Friday, April 13, 2018

Walk-Off Caps Wild Win

Recap, photo courtesy of Biola University
Ricky Perez hits a walk-off three-run homerun and Biola score five in the final two innings to shock Holy Names.

LA MIRADA, Calif. --- It's not often that the weather plays a significant role in a baseball game played on a clear day in Southern California. But constant winds at Eagles Diamond made for difficult pitching conditions and eventually help Biola to an 8-5 win in walk-off fashion.

The Eagles hit three homeruns in a game for the first time since March 6 and got two over the final two innings, including the walk-off three-run shot from senior Ricky Perez.

The win snaps a three-game skid for the Eagles and pushes them to a record of 22-13, 14-11 PacWest. The Hawks lose their 11th game in a row despite holding a lead from the third to the eighth inning and are now 7-28 overall.

The starting pitchers took care of business through the first two innings to keep the game scoreless and limited the effects of the windy conditions by inducing groundouts. But Holy Names was able to lift fastballs from Troy Stainbrook in the third inning and scored the first two runs of the game on a wind-aided triple down the right-field line and a sacrifice fly.

The Hawks deserve credit for adding two more runs in the inning with three two-out hits, but so does Stainbrook for gutting out the next three innings and limiting Holy Names to four runs. Stainbrook went 5.2 innings and got a double-play in each of his last two innings to get out of jams.

His best Houdini act came in the top of the fifth, when Stainbrook and the Eagles wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam without allowing a run. After three Hawks reached safely to begin the inning, Stainbrook bounced back by striking out Keenan Reardon on three pitches for the first out of the inning  over his final two innings.

Then he got Alex Denobriga to line back to the box and start the exciting double play and started to turn the momentum in Biola's favor. The liner was hit just soft enough to Stainbrook to deflect it with his glove hand, angling it just enough for Joey Magro to dive for the ball and then touch second to take the Eagles off the field.

Biola was able to scratch together three runs over the first half of the game to make the score 4-3 after five innings. Ryan Gallegos collected his fifth homerun of the year with a solo shot in the third and chipped in a second RBI with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.

But the Eagles climbed back in the game for good when Head Coach Jay Sullenger found lighting in a bottle with two outs in the eighth. The Eagles turned to senior River Fawley to salvage the inning after two strikeouts from reliever Jimmy Doyle held Colton Worthington's leadoff double at second base.

Fawley did exactly what Biola hoped for in the pressure situation, smashing a 2-2 fastball to deep center field for a two-run homer that tied the game at 5-5.

Reliever Josh Ludeman got back-to-back strikeouts to end the ninth and leave Hawks standing at first and third. Then Anj Bourgeois led of Biola's half of the inning by hitting a pop fly that swirled around in the wind above the left field foul line before landing in fair territory for a leadoff double.

Holy Names attempted to prolong the game by walking Jerron Largusa and by bringing an outfielder in to be a fifth infielder against Ricky Perez. But Perez made the shift a moot point when he launched a 3-1 fastball from Joshua Nelson high over the left-field fence for the walk-off blast.

It was just the eighth hit of the game for Biola, but the Eagles fifth extra-base hit. The Eagles had as many singles on Thursday as they did homeruns.

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