May 23, 2008
Long Beach, Calif. - Jared Clark was 3-for-4 and drove in two as he and his No. 6 Cal State Fullerton teammates had to endure a 1 hour, 37 minute rain delay to take care of No. 25 Long Beach State, 4-1, Friday night in the opening game of a three-game Big West Conference series at Blair Field.
With the win, the Titans improve to 37-17 overall and 16-6 in league. More importantly, the Titans ensure at least a share of the Big West Conference title. It is their 23rd conference championship in 34 years at the Division I level. Long Beach State falls to 35-19, 14-8.
Jeff Kaplan was cruising for the first five-plus innings, allowing just two infield singles before the deluge began. Travis Howell beat out an infield single to open the sixth before the umpires stopped play. Rain began falling in the top of the inning when Fullerton scored twice.
Kaplan came back out after the delay and proceeded to catch Howell stealing on a 2-1 pitch-out to record the first out of the inning. But that was the final out the right-hander recorded. He walked T. J. Mittelstaedt and surrendered a single to Jordan Casas before being lifted for Michael Morrison.
With runners at the corners, some indecisiveness by Jared Clark on a slow roller to first off the bat of Steve Tinoco, allowed the 49ers to plate their only run of the night. Clark did step on his bag for the sure out then Jason Corder flew to left to end the threat.
Kaplan allowed just three hits in 5.1 innings to earn the win and improve to 11-1. He allowed just one run on the evening and completed Big West play a perfect 8-0.
A pair of doubles by Clark keyed the Titans' pair of two-run innings against Long Beach State ace righthander Andrew Liebel (8-3) who was tagged with the loss.
In the fourth, Josh Fellhauer singled, was sacrificed to second by Christian Colon and scored on Clark's two-out drive to right center. Clark went to third on a wild pitch and scored when 49ers' second baseman Jason Tweedy let Brian Wilson's ground ball go through him for an error.
In the sixth, Colon led off with a single and scored on Clark's one-out drive into the left-field corner. Wilson reached on an error by shortstop Danny Espinoza and Gary Brown's pop fly fell in front of left fielder Steve Tinoco for a single to load the bases. Clark scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Joel Weeks.
Adam Jorgenson notched his 10th save of the year with two innings of one-hit ball.
Long Beach's Tyler Topp pitched 3.0 innings of one-hit ball in relief of Liebel coming out of the rain delay.
Fullerton's Fellhauer (2) and Clark (3) were the only two players to record multi-hit games.
The Titans and 49er will meet up again Saturday night at soggy Blair Field. The Titans can win the conference title outright with one more victory. Daniel Renken (5-5) will look for his sixth win of the year as he will face 49er arm Jake Thompson (2-5) in the 6:30 p.m. ballgame.
NOTES: Jeff Kaplan has now beaten three Roger Clemens Award semi-finalists in Andrew Liebel, Stephen Strasburg (SDSU) and Scott Gorgen (UCI)...He has won eight consecutive decisions and has won 10 without a loss ...Long Beach State became the third ranked opponent that Kaplan has defeated.