April 30, 2011
Long Beach, Calif. - Juan Avila drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and some solid defense down the stretch, including a game-ending double play, gave Long Beach State a 4-3 win over Cal Poly on Saturday night.
It was Cal Poly (19-18, 9-5) that struck first though, scoring in the top of the first. Mitch Haniger started off the game with a triple to left field, and scored on an RBI groundout to put the Mustangs in the lead.
Long Beach State tied the game in the bottom of the second inning after single from Marjama and a double by Avila, but Cal Poly regained the lead in the top of the third with the second RBI of the from Matt Jensen.
The Dirtbags pulled even once more in the fifth, as Jeff Yamaguchi cracked a one-out single up the middle. Moving to second on a groundout, Yamaguchi took third on a delayed steal and then scored on a comebacker from McNeil to tie the game.
The Mustangs again had the answer though, scoring a third run off of starter Branden Pinder in the seventh. Elliot Stewart began the inning with a leadoff double, and came home to score on a single by Evan Busby. An error put runners on second and third with two outs, but Pinder got Chris Hoo to ground out to Kirk Singer to end the inning and the Cal Poly threat.
The Dirtbags quickly came back in the bottom half of the inning. Brennan Metzger singled to start the seventh, and after a sacrifice from Yamaguchi, Singer beat out an infield single to put runners on the corners from McNeil who skied a fly ball deep into foul territory in left field. Jimmy Allen made the catch for the Mustangs, but both runners advanced to tie the game at 3-3.
McNeil also played an important role in the eighth inning. With one out, McNeil made a catch at the warning track on a hit by cleanup hitter JJ Thompson, and then outdid himself one play later with a diving catch in left-center to rob DJ Gentile of a double and end the inning with the game still tied.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Dirtbags took the lead for the first time as Matt Duffy hit a leadoff single, and after a sacrifice scored on an RBI single by Avila. Closer Eddie Magallon got off to a tough start in the ninth, however, leaving the door open for Cal Poly.
A single and a hit batter put two runners on with no outs in the top of the ninth, but Royce Murai caught a failed bunt attempt while falling backwards, and then Magallon induced a textbook 6-4-3 double play to finish off the game for his ninth save of the season.
The teams return to Blair Field for the rubber game of the series tomorrow. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. and will feature freshman southpaw Ryan Strufing pitching against Cal Poly's Chase Johnson.
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