Wednesday, April 10, 2013

7th inning drama: Aztecs win, Bulldogs lose

There were just two games involving Mountain West teams Wednesday as Fresno State and San Diego State were in action on the road.  Both games were decided in the seventh inning, with the Aztecs picking up another quality win and the Bulldogs another surprising loss.

San Diego State 2, Cal State Fullerton 1

The Aztecs, who have had a lot of good fortune this season, took advantage of a game-changing error with two outs in the seventh inning and defeated the Titans in Fullerton.

Just moments after Cal State Fullerton had pulled into a 1-1 tie on a 2-out, RBI triple in the bottom of the sixth inning, San Diego State scored what turned out to be the game-winning run.

In the top of the seventh of a tied game, the Titans quickly retired the first two Aztecs.  Leia Ruiz then hit a 2-out single, which was followed by a Monica Downey single up the middle.  On the play, Cal State Fullerton center fielder Ashley Carter misplayed the ball for a 2-base error that allowed Downey to advance all the way to third, while Ruiz sailed around the bases to score the game-winner.

Rebecca Arbino tossed a complete-game 4-hitter for San Diego State, which bounced back from a Sunday loss at Nevada when the Aztecs saw their 13-game winning streak come to an end.

Downey was involved in both scoring plays for SDSU.  Her RBI single in the fifth scored the game's first run after Kristin May had doubled with one out in the frame.  Downey had two of the Aztecs' eight hits.

For San Diego State (26-13), it was another quality win in a season of many big and important victories.  Despite Cal State Fullerton's losing overall record of 16-23, the Titans currently have a strong RPI of 55 thanks to a very demanding non-conference schedule.  SDSU was 38th in the RPI entering the week.

Cal State Bakersfield 5, Fresno State 4

The Bulldogs' road struggles continued as the Roadrunners rallied for a pair of seventh inning runs to knock off Fresno State for the first time in school history.

In a series that began in 1986, Cal State Bakersfield had never before won a game against Fresno State in the sport of softball until Wednesday.

It was more of the same for the Bulldogs, whose pattern of stranding base runners has been one of the storylines of the season in the Mountain West.  Coach Trisha Ford's squad stranded runners in scoring position in every inning but the first.  Fresno State left runners at second base in both the second and third innings, left the bases loaded in the fourth, left a runner at third in the fifth, left runners at first and second in the sixth, and left runners at second and third in the seventh.

Despite all of that, when Diane Runge doubled to lead off the seventh and Michelle Solomon followed with a 2-run home run to give Fresno State its first lead of the game at 4-3, it looked like the Bulldogs would prevail.  Freshman pitcher Hannah Harris, who entered in relief of struggling freshman Jill Compton in the fifth, had pitched two complete innings without allowing a hit to that point.

But Harris didn't record an out in the bottom of the seventh as the Roadrunners got a single, RBI triple and walk-off RBI single to end it.  Harris took the loss, allowing just three hits in the game.  Compton, who started the season very strong, is winless in her last four starts and has won just one of her last six starts in the circle.

Solomon and Stesha Brazil each hit home runs for the second straight game and Solomon now has six RBI over the last two contests.  Brazil, Kapri Angotti and Vonnie Martin all had two hits as the Bulldogs had nine as a team.  Leadoff hitter Brenna Moss, who missed the entire UNLV series last weekend, was back in the lineup today and was the only Bulldog batter to not reach base in the game.

Fresno State, which has never come close to a losing season in its softball history, is just four games over .500 at 22-18 overall.  Already with the worst RPI in school history at No. 112 entering the week, the Bulldogs didn't help themselves with this loss to a Cal State Bakersfield team that entered the day just 10-23 overall and with an RPI of 193.