Davis Reaches Milestone as Titans Take Opener
IRVINE, Calif. - J.D. Davis recorded his 100th RBI as a Titan and Thomas Eshelman went seven strong innings to lead Cal State Fullerton to a lopsided 9-1 Big West Conference victory over No. 24 UC Irvine Friday night at Anteater Ballpark.
Davis came into Friday night's ballgame with 97 career RBIs with the Titans (26-22, 9-10) and would reach the century mark in his final at-bat in the ninth inning with a two-run double with the Titans already securely in the lead. The Elk Grove, Calif. native finished the night going 2-for-5 with a double, triple, a run scored and four RBIs. He also extended his hitting streak to six games.
Eshelman handled the rest on the mound, holding the first-place Anteaters (35-17, 15-4) to just one earned run on five hits in seven innings of work. He did allow three walks on the night, a career-high and matching his season total coming into Friday's game but offset the free passes with nine strikeouts.
As a team, the Titans pounded out 12 hits, five of them going for extra bases. Matt Chapman went 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles, a run scored and an RBI while David Olmedo-Barrera was 2-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI.
Eshelman flirted with trouble in the first two innings but managed to get out of it unscathed after allowing the leadoff man to reach in each frame. He almost got out of it again in the third after Grant Palmer led off with a single up the middle.
The Titans right-hander got the first out on a sacrifice bunt by Chris Rabago and then had Connor Spencer hit a chopper back to the mound for the second out. But Taylor Sparks finally made the Titans pay as he slapped a double to right field to bring in Palmer and give the Anteaters the 1-0 edge.
But the Titans responded in a big way in the fourth inning, sending 10 men to the plate in the inning and putting up a five-spot on Anteaters ace Andrew Morales. Clay Williamson, Dale and Davis each extended their respective hitting streaks to lead off the inning. Williamson and Dale each singled and then Davis clobbered a triple to clear the bases and put the Titans on top 2-1.
Chapman followed with a double off the left-field wall to score Davis and make it 3-1. Chapman would move over to third on a sacrifice and then scored on an RBI single from Olmedo-Barrera, who would advance to second on a wild pitch and then come around to score on a single by Taylor Bryant.
Williamson went 1-for-4 on the night with two runs scored and extended his hitting streak to 12 games and has reached base safely in 21 straight while Dale pushed his hitting streak to 15 straight games, going 2-for-5 with two runs and one RBI.
That's all Eshelman and the Titans would need as the Anteaters did not get a runner into scoring position after the fifth innings. The Titans also handed Morales his first career NCAA Division I loss as he went five innings and allowed five earned runs, the most in his career. He walked one and struck out eight and saw his ERA jump to 1.77 on the season after entering Friday's game with a mark of 1.02.
The Titans will look to clinch the series on Saturday as they send Justin Garza to the mound while the Anteaters counter with lefty Elliot Surrey.
Notes: The Titans are now 5-5 against ranked opponents this season… Davis was the first Titan to drive in four runs in a game since Williamson did so against San Francisco on Feb. 22. It was the third time this season a Titans player has driven in four or more runs… Davis also leads the team with four triples this year… The Titans have now won eight times when their opponent scores first… The Titans are 19-3 this year when out-hitting their opponent.