March 21, 2008

Around the Bases

Around the Bases
Execution key to LMU victory over Cal State Northridge

By Abbey Mastracco

LOS ANGELES - Offensive execution made up for a lacking offense in Loyola Marymount's 5-4 win over Cal State Northridge at Page Stadium Thursday afternoon. The Lions (10-10) took Game 2 of the four-game freeway-flyer series by playing solid small ball and capitalizing on uncontrolled Matadors pitching.

"We executed," Lions coach Frank Cruz said. "If you're going to win games late and tight, you have to execute."

A bunt single and four straight free passes allowed the Lions to grab the lead in the seventh, and they tacked on an insurance run it in the eighth with a sac bunt and a suicide squeeze.

"If you look at the stats on the season, you'll see we have a lot of strikeouts and not enough base on balls and hit by pitches," Cruz said. "And today we had more base on balls and hit by pitches that accounted for runs."

Will Dugoni and Ryan Wheeler provided the pop in the LMU offense. Wheeler finished 2 for 4 with two runs and a stolen base, and Dugoni, still relatively new to the starting role, finished 3 for 4, scoring once and driving in three.

"We put him in the lineup last week trying to add a little speed," Cruz said. "He's really been a contributor offensively. It's nice to have him in that nine-hole."

Drew Muren and T.S. Reed combined for the bulk of the offense for the Matadors (9-9) as the only players to record multi-hit games. Reed went 4 for 4 with a double, and Muren went 2 for 4 with three RBI and two runs, including a deep solo shot to right field in the ninth inning to rough up closer Xavier Esquivel and cut the Lions' lead to one.

The Lions took a two-run lead in the second, but it was short-lived, as the Matadors rallied for three in the fourth. The Matadors came from behind to tie the game with a one-out, two-RBI single by Muren. Dominic D'Anna then chopped a ball up the middle to drive in one more.

The game then was delayed for several minutes when home plate umpire Dan Perigini left the game with a broken arm after being hit by a ball fouled back behind a Matadors hitter.

As the commotion died down, Andy Beal hit his stride on the mound. Beal fanned Todd Eskelin to lead off the fifth and picked off Reed after he allowed the Matadors' leadoff man to single. Beal walked Richard Cates to lead off the sixth but went on to retire the next five batters.

"I thought he settled in," Cruz said. "He finally started getting some pitches in and making some good pitches. I thought he settled in and got some strikes and kept us in the game because offensively we weren't doing very great."

Beal (1-2) worked seven innings, giving up three earned on six hits, walking one and punching out four, en route to his first win.

Jimmy Jolicoeur was saddled with the loss after giving up four earned on seven hits and striking out four. The CSUN staff suffered from control issues, as three pitchers combined to issue eight free passes, walking five and hitting three.

The series concludes Saturday with a doubleheader at Matador Field in Northridge. LMU now leads the series 2-0 after Tuesday's 6-2 victory at Page Stadium.