State

Wolves squeeze Gustine

LIVINGSTON — Fernando Alcazar wasn't surprised to see the sign from Livingston coach Matt Winton. The suicide squeeze play was on.

As Fernando Carrillo broke from third, Alcazar had the task of gently bunting a Ben Griset fastball.

"It was nerve-racking to get the squeeze in a 0-0 game," Alcazar said. "Griset is not the easiest guy to bunt against. He threw (it) ... way outside."

Alcazar dropped a bunt down the third-base line, scoring Carrillo to start a four-run rally and lift the No. 3-ranked small-school Wolves to a 4-0 Western Athletic Conference victory over Gustine and one of the region's top pitchers.

Livingston (10-1, 5-0) had to hand Griset his first loss to remain alone atop the WAC.

The lefty came in with a 3-0 record and 0.70 ERA, with 40 strikeouts in 20 innings.

"He's tough," Winton said. "He's one of the best pitchers in the valley. We just wanted to put the ball in play as much as possible."

Putting the ball in play against Griset wasn't easy.

The senior, who's being recruited by St. Mary's, struck out eight hitters through the first three innings and finished with 10 strikeouts.

Livingston did get a shot at scoring in the second inning.

With the bases loaded, Winton tried a squeeze play — but Jesus Gonzalez couldn't get his bat on an outside fastball. Gurpreet Sangha was tagged out and Griset struck out Gonzalez to end the threat.

"Ben throws hard and has good secondary pitches," Winton said. "He has very good command and great composure. It doesn't help (us) that three of our top hitters are left-handed."

Livingston's Nick Gonzales was matching Griset on the scoreboard. He worked inside and outside against Gustine, turning to his breaking pitch when he needed an out.

The junior didn't give up a hit until the fifth and didn't walk a batter, tossing a two-hitter and striking out eight.

Gonzales didn't worry about who was taking the mound for Gustine.

"My coach told me to focus on what I had to do," Gonzales said. "I couldn't worry about anything else."

Livingston finally started to catch up to Griset's fastball in the sixth. Carrillo led off with a single and Darrell Jantz came through on a hit-and-run to put runners on second and third. With one out, Alcazar delivered his bunt.

"He's a tough guy to squeeze on, but I'd rather take my chances with that than waiting for a knock," Winton said.

Charles Brown followed with a run-scoring single and Jesus Gonzalez added a two-run double off of Griset to close out the scoring and keep Livingston all alone on top of the WAC.

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