Whalen's Four Hits Lift Lions over Riverside
Seaver Whalen drove in the tying and go-ahead runs as the Lions rallied to top UCR
Riverside, Calif. - Seaver Whalen collected four hits, including the go-ahead RBI in the seventh inning, as Loyola Marymount (26-23 | 13-11 WCC) used a pair of late rallies to defeat UC Riverside (20-25 | 7-8 Big West), 5-4 in a mid-week, non-conference matchup Tuesday evening at the Riverside Sports Complex. The victory came in LMU's final road game of the season and its last contest before a crucial three-game home series with third-place Gonzaga this weekend to close out WCC play. The Lions currently sit in fifth place, half a game back of fourth-place Pepperdine and a berth in the West Coast Conference Championships.
After falling into an early 3-0 hole, The Lions played small ball to put together a game-tying rally in the sixth inning. After Niko Decolati drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a passed ball, Jimmy Hill and Whalen immediately followed with RBI hits, chasing reliever Max Compton from the game. Spencer Erdman drove in the tying run with a base hit off Alex Fagalde moments later.
Fagalde fanned the first two batters of the sixth inning, but the Lions rallied again with two outs, as Whalen delivered the fatal blow, a seeing-eye single past a diving Drake Zarate at second base, driving in Decolati with the go-ahead run. The base hit was Whalen's fourth of the night, as the outfielder recorded his eighth multi-hit effort of the season. Joe Murray followed Whalen with his first hit of the season to bring in an insurance run.
"I saw a big hole in the four hole and I was just thinking see the ball and square it up," Whalen said. "I'm not trying to change anything. I'm just trying to barrel up balls and if I barrel up the pitcher, I win."
Opting to preserve the arm of Blake Redman (6-4, 4.35) should he be required to pitch against Gonzaga over the weekend, the Lions called upon six relievers to pitch back of their junior starter. After tossing a perfect first inning, Redman allowed a pair of runs on three hits in the second. He gave way to Harrison Simon with two outs in the frame who, after walking Michael Farris, retired Colby Schultz on a pop-up to end the threat. Riverside added another run off Simon in the third on a bloop single by Mark Contreras but first baseman Jamey Smart prevented further damage, turning a scorching liner by Taylor Walker into an unassisted, inning-ending double play.
Mark Finkelnburg, Kyle Dozier and Alex Strizak followed Simon out of the bullpen and held the Highlanders scoreless through the next four innings. Strizak (1-0, 0.00) was credited with the win, tossing two innings while allowing just one baserunner. Steven Skolarz and Michael Silva shut the door on the Highlanders in the final two frames, the only blemish a solo home run by Vince Fernandez off Skolarz in the eighth. Silva struck out all three batters he faced for his first career save.
The Highlanders similarly emptied their bullpen against the Lions, using nine pitchers throughout the evening. Starter Jacob Worrell (0-3, 5.89) held the Lions scoreless despite a pair of walks in his lone inning of work and did not factor in the decision. Fagalde (3-2, 3.41) was tagged with the loss, having allowed two runs on four hits in two innings.
LMU returns to Page Stadium for a pivotal WCC matchup with Gonzaga beginning on Friday evening at 6 p.m. Purchase tickets online or at the LMU box office, or follow live streaming and stats on LMULions.com and theW.tv.
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