HONOLULU – J.D. Davis produced a perfect evening at the plate batting 5-for-5, and also pitched the Titans out of a jam in the ninth as No. 4 Cal State Fullerton evened the series with a 5-0 shutout of Hawai'i at Les Murakami Stadium on Saturday night.
With the win, Fullerton (35-7, 11-3 Big West) evened the series with the Rainbows and remained a game ahead of Cal State Northridge in the league standings. UH falls to 9-28 on the season and 4-10 in conference action.
Davis' five hits were the most for any Titan player since 2010, as he also drove in a run and scored two. His offensive effort backed up a solid outing for freshman Justin Garza.
The right-hander improved to 9-0 after tossing eight shutout innings, and holding Hawai'i to just five hits, while walking one batter and striking out two. Garza retired 10 straight batters from the final out of the first through the end of the fourth inning.
In addition to Davis, senior Carlos Lopez also manufactured a multiple-hit evening batting 3-for-5 with two runs scored.
As usual, Fullerton wasted little time and seized a 2-0 lead in the first as Hawai'i starter Matt Cooper loaded the bases on back-to-back base hits from Lopez and Davis before issuing a two-out walk to Jake Jefferies. Cooper then walked in a run as he issued ball four to Matt Chapman. The Titans acquired their second run when UH shortstop Austin Wobrock failed to field a grounder, and Davis was able to score on the error.
The Titans added a run in the third as Davis and Jefferies had each singled in the inning, while executing the double steal to put runners at second and third with no outs. A passed ball allowed Davis to score unearned as the Titans claimed a 3-0 advantage.
Cooper (2-6) was credited with the loss after allowing three runs – just one earned - on five hits and two walks in three innings of work while striking out two.
Hawai'i reliever Scott Squier tossed six innings, scattering eight hits and allowing two runs while striking out five.
In the seventh, the Titans added a run as Lopez led off the frame with a double to center, and scored as Davis drove his fourth hit of the game, a RBI single, into center field.
Fullerton claimed a 5-0 advantage in the eighth as Chapman led off the inning with a bunt single placed down the first base line. He was sacrificed to second and moved to third on a groundout before Austin Diemer hammered a two-out RBI double off the left field wall to plate the Titans' fifth run.
The bottom of the ninth got exciting as reliever Willie Kuhl surrendered a single to the leadoff batter and walked the next to put runners on first and second with no outs. After recording his fifth hit in the top of the inning, Davis was called upon to get Fullerton out of the jam.
A fielder's choice put runners on the corners, and recorded the first out for Fullerton, but Davis loaded the bases by drilling Marc Flores. A second fielder's choice recorded the second out of the frame as Pi'ikea Kitamura was thrown out at the plate. Davis recorded the game's final out as Kalei Hanawahine flew out to right.
The series finale and rubber game is set for a 4:05 p.m. PT (1:05 p.m. HT) first pitch from Les Murakami Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Notes: Fullerton's 35-7 record is the best for the program since the 1996 squad opened the year with a record of 38-4…for the third time this season, Fullerton dropped the first game of its series, and was able to come back and win game two…the Titans have now outscored opponents 46-7 in the first inning this season…Fullerton is 25-3 when scoring first…Matt Orloff returned to the field as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the seventh, making his first appearance for Fullerton since suffering a finger injury at TCU on Feb. 22…Fullerton has recorded double-digit hits in 19 games this season, including eight times in Big West action…the Titans shut out an opponent for the eighth time in 2013…Davis' five hits were the most for a Titan since Gary Brown at UC Santa Barbara on April 17, 2010.