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49ers are ousted in regional

June 02, 2008|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

One week after savoring a Big West Conference title and a complete-game victory over rival Cal State Fullerton, Vance Worley struggled to contemplate the turn his season had taken.

The Long Beach State right-hander had pitched valiantly against San Diego on Sunday but came out on the wrong side of a 5-1 score in an NCAA baseball regional at Blair Field that ended the top-seeded 49ers' season.

"We're hurting right now," Worley said as he fought back tears. "I'm having a hard time myself trying to keep a straight face."

Worley held the Toreros to two runs in 7 1/3 innings, but a Long Beach offense that had splurged for nine runs the previous day during a victory over California couldn't break through against San Diego starter Ricardo Pecina.

It was the third time the 49ers (38-21) had faced Pecina this season and the left-hander limited Long Beach to one run and six hits in seven innings. He struck out eight and walked none.

"They had a left-hander we couldn't solve all year," Coach Mike Weathers said. "He did a real good job three times against us."

Long Beach cut a 2-0 deficit in half in the third inning on Jonathan Jones' two-out, run-scoring double to left field. But Jordan Casas was thrown out trying to score from first base on the play, with San Diego shortstop Sean Nicol's relay throw to catcher Logan Gelbrich barely beating Casas to the plate.

Gelbrich checked his glove to make sure he held onto the ball after a collision with Casas.

"We kind of thought the ball might be on the ground," Weathers said. "That's why I asked [the umpire] to check with the guy down at third, and he thought the catcher had the ball, which maybe he did or didn't."

The 49ers put together a two-on, two-out threat in the seventh before Pecina (6-4) struck out Jason Tweedy to end the inning.

Clinging to a 2-1 lead through eight innings, the Toreros scored three runs against closer Bryan Shaw to hand the 49ers their third consecutive defeat as a regional host; they also dropped regionals at Blair Field in 2005 and 2007.

Weathers now must ponder the loss of as many as 10 players to graduation and the major league draft.

"I felt a lot more comfortable last year with the number of guys coming back," Weathers said. "This year, we're losing a lot."

San Diego 15, Fresno State 1 -- Kyle Blair gave up one run in seven innings and James Meador drove in four runs for the Toreros (44-16), who forced a winner-take-all rematch with the Bulldogs (39-28) tonight at 6.

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

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