Long Beach State Rallies to Even Big West Series, 4-3
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Right fielder Juan Avila's RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning snapped a 3-3 tie, gave Long Beach State the lead for the first time and the 49ers held on to beat Cal Poly 4-3 in a Big West Conference baseball game Saturday night at Blair Field.
Cal Poly led 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2, but couldn't hold on as Long Beach State evened the three-game series at a game apiece. Final game of the series is set for Sunday at 1 o'clock.
Long Beach State improved to 21-19 for the season and 7-7 in Big West games while Cal Poly fell to 19-18 and 9-5, tied for second place with UC Irvine.
Long Beach State starter Branden Pinder allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings with one walk and three strikeouts while Cal Poly starter Steven Fischback gave up three runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings with one walk and six strikeouts.
Neither starter was involved in the decision, however.
Kyle Friedrichs and Eddie Magallon both pitched one scoreless inning for the 49ers – Friedrichs (3-2) getting the win and Magallon notching his ninth save. Senior southpaw Frankie Reed (1-3) absorbed the loss, giving up the go-ahead run in the eighth as Matt Duffy singled, advanced on a sacrifice bunt and a groundout and scored on Avila's single to right field.
Cal Poly put runners at first and second with nobody out in the ninth, but couldn't push across the tying run.
Elliot Stewart led off with a single to center and pinch-hitter Jordan Hadlock was hit by a pitch, but Evan Busby popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt to the catcher and pinch-hitter Bobby Crocker hit into a game-ending double play.
Cal Poly's seven hits included a single and double by Stewart, a double by Chris Hoo and a triple by Mitch Haniger (pictured above), extending his hitting streak to 11 games. Long Beach State collected nine hits, including two each by catcher Mike Marjama and Avila.
Cal Poly scored single runs in the first, third and seventh innings.
Haniger opened the game with his triple and came home on Matt Jensen's grounder to shortstop. Hoo doubled to left-center field with two outs in the third inning and scored on a single by Jensen.
In the seventh, Stewart led off with a double down the left-field line, took third on pinch-hitter Denver Chavez's sacrifice bunt and scored on a single to right by Busby. The Mustangs went on to put runners at second and third in the inning but Hoo grounded out to shortstop to end the threat.
Freshman right-hander Chase Johnson (1-3, 3.67 ERA) will start on the mound for Cal Poly in Sunday's series finale against Long Beach State freshman southpaw Ryan Strufing (2-1, 3.68 ERA).