Ninth-Inning Rally Falls Short in Elimination Game
LMU put the tying run just 90 feet away in a three-run ninth inning, but ultimately fell 5-4.
Trailing 5-1 headed to the ninth inning of an elimination game at the 2017 West Coast Conference Championship Tournament in Stockton, Calif., LMU (38-18) scored three times and put the tying run at third with two out, but ultimately succumb to a 5-4 loss at the hands of BYU (35-20) on Friday night from Banner Island Ballpark.
LMU was playing in the elimination game just 40 minutes after being tagged with a 3-1 setback to Gonzaga earlier on Friday.
LMU got the ninth-inning rally started with one out, as Brandon Shearer punched a single into right field. Niko Decolati followed with a single of his own before Jamey Smart laced a hit into left field to load the bases and bring the tying run to the plate. Steven Chavez delivered a clutch two-RBI double off the wall in right-centerfield, coming within a few feet of sending a game-tying homer over the wall. After BYU elected to call to its bullpen and summon left-hander Riley Gates, Billy Wilson popped up for the second out. With the game now down to LMU’s final out, Gates uncorked a wild pitch that allowed another run to come in, cut the deficit to one, and pushed the tying run to third. The Lions went to their bench with the game on the line, asking senior Joe Murray to take the at bat. Murray worked a nine-pitch at bat, but after fouling off four straight to stay alive, he was called out on strikes to end the game.
For his two-thirds of an inning of work, Gates was credited with his third save of the year. Right-hander Maverik Buffo got the start for BYU and earned the win, tossing 8.1 innings and allowing four runs on seven hits and two walks with eight strikeouts. Buffo, who did not allow a hit to LMU until the sixth, improved to 7-6 on the season.
LMU starter Blake Redman found himself in trouble early in the game, allowing three runs in the first and one more in the second, but he settled down nicely down the stretch, ultimately logging 6.1 innings and allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits with four strikeouts. The right-hander fell to 5-7 on the season.
Daniel Schneemann and Brock Hale both finished with three hits for BYU, with both players collecting a double. David Clawson also did damage for the Cougars, launching his fifth homer of the season in the second inning.
While the regular season is complete, LMU will now await the announcement of the NCAA Tournament field on Monday at 9 a.m. PT. The selections will air live on ESPN2. LMU last made a regional appearance in 2000 – the last time that LMU had won a WCC Championship prior to this season.
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