Long Beach St. can advance
Dirtbags outlast Texas and San Diego State, set stage for Monday’s deciding game.
The Dirtbags win twice, face decisive rematch with Texas in an NCAA regional.
Jarren Duran got Long Beach State the go-ahead run against Texas. It just took about 24 hours longer than he would have preferred.
One day after being thrown out at the plate while trying to complete an insidethe-park home run, Duran drove in the run that gave the top-seeded Dirtbags a 4-3 victory over the secondseeded Longhorns on Sunday night in an NCAA baseball regional at Blair Field.
Duran’s run-scoring single to left-center field with two out in the eighth inning propelled Long Beach State (40-18-1) into a winner-takeall game against Texas (3923) on Monday evening. The team that prevails in that game will face Cal State Fullerton in a super regional later in the week.
“The team is right where we need to be,” Duran said. “We wanted it bad enough and we showed it today.”
Long Beach State reliever Josh Advocate pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out Michael Cantu for the final out with a runner on first base, to record the save in the second taut game between the Dirtbags and Longhorns in as many days.
Duran drove in two runs, including a run-scoring single to center field in the sixth inning off Texas starter Kyle Johnston that gave the Dirtbags a 3-2 lead. Texas tied the score in the bottom of the sixth on Bret Boswell’s RBI groundout off reliever Zak Baayoun (3-0).
Long Beach State received a major boost from its redshirt sophomore righthander, Tyler Radcliffe, the former ace of the Long Beach Wilson High team who moved across Park Avenue to join the Dirtbags bullpen.
Making the first start of his college career because his team was playing its fourth game in three days, Radcliffe befuddled a powerful Texas lineup for most of his five innings. His longevity was commendable considering he had pitched all of 18 innings this season before Sunday after sitting out the 2016 season because of a torn knee ligament.
“I got ahead of a lot of batters and was able to use the changeup,” said Radcliffe, who had seven strikeouts and no walks. “I’m sure they haven’t seen a lot of that being in their conference with hard throwers and sliders and stuff like that.”
Radcliffe benefited from a contested call in the fifth inning after Texas’ Zane Gurwitz laced a single to left field with the bases loaded to drive in a run and tie the score at 2-2.
Cantu tried to score from second base, beating the relay throw from shortstop Laine Huffman, but appeared to touch catcher David Banuelos’ foot instead of home plate and was called out after the tag was applied. Cantu repeatedly pointed at the plate and Texas coach David Pierce emerged from the dugout to join the protest, to no avail.
“I can’t see if he hit the plate from my angle, I’m 100 feet away,” Pierce said. “But I just watched Michael’s reaction and Michael’s a very respectful young man who plays the game right and plays the game hard and he thought he touched home plate.”
Radcliffe did not receive a decision after allowing five hits and two runs, but the length and quality of his outing were considered a winwin for the Dirtbags.
The Dirtbags had reached their second game in two days against Texas after holding off San Diego State, 7-4, in an elimination game earlier Sunday.
“The guys were awesome,” Long Beach State coach Troy Buckley said. “To do that in this setting and win two games against quality teams and stave off elimination and give us another chance for [Monday] is pretty special.
RAMSEY ROMANO of Long Beach State tags out San Diego State’s Tyler Adkison as he tries to steal third during Sunday’s early game.