FULLERTON, Calif. - Cal State Fullerton erased a five-run deficit to send their game against UC Riverside into extra innings but could not get over the hump as they dropped an 8-7 Big West Conference decision to the Highlanders in 11 innings Sunday afternoon at Goodwin Field.
The Titans (25-22, 8-10) rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the game 7-7 against the Highlanders (22-24, 10-8) after falling behind by five early on in the game.
Matt Chapman led off the ninth inning with a single to left-center to lead off the inning with the Titans trailing 7-5 and then came around to score on Greg Velazquez's double down the left-field line. A few batters later with Velazquez on third, Clay Williamson pulled off a successful squeeze bunt to bring in Velazquez and tie the game.
Chapman finished the game 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs while Williamson was 2-for-4 with an RBI. He extended his hitting streak to 11 games and has now reached safely in 20 straight.
But in the 11th, the Highlanders capitalized on a Titans mistake. David Andriese led off the frame with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice. Titans' reliever J.D. Davis then got Francisco Tellez to chase a ball in the dirt for strike three, but catcher Jared Deacon picked up the loose ball and elected to try and get Andriese at third. The throw was late and Tellez reached safely, allowing Drake Zarate to punch an RBI single to left in the next at-bat to give the Highlanders the lead for good.
Andriese went 2-for-6 for the day while Zarate was 3-for-5 with five RBIs after belting a grand slam in the first inning.
The Titans had an uphill battle right from the start as the Highlanders put up a five-spot in that first inning thanks to an error by the Titans. Trailing 1-0 and with two men on base, Grahamm Wiest got Nick Vilter to hit a grounder to second base. Taylor Bryant made the flip to second where Keegan Dale tried to bare-hand the throw to try and turn a double play. But Dale failed to come up with it and the Highlanders had the bases loaded. Wiest got Tellez to pop out to third but then Zarate came up and blasted the first pitch he saw over the right-field fence for a grand slam to put the Highlanders up 5-0.
Wiest would settle in and pitch six innings, allowing five runs, just one earned, on six hits. He walked two and struck out four as he recorded a no-decision in his 10th quality start of the year.
The Titans cut into that five-run deficit their half of the first after Austin Diemer and Dale drew lead-off walks and then advanced into scoring position on a passed ball. Chapman would cash them in, blasting a two-run double off the wall in left field to make it 5-2 in favor of the Highlanders.
In the sixth, the Titans cut that deficit to one as designated hitter Jake Jefferies laced a two-run single to left to cash in J.D. Davis and Chapman.
The Highlanders added a run in the seventh and the Titans would get it back in the eighth before tying the game up in the ninth.
The Titans did have a chance to score a walk-off victory in the bottom of the 10th after they loaded the bases with two outs, but reliever Joie Dunyon got Velazquez to ground out to third base to end the threat.
Dunyon picked up the victory for the Highlanders after going one and 1/3 innings of hitless relief, earning his first win of the year.
Davis took the loss on the mound for the Titans, allowing one run on four hits. He struck out two.
Notes: The teams combined for seven runs in the first inning and sent a total of 14 men to the plate. The frame lasted 30 minutes… The Titans played their 10th extra-inning game of the season on Sunday, losing for the sixth time… Dale went 1-for-4 on the afternoon to extend his hitting streak to 14 games… The teams combined to hammer out 28 hits on Sunday… The Titans were 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position on Sunday while the Highlanders went 7-for-19 in those situations.