May 24, 2014
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Long Beach State pulled off another dramatic comeback to complete the series sweep of UC Irvine on Saturday at Blair Field. Richard Prigatano came through as Mr. Clutch with the game-winning hit in the eighth inning to boost the Dirtbags (32-24, 17-7 Big West) to a 2-1 win.
UCI (35-22, 15-9 Big West) took a 1-0 lead into the eighth inning as both teams had struggled to score throughout the game. Evan Brock and Nick Sabo pitched out of jams when necessary and limited opportunities. Sabo allowed just one run on eight hits while Brock had limited the Dirtbags to no runs on seven hits through the first seven innings.
The eighth inning was a different story. Nick Rossetta was on in relief and mowed down all five Anteaters he faced in the seventh and eighth. Brock had held the top half of the Dirtbag lineup off the basepaths all game long.
However, Colby Brenner came up in the eighth and his grounder to the right side saw its way into right field for a single. Garrett Hampson then sent a double down the left field line to put runners at second and third with one out.
Brock issued an intentional walk to Ino Patron to load the bases and set up a possible double play before handing the ball off to his bullpen. Mitch Merten came in to face Prigatano with the bases loaded. He would wind up throwing just one pitch. Prigatano smacked the first pitch he saw and chopped it toward third. The chopper had just enough height to clear the outstretched glove of a leaping Taylor Sparks.
Both Brenner and Hampson scored easily as Prigatano ended up with a double. Evan Manarino came in after Marten’s one pitch outing and quickly got a strikeout and groundout to end the inning.
Ty Provencher came in to close the game out but allowed a single to Adam Alcantara to lead off the ninth. However, he was picked off just a few pitches later on a missed hit and run attempt. Provencher struck out the next two batters looking to secure the win and the sweep.
Jonathan Munoz drove in the ‘Eaters only run in the third inning with a grounder to the hole between third base and shortstop.
With the win, the Dirtbags close out the regular season on a hot streak. They have won their last five in a row and 10 of their last 11. They also finish alone in second place of the Big West Conference just two games behind Cal Poly after being picked to finish fifth in the preseason poll.
The Dirtbags have put themselves in a position for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament that starts next week with a 32-24 overall record. They will have to await their postseason fate until the Selection Show, which airs on ESPNU at 9 a.m. (PT) on Monday.
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