June 2, 2008


Pecina pitches San Diego past Long Beach State


By Abbey Mastracco



LONG BEACH, Calif. - On the brink of elimination, the No. 2-seeded Toreros prevailed, as lefty Ricardo Pecina’s stellar outing pitched San Diego to a 5-1 win over No. 1-seeded Long Beach State, Sunday afternoon at Blair Field, to advance to the semi-final game against Fresno State.

“This is the first regional final in school history, so to beat the No. 1 seed is quite a special achievement,” said Torero head coach Rich Hill. “And what a great performance by Ricardo Pecina.”

Pecina (5-4) dominated the Dirtbags, tossing seven strong innings, giving up just one earned run on six hits, no walks and blanking eight. This was Pecina’s third win this season over Long Beach. A.J. Griffin sealed the deal, pitching a perfect eighth and ninth.

“I tip my hat to San Diego,” said Dirtbag head coach Mike Weathers. “They have a tough left-hander that we haven’t been able to solve all year, as he did a real good job three times against us.”

James Meador came up big for San Diego, going 2 for 5 with two RBI, both of which came off a single in the top of the ninth that tacked on two insurance runs for the Toreros, putting the game out of reach for the Dirtbags. Josh Romanski went 2 for 4 with a run and Kevin Hansen finished 2 for 5.

With Long Beach State keeping the game close at 2-1, the Toreros pulled away at the last minute, plating three runs in the top of the ninth. Logan Gelbrich and Victor Sanchez took back-to-back singles off closer Bryan Shaw. The Dirtbags then intentionally loaded the bases, pitching around Josh Romanksi to get to Sean Nichol.

Nichol grounded out to shortstop Danny Espinosa who made a great play throw to catcher Travis Howell to force Gelbrich out at the plate. But Meador then ripped a single to left field, scoring Sanchez and Romanski. Espinosa then made a costly throwing error, missing an easy put out at first that scored another.

“James Meador’s two-out base hit - we call it a ‘two-out golden’,” Hill said. “We work on that and that was one of the best and the most memorable in school history.”

With a 5-1 lead, the Dirtbags barely had a chance going into the bottom of the inning. Blair retired the side in order, keeping the Toreros alive for one more game.

“We’re hurting right now,” said Dirtbag starter Vance Worley. “We battled through a lot and held together as a team really well.’

Worley (7-4) was shaky from the start, and took the loss, his fourth, for Long Beach. Worley allowed two earned runs on 10 hits in 7.2 innings.

“Vance Worley just pitched his heart out,” Hill said.

“I asked him to not come out after three nothing,” Weathers said. “To not come out of the game until he was out of gas and he didn’t. That was his mound and he needed to stay out there and he did it.”

The outing was Worley’s last as a Dirtbag, as the junior right-hander will be drafted instead of returning for a senior season.

“I’m having a hard time keeping a straight face right now,” Worley said.

“He’s given us three great years and I hate to lose him,” Weathers said. “But I’m really proud of him.”

The Dirtbags finished the season 38-21. San Diego, which faces Fresno State at 5 p.m., improved to 43-16.