RIVERSIDE, Calif.--- The tenth-ranked Titans earned their first conference win of the season, as they exploded for four runs in the ninth to clinch a 6-1 victory over UC Riverside, Saturday night out at the Riverside Sports Complex to snap what was a five-game losing streak.
Fullerton (16-10, 1-1 Big West) evened its series with the Highlanders (12-10, 1-1 Big West) and will aim to earn its fifth series win of the season tomorrow at 1 pm PT in the finale.
Gavin Velasquez (3-0) earned the win and gave the Titans a gritty effort on the mound on a night they needed it, surrendering just one earned run in 6.0 innings pitched on the evening.
Erik Cha pitched a flawless 1.2 innings of scoreless relief, while allowing just one hit. Brett Conine earned a four-out save allowing just a single hit, notching his team-best fifth save of the season.
Four Titan hitters recorded two hits in the game. Boston Romero notched his first career multi-hit game, going 2-of-4 from the plate while recording an RBI. Hank LoForte also went 2-of-4 from the dish, while notching an RBI and a run scored. Timmy Richards and Sahid Valenzuela also put together two-hit games, while Valenzuela scored a run.
The Titans didn't waste any time getting on the board in this one, as each of the first four batters reached to begin the game. Scott Hurst laced a single through the right side, while Valenzuela reached on a single deep in the hole and then Timmy Richards extended his hit streak to eight games and his on-base streak to 18 games, pushing a perfect bunt past the pitcher to load the bases.
Taylor Bryant then drew a bases loaded walk to score the first run of the game for Fullerton. Hunter Cullen extended the Titan lead to 2-0 reaching on a fielder's choice to score Valenzuela from third base.
In the fourth, Cameron Cannon cut Fullerton's lead in half, as he blasted a leadoff home run over the left field fence to make it a 2-1 ballgame. However, the Titans limited the damage to just the lone run, as Velasquez wiggled out of a second and third situation to preserve the lead.
The next big moment came in the bottom of the eighth, as UC Riverside threatened tie things up after Colby Schultz led off with a double down the right field line. However, as it had all night long, the Titan defense came through, as the next batter Cody Sporrer bunted through a strike, then Chris Hudgins and Richards executed a perfect back pick to second base to tag Schultz out as he was too far off the bag.
That play set Fullerton up for a huge ninth inning, where the Titans were able to blow things open, striking for four in the frame. Cullen began things reaching via hit by pitch and then stole second before Hank LoForte tripled him home with a rocket through the left center gap.
Boston Romero then came through with his second ninth inning knock in as many nights, singling through the right side to bring home LoForte and extend the Titan lead to 4-1.
Chris Hudgins doubled to left center to score another run and then advanced to third base on a wild pitch. Scott Hurst brought in the final Titan run of the inning, supplying a sacrifice fly to left field to bring the score to the final of 6-1.
The Titans aim to clinch their first conference series of the season, as they'll play the Highlanders tomorrow at 1 pm PT.
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