SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - No. 18 Cal State Fullerton tallied eight hits but could only muster one run as they dropped a 2-1 Big West Conference decision to No. 22 UC Santa Barbara Sunday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
The Titans (18-13, 3-3) dropped their third series of the season and their first to the Gauchos (22-8, 4-5) since 2007. It was also the first time the Titans have dropped a series at UC Santa Barbara since 1985.
Freshman Phil Bickford took the loss on the mound for the Titans despite tossing his second consecutive quality start and fourth of the season. The right-hander went six and 1/3 innings and allowed two earned runs on eight hits. He struck out three and did not issue a walk.
The Titans fell behind in the fourth inning when the Gauchos touched up Bickford for a pair of runs on three hits. With one out, Tyler Kuresa got things started with a single and Andrew Calica followed with a single of his own. Woody Woodward was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Cameron Newell put the Gauchos on the board with a sacrifice fly to right to plate Kuresa and advance the other runners 90 feet.
Billy Fredrick then hit a ball up the middle where shortstop Keegan Dale was able to track it down, holding the Gauchos to one run on the play as Calica scored to make it 2-0.
The Titans answered in the fifth inning as Williamson was plunked by Gauchos pitcher Kenny Chapman with two outs. David Olmedo-Barrera came in to pinch-hit and drew a walk to put Williamson in scoring position and then Matt Chapman ripped a single through the left side to bring in Williamson and cut the deficit to 2-1.
Chapman finished the day 2-for-3 with a walk and a RBI.
But that was all the offense the team would muster on Sunday afternoon as the Gauchos pitching staff shut down the Titans offense.
Kenny Chapman picked up his first win of the season as he went five innings and allowed one run on five hits and struck out three to go along with two walks. Greg Mahle pitched two innings of scoreless relief and Dillon Tate picked up his eighth save of the year, allowing a hit and a walk in two innings of work, striking out four in the process.
The Titans had their chances to put some runs on the board, starting in the second inning. Austin Diemer laced a single to right but was then thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. The Titans would get back-to-back hits from Dale and Taylor Bryant after the play but came up empty.
Bryant finished the game 2-for-4, collecting his first career base hit in his 21st plate appearance.
The Titans left the potential tying run in scoring position in the fifth and the seventh inning before getting another golden opportunity to pull even in the eighth.
Chapman led off with a sharp single to left and then advanced to second base on a fielding error by Gauchos outfielder Joey Epperson to put the game-tying run in scoring position with no outs. The Gauchos then replaced Mahle on the mound with Tate, who struck out J.D. Davis for the first out of the inning.
Tanner Pinkston drew a walk to put the potential go-ahead run on base and, following a strikeout, Chapman and Pinkston pulled off a double steal to put the go-ahead run in scoring position. But Tate stranded the runners as he struck out Dale to end the inning.
Notes: The Titans are now 7-7 in one-run games this season… The Titans stole four bases on Sunday, two by Chapman… The Titans outhit the Gauchos 34-30 in the series, but were outhit 9-8 in the final two games of the series… Sunday's game was the only one in the series where the Titans never led.