Late Rally Lifts Titans to Series Victory
May 7, 2011
Fullerton, Calif. - Nick Ramirez's eighth home run of the year tied the game in the top of the eighth, and a Dustin Emmons wild pitch brought home the two go-ahead runs in the ninth as No. 10 Cal State Fullerton came from behind to upend UC Riverside, 5-3, Saturday night in Big West Conference baseball action at the Riverside Sports Complex.
Chris Devenski (2-0) picked up the win after a scoreless eighth inning in relief of Tyler Pill as the Titans improved to 32-13 overall and extended their lead atop the Big West to 2.5 games over second place UC Irvine. The Titans are 13-4 in league. UC Riverside drops the series to Fullerton and falls to 23-17, 6-8.
Michael Lorenzen led off the Titan ninth with a single, stole second and moved to third when Richy Pedroza "butcher-boy" chopper to second went for a infield single. Pedroza moved up on Greg Velazquez's hard shot back to the pitcher, leaving the Titans with runners at second and third with one out.
With Jared Deacon at the plate, Emmons uncorked his sixth wild pitch of the season that went all the way to the backstop. A brief hesitation by catcher Bart Steponovich in finding the ball, not only allowed Lorenzen to score the winning run, but allowed Pedroza to score an insurance run, making it 5-3.
Nick Ramirez pitched a scoreless ninth inning to log his 11th save of the year.
Ryan Goetz's 2-out, RBI single in the bottom of the seventh, put UC Riverside up 3-2, but Nick Ramirez's 2-out solo home run off losing pitcher Emmons (5-3) in the top of the eight erased Riverside's lead and got Titan starter Pill off the hook.
Pill worked 7 innings and gave up just three runs on 10 hits while striking out six without a walk.
A key pinch-hit single by Greg Velazquez in the top of the seventh drove home two and tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the seventh. Starter Eddie Orozco had held the Titans scoreless for 6.1 innings, but back-to-back singles by Carlos Lopez and Michael Lorenzen and a sacrifice bunt by Richy Pedroza set up the pinch-hitting situation.
Orozco struck out five and surrendered 2 runs on nine Titan hits.
Anthony Hutting was announced as the original pinch-hitter, but the Highlanders went to their bullpen in left-hander Mark Garcia. While Garcia warmed, Velazquez emerged as the new pinch-hitter and delivered with a line drive to center.
Riverside held a 2-0 lead for the first two-thirds of the game, scoring a run in the first and one in the fifth off Pill.
In the first, the Titans escaped with just one run coming across thanks to a ground-rule double. One-out singles by Goetz and Justin Shults got things started for the Highlanders. Goetz scored as Tony Nix gapped a ball to deep right center. The ball hopped up and touched the scoreboard (out of play) for a ground rule double, holding Shults, who was sure to score otherwise, at third. Pill struck out the final two batters to end the inning.
Riverside got a quick run in the bottom of the fifth as Phil Holinsworth tripled to center and scored on Trevor Hairgrove's groundout.
The series finale, a Mother's Day matinee, is scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. start. Dylan Floro (4-2, 3.04 ERA) will be on the mound for Fullerton. Riverside will counter with Trevor Frank (2-2, 3.77 ERA).