LAS VEGAS, Nev. --- Cal State Fullerton trailed for the first six innings of the ballgame, but the Titans came through in the clutch, striking for four runs in the seventh and eighth frames to secure a 4-1 come from behind win over UNLV, Saturday afternoon at Earl E. Wilson Stadium.
Taylor Bryant recorded three-plus hits for the second time this season, going 3-of-4 at the dish, while scoring a run. Ruben Cardenas went 1-of-3 from the plate, with the one knock being a game-winning triple into the right field corner.
Gavin Velasquez (1-0) turned out to be one of the unsung heroes on the pitching side of things for Fullerton, as he earned the win, tossing 5.1 innings of scoreless baseball, scattering just four hits and striking out one in relief. He took over for starter Colton Eastman in the third inning.
The Titans (3-3) put pressure on UNLV early, loading the bases with just one out in the opening frame, but Rebel starter Larry Quaney was able to escape trouble, striking out the final two Fullerton batters in the inning.
UNLV (3-3) responded with a run in the bottom half of the first and held the slim advantage until the seventh inning.
In the seventh Cal State Fullerton did what it usually does better than anyone in the country, as it used small ball to manufacture the tying run. Boston Romero picked a heck of a time to secure his first career knock, as he led off the frame with a double to right field. Jake Pavletich entered as a pinch hitter and placed a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance Hunter Cullen to third base, after entering as a pinch hitter. Then it was Sahid Valenzuela driving in his first run of his career in his first start as Titan, dribbling one out to shortstop to allow Cullen to score and tie things at 1-1.
Fullerton was just getting started, as the Titans broke things open in the eighth. Timmy Richards got things going with a one-out walk, then it was Cardenas launching his first triple of the year into the right field corner to score Richards and give the Titans a 2-1 lead. The triple also extended Cardenas' RBI streak to four consecutive games. He's recorded six during that span.
Bryant and Tristan Hildebrandt then followed with back-to-back doubles of their own to right field, leading to two more scores for the Titans.
Then it was freshman Dillon Brown who came in to secure the comeback victory, as he pitched 1.2 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing just one hit and striking out the final two betters to earn his first career save.
The Titans will go for their second series win of the season, as they'll take on UNLV in the weekend finale, tomorrow at 1:05 pm PT.
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