LONG BEACH, Calif. –No. 8 Cal State Fullerton erased a four-run deficit, scoring five runs in the eighth inning to clinch the non-conference series with an 8-6 victory over Long Beach State on Saturday afternoon at Blair Field.
After being stifled for the first seven innings of play, the Titans (20-3) pushed across five runs in the eighth, and scored two additional runs in the ninth, turning a 5-1 deficit into an 8-6 victory.
Long Beach State (9-14) starter Jake Stassi shut down the Titans for seven innings, allowing just one run while scattering seven hits and striking out four to put LBSU in the lead, but once he left the mound, the Titans took full advantage.
In the eighth, right-hander Ryan Millison took over on the hill for the 49ers and quickly loaded the bases with one out after surrendering two base hits and drilling a batter. With the bases juiced and LBSU ahead 5-1, Millison delivered ball four on a full count to Jake Jefferies, scoring J.D. Davis.
Right-hander Jon Maciel then took over with the bases loaded once again, and he surrendered a RBI single to pinch-hitter Anthony Hutting as Michael Lorenzen scored and the bases remained loaded. Maciel retired Clay Williamson for the second out, but drilled pinch-hitter Jared Deacon, scoring Chad Wallach as the Titans closed 5-4.
Richy Pedroza then came to the plate and knocked a RBI single up the middle to plate Jefferies, but the LBSU defense failed to find an out at any base, allowing Hutting to score the go-ahead run before Austin Kingsolver, pinch-running for Deacon, was thrown out at the plate.
Maciel (1-4) took the loss after allowing three runs on six hits in one inning on the mound. Millison allowed four runs on two hits and one walk in 1/3 of an inning.
In the ninth, Lorenzen's sacrifice fly and Wallach's RBI single drove in two insurance runs.
Lorenzen recorded the final two outs in the bottom of the ninth for the Titans to register his seventh save of the season, cleaning up for Koby Guana. In 2/3 of an inning, Gauna allowed one unearned run on one hit as Jeff McNeil scored on a groundout in the ninth, which should have been the final out of the game. Instead, Lorenzen fanned Ino Patron for the game's final play, the first time the Titans were able to retire Long Beach State's designated hitter on Saturday.
Patron was a thorn in Fullerton's side driving in four runs to help the 49ers build a 5-1 advantage over the Titans.
Patron finished the day 3-for-4, just a home run short of the cycle with a single, two-run double and two-run triple, while also taking an intentional walk in the seventh.
In his shortest outing of the season, Garza tossed just four and 1/3 innings in his sixth career start. The rookie right-hander allowed five runs on seven hits and two walks – with all three marks serving as season highs as his streak of five wins and five quality starts was halted.
The Titans totaled 15 hits in the game, matching a season high.
Long Beach State took a 1-0 lead in the first as McNeil crossed the plate courtesy of Jeff Yamaguchi's RBI groundout. McNeil led off the bottom of the frame lacing a double down the right field line and moved to third on a wild pitch – the first wild toss Garza had thrown in 2013.
The 49ers added to their early lead in the third as Patron laced a two-out, bases-clearing triple into deep right field as Greg Velazquez chased the drive down at the warning track. Garza had walked leadoff batter Zach Miller, and Colton Vaughn found a hole through left side to set the table for Patron. The triple was the first for Patron in 2013.
Cal State Fullerton put a dent in Long Beach State's three-run lead, scoring its first run in the fourth. Pedroza led off the inning with an infield single and moved to second on a balk. He advanced to third on Carlos Lopez's infield single that snuck under Jonathan Serven's glove. With runners on the corners, Davis hit into a double play, allowing Pedroza to score Fullerton's first run.
In the fifth, Long Beach State broke the game open as a walk and back-to-back base hits loaded the bases with one out for Patron. The designated hitter once again delivered, driving a two-run double to left center as Long Beach State took a 5-1 advantage and Patron recorded his third hit of the game. Garza was then lifted as Kuhl made his 10th appearance of the year out of the bullpen.
Lopez led the Titans with a 3-for-5 day, scoring one run, while Wallach also produced a 3-for-5 effort, scoring a run and driving in a run as well. Pedroza and Davis each recorded two hits apiece.
The Titans were without third baseman Matt Chapman who is listed as day-to-day with a mild left ankle sprain.
Fullerton and LBSU close the series at 1 p.m., Sunday at Blair Field.
Notes: Fullerton's 20-3 start is the best for the program since the 1996 squad opened the year 31-2…Cal State Fullerton is now on a nine-game win streak…the Titans hold a 126-60 advantage in the all-time series against LBSU, including a 39-15 edge since 2003…freshman Nico Darras made his fifth appearance and his first career start in a Titan uniform…the Titans have prevailed after following behind in the game on seven occasions in 2013…Garza surrendered five runs on seven hits, both season highs for the rookie…for the second time this season and this week, Fullerton has overcome a four-run deficit…the Titans have scored at least five runs in an inning on four occasions in 2013…the Titans' 15 hits matched a season high…Lorenzen's 23 career saves rank sixth all-time...since 2001 the Titans and 49ers have played on another in a non-conference series on 10 occasions, with the Fullerton winning the series on eight occasions.