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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 27, 2006

Fresno State rallies for 3-2 win

 •  Nevada beats UH, 10-3

By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

Outfielder Jim Strombach, a 2002 Moanalua High graduate, played the final game of his career for Sacramento State yesterday.

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FRESNO, Calif. Top-seeded Fresno State (41-16) advanced in the winners' bracket of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament with a dramatic, come-from-behind 3-2 victory over San Jose State yesterday for its 13th consecutive win.

Loren Storey's ground single to left scored Brian Lapin from second base to cap a two-out, two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth, sending the Spartans (33-26) home on a sour note of an eight-game losing streak.

But the play of the game came before Storey's hit. Branden Dewing took a 2-1 lead into the ninth and got two groundouts to start the inning. But Nick Moresi singled to center on a 3-0 count. With Lapin at the plate, Moresi broke with the pitch that Lapin grounded up the middle. Center fielder Ryan Angel came in conservatively on the ball and third-base coach Matt Curtis waved Moresi around.

Moresi beat shortstop John Shaffer's relay to the plate to tie the game at 2. On the throw home, Lapin took second.

"I was kind of surprised that Curty was waving me," Moresi said. "But he's the man and I did what I was told."

San Jose State coach Sam Piraro defended Angel, saying his center fielder's priority was to make sure to play the hard-hit ball cleanly.

"Obviously, we know Moresi can run, but it was very risky for him to try to do that," Piraro said. "Obvioulsy, the third-base coach saw something. I don't think as a center fielder you're thinking guys going to score from first base. What you're trying to do, No. 1, is make sure the ball doesn't get by you, so you're not going to come in carelessly and let the ball kick off you and then you've got a problem.

"So I want to credit the third-base coach and the runner for doing a great job."

It was a tough loss for Dewing (7-6), who allowed three runs, eight hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings. He had a 2-0 lead courtesy of Nick Epidendio's two-run homer in the fourth through five innings. It was Epidendio's first homer of the season and came against FSU starter Eddie Romero, who entered the game tied for the national lead with 12 victories.

The Bulldogs scored in the sixth when Eric Wetzel singled and, one out later, took third on Ozzie Lewis' double to left. Kent Sakamoto was intentionally walked to set up force plays all around. Christian Vitters, the WAC Player of the Year, delivered a sacrifice fly to right. On the play, Lewis advanced to third, but was ruled out on appeal for leaving second too early.

HAWAI'I TIES

Sacramento State became the first victim of the double-elimination tournament after a 14-9 loss to Louisiana Tech in yesterday's first game. The Hornets (20-37) ended their season on a 13-game losing streak.

It marked the end of senior outfielder Jim Strombach's collegiate career. The 2002 Moanalua High graduate and four-year starter batted 2 for 2, scoring a run.

"It was kind of bittersweet," Strombach said. "Our team was a lot better than what we showed. Hopefully, the young guys will step it up next year. I think they're going to be great."

The other two Hornets from Hawai'i, pitcher Chris Mols (Roosevelt '03) and catcher Brett Tanigawa (Moanalua '03) still have another season of eligibility. Both said they will play for the Island Movers this summer.

Mols said he will return home June 6. Tanigawa said his parents have since moved to Texas, where he will visit before returning to Hawai'i for the Movers' season.

The Hornets led 5-3 until the Bulldogs (33-24) scored nine runs in the bottom of the fifth. It was enough to withstand a four-run top of the eighth by Sacramento State that cut the deficit to 12-9. The Bulldogs tagged on two more in the bottom of the eighth.

Andrew Alsup (5-1) gave up five runs, but only one earned, in 5 2/3 innings of relief for LaTech. Travis Kane (3-8) allowed three runs in one-third of an inning for the Hornets.

Ryan Hamilton and Mims Boyce each homered for the Bulldogs, who tallied 15 hits, while Buddy Morales had three hits in the Hornets' 18-hit attack.

Senior right-hander Patrick McGuigan ('02 Mid-Pacific), the West Coast Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year, earned the victory as San Francisco edged Pepperdine, 7-6, yesterday at the WCC Tournament in San Francisco. McGuigan pitched 1 1/3 innings of relief, allowing one hit. He improved to 12-2, setting a school single-season record for victories, and also tied a school record with his 22nd win.

Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at skaneshiro@honoluluadvertiser.com.