May 26, 2012
Long Beach, Calif. - Brennan Metzger hit just the second home run at Blair Field this season, a three-run blast that gave the Dirtbags a four-run lead and Long Beach State never looked back in a 5-1 victory over No. 12 Cal State Fullerton. Sophomore Ryan Strufing went 8.2 innings, striking out six and allowing just the one run.
Strufing was in command throughout, as the southpaw set up a final game to decide the Big West on Sunday. Pitching a career high 8.2 innings, Strufing did not allow a run until the ninth, striking out six early while limiting his pitches.
Meanwhile, the Dirtbags (28-26, 15-8) threatened with two baserunners in the second inning, and came through in a big way with a two-out rally in the third. After a walk to Kellen Hoime earlier in the inning, Ino Patron hit an infield single to put runners on the corners, and was followed by Juan Avila who doubled, the first of his three hits on the day, giving the Dirtbags a 1-0 lead. Brennan Metzger then hit an 0-1 offering over the left-field wall for a three-run homer, just the second home run of the season at Blair Field. It was also the first home run for the Dirtbags at Blair since May of 2010; a day when Metzger had one of three for a victorious Long Beach State side.
Long Beach State added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth, as Johnny Bekakis singled to start off the inning, and Avila doubled again to bring in the fifth run of the game. Avila had two RBI, and was 3-for-4 with two doubles as the 3-4-5 batters for Long Beach State combined for all five RBI and five hits on the day.
Giving Strufing the chance to finish out the game, the southpaw picked up the first out of the ninth, but then surrendered back-to-back hits to the Titans (34-19, 16-7), and a fielder's choice brought home one run with a second out. Another hit led Troy Buckley to turn to the bullpen, and closer Kyle Friedrichs struck out JD Davis on three pitches to end the game. It was Friedrichs tenth save of the season, while Strufing moved to 7-3 on the year.
The victory over the Titans sets up a winner-take-all game for both teams Sunday, as the victor will claim the Big West championship, as well as the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. LBSU's Shawn Stuart (7-0, 2.21 ERA) will face Kenny Matthews (5-2, 4.09 ERA) in the pitching matchup. The Dirtbags will also honor their six seniors, including Metzger and Stuart prior to the game.
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