Davis Powers Titans to Victory Over Nebraska in Regional Opener
STILLWATER, Okla. - For six innings, the Cal State Fullerton offense was dormant in their opening game of their Regional opener. But J.D. Davis jolted it back to life with a grand slam in the eighth inning which proved to be the difference as the Titans upended No. 19 Nebraska 5-1 Friday afternoon at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
Davis went 2-for-4 for the Titans (33-22), driving in four runs and extending his hitting streak to 13 games in the process. He was the only Titans player to collect multiple hits against the Cornhuskers (40-20) pitching staff but it proved to be enough. It was also the Titans eighth straight win.
The Titans broke open a close game in the eighth inning, doing so after the first two outs had been recorded in the frame. Timmy Richards started the two-out rally with a single up the middle and then Clay Williamson followed with another single that rolled along the third-base line and hit the bag, popping up into the air and out of the reach of third baseman Jake Placzek. Keegan Dale then drew a walk to load the bases and bring up Davis, who was batting .462 with a .788 slugging percentage in his last 12 games. Davis got ahead in the count against reliever Josh Roeder and then annihilated a 2-1 offering that bounced high off the screen overlooking the left-field wall to put the Titans ahead for good.
Williamson finished the game 1-for-4 and reached base for the 28th straight game. Dale was 0-for-3 on the day but scored two runs for the Titans.
Koby Gauna picked up his fifth win of the season, tossing one and 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for the Titans after Thomas Eshelman started and allowed one run on seven hits in six and 1/3 innings of work. Davis came in and shut the door in the ninth, retiring the side in order.
The first five and 1/3 innings of the game provided little offense as neither team was able to get on the scoreboard. The Cornhuskers broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth inning. Ryan Boldt led off the frame by blasting a 1-1 offering from Eshelman for a triple off the right-center field wall. Austin Darby followed with an RBI groundout and the Cornhuskers were up 1-0. Michael Pritchard and Pat Kelly each followed with singles but Eshelman struck out Blake Headley and got Tanner Lubach to fly out to right to limit the damage.
The run scored halted the Titans pitching staff's run of consecutive scoreless innings at 27 dating back to May 22 against Cal State Northridge.
The Titans would respond in the seventh thanks to a Cornhuskers miscue. Dale led off with a groundball to first that was mishandled by Austin Christiensen, allowing Dale to reach safely. Davis then broke up Chance Sinclair's no-hit bid, fisting a single to left field after working the count full. One out later, David Olmedo-Barrera singled up the middle to bring in Dale and even up the game 1-1.
Sinclair took a no-decision for the Cornhuskers, allowing one unearned run in six and 1/3 innings. He allowed just two hits, walked one and struck out four. He had a no-hitter going for six innings and retired the first 14 Titans he faced.
The Titans will return to the field Saturday to play in game four of the regional to face the winner of Friday's Oklahoma State-Binghamton match-up at 5 p.m.
Notes: Davis recorded his 21st multi-hit game of the season and his second four RBI game of the year… His grand slam was the first by a Titans player since he did it against USC on April 9, 2013… The Titans recorded their sixth victory of the season when they are outhit by their opponent. The Cornhuskers had nine hits on Friday while the Titans had five… It was the fourth consecutive season the Titans have opened regional play with a victory... The Titans are now 7-0 all-time against Nebraska and 2-0 in the postseason.