March 11, 2011
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Long Beach State baseball team slipped past Rice 2-1 in a pitchers' duel to open tournament play at the Cal Baseball Classic presented by Safeway, Friday afternoon at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
The Owls out-hit the 49ers in the game 7-5 and had a man in scoring position in its last at bat in the ninth inning. There was no-shortage of room on just how close the duel played out.
Starting pitchers Austin Kubitza (Rice) and Andrew Gagnon (LBSU) were firing scoreless frames until the 49ers struck for two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Jeff McNeil reached base on a bunt and Brennan Metzger hit a ball that just slipped past an in-drawn infield and rolled into foul territory past third base. Both runners advanced two bases and the extra 90-feet proved critical.
LBSU's Matt Duffy blooped a ball into centerfield that Rice's Chase McDowell dove to make a spectacular play. Umpires ruled that McDowell had trapped the ball and though McNeil was able to score easily from third, LBSU was able to make the most of its extended time on offense. Designated hitter Ino Patron followed with a single up the middle for another run and a 2-0 LBSU lead when runs were at a premeium.
Rice got on the board in the top of the eighth. Shane Hoelscher singled with one away and moved into scoring position with a stolen base. Keenan Cook slapped a two-out base hit to left to drive Hoelscher home to make it 2-1.
The Owls would not go away so easy. In the ninth, McDowell singled through the right side and with Daniel GonzalesLuna inserted as a pinch-runner, reach second base on another ball to the right side. LBSU ended the threat to preserve the 2-1 final.
Rice freshman pitcher Austin Kubitza allowed an earned run on five hits and tied a season-high with seven strikeouts in 6.0 frames. Senior Abe Gonzales worked the final two hitless innings for the Blue & Gray.
The Owls are now 9-7 on the season while Long Beach State moved to 7-6. Rice next meets tournament host California in Saturday's late game of the tournament on Saturday night. First pitch with the Golden Bears is slated for 9 pm Central Time.