Dirtbags Earn Comeback Win Over Fullerton In 12 Innings
Luke Rasmussen hit a two-run home run with the Dirtbags one out away from a loss to send the game to extra innings.
Fullerton, Calif. -
It took until the 12th inning for Long Beach State (15-6) to take its first lead on Thursday night at Goodwin Field, but the wait was surely worth it as the Dirtbags scored a 5-4 comeback win over rivals Cal State Fullerton (11-10). LBSU trailed 4-2 with two outs in the ninth inning before Luke Rasmussen launched a two-run, game-tying home run to left field to send the game to extra innings.
The Dirtbags scored the winning run in the top of the 12th inning on a pair of defensive miscues from Fullerton. Garrett Nelson reached on a controversial call in right field when Ruben Cardenas was ruled to have dropped a fly ball in right, while Fullerton head coach Rick Vanderhook argued it was on the exchange for a throw back in. Nelson eventually advanced to second after a sacrifice bunt from Matt Gimenez and a pinch-hit, infield single from Daniel Jackson.
The first pitch of the next at-bat from Titans reliever Dylan Prohoroff was wild and reached the backstop, allowing Nelson to bring home the go-ahead run with two outs in the 12th. Freshman Chris Rivera nailed down his nation-leading ninth save of the season working a perfect bottom half of the inning, capping off a nearly flawless four innings of work from the LBSU bullpen.
“The team was very resilient. We scored all of our runs with two outs,” noted Dirtbags head coach Troy Buckley after the win. “We need to do a better job of what they did is get the leadoff guy on and we didn’t do that. But hey, we’ll take it, there’s no question. The road still goes through these guys and it was a good win, everybody grinded with it and came out on top.”
The Titans took a 2-0 lead off Dirtbags starter Chris Mathewson, as leadoff hitter Josh Vargas scored in the first after a double and in the third after a one out triple. Vargas scored three of the Titans four runs on the night before he was pulled for defense in the ninth.
LBSU plated a pair in the fifth to tie the game, scoring both runs on an error from starter Blake Quinn. With the bases loaded and two outs, Zack Domingues pulled a bunt towards first base, looking for an infield hit. As Quinn picked up the ball, he bobbled it and booted it past first base allowing Brock Lundquist and Jeff Nellis to score on the play.
Cal State Fullerton tacked on two insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings off of Mathewson, who worked a season-high eight innings allowing four runs on five hits with seven strikeouts.
Titans reliever Scott Serigstad was in line to pick up the win after pitching 2.2 innings of great relief, but was pulled one out shy of the finish line with Alex Muzzi on at second base. CSUF closer Chad Hockin was brought in for the one out save, but fell behind Rasmussen and put a 2-0 fastball right in Rasmussen’s wheelhouse.
“I just think (Rasmussen) needs to take that approach all the time and be that committed,” Buckley said of Rasmussen’s home run in the ninth. “It was a big hit by Rasmussen, he was committed, and he needs to continue to take that into his next at-bats.”
It was Rasmussen’s third home run of the year, all in the last eight games, and he once again has the team RBI lead with 14. They were also the first earned runs of the season allowed by Serigstad and Hockin.
The Dirtbags bullpen worked four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit with seven strikeouts. Austin McGeorge was the star, striking out six of the seven batters he retired. Joshua Advocate (2-0) finished the 11th with a strikeout looking to pick up the win in relief.
The teams will return to Goodwin Field on Friday night for a 7 p.m. showdown as Darren McCaughan (4-0, 1.62 ERA) will take on Connor Seabold (1-2, 2.42 ERA).
NOTES: LBSU had just two hits entering the ninth inning before a Muzzi one-out single and Rasmussen’s home run … Gimenez saw his first playing time defensively subbing in at second base in the 10th inning … Jackson’s pinch-hit single in the 12th extends his hitting streak to three games and ups his batting average to .667 on the year … McGeorge is now second on the team in strikeouts with a remarkable 31 K’s in just 18.2 innings pitched … The Dirtbags improve to 2-0 in extra inning games while the Titans fall to 2-2 … Fullerton entered the game ranked 2nd in the nation in fielding percentage, but the two errors on Thursday led to three unearned runs for Long Beach State, including the winning run.
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