April 15, 2012
Long Beach, Calif. - In the fourth-longest game for Long Beach State since 1989, the Dirtbags fought back and took their first lead in the bottom of the 14th inning for a 5-4 victory over UC Santa Barbara in 5 hours and 13 minutes.
Sophomore Ryan Strufing got the Dirtbags started in what was a strange game throughout, allowing a run while getting chased after four no-hit innings. Strufing walked five and hit one, and had a run come in the fifth when a hit batter followed by a walk ended his day. A third walk loaded the bases, but Eddie Magallon limited the damage to just one run as the Gauchos broke the deadlock.
Magallon retired the sixth in order as the Dirtbags trailed 1-0 despite throwing six no-hit innings. Long Beach State evened up the score in the bottom half, after Richard Prigatano led off the inning with a double. Prigatano was caught in a rundown trying to score, but Jeff McNeil advanced to second, and scored on an RBI single from Ino Patron to tie the game at one.
Joey Wallace started off the seventh inning with the Gauchos first hit, and after an error on a sacrifice, the Gauchos had runners on first and second. The Dirtbags cut down the lead runner on a second bunt attempt, but the Gauchos would score an unearned run on a single from Brett Vertigan to take a 2-1 lead.
Brennan Metzger led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk, and after a fielder's choice, a single put two runners on and ended the day of Austin Pettibone, who went 6.2 innings for the Gauchos, allowing five hits. Josh Guerra came on as a pinch hitter, and singled to tie the game at 2-2.
Various rallies were squashed over the next two innings, sending the game to extra innings, as the Gauchos would strand 13 and Long Beach State would leave 15 runners in the game.
That theme would continue in the extra frames as well. Jon Maciel struck out Greg Mahle to end the top of the tenth inning with two runners in scoring position, while the Dirtbags threatened with two singles to start the inning. Johnny Bekakis was unable to lay down a bunt, eventually striking out, and after a walk loaded the bases, a strikeout and a flyout ended the inning.
UCSB took the lead again in the 12th inning. Brett Vertigan started the inning with a single, and after a sacrifice, a walk put two runners on. Josh Frye came on for the Dirtbags, the sixth pitcher for LBSU, and struck out Ryan Palermo for the second out, but after an intentional walk to load the bases, a ball from Marc Venning clipped off the top of Avila's glove into the outfield, allowing two runs to score.
Down two, Long Beach State had a popup to start the bottom of the 12th, but Matt Duffy drew a walk, and Patron tripled to cut the Guacho lead to one. Juan Avila was hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners, but Metzger struck out for the second out of the inning. Down to his last strike, Bekakis hit a squib single that landed in no man's land in the infield, and beat the throw by a step as the Dirtbags tied the game.
A double play got the Dirtbags out of the top of the 14th after another error, and the game finally ended in the bottom half of that inning in another novel way. Duffy walked again to start the inning, and the Gauchos tried to get the lead runner on Patron's sacrifice, but Duffy was safe under a high throw to put two runners on. A failed pick sent both runners over one base on the error, and then Avila and Bekakis were both plunked to end the game. The win was the first in extra innings for the Dirtbags in 2012.
The teams return to Blair Field on Sunday at 1 p.m. Shawn Stuart takes the mound for Long Beach State, facing left-hander Zack Edgington.
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