LONG BEACH, Calif. - For the first time in two years, Cal State Fullerton was shutout in consecutive games as they dropped a 5-0 Big West Conference decision to Long Beach State Saturday afternoon at Blair Field.
The Titans (22-20, 6-8) have now gone 19 consecutive innings without scoring a run dating back to the eighth inning of their 8-1 victory over Fresno State on Wednesday. They were also shutout in back-to-back games for the first time since Mar. 24-27, 2012 when they were blanked by Oral Roberts and Arizona State.
The Dirtbags (23-21, 9-5) have now won four straight games by way of a shutout for the first time in the program's history.
Justin Garza took the loss despite making his second consecutive quality start since returning to the Titans starting rotation. He went seven innings and allowed five runs, three earned, on five hits. He walked one and struck out three.
Offensively the Titans managed five hits by five different players. Clay Williamson, David Olmedo-Barrera, Keegan Dale and Austin Diemer each had singles while Tanner Pinkston had a double. Dale and Pinkston extended their hitting streaks to nine and eight games respectively. Williamson has now reached base in 15 consecutive games.
The Titans fell behind in the first inning after Colby Brenner and Garrett Hampson led off the frame with consecutive singles off Garza. Ino Patron sacrificed the runners over and Michael Hill came up with a chance to give the Dirtbags the lead. The right fielder hit a slow chopper to first where Pinkston fielded it and decided to come home with the throw.
Jared Deacon took the throw and attempted a sweep tag but Brenner was already sliding past the Titans catcher's glove to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. Cameron Pongs followed with a sacrifice fly to center to bring in Hampson and the Titans were down by two after the first inning.
The Dirtbags added another run in the second inning after Alex DeGoti led off with a walk. He advanced to second on groundout and then came in to score on a two-out single by Brenner, his second hit in as many innings to give the Dirtbags the 3-0 edge.
It stayed that way until the sixth, when a Titans miscue led to two more runs for the Dirtbags. Patron and Pongs each got aboard after getting hit by a pitch and advanced to second and third with one out. With the infield in, Garza got Johnny Bekakis to hit a chopper to Matt Chapman at third, who went home with the throw and the Titans had Patron caught in a rundown. But Deacon's throw went off the back of the Dirtbags first baseman and into foul territory, allowing Patron and Pongs to score and put the hosts up 5-0.
That was more than enough for Dirtbags starter Josh Frye, who went eight strong innings and earned his fifth win of the year in his seventh start. The senior shutout the Titans and allowed just five hits while striking out four. He has allowed one earned run in his last 41 and 1/3 innings.
The Titans will look to avoid getting swept for the second time in conference this season when they send Grahamm Wiest to the mound to take on lefty Nick Sabo on Sunday afternoon.
Notes: Pinkston's double in the first was the team's first extra-base hit of the series after tallying seven singles in the opener on Friday night… The Titans dropped a three-game series against Long Beach State for the first time since May 24-26, 2008, when they lost two of three against the Dirtbags at Blair Field… Williamson's streak of 15 straight games of reaching base is the second longest for the Titans this season. Pinkston reached in 17 straight games earlier in the year… J.D. Davis' six-game hitting streak came to an end on Saturday afternoon… Olmedo-Barrera has started four-straight games and has collected at least one hit in each game.