Epic Dirtbag comeback goes by the wayside in wild 14-12 loss at No. 9 Cal State Fullerton
May 14, 2011
Fullerton, Calif. - Junior Mike Marjama's three-run home run sparked a nine-run comeback as the Dirtbags took an 11-9 lead after trailing 9-0 after two innings, but No. 9 Cal State Fullerton was able to answer back and took the second game of the series 14-12.
Marjama had a double as well, driving in four runs on the day, but a tight strike zone that bothered both teams troubled the Dirtbags more, as Long Beach State's three pitchers gave up nine walks on the day and hit four batters that helped the Titans recover from 11 Long Beach State runs scored in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
Cal State Fullerton (35-14, 16-4) started off the game by taking the lead in the bottom of the first. The Titans put two runners on with back-to-back singles, and with two outs, a double by Michael Lorenzen hit off of the wall. The hit scored both runs, but Brennan Metzger and Kirk Singer combined to throw out the center fielder at third base for the third out of the inning.
Despite nearly getting out of the first inning with no score, starting pitcher Ryan Strufing ran into big trouble in the second inning. After a leadoff walk, back-to-back singles brought home a run and put two runners on. A hit batter loaded the bases with one out, which was followed by a walk and a hit batter to bring home two more runs, making the score 5-0. A balk scored one more, and two more singles made the Titans' total seven runs in the inning, giving Cal State Fullerton a 9-0 lead.
Long Beach State (24-24, 8-9) scored in the top of the third inning, bringing a run around to score courtesy of a pair of errors on Fullerton catcher Jared Deacon. The first allowed Michael Hill to reach first base, and the second on an overthrow as Hill was the front runner of a double-steal attempt, giving both runners an extra base.
The comeback for the Dirtbags started in the fifth inning. Still being no-hit by starter Tyler Pill, Metzger started the inning by reaching on the third error of the game by the Titans. Pill recorded the next two outs, but Matt Hibbert reached on a wild pitch following a strikeout, and Metzger scored as the rally started. Jeff McNeil finally picked up the Dirtbags first hit, and Marjama followed with a three-run blast to kick-start the Long Beach State offense. Long Beach State loaded up the bases one more time, and in his second time at-bat in the inning, Metzger drove in a pair of runs to cut the Cal State Fullerton lead to two at 9-7.
In the next inning, the comeback was complete as the Dirtbags added two more runs. Singer started the frame with a single, and after a sacrifice, a single put runners on the corners for Marjama, who came through once more with a double to score a run. Ino Patron then hit an RBI groundout as Long Beach State tied the game at 9-9.
Strufing, who had settled down and retired eighth in a row after the second, loaded up the bases once more in the bottom of the sixth inning, but Jon Maciel entered and got Michael Lorenzen to ground out to end the inning with the score tied.
Long Beach State took their first and improbable lead in the top of the seventh inning. Juan Avila started the inning with a single, and after being pushed over to second with a sacrifice, scored on an RBI single from Singer. Hibbert followed with the third hit of the inning, scoring Singer to put the Dirtbags in front 11-9.
Maciel struggled to find the plate to start the bottom of the seventh, walking one batter and hitting a second to put a pair of Titans on base. After he flubbed a bunt, the bases were loaded with no outs, but the freshman rallied to pick up two outs with nobody scoring. A long fly ball by Richy Pedroza got over the head of Avila in right field, and scored all three runs as the Titans regained the lead 12-11.
Cal State Fullerton added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, and while the Dirtbags scored an unearned run on a sacrifice fly from Singer, Nick Ramirez was able to convert his 14th save of the season.
The series concludes with a 1 p.m. start on Sunday, May 15.