FULLERTON, Calif. – One swing of the bat from Carlos Lopez, and No. 4 Cal State Fullerton left UC Irvine on the field with a two-out walk-off home run in Saturday night's 3-2 series-clinching victory at Goodwin.
The win, coupled with Cal State Northridge's loss to Cal Poly, means Cal State Fullerton (44-8, 19-4) clinched a share of the 2013 Big West Conference championship. The Titans now have a four-game lead over the Matadors with four games left to play.
Fullerton, has now won four straight league titles.
Overall, Cal State Fullerton has totaled 27 conference championships dating back to 1975, including 11 in the last 15 years.
Fullerton took a 2-0 lead into the ninth over UCI (31-19, 13-10), and the Titans brought closer Michael Lorenzen (3-0) out of center field to the mound. Lorenezen retired the first two batters he faced but surrendered a single to Jerry McClanahan, who was able to move to second on an error in the outfield. Jeff Stephens then singled through the left side, putting runners on the corners for Kris Paulino, who delivered a RBI single to right field to cut Fullerton's lead in half.
Grant Palmer then struck out on a wild offering from Lorenzen, allowing pinch runner Ryan Cooper to score from third and tie the game.
In the bottom of the ninth, Race Parmenter took over on the hill for UC Irvine, and he quickly retired Austin Diemer and Richy Pedroza. But Lopez ended the game on one swing, depositing Parmenter's 1-1 offering over the right field wall to record his third home run of the year.
It was the third walk-off win of the season for the Titans, who also won in similar fashion against UC Santa Barbara (sac fly) on April 12 as well Nebraska (walk) on March 19.
Lorenzen blew his third save of the season, but like he did the previous times, kept the Titans within reach to record the win.
Fullerton starter Justin Garza was denied his 12th win of the season, which would have set a new freshman record, leaving the game with the lead. He shut out UC Irvine on five hits and one walk while striking out four in seven and 2/3 innings of work.
Parmenter (2-4) took the loss allowing one run on one hit in 2/3 of an inning.
UCI starter Matt Whitehouse allowed two runs on 10 hits while walking three and striking out five.
Fullerton took its 2-0 lead in the third, putting runners in scoring position for three straight innings, before breaking through.
The Titans had runners on second and third after Whitehouse issued a walk to Lopez and Matt Chapman doubled to left field. Whitehouse recovered to strike out J.D. Davis, but Lorenzen ripped a two-run double down the left field line to give the Titans a 2-0 edge.
Lopez, Lorenzen and Greg Velazquez led Cal State Fullerton with two hits apiece.
The series finale is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start on Sunday from Goodwin Field.
Notes: Fullerton's 44-8 record is the Titans best mark after 52 games in Division I history (1975)…Cal State Fullerton clinched its 13th weekend series of the year, and has won 14 consecutive weekend series since dropping two of three to UC Riverside at Goodwin Field (May 18-20, 2012)… Fullerton is 30-3 when scoring first…the Titans totaled double-digit hits (11) for the 23rd time in 2013...the Titans are 14-0 when Garza starts.