Lion Rally Falls Short in Ninth
LMU managed to put the tying run on in the bottom of the ninth, but San Francisco turned a game-ending double play to end the threat and earn the 6-4 victory.
April 4, 2014
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The LMU baseball team (17-13, 7-3 WCC) made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth, scoring once and putting the tying run aboard, but San Francisco (14-14, 4-6 WCC) induced a game-ending 4-6-3 double play to hang on for the 6-4 victory on Friday night in game one of a three-game West Coast Conference series from Page Stadium.
Tied at three headed to the eighth inning, USF came alive for three runs on three hits and an error to take a 6-3 lead. Brandon Horth, who replaced LMU starter Colin Welmon in the eighth, allowed a leadoff single to Nico Giarratano before Derek Atkinson singled to put runners at the corners. Brendan Hendricks followed with the RBI-single up the middle before a walk loaded the bases. LMU very easily could have gotten out of the inning without any further damage, as reliever Carlos Fuentes handled a bunt and forced the lead runner out at the plate on the next play for the first out. A double play ball followed for the Lions, but the turn from David Edwards at second base was in the dirt and got away from Tommy Cheek at first base, allowing two runs to come in to score.
Trailing by three in the bottom of the ninth, LMU mounted a comeback attempt. Austin Miller reached on a hit-by-pitch to start the frame before a double from David Fletcher put runners at the corners. Cheek followed with an RBI-single into left field, his career-high tying fifth hit of the game, to drive in Miller, but Tanner Donnels struck out in front of the 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Edwards as San Francisco thwarted the comeback bid.
Cheek finished the game a perfect 5-for-5 with three RBI, while Fletcher went 4-for-5 with a run scored and a stolen base. The four hits were a career-high for Fletcher.
Trailing by two, Cheek posted his first RBI-single in the third inning, driving in Miller and LMU's first run of the game. Edwards got the Lions back to even with a sacrifice fly after the Dons originally plated a pair of runs in the third on a two-out two-RBI triple from Atkinson. Atkinson finished 3-for-4 with the RBI.
The Lions took a 3-2 lead into the sixth after singles from Miller, Fletcher and Cheek equaled a run in the bottom of the fifth. Unfortunately for the Lions, the lead did not last long as USF scored an unearned run in the top of the sixth to once again knot the tally. Catcher Kevin Garcia had the costly error in the frame, attempting to back-pick Atkinson at first base after he led off with a single. The throw from Garcia sailed over Cheek's head at first and down the right field line, allowing Atkinson to move to third and setting the table for an RBI-groundout off the bat of Brendan Hendriks.
Junior Colin Welmon got the start and took a no-decision, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and four walks. The four walks were one more than Welmon had walked in each of his previous 50.1 innings of work this year. Horth, who failed to record an out in the eighth inning, was tagged with the loss and fell to 1-2 after surrendering three runs (two earned) on three hits.
USF starter Abe Bobb went 6.2 innings, working in and out of trouble to the tune of 13 hits but only three runs allowed, before not factoring in the decision. Lefty Ben Graff got the victory and improved to 1-0 after tossing 1.1 scoreless innings and handing the ball over to Houston Hibberd. Hibberd allowed the one run on two hits in the ninth, but got out of the jam to record his sixth save of the year.
LMU will look to even the series tomorrow night at 6 pm from Page Stadium.