Long Beach State leads Texas in de­ci­sive game

Dirt­bags are ahead 2-1 through seven in­nings. The win­ner plays Cal State Fuller­ton.

Los Angeles Times - - COLLEGE BASEBALL - By Ben Bolch ben.bolch@la­times.com Twit­ter: @latb­bolch

A back-and-forth se­ries that could have been de­scribed as wild took a lit­eral turn in that di­rec­tion dur­ing a win­ner-take-all game in the NCAA base­ball re­gional be­tween Long Beach State and Texas.

Wild pitches con­trib­uted to the game’s first three runs Mon­day night at Blair Field, with the top-seeded Dirt­bags ben­e­fit­ing from two that pro­vided a 2-1 lead over the sec­ond-seeded Longhorns through seven in­nings of a game that ended too late for this edi­tion of The Times.

The win­ner of the third meet­ing be­tween the teams in as many days would ad­vance to play Cal State Fuller­ton in a su­per re­gional later this week at a site to be de­ter­mined. Long Beach State was seek­ing its first su­per­re­gional ap­pear­ance since 2004.

The Dirt­bags were for­tu­nate just to be hold­ing a late lead.

With his team fac­ing a jam with run­ners on sec­ond and third base and only one out in the sixth in­ning, Long Beach State coach Troy Buck­ley sum­moned fresh­man re­liever Zak Baay­oun. Smart move. The left­hander struck out slug­gers Kacy Cle­mens and Bret Boswell to end the in­ning and pre­serve the Dirt­bags’ lead.

Hurt by two wild pitches in the game’s early go­ing, Texas was helped by one in the fifth in­ning that cut the Longhorns’ deficit to 2-1. Boswell led off with a sin­gle to right-cen­ter, stole sec­ond with no­body out, ad­vanced to third base on a ground­out and came home when Long Beach State re­liever Con­nor Ri­ley threw a wild pitch with two out.

Long Beach State scored the game’s first run in the first in­ning thanks to a se­ries of mis­takes by the Longhorns. Lead­off hit­ter Jar­ren Du­ran sin­gled to left­cen­ter and took sec­ond base when Texas cen­ter fielder Zane Gur­witz could not come up with the ball cleanly. Du­ran ad­vanced to third base on a wild pitch and came home when Texas catcher Michael McCann’s throw to third base skipped into left field.

An­other Texas mis­take con­trib­uted to the Dirt­bags’ sec­ond run. After Lu­cas Tan­cas dou­bled lead­ing off the third in­ning, Ram­sey Ro­mano chased a third strike but was able to take first base be­cause of a wild pitch that also al­lowed Tan­cas to take third base. With Brock Lundquist at the plate, Ro­mano got caught in a run­down that al­lowed Tan­cas to race home and ex­tend Long Beach State’s lead to 2-0.

Dirt­bags fans got a bit cheeky with Texas’ Kody and Kacy Cle­mens, chant­ing “Who’s your daddy?” when they bat­ted in the fourth in­ning in ref­er­ence to their fa­ther, seven-time Cy Young Award win­ner Roger Cle­mens.

Nei­ther Kody nor Kacy could make the fans re­gret their taunts, both hit­ting fly balls that went for outs.

When Kody stepped to the plate in the sixth in­ning, fans chanted “Steroids!,” a not-so-sub­tle al­lu­sion to his fa­ther hav­ing been ac­cused of us­ing an­abolic steroids by the Mitchell Re­port. (Roger Cle­mens has de­nied us­ing per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing drugs.) Kody was caught look­ing at strike three by Long Beach State re­liever Eli Vil­lalo­bos.

Long Beach start­ing right-han­der Dave Smith, pitch­ing on only two days’ rest, looked even stronger than he did in the re­gional opener when he pitched a com­plete-game shutout against San Diego State. Smith was per­fect through the first three in­nings, pump­ing his arm after re­tir­ing a ninth con­sec­u­tive hit­ter.

His only blem­ish in four score­less in­nings was a lead­off sin­gle in the fourth in­ning.

Texas start­ing pitcher Nick Kennedy, mak­ing his first ap­pear­ance in the re­gional, was not nearly as sharp as his Dirt­bags coun­ter­part, giv­ing up four hits and two runs in only 22⁄3 in­nings.

The teams had split their first two meet­ings in the re­gional.

Stephen Carr Daily Breeze/SCNG

RYAN REYNOLDS, left, of Texas is un­able to tag Long Beach State’s Jar­ren Du­ran out at third base in the first in­ning at Blair Field. Du­ran would soon score the Dirt­bags’ first run.

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