Lions Drop Fourth Straight to Big West Foe, Fall at UC Riverside 8-5
LMU dropped an 8-5 decision to UC Riverside on Wednesday.
May 9, 2012
RIVERSIDE, Calif. - The LMU baseball team (21-22) scored first on Wednesday, but could not keep the lead en route to dropping an 8-5 decision to UC Riverside (17-26) on Wednesday at Riverside's Riverside Sports Complex. All eight of UCR's runs came with two out. The loss was the fourth in a row for LMU, with all four coming at the hands of Big West opponents. The Lions managed to bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but could not score.
Freshman Mitchell Esser led the Lion offense, finishing 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and two RBI. Both RBI came on a double in the second inning as LMU scored three times to take a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the frame. Unfortunately for LMU, starter Matt Florer surrendered six runs (three earned) over 3.2 innings to give up the lead and take the loss - falling to 0-1 with the decision. LMU used a total of four relievers on Wednesday, as Kevin Glomb contributed 1.1 scoreless before Brandon Horth allowed a pair of runs during two-thirds of an inning. Ramiro Carreon and Sean McIntyre combined to toss the final 2.1 scoreless innings to give LMU a shot late in the ballgame.
Junior Mitch Patito got the start for the Highlanders, lasting just 3.1 innings and walking five to the tune of three runs allowed, but took a no decision after the offense came alive to take him off the hook. Right-hander Gavin Mills earned the victory to improve to 1-0 after tossing 3.2 scoreless innings of relief and allowing just two Lion hits. After LMU put a pair of runs on the board against freshman Zach Varela in the eighth, lefty Ben Doucette pitched the final 1.1 scoreless to earn his third save of the year.
Vince Gonzalez had a stellar day out of the three-hole for UCR, finishing 3-for-5 with two runs scored, two triples and two RBI. Kevin Davidson drove in three runs out the DH spot, going 2-for-4 with his first career home run.
Walks got Patito in trouble in the second as LMU received leadoff walks from Colton Plaia and Cullen Mahoney to start the frame. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third, Esser delivered a two-RBI double into the left centerfield gap to put the Lions on the board. Matt Lowenstein capped the scoring run three hitters later, lacing a two-out RBI-single through the right side to bring home Esser and hand LMU a 3-0 lead.
Riverside got back to even at three runs apiece by way of a run in the second and two more in the third. Davidson belted a solo-shot with two out in the second to put UCR on the board before a two-out rally in the third knotted the game. Gonzalez contributed the first of two triples to start the rally before coming around to score on an infield single from Clayton Prestridge. David Andriese brought home the speeding Prestridge on the ensuing play, shooting the second triple of the inning into centerfield to cap the rally and the scoring.
A costly error charged to Mahoney allowed Riverside to take a 6-3 lead by way of three unearned runs in the fourth. Nick Vilter doubled with one out before a walk to Bart Steponovich put runners at first and second. Mahoney kicked a ground ball on the first pitch of the ensuing at bat to load the bases before Florer induced a weak ground ball to first that was routed home for an out, leaving the bases loaded with one down. Gonzalez made the error costly as the inning continued, shooting a single back up the middle to bring home a pair of runners and hand UCR a lead it would not relinquish. After a call to the bullpen that summoned Glomb, the right-hander hit a batter to reload the bases before issuing one of five LMU walks to force in the final run of the inning.
Riverside tacked-on two more runs in the sixth to complete an 8-0 turning of the tide, highlighted by a two-out bases-loaded two-RBI single from Davidson into right field off of Carreon. LMU managed to claw back within three with a pair of runs in the eighth, but that is as close as it would come to making a comeback. A fielding error and an Alex Guthrie single set the table for a RBI-double from Plaia to plate the first of two runs in the inning. Mahoney followed with a productive out, grounding a pitch to the second baseman to score a run and move the runners up 90 feet, but UCR wiggled out of the inning without any further damage done as the Lions stranded two of eight runners left on base in the game.
Back-to-back singles from Scott Harkin and Lowenstein got things off to a good start in the ninth, but Doucette proceeded to strike out Fujimoto before getting a ground ball to shortstop for the second out. With Plaia, LMU's leading home run hitter with five round-trippers, serving as the tying run at the plate, Doucette induced a lazy fly ball to right field to end the threat and the game.
The Lions return to action on Friday when they open a crucial three-game series with WCC leader San Diego. The Lions are currently tied for second place in the WCC.