Menlo concluded their thrilling three game series against Cal State San Marcos with no shortage of late inning heroics. Last night's exciting comeback victory on the bat of Oaks first baseman Will Pierce served as only an appetizer for the main course that was today.
The opening game of today's doubleheader looked like Déjà vu all over again as Menlo put together a resilient comeback to take a commanding 10-5 lead heading into the top of the eighth inning. The Oaks were staked with the 10 runs, thanks to the offensive surge put on by the left side of their infield. Shortstop Chris Mazza hit a three run bomb in the bottom of the fifth and then a grand slam by third baseman Michael Brandi in the sixth appeared to put the game out of reach.
Unfortunately for Menlo and their fans, CSU San Marcos didn't get that memo as a five run top of the eighth knotted things up at 10, spoiling the solid performance put together by starting pitcher Sean Sweeney. With the game now deadlocked at 10 heading into extra innings, the Cougars struck first with a crushing blow off Oaks' reliever Derek Rodriguez. CSU San Marcos third baseman Austin Coleman hit a two run blast to give the Cougars a 12-10 lead, which held up in the bottom of the inning thanks to the effective pitching by reliever Andrew Larsen. Larsen's four innings of shutout ball gave him his second win of the season to improve his record to 2-1 while Rodriguez picked up the loss to drop his record to 1-1.
The second game of the twin bill picked up right where the first one left off as the dramatics continued throughout. The pitching of senior Adam Koontz and the hitting of Joel Hull and Collin Forgey gave Menlo a 3-0 advantage as the game entered the top of the eighth inning. Hull was three for his first three with three runs scored while Forgey was responsible for the three runs driven in with a double, a sacrifice fly and a single to left. Meanwhile Koontz had thrown seven shutout innings until a rough top of the eighth spelled trouble for the Oaks once again. A two run triple Cougars' right fielder Jeremy Baum tied things up at three as the game now reached the ninth.
In the top of the inning Manager Matt Daily called on closer Chris Mazza who was unhittable, retiring CSU San Marcos 1-2-3 to preserve the tie as the game headed to the bottom of the ninth. For Mazza it was the rough top of the eighth inning that helped spur his clutch performance. "I took the anger from last inning and basically took the mound knowing that they weren't going to touch me," claimed Mazza on his ninth inning heroics.
The classic game, which had been a microcosm of the series, entered the bottom of the ninth with the score still tied at three. Leading off the inning was second baseman C.J. Dailey who spent no time playing the role of hero as the first pitch of the inning from Cougars' closer Kyle Smart was driven over the left field wall for the walk-off home as the Oaks won it 4-3. "It felt unbelievable," commented Dailey. "I never hit a walk-off home run before. You dream about it but you never expect it, luckily I got a good pitch to hit."
Kyle Smart recorded his second loss of the series to drop his record to 1-4 while Mazza picked up the win to improve his record to 2-3.With the doubleheader split, Menlo now boasts an overall record of 17-12-1 as they resume conference play with a weekend series against rival Simpson University. The first doubleheader is scheduled for Saturday April 9 with first pitch slated for 12:00pm.