Fullerton Strikes Late, Holds on For 5-3 Win Over UC Irvine
FULLERTON, Calif.--- A strong start by ace Connor Seabold and a clutch knock in the seventh inning by Taylor Bryant led the Titans to a 5-3 win over UC Irvine in the series opener, Friday night out at Goodwin Field.
For Fullerton (25-14, 7-3 Big West), the win marks its 14th consecutive home victory and its third straight series opening win in conference play. The Titans haven't won 15 consecutive games at Goodwin Field since 2009.
Seabold (6-4) was the rock Fullerton needed, as he went 7.1 innings and surrendered three runs on 12 hits, while striking out four and walking just one. The outing marked his eighth quality start of the season and his fourth straight start recording a win.
Brett Conine continued his superb season, grabbing his ninth save of the year. He recorded the final five outs of the game without allowing a base runner. He struck out two.
Bryant recorded a knock with an RBI and run scored, while Timmy Richards also notched a hit and scored a run. Dillon Persinger drove in two and scored one and recorded a hit. Chris Hudgins also drove in two with a single up the middle.
Sahid Valenzuela chipped in with two runs scored.
The Titans scored first, as they've done so often this year, striking for two in the second. Bryant and Persinger each walked to begin the frame, while JT McLellan executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third before Hudgins blasted a two-RBI single up the middle to spot Fullerton a 2-0 lead.
Fullerton tacked on another in the third, as Valenzuela led off the frame with a walk. He eventually moved up to second base on a Richards groundout. Bryant then walked before Persinger punched an RBI single up the middle to make it a 3-0 Titan lead.
Seabold did his best to make the three-run lead hold up, as he got out of jams all night, stranding nine Anteaters on base on the night.
However, things got interesting in the fifth, as UCI recorded three singles to load the bases. With two outs, Mikey Duarte delivered a bloop double to center to score two and make it a 3-2 ballgame.
The 'Eaters tied things up two innings later, after Parker Coss singled in Adam Alcantara who drove a double to right center a batter earlier.
With the game tied at 3-3, Valenzuela led off the seventh with a walk, while a fielding error allowed Richards to reach first base. Bryant then gave the Titans the lead for good, cracking a single to left to make it a 4-3 Titan lead. Persinger brought home Richards on a sacrifice fly to right to make it 5-3 advantage before Conine entered the game to shut the door.
UC Irvine's Ryan Johnston (2-2) took the loss in relief.
The Titans will try and clinch the series tomorrow, as they'll clash with UC Irvine in game two at 7 pm PT on ESPNU.
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