Going into the ninth inning Sunday, Wichita State had shut down Long Beach State on two hits and an unearned run. But Long Beach scratched back off Shockers closer Cale Elam for two runs in the inning, and pulled out a 3-2 victory on a disputed call at home plate.
Matt Duffy led off the ninth by working a single off Elam (0-1). Juan Avila sacrificed him to second. Pinch-runner Michael Hill then took third on a wild pitch but had to hold when Ino Patron lined to third baseman Aaron Rea for the second out. Brennan Metzger’s bloop single to right scored Hill, and Richard Prigatano followed with a line single. Jeff Yamaguchi was hit by a pitch, loading the bases, pinch-hitter Brennan Fulkerson bunted out in front of the plate. Rea flipped the ball to catcher Bob Arens, who dropped the ball once Metzger collided with him.
Plate umpire Ken McQueen ruled Metzger safe, giving Long Beach a 3-2 lead but bringing an immediate protest from WSU coach Gene Stephenson, who argued that dropping the ball didn’t matter because it was a force play. However, McQueen refused to change his call.
After the game, the critical call still confounded Stephenson.
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“If we weren’t covering home on that forceout,” he said, “then there’s something wrong with us. I don’t know if the throw pulled him off or what. I don’t know. But it looked like he was on home plate, and that’s a forceout. You don’t have to tag him.”
“But I don’t know. I’ll have to wait and see a replay.”
Stephenson said McQueen told him that Arens’ foot wasn’t on the plate.
“That’s what he said,” Stephenson said. “I’ll have to see a replay.”
In the bottom of the ninth with one out, Garrett Bayliff singled for his third hit of the game, but Kevin Hall hit a 3-2 pitch right to Long Beach second baseman Jeff McNeil, who tagged second and fired to first for the game-ending double play.
Up to the ninth, the Shockers hadn’t been overpowering, but had done enough for a 2-1 lead after eight innings.
“It’s a shame that we scrapped all day long, and had a multitude of opportunities, really, to try to punch them across, and either hit balls right at them with something on them, or poor at-bats,” Stephenson said.
Long Beach (8-14) started the scoring in the first off WSU starter Mitch Mormann. McNeil hit a chopper in front of the plate, and Mormann’s throw to first was wild, advancing McNeil to second. He took third on Duffy’s groundout and scored on Avila’s grounder to third.
WSU (14-12) tied the score in the second, when Johnny Coy led off with a triple to deep right and scored on Dayne Parker’s fly to right. WSU broke the 1-1 tie in the fifth on Josh Halbert’s single, the first of two Bayliff doubles, and Hall’s scoring fly ball.
On the plus side for WSU, Bayliff made his first start since returning from injury and had three hits in the leadoff spot. Parker kept up his hot hitting, going 2 for 3 in the game and 8 for 12 in the series, raising his average to .346, third-best on the team behind Coy (.351) and Bayliff (.350).
|LONG BEACH ST. (8-14)|
abrhbibbsoavgMcNeil 2b410001Duffy ss401000Avila 3b200100Patron dh300010Metzger cf411100Prigatano rf302000Yamaguchi 1b200011Bekakis lf300001Hoime c100010Hill pr/ss010000Fulkerson ph100010Guerra lf000000Vickers ph101000Murai c100001Totals2935234WICHITA ST. (14-12)Bayliff rf503000.350Hall cf301110.292Lambert lf400001.320Coy 1b 311011.351Gillaspie dh301011.232Parker ss302100.346Rea 3b300011.296Arens c401002.200Halbert 2b311000.231Doggett pr000000.375Totals31210246.288
|Long Beach St.|
E—Duffy (5); Yamacuhi (1); Arens (2); Mormann 2 (3). DP—Long Beach 2; WSU 2. LOB—Long Beach 6; WSU 9. 2B—Bayliff 2 (8). 3B—Coy (1). HBP—Avila; Prigaton; Yamaguchi. SH—Avila (4); Halbert (1). SF—Hall, K. (1); Parker, D. (3). CS—McNeil (3); Prigatano (3); Hall, K. (4); Doggett (2).
|Long Beach St.|
iphrerbbsoeraJohnson4.162213Hunt0.100000Maciel W, 1-13.130033Friedrichs1.010000Wichita St. Mormann5.0110213.13Vielock2.1000101.40Elam L, 0-11.2421030.56