously worked in the minor leagues, written for daily and weekly newspapers and done freelance work for publications such as ESPN, NBC Los Angeles and the SC Playbook magazine. After being a 3-sport letterman in high school, Spratling was a 4-year letterman at Division III Maryville College. The final pitch of his collegiate career resulted in a groundout to end the 2007 Great South Athletic Conference Tournament, giving the Scots the GSAC championship.
Nik Balog slides into home.

CBD Photo Gallery: Kyle Zimmer Gets Win Despite Struggles

Nik Balog slides into home.LOS ANGELES — San Francisco ace Kyle Zimmer didn’t have his best stuff Saturday afternoon, but it was enough to get a 13-9 win over Loyola Marymount at Page Stadium.

Zimmer (3-3) had probably his worst outing of the season, allowing six earned runs on eight hits and three walks. But the Dons offense supplied Zimmer an early cushion and plenty of support as the Dons (15-22, 2-5) knocked 17 hits.

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Aaron Griffin warms up in the bullpen.

12th Inning Errors Give LMU First Win at USC Since 2008

LOS ANGELES — Former Major League second baseman Chuck Knoblauch’s career effectively came to an end when a mental hurdle prevented him from making the short throw from his position to first base.

USC’s Dante Flores is currently facing the same mental battle. After making his first error of the season late in a game at Washington State a week and a half ago, Flores has struggled throwing to first base, making two crucial 12th inning throwing errors Tuesday night in USC’s 8-5 loss to Loyola Marymount.

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Dylan Covey didn't allow a hit after the second inning.

Dylan Covey & Head Coaches React After USD’s 5-3 Win Over Gonzaga

Dylan Covey didn't allow a hit after the second inning.SAN DIEGO — San Diego got a big West Coast Conference series win, taking the rubber match 5-3 over Gonzaga Saturday afternoon at Cunningham Stadium.

The Toreros (25-8, 7-2) got an outstanding performance from sophomore starting pitcher Dylan Covey. He allowed a pair of runs in the first inning and a second-inning leadoff single before putting the early jitters to bed and tossing an absolute gem.

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Royce Bolinger makes a diving "catch."

CBD Photo Gallery: Controversial Call Spurs San Diego Win

SAN DIEGO — Royce Bolinger’s feet flew up in the air as he slid six to eight feet across the grass in centerfield at Cunningham Stadium. The second inning line drive San Diego’s Victor Rasor-Thompson had hit was firmly in his glove throughout the entirety of Bolinger’s dive. But as he pushed himself to his feet, the ball shot out of his glove and rolled toward the infield.

Though Bolinger had controlled the ball throughout the catch and the entire Gonzaga (20-9, 3-3) team was already headed toward the first base dugout, the umpires ruled there was no catch. Bolinger stared at the umpires with his arms in the air. Left fielder Brock Slavin retrieved the ball, his glove in his hand rather than on it after he removed it, also thinking the inning was over.

Instead of a spectacular inning-ending catch, Rasor-Thompson was credited with an RBI-double and scored on a Louie Lechich single to tie the game 2-2.

With the help of the controversial call that Gonzaga coach Mark Machtolf vehemently argued for nearly five minutes, No. 21 San Diego (25-8, 7-2) defeated the Bulldogs 5-3 Saturday afternoon to win the important West Coast Conference Series. Continue reading

Matt Duffy throws across the diamond.

Buckley, Duffy Discuss Long Beach’s 5-4 Win at Riverside

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Long Beach State dinked and dunked UC Riverside ace Eddie Orozco until Brennan Metzger’s big RBI double put the Dirtbags ahead in the fifth inning.

The Dirtbags beat Orozco 5-4 Friday night at Riverside Sports Complex to even the Easter weekend Big West conference series.

Metzger scored two runs and knock home two more as he, Matt Duffy (pictured) and Jeff McNeil all tallied three hits. It was just enough for southpaw Ryan Strufing, who picked up the win with three earned runs in seven innings pitched, and Kyle Friedrichs, who earned his third save with two innings of work.

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Matt Duffy flares a ball into short right field.

CBD Photo Gallery: Dirtbags Beat Riverside Ace Eddie Orozco

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — UC Riverside ace Eddie Orozco is not an easy pitcher to score against. If the sparkling 1.56 ERA coming into Friday night’s game at Riverside Sports Complex wasn’t enough proof, Long Beach State could have looked at the boxscores and saw that Orozco had allowed more than one earned run only once this season.

But even against pitchers like Orozco, it’s all about hitting the ball where the defenders aren’t…and that’s exactly what Long Beach State did en route to a 5-4 victory. The Dirtbags (11-17, 3-2) had nine hits and scored five runs (four earned) off Orozco, but only two of their hits were struck really well. Instead it was a steady diet of choppers through the middle, flares into shallow right field and grounders that squeaked through the infield.

“Baseball’s a funny game that way,” Orozco said with a short smile that hid his incredulous frustration. Continue reading

Stephen Tarpley didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning..

Cruz, Neu React After Cal Beat USC 5-4

Stephen Tarpley didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning.LOS ANGELES — Cal scored a pair of runs in the top of the ninth inning to complete a five-run comeback after the Golden Bears had fallen behind USC 4-0 Thursday evening at Dedeaux Field.

Cal’s 5-4 win came at the expense of Wyatt Strahan, who allowed his first two runs of the season. Mitch Delfino singled home Vince Bruno and Tony Renda doubled down the third base line to score Delfino.

USC starter Stephen Tarpley (pictured) had a no hitter through 4 2/3, but things unraveled in the sixth inning. A catcher’s interference, single and three walks scored Cal’s first two runs and ended Tarpley’s outing.

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Mitch Delfino fields a chopper.

CBD Photo Gallery: Renda’s 9th-Inning Double Gives Cal 5-4 Win Over USC

Mitch Delfino fields a chopper.LOS ANGELES — “NO DOUBLES!!”

If you’re within earshot of a team’s dugout when it is holding a slim lead late in the game, you are almost guaranteed to hear a coach yell it out as a reminder to the fielders. Corner infielders hug the foul lines and outfielders take a few steps back to try to make sure nothing gets by or over them.

In the ninth inning, USC came out of the “no doubles” defense with the tying run on second base and it ended up costing them a 5-4 loss, according to head coach Frank Cruz.

If the Trojans (17-10, 3-6) end up missing the NCAA Tournament for the seventh straight year, they may look back at Thursday night’s 5-4 loss to Cal at Dedeuax Field as the one that got away.

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CBD Column: Southern California Wk 7 Power Rankings

Zach Vincej takes a deep breath.Pepperdine’s recent struggles, losing seven of eight games has sent them free falling down the SoCal Power Rankings. Once the top team and the No. 2 team just two weeks ago, the Waves are now fighting just to stay in the first tier of teams.

UCLA remains the top team, but could the hottest team be the 12-12 Loyola Marymount Lions? See where LMU ranks and see just where Irvine is after a 3-0 week.

The rankings after the jump. Record, last week’s rankings and record since last week’s Power Rankings in parentheses:

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Garret Houts rounds third base.

CBD Photo Gallery: USC Rallies to Beat Pepperdine 5-4

Garret Houts rounds third base.LOS ANGELES — Even without their leading hitter in the lineup, the USC Trojans continued to show their resiliency, coming back from a 4-1 deficit to knock off Pepperdine 5-4 in a non-conference matchup Tuesday night at Dedeaux Field.

By defeating Pepperdine, USC avenged its first loss of the season while continuing the Waves recent slide. After starting 17-5, Pepperdine has now dropped seven of its last eight games. Continue reading