FORT WORTH, Texas. – Jake Jefferies' effort at the plate and Justin Garza's performance on the mound, led No. 20 Cal State Fullerton to a 6-2 victory over No. 22 TCU on Saturday afternoon at Lupton Stadium.
With the win, the Titans remain undefeated at 7-0 in 2013, and also take the series vs. TCU for the third consecutive year (2011-13). The Frogs (0-5) are still without a win in 2013, while the Titans have opened the year with their best record since 2003, when the club won eight straight.
Cal State Fullerton held a slim 2-0 advantage entering the eighth inning as a pitching duel was materializing between Garza and TCU right-hander Preston Morrison.
After yielding two unearned runs in the first, Morrison went on to retire 19 of the next 23 batters he faced, allowing just three hits and plunking one batter during that stretch. After surrendering a bunt single to Matt Chapman in the top of the eighth, Morrison's day was done, and the Frogs used Riley Ferrell out of the bullpen.
Ferrell struggled early as Clay Williamson and Anthony Hutting each singled to load the bases for Jefferies. The rookie, making just his second start in 2013, launched a one-out, full-count grand slam over the fence in right field to give the Titans a 6-0 lead.
Morrison (0-1) was issued the loss, surrendering three runs (one earned) in on four hits and two walks, while still striking out eight.
Jefferies' grand slam would prove important, as Garza also faded in the bottom of the eighth after an impressive day. The rookie took a no-hitter into the fifth and retired the first 13 batters he faced. Before allowing four consecutive hits in the eighth, Garza had retired 22 of the 23 batters he had faced.
In the eighth, TCU strung together four consecutive base hits. Brett Johnson started the rally with a one-out single up the middle, followed by Paul Hendrix's pinch-hit single. A passed ball put both runners in scoring position, and Keaton Jones delivered a RBI single, followed by Alex Johnson's RBI base hit.
With two runners on and only one out, Garza's day was done and J.D. Davis was brought out of the bullpen for the save. He retired the following two batters to escape the inning, and allowed a single in the ninth before closing out the game. In his first save of the year, Davis tossed one and 2/3 innings, and did not allow a run while striking out two.
Garza improved to 2-0, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and no walks, while fanning five.
At the plate, the Titans were led by Michael Lorenzen's 2-for-4 effort which included a RBI single in the first inning, while Jefferies drove in five of Fullerton's six runs.
Once again, Cal State Fullerton pounced in the first inning as the TCU pitching staff had control issues. An error and walk put Fullerton's first two runners on, but Champan hit into a double play, leaving Richy Pedroza at third with two outs. But TCU could not record out number three, plunking Williamson before allowing Lorenzen's infield single to score Pedroza. The Frogs loaded the bases when Morrison plunked his second batter of the inning, Hutting, and pushed across the Titans' second run when a bases-loaded walk was issued to Jefferies.
The series finale is set for an 11 am PT first pitch from Lupton Stadium.
Titan second baseman Matt Orloff will not be available for the remainder of the series due to a finger injury. He will be evaluated further once the Titans return to Fullerton. Keegan Dale started at second base on Saturday.
Notes: The Titans' 7-0 start is the best for the program since 2003, when Fullerton opened the year with a record of 8-0...Cal State Fullerton has outscored opponents 11-0 in the first inning in 2013…the Titans have also scored in the first inning for the fifth straight game…Jefferies' grand slam was his first career home run and the second Titan grand slam of 2013, as J.D. Davis recorded the first at CSU Bakersfield on Feb. 17…of the Titans 46 RBIs, 15 have been recorded with two outs…the Titans and Frogs have played a three-game series against one another for six straight years dating back to 2008, with the Titans winning in 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2013. No team has ever swept the series since 2008. The Titans do have a series sweep against the Frogs from 1987, when the clubs met for the first time in Fullerton.