IRVINE, Calif. – Freshman Ryan Williams picked quite the time to notch his first collegiate RBI and base hit, as he stepped up and delivered the go-ahead RBI knock with two outs in the top of the 11th inning to clinch a 7-6 victory over UC Irvine to solidify the series sweep, Sunday afternoon at Anteater Ballpark.
As if the hit wasn't dramatic enough, Williams was able to come through for the Titans on his birthday of all days, smacking a 2-2 pitch up the middle off of Sean Sparling (L, 0-1) who only gave up two hits over his three innings pitched.
The 11th inning rally began innocently enough for the Titans, as Mitchell Berryhill was plunked by a pitch to begin the frame. Ruben Cardenas then hustled down the line and beat out an infield single to put runners at first and second with no one out the frame. Sahid Valenzuela lifted a deep one out fly ball to right field, allowing Berryhill to tag up from second base and get to third.
Then with two outs, Williams came through with the big knock.
Brett Conine (W, 3-0) was unbelievable in relief, tossing 3.1 shutout innings, while allowing just two hits and striking out four to earn. Andrew Quezada earned the start for Fullerton (22-20, 9-3 Big West), tossing six innings while striking out a career-high equaling nine batters.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY @ryyyj !!! His first career hit couldn't have come at a better time. CSUF scores one to take the lead and Cardenas is out at the plate trying to score a second run.#TusksUp | #EverythingTogether pic.twitter.com/RrmiqfAW6t— Titan Baseball (@BaseballTitans) April 30, 2018
The win for Titans, marks their first road sweep of an opponent since sweeping Hawai'i on the road in a three-game set in 2015. Fullerton now sits three games ahead of second place UH in the loss column and is two games over .500 overall for the first time this year. The Titans now own three series sweeps on the year, with two coming in conference play.
Ruben Cardenas more than likely solidified his case for Big West Field Player of the Week on Sunday, as he notched yet another three-hit game, while recording two RBI, scoring a run and walking twice. He also blasted his third home run of the season. For the weekend, the Saugus, California native batted .615 (8-for-13) while ripping two doubles, a home run and driving in five. He also scored a run and stole a base.
Hank LoForte extended his on base streak to 26 consecutive contests, as he collected a hit and scored a run. Sahid Valenzuela scored a run and racked a hit. Jordan Hernandez also finished off a great weekend, going 1-for-2 with a run scored and an RBI.
Fullerton wasted no time getting on the board in this one, as LoForte singled up the middle. Berryhill then proceeded to sacrifice LoForte to second base and Cardenas came through with the big knock through the right side to easily score LoForte and spot the Titans a 1-0 lead.
The Titans are now 16-4 when scoring first in a game this season.
Valenzuela got another Titan rally started in the fourth inning, as Valenzuela hit one hard and deep in the hole at shortstop to reach on an infield knock with one out. Pavletich followed that up with a base hit through the left side and then Hernandez made it three hits in a row, punching one through the right side to score Valenzuela and extend things to a 2-0 advantage.
However, UC Irvine struck for three runs off of three hits, including a Cole Kreuter three-run home run to left field to put the Anteaters in front 3-2.
But was we've learned as of late, if there are outs left on the board, the Titans still have a chance. Pavletich began things in the sixth with a one out hit by pitch and then advanced to second after Hernandez was then plunked by one. Richards followed with a bullet to right field for an RBI single to score Pavletich from second base to tie things up at 3-3.
However, it was Brett Borgogno delivering the big blow, coming through with a screamer to center field after working a full count to drive in Richards and Hernandez to put the Titans back on top 5-3.
Cardenas tacked on another one for the Titans in the seventh with a leadoff mammoth jack over the left center field fence to extend the advantage to 6-3.
The Anteaters wouldn't go down easy though, as they struck back with two runs in their half of the seventh to bring them within 6-5.
UCI then got another two-out home run from Kreuter, as he once again sent it over the left field fence to tie the game at 6-6 in the eighth.
The Titans nearly pulled back ahead in the ninth, as they got runners at the corners with two outs, but couldn't quite bring the run home.
The two teams went to extras, where Fullerton got the job done in the 11th.
The Titans will continue their journey through Big West play, as they'll stay on the road at UC Davis next weekend. Game one will be Friday at 2:30 pm PT.
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