IRVINE, Calif. - With the tying run in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth, reliever Scott Serigstad recorded his 13th out of the day to secure Cal State Fullerton a 6-4 victory over UC Irvine Saturday afternoon at Anteater Ballpark.
Serigstad recorded his second save of the season for the Titans (26-15, 8-3), striking out Cole Kreuter with the bases loaded in the ninth inning to complete his outing of three and 1/3 innings of relief against the Anteaters (25-15, 7-7).
With the Titans up 6-4 going into the ninth, Adam Alcantara and Jonathan Munoz led off the inning with consecutive singles after Serigstad had retired the first seven batters he faced. Evan Cassolato laid down a bunt in front of the plate that allowed Jerrod Bravo to get the lead runner at third for the first out and then Serigstad logged his third strikeout of the game, getting Wyatt Castro swinging. But Serigstad plunked catcher Alex Guenette on a 1-0 offering to load the bases and bring up Kreuter, who was had a pair of doubles and two RBIs up to that point. Serigstad would strike out Kreuter to end the game and give the Titans the win.
John Gavin picked up the win for Fullerton, going five and 2/3 and allowing four runs on seven hits. He struck out five and did not allow a walk.
Offensively, all nine starters recorded at least one hit for the Titans, led by Ruben Cardenas and Dakota Wix who each went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs. Josh Vargas and Timmy Richards also tallied two hits on the day.
UC Irvine took a 1-0 lead in the first inning for the second straight game. Kreuter led off with a double to left and then Gavin hit John Brontsema to put the first two men on. Keston Hiura fouled out and Kreuter took third on the play. He would score one out later on a sacrifice fly to left field to put the Anteaters up a run early.
The Titans responded right away as they took a 2-1 lead in the second. Bravo reached on a throwing error to lead off the inning as Brontsema's throw to first sailed out of play, putting Bravo on second. Cardenas sacrificed Bravo over to third and then, with the infield playing in, Dakota Wix punched a triple past Mitchell Holland at first base and down the right field line to bring in Bravo and tie the game. Coby Kauhaahaa then singled to right-center to plate Wix and give the Titans their first lead of the series, 2-1.
Fullerton made it 4-1 in the fourth after Bravo led off with a single and scored on a double by Cardenas to the wall in left-center. Cardenas would score on a two-out single up the middle by Tristan Hildebrandt to give the Titans a three-run lead and chase Anteaters' starter Cameron Bishop.
Bishop would take the loss, allowing four runs, three earned, on eight hits in three and 2/3 innings of work. He struck out five.
In the fifth, Dalton Blaser hit a one-out single to get things started offensively for Fullerton. He moved over to second on a sacrifice and then the Titans showcased some solid two-out hitting. Cardenas smacked a double to left-center to bring in Blaser to make it 5-1 and then Wix flared a hit to shallow left to score Cardenas and put Fullerton up 6-1, with Wix legging out the double in the process.
After Gavin retired 12 straight, the Anteaters finally solved the Titans lefty in the fifth. Jonathan Munoz and Grant Palmer led off the frame with consecutive singles and then, with two outs, Cole Kreuter cashed them both in with a two-run double to the gap in left-center to make it 6-3. Brontsema followed with a single to right and Kreuter tried to make it home from second but Cardenas threw a strike to the plate to nail the Anteaters second baseman at the plate to end the inning.
The hosts made it 6-4 in the sixth thanks to another two-out hit, an RBI single by Munoz to score Holland from second base.
But the Anteaters would get no closer as Serigstad got the last out of the fifth on a strikeout and then mowed through the next two innings in order.
With the win coupled with a loss by Cal Poly at Long Beach State Saturday afternoon, the Titans reclaimed sole possession of first place in the Big West Conference with one game left this weekend. Freshman Colton Eastman will get the start for Fullerton on Sunday with right-hander Alonzo Garcia going for UC Irvine.
Notes: The Titans finished the month of April with a 13-4 record, their best mark in a month this season… Vargas' single in the fourth was the 100th hit of his Titans career… Bravo has now reached base in eight straight games and 20 of the last 21… The Titans are now 5-3 when the opponent scores in the first inning and 9-12 when the opponents score first in a game…