SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Freshman Ruben Cardenas set new career highs with four hits and six RBIs as No. 22 Cal State Fullerton upended No. 24 UC Santa Barbara 18-2 Saturday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
The Titans (31-17, 13-4) pounded out a season-high 21 hits on the day and set a new season-high in runs scored as they held the Gauchos (32-14-1, 10-7) to just two unearned runs on the day.
Fullerton scored a run in seven of the nine innings including a seven-run sixth that put turned an already hefty five-run lead into a double-digit advantage. Cardenas had a two-run double in the frame to go along with a two-run home run in the seventh inning and another two-run double in the eighth inning to cap off an outstanding offensive day for the freshman. He was the first player to drive in six runs in a game since David Olmedo-Barrera tied the Fullerton single-game record with eight RBIs against Cal Poly on April 4, 2015.
Cardenas was one of five Titans with multi-hit games on Saturday and four with at least three hits. Tanner Pinkston had his second four-hit game of the season, going 4-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Jake Pavletich tallied his first career three-hit game and drove in a pair with two runs scored while Jerrod Bravo went 3-for-5 on the day. Timmy Richards was 2-for-6 with three RBIs.
John Gavin got the win on the mound for Fullerton, going six innings and allowing two unearned runs on just three hits. He walked three and struck out five.
The Titans took a 2-0 lead in the first inning as Josh Vargas led off with a walk. Pinkston hit a one-out single to left and then Vargas moved to third on a fielder's choice grounder by Dalton Blaser, erasing Pinkston. With runners at the corners, UCSB starter Noah Davis spiked a pitch and Vargas came in to score to put Fullerton up 1-0. Blaser advanced to second and would take third on a passed ball before Jerrod Bravo cashed him in with a two-out double to right-center to give the Titans a two-run lead.
The Gauchos got one back in their half of the first as Clay Fisher singled to short and then advanced on a throwing error by Richards. He was sacrificed over to third and scored on an RBI groundout to second by Austin Bush, making it 2-1.
Richards made it 3-1 in the second inning as he singled with runners at the corners and two outs, scoring Pavletich to restore the Titans two-run cushion.
In the fourth, Fullerton expanded its lead, plating three runs to make it 6-1. Pinkston scored the big blow, lacing a triple to right with two runners on to put the Titans up 5-1 and then Blaser hit a sacrifice fly to center to bring in Pinkston.
After each team tacked on another run, the Titans put the game away in the sixth as they sent 12 batters to the plate, tallied seven hits and scored seven times to take a 14-2 lead.
The teams will face off in the crucial rubber match Sunday afternoon with freshman Colton Eastman going against right-hander Joe Record.
Notes: Saturday was the Titans first 20-hit game since March 30, 2013 when they tallied 25 hits against Pacific… Blaser went 1-for-3 with two runs scored and extended his hitting streak to 11 games, a new team best… The Titans are now 22-4 when scoring first in a game this season. They have also outscored opponents 30-13 in the first inning this year and are 16-4 when scoring in the first inning this season.