IRVINE, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton took full advantage of every Anteater miscue and ran away with an 8-3 victory over UC Irvine, Friday evening at Anteater Ballpark.
Win the win, Fullerton (20-20, 7-3 Big West) temporarily takes over first place in the Big West by percentage points, while the Titans improved to 15-4 when scoring first in a ballgame this season.
Colton Eastman (W, 6-3) was magnificent on the mound, nearly going the distance, as he pitched 8.1 innings, surrendered just three earned runs and struck out to seven to rack his eighth quality start of the year. Dillon Brown finished the deal, recording the final two outs without trouble.
Ruben Cardenas led the way offensively, recording his third three-hit game of the season, while driving in a run and producing a double. Hank LoForte extended his on base streak to 24 games, as he collected a hit, walk, run scored and RBI.
Mitchell Berryhill put together a multi-hit night, going 2-for-4 with a run scored and driven in. Jacob Pavletich scored a career-high three runs, while producing a hit and a walk. Jairus Richards picked up a hit, run scored and a walk, while Daniel Cope came through with a double and an RBI.
UC Irvine's (25-15, 8-5 Big West) Andre Pallante (6-1) took his first loss of the season
Titans struck first in the second, as Pavletich began the frame with a leadoff full-count walk. Valenzuela then tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt to move Pavletich up to second, but everyone ended up being safe, as a bad throw by the second baseman wasn't able to get Valenzuela. Richards then put down a successful sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third with two away.
Fullerton then received another gift in the inning, as he reached on a ground ball that was muffed by the pitcher, allowing Pavletich and Valenzuela to come in to score in what should have been the third out.
The Titans added to their lead in the fifth, as LoForte led the frame off with an infield knock to shortstop and then stole second base. Berryhill sacrificed him to third base after a nice bunt, then Cardenas shot a rocket to right for an RBI single to extend the Titan advantage to 3-0.
UC Irvine finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth, striking for a run and a hit in the frame to make it a 3-1 contest.
But just a half inning later, the Titans responded with a run of their own. Pavletich began the frame with a base knock to right center. Valenzuela reached on a fielder's choice and Pavletich was called safe at second base, as the would-be force out was bobbled at second base for the Anteaters' third error of the game. Richards then singled to right to lead the bases with no one out. Two batters latter, Pavletich was able to scamper home for the score on a LoForte ground out to extend the lead back to the three runs at 4-1.
The Titans blew things open in the eighth, striking for four runs off of three hits. Pavletich led off the frame reaching via a hit by pitch. Valenzuela then reached on a three-base error, allowing Pavletich to come all the way around to score. Richards then earned a walk before Valenzuela scored from third base on a sacrifice fly by Borgogno to make it 6-1. Berryhill then came up with a two-out single up the middle to score Richards. Cardenas followed with a knock through the left side and then Cope doubled down the left field line to score Berryhill and extend the advantage to 8-1.
The Anteaters put up two runs in the ninth, but it wasn't nearly enough to pose a threat of a comeback.
The Titans go for the series win tomorrow at 2 pm PT.
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