IRVINE, Calif. – The Titans never led until the ninth and final inning on Saturday, but Cal State Fullerton rallied with two runs in the eighth and two in the ninth to defeat UC Irvine 5-3 to clinch its third consecutive Big West series win out at Anteater Ballpark.
After rallying for two runs to tie the game at 3-3 in the eighth, the Titans (21-10, 8-3 Big West) carried that momentum in to the ninth and finished the deal. Jairus Richards led the frame off by getting hit by a pitch and then advanced to second after a big Brett Borgogno walk. Hank LoForte then loaded the bases after reaching on a fielder's choice. The out was attempted at third base, but Richards beat the ball out. Cardenas then came up with the game-winning RBI, lifting a sacrifice fly to left field, allowing Richards to tag up and score from third, spotting the Titans their first lead of the game at 4-3.
Daniel Cope gave Fullerton some insurance, as he placed a two out RBI single in right center to score Borgogno in third to make it 5-3.
Brett Conine (2-0) pitched 1.2 shutout innings of baseball, while allowing just one hit and striking out three, as he shut the door down on the Anteaters to clinch the victory.
Overall three Titans recorded multi-hit games offensively, with Mitchell Berryhill leading the way with a 3-for-5 day from the plate, while scoring two runs and producing two doubles. Hank LoForte went 2-for-4 from the leadoff spot, while scoring a run and blasting a triple to extend his on base streak to 25 consecutive games. Jordan Hernandez came off the bench to notch just his third hit of the season, but it was also his biggest, as he tied the game in the eighth. He also drew a big walk.
Ruben Cardenas continued his fantastic series, as he collected two hits and two RBI, including the game-winning sacrifice fly and a double. Daniel Cope racked a hit, a run scored and a walk. Chris Prescott and Sahid Valenzuela each came up with hits, while Richards and Borgogno each scored runs.
Tommy Wilson recorded his second straight quality start, as he kept the Titans in the game the entire way. He tossed 6.0 strong innings, while surrendering just three runs on five hits, while strike out five.
Blake Workman pitched 1.1 shutout innings out of the bullpen.
UC Irvine struck first on Saturday, as it tacked on two runs off of three hits in the frame, including a leadoff home run by Nick Anderson to take an early 2-0 lead.
The Titans finally got on the board in the sixth, as Berryhill and Cardenas produced back-to-back doubles to begin the frame. Berryhill crushed a double down the left field line, while Cardenas also roped one into the left field corner to score Berryhill to cut the deficit in half at 2-1.
The Anteaters pushed their lead up to 3-1, scoring a run on two hits in the seventh.
However, Fullerton managed to launch the rally it needed in the eighth. LoForte began the frame with a screaming triple off the right field fence. He scored on a passed ball a few pitches later to make it just a 3-2 game. With work still left to be done, Berryhill then launched a one out double down the right field line and then advanced to third on a Cardenas ground out. Cope worked a walk to put runners at the corners, but then it was Hernandez coming through with the clutch one out knock to right field to drive in Berryhill and tie the game at 3-3.
The Titans then got what they needed to win the game in the ninth.
Fullerton aims to clinch its second Big West series sweep, as it'll finish out the three-game set with UC Irvine tomorrow at 1 pm PT.
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