March 4, 2012
Eugene, Ore. - Long Beach State opened up two leads on No. 12 Oregon in the final game of a three-game series with the Ducks, but Oregon came away with the win in another thriller as the Dirtbags fell 8-7 in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Oregon claimed their third walkoff win of the three-game series in the bottom of the ninth inning after the Dirtbags were held scoreless in the top half of the frame when Brett Thomas hit a leadoff triple. Nick Sabo, who had come on to pitch the ninth, was able to get the next two outs, but a flare from Aaron Jones ended the game.
Long Beach State (4-7) lost all three games of the series by just one run, and have now had five of their seven losses come by just a single run. Meanwhile, Oregon improved to 10-1 with the sweep. The Dirtbags had 12 hits in the game, as did Oregon, and each team had an error. Juan Avila led Long Beach State with three hits and two RBI, while Thomas had a pair of triples for Oregon, one of five players with two hits for the Ducks.
Long Beach State got on the board first in the second inning. Juan Avila led off the inning with a single, and after moving to third on a failed pickoff and a groundout, scored as Brennan Fulkerson had an RBI single for the second straight day. Chaz Meadows then doubled to right field to put two runners in scoring position, and Fulkerson scored on a grounder from Kellen Hoime to make the score 2-0.
The Dirtbags added three more runs in the top of the fifth with a couple of big hits. Jeff McNeil drew a leadoff walk, and a single by Ino Patron put two runners on for Avila, who doubled to score two. Fulkerson then picked up a double of his own to add another run, giving Long Beach State a five-run cushion.
Oregon got on the board in the bottom of that same inning. JJ Altobelli led off the inning with a double, and scored on a single by Ryon Healy. However, even though the Ducks had the bases loaded with two outs, Strufing was able to end the threat with a strikeout of Scott Heineman to end the inning.
The Ducks pulled all the way back in the bottom of the seventh though, as the Dirtbags' time living dangerously finally caught up to them. Edgar Gomez, who had a fairly easy sixth in relief, had problems early in the seventh, hitting and walking a batter to put two on before leaving. Kyle Friedrichs, who came on in a hurry, walked his first batter, and then an error brought home two runs, and a triple from Thomas tied the game. Friedrichs settled down however, and got the Dirtbags out of the inning with a strikeout and a lineout, keeping the score tied with a runner on third.
Long Beach State answered back by again taking the lead. Richard Prigatano led off the inning with a single, and after a sacrifice, a single by pinch hitter Robert Vickers put the Dirtbags back on top. LBSU got another insurance run as Hoime singled and McNeil was plunked to load the bases, and Matt Duffy earned a walk to give Long Beach State a 7-5 lead.
In the back-and-forth of Sunday's game, Oregon answered back in the bottom of the eighth, hitting back-to-back singles to start the inning. Ryon Healy popped up a bunt for the first out of the inning, though, and a strikeout by Eddie Magallon brought the Dirtbags to two outs. A hard hit double to left field scored one run, but following a perfect relay from Prigatano by Matt Duffy to Hoime that beat Aaron Jones to the plate with Hoime blocking it, the Ducks catcher was inexplicably called safe by home plate umpire Brent Cunningham to tie the game at 7-7.
The Dirtbags had one more chance in the top of the ninth. Juan Avila singled to start the inning, and Prigatano was hit by a pitch from Joey Housey; however, Cunningham judged that Prigatano had offered at the pitch and was given a strike instead. A fielders' choice and a groundout brought Prigatano to second, but a called third strike on Hoime ended the Dirtbags chances to take the lead for a third time.
Long Beach State returns home for four games before heading on a very long stretch of road games. The Dirtbags will host San Diego State on Tuesday, March 6 at 6:30 p.m. before bringing in No. 11 Arizona State for a three-game series beginning on Friday, March 9.
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