Long Beach State Wins Thriller 4-3 In Eight Innings After Two Comebacks
The Beach tied the game in the seventh inning, and won it with a three-run eighth inning.
Long Beach, Calif. -
Down twice in their final at bats, the Beach tied the series finale with UC Riverside 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh, and then pulled back a 3-1 deficit to walk off the Highlanders for the second straight game, winning 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning with a huge rally.
The Highlanders continued to work around senior Darian Tautalafua, who set a Big West record with five walks Sunday, the most-ever in a single game for the conference and Long Beach State (30-19, 10-8). The strategy appeared to be paying off, as three walks through the first six innings had led to no runs for the Beach, as Christina Clermont and Tayler Misfeldt squared off a matchup that favored the pitching early.
Clermont would end up pitching all eight innings, but gave up the first run of the game in the sixth inning on a solo home run from Courtnie Ploesch as UC Riverside (32-19-1, 8-10 Big West) took a 1-0 lead. The junior rebounded and closed out the frame, and held the Highlanders scoreless through the seventh to set the stage for the Long Beach State's comeback.
Pinch hitter Mattie Scheele started out the bottom of the seventh with a pinch hit single, and after Tautalafua was walked for the 12th time in the series. A sacrifice bunt pushed both runners into scoring position, a move that was crucial as a re-entered Tobler scored on a wild pitch to tie the game at 1-1, forcing extra innings as Misfeldt was able to keep Tautalafua stranded at third.
UC Riverside then struck twice more with the long ball, as both Chelsey Holley and Stephanie Tickemyer hit solo home runs, giving the Highlanders a 3-1 lead entering the bottom of the eighth inning.
Nichole Fry walked to start the bottom of the eighth, and singles from Alley Perkins and Tierra Falo loaded the bases with no outs as Long Beach State continued to threaten. Irma Sanchez then capped a tremendous series with an RBI single off of UCR relief pitcher Anessa Cepeda, her fifth single of the series to keep the bases loaded with no outs and the Beach within a run.
Haley Tobler drove in a run with a deep sacrifice fly, moving up all three runners, and after the record-setting fifth walk to Tautalafua to load the bases, LT Torres closed out the comeback, giving the Beach their first lead of the day with a base knock into left center to give the Beach a 4-3 win.
With the win, Clermont reached 20 wins for the second time in her career, and the 12th time in school history.
Over the course of the series, Tautalafua walked 13 times in 13 plate appearances, and Sanchez picked up the slack for the Beach, driving in three RBI while hitting .625.
Long Beach State will finish the regular season next weekend with a home series against Hawai'i. The series will start Friday at 3 p.m., then finish with a doubleheader beginning at Noon on Saturday, which will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
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