March 17, 2017
SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Colton Waltner and Riley Adams hit back-to-back solo home runs to lift the Toreros (11-4, 1-0) to a 3-2 come-from-behind win over Portland Friday evening at Fowler Park. The Toreros couldn't get anything going against Portland starter Grady Miller, who held USD to three hits and one run through 7.1 innings, but rallied in the ninth off reliever Kevin Baker to get the dramatic win in their conference opener.
"I was just going up there looking for a good pitch to hit." Adams said after the game. "It was my first time seeing Baker and my teammates who had already faced him told me a few things. I was definitely sitting on the fast ball and looking for it. I had just missed it the pitch before and thankfully he threw it again and I didn't miss it the second time."
The Pilots' Matt Kelly led off the game with a double just over the head of RF Hunter Mercado-Hood. Kelly moved up to third on a wild pitch; the Pilots were robbed of a run when Aidan Stinnett made a diving catch on a line drive to third to end the inning.
Stinnett shined at the plate as well, giving USD a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second with a solo home run deep to left field. All three of the Toreros' runs would come on solo home runs.
After the leadoff double, Torero starter Nick Sprengel wouldn't give up another hit, but he did walk five Pilots, three of them coming in the third inning. He was pulled with runners on first and third with two outs in the top of the fifth, giving way to Sean Barry who struck out Ryan Hoogerwerf, Portland's clean-up hitter, to end the threat.
Cody Hawken led off the sixth with a double down the left field line and then advanced to third on a Torero error. Two batters later, Beau Brundage grounded out to Jeff Houghtby at short, who fired home to get Hawken in a rundown, but on the play Brundage got all the way up the third. Pinch hitter Kevin Wade then hit a game-tying RBI single up the middle.
Portland's Ryan Kim led off the ninth with an infield single and was sacrificed to second. Conyers then walked Matt Kelly and induced a double play ball to third, but the Toreros' committed a throwing error, allowing Kim to come in to score, giving Portland a 2-1 lead.
Miller was lifted after 7.1 innings and 118 pitches. He struck out nine Toreros and at one point retired 17 of the last 18 batters he faced. The Toreros were happy to see him lifted for righty Kevin Baker.
"I don't think we came as prepared as we should have been today," Adams said. "Grady Miller did a really good job; he pretty much had our number the entire game and we weren't having much fun up there. Sometimes you need a new pitcher to come in to give you a little burst and that was all we needed." Colton Waltner led off the bottom of the ninth with a home run down the left field line. Adams then crushed it to centerfield out of reach of the leaping Beau Brundage to complete the comeback.
Conyers (2-0), who gave up the unearned run in the top of the ninth, earned the win. Barry pitched three innings of relief, allowing one run on three hits, striking out four.
The Toreros continue their series with Portland Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m.
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