March 17, 2007
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Junior third baseman Kevin Hansen leaped high into the air to catch line drive, then stepped on third for a double play in the top of the ninth inning, then delivered a bases-loaded RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning to lead the 22nd-ranked University of San Diego baseball team (18-9) to a thrilling 5-4 win over the University of Houston (11-11) Saturday afternoon at Cunningham Stadium. With the win, the Toreros claim the three-game non-conference series with the Cougars.
After Houston rallied in the top of the ninth inning, scoring two runs to tie the game at 4-4, the Cougars placed runners at second and third with only one out. Felix Fanaselle stepped to the plate and hit a hard line drive down the third baseline that had had the appearance of being too high for the 5-10 Hansen, but Hansen displayed his leaping ability and snagged the ball out of the air and then touched third base, as the runner who was on third broke for the plate, to end the Cougars threat.
USD then was faced with a 4-4 tie and was looking for some more Cunningham Stadium magic, and they got just that. Logan Gelbrich led off the inning with a stand-up double to right field. Chris Viegas was inserted in Gelbrich's place as a pinch runner and he advanced to third when Daniel Magness laid down a bunt to the pitcher who attempted to throw Viegas out at third, but the ball went behind the third baseman, allowing Viegas to stay at third and Magness to safely reach first base. Mike Metzger then walked to load the bases with no outs, which set the stage for more Hansen heroics. Hansen then drove a single through the left side to bring in the winning run and giving USD the victory.
San Diego jumped out to an early lead in the second inning. Nicol got things started with a walk, then Gelbrich hit an infield single to the shortstop, who fell backwards and tried to throw Nicol out at second, but the ball was wide allowing Nicol to not only reach second base but come all the way around to score an unearned run and put the score at 1-0.
The Cougars then answered back in the top of the third inning scoring an unearned run on a Dustin Kingsbury RBI single up the middle to even the score at 1-1
San Diego then regained the lead in the fifth inning when Justin Snyder hit the ball to the shortstop, who then committed a fielding error to allow Kevin Muno, who had singled, to come across for the 2-1 USD lead.
The Toreros then added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning as Shane Buschini led off the inning with a double to left field. After a Nicol walk, Gelbrich reached on a fielder's choice, as the pitcher attempted to throw Buschini out at third, only to have the ball fly past the third baseman and deep into the Torero bullpen. This turn of events allowed Buschini to score and Nicol to score all the way from first to give USD a 4-1 lead.
Houston took one run back in the top of the seventh inning on a Ryan Lorman run-scoring double to center field to cut the Toreros lead to two. UH then scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning to tie the game at 4-4. The Cougars runs came on a Bryan Tully solo home run and a Lormand RBI single, which set the stage for Hansen's heroics.
Offensively for the Toreros, Hansen and Gelbrich led the way as they both went 2-for-4 with Hansen adding an RBI.
AJ Griffin (4-1) picked up the win on the mound for the Toreros as he allowed three runs on three hits in 3.0 innings of work. Tully (1-1) took the loss for the Cougars as he allowed one run on two hits in 0.0 innings of work.
The two teams will return to action on Sunday at 1 p.m. to close out the three-game series at Cunningham Stadium