Lions Cough Up Late-Inning Lead in 7-5 Loss, Succumb to Sweep by Long Beach
LMU allowed four runs in the bottom of the eighth in a 7-5 loss on Monday night.
May 7, 2012
LONG BEACH, Calif. - LMU (21-21) held a two-run lead at 5-3 headed into the bottom of the eighth, but a four-run eighth from Long Beach State (24-21) handed the Dirtbags a weekend series sweep on Monday by a score of 7-5 at Blair Field.
Junior Zac Fujimoto had a career day at the plate for the Lions, finishing 3-for-4 with a career-high tying four RBI as he fell a homer short of the cycle. Junior Scott Harkin also collected multiple hits, finishing 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored.
John Lally turned in a pretty good outing as LMU's starter, lasting five innings and allowing three runs on six hits with five strikeouts. The left-hander handed the ball over to fellow southpaw Ryan Hawthorne in the sixth, as Hawthorne tossed the next 2.2 innings, allowing a hit and two walks, before giving way to Aaron Griffin. The right-hander inherited a pair of runners, and both scored on an infield single from Johnny Bekakis, before a pinch-hit RBI-single from Ino Patron off of Bret Dahlson on the ensuing play handed Long Beach the lead in the bottom of the eighth. Having allowed the one run to score without recording an out, Griffin was tagged with the loss and fell to 3-5.
Matt Duffy and Richard Prigatano each had two hits in the victory for Long Beach State, while Bekakis finished 1-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI out of the leadoff spot. Eddie Magallon earned the victory after tossing 2.1 innings of relief and striking out three, improving to 1-3 on the year.
LMU threatened in the first inning, but could not plate a run, stranding runners at the corners. Matt Lowenstein reached with a leadoff single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Fujimoto. A single from Alex Guthrie pushed Lowenstein to third base with just one out, but Colton Plaia lined out to second before Shawn Stuart induced a pop up to the right side of the infield from Cullen Mahoney to end the threat and throw up a zero.
Prigatano put the Dirtbags on the board with two out in the second inning, lining a RBI-double down the left field line to bring home Duffy. Duffy had reached with a two-out walk in the previous at bat before coming in to score the game's first run and push Long Beach to a 1-0 early lead.
LMU answered right back in the third inning as Fujimoto singled and stole second base. In an attempt to throw out the speedy Fujimoto, who swiped his fifth base in nine attempts, Kellen Hoime delivered a throw into the runner and the ball skipped into shallow left field. Fujimoto managed to get to his feet and scamper to third on the play, setting the table for a sacrifice fly from Guthrie on the next pitch to knot the tally.
Jeff Yamaguchi got the fourth inning going for Long Beach, belting his first triple of the year into the left centerfield gap and off the glove of Mitchell Esser. The Dirtbag first baseman came in to score on the ensuing play as Duffy punched a single through the right side to run the tally to 2-1.
Just as it did when Long Beach scored in the second, LMU answered right back in the fifth for a run to even the tally at 2-2. Harkin led things off with a double down the right field line before Fujimoto legged out his second triple of the year two batters later to bring in the run. Similarly to the way that Lally avoided further damage in the previous half inning, Stuart limited the Lion rally to just the one run while stranding a pair of runners in scoring position.
A pair of one-out hit-by-pitches came back to haunt Lally in the fifth inning, as Bekakis and Hoime each drew free passes. After a fly ball that moved the lead runner to third, Juan Avila dumped a RBI-double down the right field line to bring in the go-ahead run as the Lion outfield was playing the right-handed Avila to pull.
Fujimoto did it again in the sixth, collecting a bases-clearing double with the bases loaded to hand LMU a 5-3 advantage. Esser got the inning going with a one-out single before a walk and a bunt single from Harkin loaded the bases with one out. Stuart nearly escaped the jam on the ensuing play, inducing a soft liner to second base for the second out, but Fujimoto wouldn't let the righty off the hook, posting his third hit of the day, a double down the right field line, to set a new career single-game mark in RBI with four.
The wheels completely came off for the Lions with two out in the eighth as Long Beach rallied for four runs to steal a 7-5 lead after eight. After two quick outs, Jonathan Kim drew a four-pitch walk to jumpstart the two-out rally. Jeff McNeil contributed a pinch-hit single, sending Kim to third base, before a passed ball sent McNeil to second. Bekakis came up with the clutch two-RBI single, dribbling one up the middle where it was fielded by Cullen Mahoney in front of the second base bag. McNeil turned third on the arm fake from the second baseman, but Mahoney didn't have a clear throwing lane to the plate as third base umpire Frank Pflugradt was in the way. Mahoney finally delivered a throw to the dish, but it was too late as McNeil slid in with the tying run and Bekakis took second on the throw. Pinch hitter Ino Patron wasted no time giving Long Beach the lead, sending a pitch into centerfield to bring home Bekakis from second. A second passed ball charged to Plaia behind the plate was followed by a throwing error as he tried to make up for the mistake by throwing out the trail runner at second, but the ball skipped away from Mahoney at second, allowing the seventh and final Dirtbag run to scamper home.
Trailing 7-5 in the bottom of the ninth, LMU did manage to put a runner aboard with two out, but freshman Edgar Gomez retired Mahoney on a pop up to shortstop to end the game and complete the weekend series sweep for Long Beach State. The save was Gomez' first of his career.
LMU will return to action on Wednesday when it travels to UC Riverside for a game at 6 p.m.