Jagun Leavitt beat out an infield single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to drive in the winning run as Dixie State rallied past No. 20 California Baptist, 8-7, in the series opener Tuesday night at Bruce Hurst Field. The victory moved DSU to 23-24 on the season and 19-18 in Pacific West Conference play.
CBU (32-15, 25-12 PacWest) led 3-1 through four innings, thanks in large part to a pair of costly two-out Trailblazer errors. The first came in the opening frame, which led to the first unearned run, while Lancer outfielder Ryan Williams belted a two-run home run in the fourth on the first pitch he saw after another DSU miscue extended the inning.
Dixie State took advantage of a Lancer error in the home fifth with two unearned runs of its own to knot the score at 3-3. Leavitt reached on a leadoff error, and Joe Raymond followed with a single ahead of Logan Porter, who rapped a sharp single through the left side with two outs to drive home both baserunners.
Raymond then gave the Trailblazers their first lead of the game one inning later when he laced a two-run double down the left-field line to bring home Leavitt and Alec Flemetakis to stake DSU to a 5-3 advantage.
CBU regained the lead in the eighth as the Lancers struck for four runs, with the big blow coming on a bases-clearing, three-run double from pinch-hitter John Glenn, which put his side up 7-5.
The Trailblazers answered in the home eighth as DSU loaded the bases on a one-out Kyle Hoffman single, Leavitt being hit by a pitch and a Raymond walk. Following a pitching change, Gabe Taylor singled home Hoffman, which was followed by a Kaid Urban bunt single that drove in Leavitt with the tying run. However, CBU escaped further damage as reliever Jorge Valerio induced an inning-ending double play to preserve the tie.
After CBU was retired in order in the ninth, pinch-hitter Brody Clifford coaxed a leadoff walk and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and groundout. Hoffman was then walked intentionally ahead of Leavitt, who hit a bouncing ball to a drawn-in Glenn at first base, but the speedy freshman beat the infielder to the bag, which allowed Clifford to score the game-winning run.
Dixie State outhit CBU, 17-10, with Taylor leading the way with his second four-hit game of the season to go with two RBIs, while Urban collected three safeties. Leavitt finished with a career-high four runs scored along with a pair of hits, and Hoffman and Tyler Hollow tallied two hits apiece.
Junior left-hander Aaron Pope struck out a career-high six and scattered six hits and three unearned runs in six full innings, though he did not figure into the decision. Sophomore reliever Brayden Bonner (W, 1-3) pitched 1.1 innings of spotless relief with a pair of punch outs to close out the game and earn his first collegiate victory.
The two teams will continue the series with game two Wednesday beginning at 4 p.m.
Steve Johnson is the Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations and Collegiate Licensing at Dixie State University. For more DSU Athletics news, please visit www.dixiestateathletics.com and follow Dixie State on Twitter at @DixieAthletics.