FULLERTON, Calif. – No. 20 Cal State Fullerton maintained its undefeated record on Friday night, managing to hold off No. 22 TCU in a 7-2 victory at Lupton Stadium.
The Titans, now 6-0, are off to their best start since opening the 2003 season with six straight wins.
With a slim two-run cushion entering the ninth, the Titans roughed up the Frogs (0-4) for three additional runs in the inning to put the game out of reach.
Once again, freshman Thomas Eshelman (2-0) had a solid outing. In his second career start, Eshelman retired the first 10 batters he faced. The native of Carlsbad, Calif., pitched five and 2/3 innings, allowing just three hits while fanning eight batters. The eight strikeouts are the most for any Fullerton pitcher in 2013.
Tyler Peitzmeier recorded his first save of the season, shutting out the Frogs for one and 1/3 innings. The native of Yutan, Neb., took over on the mound for Willie Kuhl with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the eighth. He coaxed pinch-hitter Boomer White into a groundout, and retired the side in order in the ninth.
TCU left-hander Brandon Finnegan (0-1) suffered the loss, surrendering three runs (two earned) on three hits and four walks while striking out three.
The Titans totaled nine hits in the contest, three for extra bases, while the Frogs were held to six hits, left seven men on base and struck out 10 times.
Once again, Cal State Fullerton struck early as Finnegan struggled with finding the zone, issuing a four-pitch walk to Pedroza to lead off the game in the first. Pedroza moved to third on a passed ball and wild pitch, before scoring courtesy of Carlos Lopez's groundout.
In the top of the fifth, Cal State Fullerton added two runs to build a 3-0 lead. With Austin Diemer sitting on first, Pedroza drove Fullerton's first triple of the season into right field, allowing Diemer to score as TCU right fielder Brett Johnson had trouble tracking the ball.
Matt Chapman then plated the third run of the game with a two-strike, two-out single to left. Following scoring from third on the play, Pedroza was ejected from the game and replaced at shortstop by Dale.
TCU threatened in the bottom of the sixth as a Keaton Jones single followed by a Jantzen White double put runners on second and third with two outs. The Titans looked to their bullpen, and right-hander Koby Gauna got Fullerton out of the jam, coaxing Kevin Cron to ground out to third.
Fullerton added some insurance in the seventh as Dale led off the frame with a bunt single. He moved to second courtesy of a TCU fielding error, and to third on a pop fly before scoring on Lorenzen's two-out RBI single laced through the left side as the Titans grasped a 4-0 lead.
TCU finally roughed up the Titan pitching staff in the seventh as a base hit sandwiched around two walks loaded the bases with Gauna on the hill and only one out. Jones hammered a two-run single to close the gap to 4-2 for the Frogs. The Titans got out of the jam after a fielder's choice, and then thwarted a double steal attempt from TCU.
Lopez handed the Titans a five-run cushion in the top of the ninth as Fullerton added three runs. His triple off the wall in right center scored Dale all the way from first, and with Lopez sitting just 90 feet away, Justin Scharf's wild toss allowed Lopez to cross the plate for a 6-2 Titan advantage. Later in the frame, J.D. Davis was plunked, and scored courtesy of Lorenzen's RBI double.
The Horned Frogs and Titans will play game two of this weekend's series beginning at noon (PT) at Lupton Stadium. The game will be televised on Fox College Sports. Check your local listings. TCU also offers a live web stream for each game of the series (subscription required).
Notes: Cal State Fullerton's 6-0 start to the season is the program's best since 2003…Eshelman's eight strikeouts were the most for a Titan pitcher in 2013…the Titans have outscored opponents 9-0 in the first inning this season…senior shortstop Richie Pedroza was ejected in the fifth inning.