Jeff McNeil scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Feb. 18, 2012
Long Beach, Calif. - Long Beach State turned the tables on VCU from a late inning loss last night, as the Dirtbags scored one run in the eighth inning and one in the bottom of the ninth to grab a 7-6 win and even the series at one game apiece. Sophomore Jeff McNeil had a pair of hits and scored the game-winner in the bottom of the ninth.
McNeil led off the bottom half of the ninth with a single to left field, and after a bunt moved to second. Matt Duffy walked to put two runners on, but a flyout gave the Rams two outs. A wild pitch from VCU closer Blake Hauser put the winning run at third, and senior Brennan Metzger, working from a 1-2 count, fouled off five straight pitches to set up a 3-2 count. On pitch ten of that at-bat, another pitch slipped away from Hauser, giving the free pass to Metzger but allowing McNeil to take home and give the Dirtbags the win.
Trailing 6-5 after seven innings, Long Beach State's Metzger tied the game in the bottom of the eighth inning. Metzger led off the inning with a single, and after getting sacrificed to second, advanced to third on a single by Jeff Yamaguchi, and scored on a sacrifice fly from pinch hitter Jonathan Kim.
Matt Johnson, continuing to pitch in the ninth inning after 1.2 innings of relief, picked up a pair of outs but also loaded the bases. However, Josh Frye entered the game and induced a ground-out to end the inning, setting the stage for the ninth inning.
VCU scored in the first to start the game. An error followed by a double put runners on second and third, and a sacrifice fly and a double gave the Rams a 2-0 lead after the first half inning. Long Beach State starter Matt Anderson settled down after that, and finished with 5.1 innings pitched with seven strikeouts while holding the Rams scoreless through the next four innings.
Meanwhile, the Dirtbags were on their way to taking a 4-2 lead. Long Beach State answered the first two runs with two more of their own in the bottom half of the frame. Jeff McNeil led off the frame with a walk, and after a single by Matt Duffy, an error loaded the bases for the Dirtbags. Metzger then drew a walk to score McNeil, and Duffy later scored on a wild pitch to tie the score. The Dirtbags then scored an unearned run in the second to take the lead, and McNeil drove home Johnny Bekakis to in the fourth inning for another run.
The Rams big inning came in the top of the sixth. Third baseman Joey Cujas started the inning with a double, and a strikeout, Taylor Perkins singled to put two runners on. LBSU got a second out, but a double by Vimael Machin tied the game, and Machin would come all the way around to score when the throw to the plate ended up wild.
Both the Rams and Long Beach State would score once more, setting up the Dirtbags final comeback with the last two runs of the game.
The two teams conclude the series on Sunday, Feb. 19 at Blair Field with first pitch at 1 p.m. Sophomore LHP Ryan Strufing is scheduled to start for Long Beach State, facing RHP Kyle Pelchy from VCU.
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