March 7, 2004
Los Angeles, CA (Mar. 7) - The Loyola Marymount University Lions baseball team took it's third straight game over San Diego with a dramatic 9-8 win at Page Stadium Sunday. Jonathan Higashi led off the ninth inning with a walk-off homerun over the Blue Monster to complete the three game sweep of the two time defending WCC champs.
In a game that went back and forth all afternoon long, Loyola Marymount (10-4, 3-0) was able to fire the knockout blow because of some clutch bullpen help. With the game tied going to the ninth inning San Diego (6-11, 0-3) looked like it was about to come all the way back from two deficits to overtake the Lions. Randy Curtis led off the ninth by drawing a walk. He moved to second on Jordan Abruzzo's single to left putting runners on first and second with no outs. The turning point of the game then arose when Matt Cova (1-0) was brought in out of the bullpen to make just his second appearance of the season.
Cova came in and faced Jose Ortega who tried to sacrifice the runners into scoring position. Ortega popped up the bunt and Cova sprinted off the mound and made an incredible diving catch in foul territory down the third base line to retire him. After his defensive gem, Cova would then get Tom Caple to fly out to center. Keoni Ruth followed by grounding out back to Cova, who made another nice play on the mound to complete the remarkable pitching performance and get the Lions into the dugout, still tied 8-8 with a chance to win the game in the bottom off the inning.
Higashi led off the ninth and did so by launching an off speed pitch from Tom Caple (1-3) over the wall in left for a game winning homerun. "It was just a changeup that stayed up in the zone and I just tried to hit a line drive. I don't hit that many homeruns so I wasn't sure, but I thought it had a chance to get out when I hit it. It's just an amazing feeling," Higashi said. The Lions mobbed Higashi at home plate and celebrated their fifth straight win and their third in as many days over the Toreros.
The LMU offense which racked up thirty-five hits in the series, including fourteen on Sunday had eight starters get hits in the game. Clint McGill
seemed to have broken the game open for the Lions in the fifth with his second homerun of the year, a two run shot to left center that capped off a four run inning to make the score 6-2. San Diego answered back with a three spot in the top of the fifth to close the gap to 6-5. USD was led offensively by Freddy Sandoval who was 2-for-5 with a homerun and Jordan Abruzzo who was 3-for-3, each knocked in three runs for the Toreros. Abruzzo's sac fly in the seventh tied the game at six apiece.
In the bottom of the seventh LMU immediately took back their lead getting RBI singles from James Cooper and Jonathan Oller making the game 8-6. USD used clutch RBI hits by Sandoval and Joey Prast to tie the game 8-8 in the eighth inning, setting up Cova and Higashi for their dramatics in the ninth.
After sweeping the two time defending conference champs, the Lions will now head to UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday, first pitch is scheduled for 2PM (PST). The game can be heard on the Lions Audio Network www.LmuLions.com.
- GO LIONS -