April 22, 2012
Long Beach, Calif. - It took another comeback, but three doubles and a couple of great catches from center fielder Brennan Metzger allowed the Dirtbags to mount another rally and defeat UC Irvine 5-4 on Sunday, winning the series.
Metzger moved into a tie for fourth place in school history in career doubles by hitting three on Sunday. The senior now has 46 doubles over four seasons, and leads the Dirtbags with a .307 batting average.
Long Beach State scored in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead on an RBI single by Juan Avila, but outfield gaffes hurt LBSU in the early going.
Kris Paulino reached second on a ball misplayed by Josh Guerra in right field, and Stuart had a rare loss of composure, with a hit batter, a balk, and a wild pitch immediately following for a run. Another run scored on a sacrifice fly, and the Anteaters took a lead.
An error in right field led to two more runs scoring in the top of the fourth inning, but a spectacular over-the-shoulder running catch by Metzger ended the inning to limit the damage and shifted the momentum in favor of the Dirtbags.
Leading the next inning, Metzger doubled and was pushed around to score with a sacrifice fly from Jeff Yamaguchi, and the defense came through again in the top of the fifth as Jeff McNeil threw out Paulino trying to advance to third on a double with a tremendous throw from shallow right field on a cutoff from Guerra.
The heart of the order then produced a key two out rally to give the Dirtbags a one-run lead. Matt Duffy walked and Ino Patron was hit to extend the inning, and Avila hit his second single to bring home one run. Metzger then doubled for the second of three times on the day, scoring two more runs to give the Dirtbags a lead they would never relinquish.
Shawn Stuart worked through the seventh, as Metzger robbed Connor Spencer for a second time with a diving catch in center field, and then McNeil and Duffy turned a double-play to end the inning. Stewart allowed three earned runs, his most in a Big West start, but struck out five and improved to 5-0 on the season. The senior is now 4-0 in four starts in conference play.
The Dirtbags are now 18-19 overall and 9-3 in Big West action; tied for first place with Cal State Fullerton, who LBSU plays in the final week of the season. Long Beach State steps out of conference for a Tuesday game at USC next weekend, and then returns to Big West play with a three-game series on the road against Cal State Northridge, beginning on April 27.
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