Bulldogs Survive Ninth-Inning Rally to Down Toreros, 9-8
June 2, 2006
FULLERTON, CA - Fresno State slugged five home runs on the afternoon, but it was a pick off by Bulldogs' closer Brandon Burke with two outs in the ninth inning that preserved the victory for No. 2 Fresno State over No. 3-seeded San Diego, 9-8, on Friday night in NCAA Regional action at Goodwin Field.
The Bulldogs (44-16) advance to face the winner of Friday night's Cal State Fullerton-Saint Louis contest on Saturday (June 3) at approximately 8:05 p.m. The Toreros (32-24) drop into the losers bracket and will face the loser of the Titans-Billikens game on Saturday at 4:05 p.m.
Trailing by four entering the final inning of play, the Toreros mounted a comeback as four straight one-out hits, including an RBI single by Justin Snyder and a run-scoring double by Steve Singleton, brought USD to within two runs at 9-7.
The Toreros inched closer after a pitching change as pinch-hitter David Harris beat out a slow chopper to first base, beating pitcher Brandon Miller to the first base bag with a head-first slide and scoring Snyder from third to make it 9-8 with still only one out on the board.
Burke then entered the game with runners at the corners and struck out Jordan Abruzzo for the second out of the inning. With the tying run standing 90 feet away, Burke faked a pick-off throw to third and wheeled to first, catching Harris off the bag as Fresno State first baseman Kent Sakamoto applied the tag and sealed the win.
The lead seemed safe as the Bulldogs' bats went deep early and often against San Diego starter Josh Butler, who had allowed only two home runs all season entering postseason play. Fresno State's Erik Wetzel got things started with his first home run of the year to break scoreless tie in the third and the Bulldogs added two more in the fourth as Nick Moresi hit his first of two on the afternoon with a two-run shot and was joined two batters later by Frank LoNigro, who smacked his eighth of the season to make it 4-0.
San Diego battled back to take the lead with a five-run fifth inning as Logan Gelbrich, who finished 3-for-4, led off the inning with a single and was followed by Josh Romanski, who slugged his third round-tripper of the year to cut the deficit to 4-2.
The Toreros then loaded the bases on a hit batter and singles by Kevin Hansen and Keoni Ruth to bring up Abruzzo, who laced a single into left centerfield, scoring a pair to tie the game and leave runners at the corners with only one out.
Ryan Lilly followed with a deep fly ball to centerfield, enough to plate Ruth with the go-ahead run to make it 5-4.
Fresno State bounced back to tie the game with a run in the sixth as Sakamoto launched his fourth home run of the season to right field off losing pitcher Matt Couch (7-4) to tie the score and added the go ahead run in the seventh with an RBI single down the left field line, scoring Ozzie Lewis to make it 6-5. Moresi, who finished 3-for-3 with five RBI, followed with his second home run of the day - a three-run shot to right field - to make it 9-5 and set up the late-inning dramatics.
Eddie Romero (13-2) earned the win despite allowing five runs on seven hits in seven innings of work for the Bulldogs.
Couch allowed five runs on six hits in two innings of relief to take the loss. Starter Josh Butler earned a no decision in five innings of work, allowing four runs on five hits while striking out six.