May 1, 2011
FULLERTON, CA - After being held to just six hits combined in the first two games of its series with Pacific on Saturday, the Cal State Fullerton bats came alive in the series finale, banging out a season-high 17 hits in support of senior Ari Cervantes, who tossed a five-hitter in the Titans' 8-1 win over the Tigers on Sunday afternoon at Anderson Family Field.
The win moved Fullerton back to within a game of first-place Pacific, improving to 21-20 overall and 10-5 in Big West Conference play and surpassing its league win total for all of last year. The Tigers, who entered the day atop the league standings by a game over Long Beach State, fell to 32-16 overall and 11-4 in the conference.
Seven of the Titans' nine hitters finished with multiple hits on the day, including three apiece from junior Nicole Johnson, who also slugged her team-best fifth home run of the year and finished a triple short of the cycle, and sophomore Ariel Tsuchiyama. The 17 hits as a team were one better than their previous season high of 16 set in the series finale with Cal Poly on April 17 and the four doubles tied a season best.
In the circle, Cervantes (14-12), who also helped her cause with an RBI hit, allowed just one extra base hit on the day for the win, striking out three and facing six over the minimum in the complete-game effort.
Tori Shepard (12-7), who limited Fullerton to just two hits in game two of the series on Saturday, started and was touched up for five runs on nine hits in 1 2/3 innings of work to take the loss. Shaina Brock entered in the second and surrendered three more runs on six hits in 2 1/3 innings of work before giving way to Gabby McDaniel in the fifth, who allowed just two hits over her two innings.
After falling behind early in both games a day earlier, it was the Titans' turn to jump out to the quick lead as Johnson (a two-run shot) and Morgan LeMond (a solo shot, her second of the season) went back-to-back over the fence in left field for the 3-0 lead.
K.C. Craddick and Johnson then followed with RBI singles in the second before the Tigers finally got to Cervantes in the third, scoring their only run of the game on an RBI double by Nikki Armagost to cut the deficit to 5-1. After a scoreless third, Fullerton capped the scoring with a three-run fourth thanks to a two-run double by Tsuchiyama and an RBI double by Cervantes for the final tallies.
Five different Tigers finished with hits for Pacific.
Cal State Fullerton hits the road for the final time in the regular season next weekend with a showdown against arch-rival Long Beach State. The three game series kicks off on Saturday (May 7) at 12 p.m. with a nationally televised doubleheader on ESPNU before the single game series finale on Sunday (May 8) at 1 p.m.