FULLERTON, Calif. – The Titans ride into the NCAA Tournament once again, as Cal State Fullerton clinched the Big West Conference championship, after defeating CSUN 11-4 Sunday afternoon at Goodwin Field on Senior Day.
For the Titans (29-22, 16-5 Big West), the win means everything for a team that began the 2018 campaign just 1-7. Fullerton has now claimed 30 conference championships in program history and has qualified for postseason for the 40th time overall, while its participated in 27 consecutive NCAA Tournaments.
For Titan manager Rick Vanderhook, he's now led Fullerton to the conference crown in five of his seven seasons as head coach. Overall the Titans have captured 13 of the 10 Big West Conference titles in the 2000s.
To say the Titans have been dominant in league play this season is an understatement, as Fullerton has captured series victories in each of its last six Big West series.
The Titans equaled their season high in hits today, striking for 18 hit in the ballgame, as five separate Titans produced multi-hit efforts and every single Titan recorded at least one hit.
Hank LoForte was perfect from the plate, equaling his career-high in hits, going 4-for-4 from the dish two RBI and two runs scored. LoForte extends his incredible on base streak to 35 games and his hit streak to 12. For the weekend he batted .533 (8-of-15) with two RBI to go along with a .533 slugging percentage.
Mitchell Berryhill had one of his better games of the year, going 2-for-4 from the dish, with a run scored, a double and a game-high three RBI. Brett Borgogno also came through with three knocks, two runs scored, a double and an RBI. Jace Chamberlin picked up two hits and score twice, while Daniel Cope also came through with a couple of knocks, two RBI and scored a run.
Sahid Valenzuela belted his 12th double of the year, scored a run and drove one in. Senior Jacob Pavletich collected a knock and an RBI on Senior Day, while Jairus Richards and Zach Weisz each collected his and crossed the plate to score.
Andrew Quezada (W, 4-5) made the start on the mound and earned the win, tossing 5.0 innings and allowed just one run while fanning three.
CSUN (26-29, 13-11 Big West) struck first, as it plated one in the first, but the lead was very short lived.
The Titans struck for three runs off of four hits in the bottom of the first, as LoForte led the game off with a base hit to left field. Berryhill then sacrificed him to second. Two batters later Cope provided a two out single up the middle to drive in LoForte and make it 1-0.
Valenzuela then extended his hit streak to 11 games, blasting a double into the right center gap to score Cope and make it 3-0. Then Pavletich singled to right field to bring home Valenzuela to extend things to 3-0.
Things were just getting started for Fullerton, as the Titans got two more in the fourth. Chamberlin came up with a one out single up the middle and eventually advanced to second on a wild pitch. With two outs, Borgogno came through in the clutch, as he doubled down the left field line to bring in Chamberlin. LoForte then plated Borgogno with a single to left field, making it 5-1 Titans.
CSUN got a pair in the sixth to cut the deficit to 5-3, but a monster five-run bottom of the sixth for the Titans ended any shot CSUN had at a comeback.
Chamberlin began things with a single to right field, then back-to-back bunt singles by Richards and Borgogno loaded up the bases for LoForte. LoForte singled to left field to score Chamberlin to make it 6-3.
Berryhill then cleared the bases with a double down the left field line to bring in three more to make it 9-3. Two batters later, Cope crushed a ball through the right side to score Berryhill and make it 10-3.
Each team tacked on a run in the seventh to bring it to the final of 11-4.
Fullerton heads to USC for a Tuesday night, non-conference matchup at 6 pm PT before concluding the regular. season at Long Beach State next weekend.
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