March 14, 2014
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Colby Brenner sprinted away from a mob of his teammates after scoring the winning run for the Long Beach State Dirtbags in a bizarre ninth inning. Brenner came across the plate on a passed ball that found its way all the way to the backstop for the Dirtbags’ 4-3 win over No. 16 Indiana.
The ninth inning was one that the 1,356 fans at Blair Field won’t soon forget for the odd way in which it ended. Brenner started things off as a pinch hitter when he slapped a leadoff single into left field and was quickly sacrificed over to second.
Garrett Hampson hit a chopper to short and narrowly beat the throw to first to put runners on the corners with one out. Indiana decided to intentionally walk Michael Hill to load the bases and bring in the infield against Richard Prigatano, who was 1-for-3 in the game with a home run.
The Hoosiers (8-7) then brought in Chad Clark for their left fielder but placed him on the left side of the infield as a fifth infielder before Prigatano could take his turn at bat. All the moves made for an intense matchup that brought the fans to their feet as Scott Effross stared in at Prigatano.
The 1-1 pitch to Prigatano then popped out of the glove of Kyle Schwarber and rolled far enough away to allow Brenner to easily score from third.
Both teams saw leads come and go over the course of the game. Tim O’Connor’s single in the second plated the first run of the game and Nick Ramos singled in another run for Indiana in the fourth.
The Dirtbags (9-7) rallied with two outs in the bottom half of the fourth to tie the game. An Ino Patron two-out double put sparked the rally as Zach Rivera’s fly ball into left center appeared to get lost in the lights of Blair Field and fell in for a run-scoring double. Alex DeGoti turned on a pitch moments later as he grounded it just over the bag at third to score Rivera.
Patron finished the night 2-for-3 and Rivera was 2-for-4. Johnny Bekakis also had a 2-for-4 night at the plate.
Prigatano then led off the sixth with a monstrous home run to left field for the Dirtbags first lead of the game. However, it didn’t last long as Schwarber knocked in the tying run in the seventh with a single into right field and bring the score to 3-3.
The Dirtbags were able to limit the damage on the scoreboard with excellent plays defensively. Hill ended Indiana’s fourth when he gunned out a runner at the plate to end the inning. Starting pitcher came off the mound in the seventh to field a bunt and make a quick toss to home to cut down Indiana’s squeeze bunt attempt.
Sabo did not get the decision but pitched well for 6.2 innings, allowing seven hits and all three runs to score while striking out three. Ty Provencher got his team-leading third win of the season with 2.1 shutout innings. He replaced Sabo in the seventh and quickly retired the last batter of the inning to end the threat. He allowed just one walk to start the ninth inning but the runner was stranded at first. Provencher also struck out two while keeping the Hoosier hitless.
Effross took the tough loss on the mound despite 2.1 strong innings of work. Joey DeNato started the game on the mound and struck out five through six innings while allowing eight hits and three runs to score.
The Dirtbags and Hoosiers go at it again tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Blair Field.
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