April 7, 2012
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FULLERTON, CA - Cal State Fullerton sophomore Jena Rubio's first career home run -- a three-run, two-out, line-drive shot over the left field fence -- capped a four-run sixth for the host Titans, rallying them from three-runs down en route to a 5-4 victory over UC Santa Barbara on Saturday afternoon at Anderson Family Field.
The win gave Fullerton its second series win of the year as the Titans improved to 16-18 overall and 4-2 in Big West Conference play. The Gauchos, who won in similar fashion on Friday night in game two, fell to 16-25 overall, 3-3 in league play.
Trailing by three entering the sixth, senior Nicole Johnson led-off the inning with her second hit of the game, a double down the left field line, to set the table and scored with two batters later when Anissa Young's one-out ground ball ate up the second baseman, allowing Johnson to score from second and make it 4-2.
A second fly ball that should have ended the inning put starter Shelby Wisdom (11-12) one step closer to escaping the jam, but Fullerton would not go quietly. Kirsten Lambertson worked a full-count walk to move Young up 60 feet and bring up Rubio, who crushed a 1-2 pitch from Wisdom over the wall for the go-ahead runs.
Redshirt junior Katey Laban (1-1) then shut the door in the seventh, striking out a pair around a walk before getting a force out at second base on a ground ball by Lainey DePompa to end the game.
Both teams scored runs early as Johnson slugged her sixth home run of the year to put the Titans up in the first and Brooke Putich's two-out RBI single back up the middle in the second with the bases loaded tied the game.
It remained that way until the sixth when the Gauchos struck for three runs, taking advantage of a pair of Fullerton errors. Jenessa Jeppesen's RBI single broke the deadlock and two more runs came home on a single by Putich and an error on the play at the plate to make it 4-1. That knocked Fullerton starter Desiree Ybarra from the game as Laban came on and got a fly ball and ground ball to end the inning and set the stage for the Titans' rally.
Laban earned her first win of the year in only her second start, throwing 1 2/3 innings of no-hit ball and striking out two. Ybarra was stuck with a no decision, allowing just two earned on eight hits and striking out a pair.
Wisdom suffered the loss for UCSB, allowing just one earned on six hits and striking out four in the complete-game effort.
Johnson finished with two hits to lead the Titans' offense and hit 5-for-9 (.556) with four runs scored, two doubles, and a home run for the weekend. She extended her hitting streak to seven games (tied for the longest by a Fullerton hitter this season) and has now reached base safely in her last nine consecutive contests. Kathryn Pilpil, Jeppesen, and Putich each had two hits for the Gauchos, who out-hit Fullerton, 8-6, for the game.
Cal State Fullerton returns to the road next weekend, travelling to Stockton, Calif., next weekend for a three-game series with preseason favorite Pacific on Saturday (April 14) and Sunday (April 15). Play on both days begins at 12 p.m.