FULLERTON, Calif. – Richy Pedroza's walk-off sacrifice fly scored Matt Chapman as the fourth-ranked Titans had to come from behind twice to edge UC Santa Barbara, 4-3, on Friday night at Goodwin Field.
With the win, Fullerton extends its win streak nine games and improves to 30-4 on the season while remaining an undefeated 7-0 in Big West Conference play.
Trailing 3-2 entering the bottom of the ninth, Austin Diemer led off the frame with a bunt single surrendered by Gaucho reliever Greg Mahle. UCSB then brought Dylan Hecht (0-2) out of the bullpen, who in the loss, walked back-to-back batters in Matt Chapman and Austin Kingsolver. Once again, UCSB looked to its bullpen and brought Jared Wilson to the mound with the bases loaded. The right-hander unleashed a wild pitch that allowed Diemer to tie the game, before Pedroza launched the game-winning sacrifice fly to center field.
The Titans found themselves trailing the Gauchos (17-15, 3-4) after UCSB took a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth, touching CSF closer Michael Lorenzen for two runs on two hits. For Lorenzen (1-0), who was credited with the win, it marked his first blown save in his last 17 attempts, a streak of 16 that dated back to May 1, 2012.
Trailing 2-1, Tyler Kuresa started UCSB's ninth-inning rally with a single through the right side, and was subbed for pinch runner Campbell Wear, who made the trek from first to home as Luke Swenson's RBI triple down the right field line tied the game. Then facing an 0-2 count, Jackson Morrow executed the suicide squeeze allowing Swenson to score the go-ahead run safely as the Gauchos took a 3-2 lead.
Fullerton had trailed the Gauchos for six innings after UC Santa Barbara took a 1-0 lead in the first, capitalizing on Cameron Newell's leadoff single to shallow right center. He moved to third as Brandon Trinkwon singled to left center, and scored as Robby Nesovic grounded out to second.
UCSB starter Austin Pettibone shut out the Titans for six innings, before the Titans roughed up the right-hander for two runs on four hits in the seventh to claim a 2-1 advantage.
Anthony Hutting started the rally with a one-out single to right in the seventh, and the Titans got a bit of good luck as what looked like a groundout turned into a single for Chapman as his grounder struck the lip of the grass and bounced over the reach of Trinkwon at shortstop. Diemer, brought into the game as a pinch runner, moved to third on the play, and a fielding error in left placed Chapman at second with one out in the frame.
Kingsolver then knocked a slow roller down the first baseline that died in the grass, allowing Diemer to score the game-tying run and preventing the Gauchos from recording the second out. With runners on the corners, it appeared that Richy Pedroza hit into an inning-ending double play, but the Gauchos could not complete the play at first, allowing Chapman to score the go-ahead run as the Titans took a 2-1 lead after seven innings.
Pettibone tossed seven and 2/3 innings and allowed two runs while scattering 11 hits and striking out three. He shut out the Titan batters for six and 1/3 innings.
Thomas Eshelman tossed eight innings of one-run baseball for Fullerton, surrendering just five hits while striking out seven. In the sixth, he walked his first batter of the season, a streak of 63 and 1/3 innings that fell just short of the Titan's all-time record.
Carlos Lopez, Lorenzen, Hutting and Diemer finished the night with two hits apiece for the Titans, while Pedroza drove in two runs.
Game two of the series is scheduled for a 6 p.m. first pitch from Goodwin Field. It is Armed Forces Weekend at Goodwin Field with two free general admission tickets available for past and present military.
Notes: Fullerton's 30-4 record is the best fort the program since the 1996 squad opened the year with a record of 31-2…Fullerton has now recorded 39 consecutive seasons with at least 30 wins…the Titans have now won nine straight games…Eshelman issued his first walk of the season to Brandon Trinkwon in the top of the sixth. The walk ended Eshelman's streak at 63 and 1/3 innings without issuing a base on balls. The streak was just shy of the all-time record held by Wes Roemer at 65 and 1/3 innings to start the 2006 season. During Roemer's stretch, he drilled 12 batters, during Eshelamn's stretch he plunked only two batters. Roemer also delivered his first walk in his ninth start of the season, in the sixth inning vs. Cal State Northridge on March 31...Michael Lorenzen's reached-base streak was extended to 23 games…he was also denied his 13th save of the year, ending his streak of 16 straight that dated back to May 1, 2012…the Titans have overcome a deficit 12 times in 2013…the Titan's walk-off win is also the second of the year for Fullerton…the Titans have not opened Big West play with a record of 7-0 since 2004.