LOS ANGELES --- The Titans led by as many as four and trailed by as many as four runs in what was a see-saw game at Jackie Robinson Stadium, but in the end UCLA was able to edge Cal State Fullerton, 9-7 on Tuesday evening.
The Titans had all the momentum, trailing 9-7 in the eighth after Taylor Bryant delivered a bases loaded single through the right side, to put the tying run at second base in Timmy Richards. After a Dillon Persinger strikeout, Jake Pavletich entered the game to pinch hit. Pavletich hit a rocket right back to UCLA pitcher Brian Gadsby. In an attempt to turn the double play, Gadsby fired a throw wide of first base, which in any normal circumstance would have scored a run, maybe even two, depending on where the ball ended up.
However, in this instance, it would result in an inning-ending double play for the Titans, as Sahid Valenzuela was thrown out at home plate after instead of skipping into foul territory, the throw to first base bounced off the umpire and stayed in front of the bag.
That's just the way it's been going for the Titans.
Fullerton left 11 runners on base and surrendered eight runs in the fourth inning, which was the most the Titans have given up in any inning since 2008. Despite this, Fullerton had a chance to win the game.
"That's just the way it's been going for us lately," said Valenzuela. "We'll be fine. We just have to keep working hard and keep grinding."
For the Titans (15-9), the loss marks its fourth straight after winning eight in a row. The freshman from Yuma, Arizona posted a career night for Fullerton, going a perfect 4-of-4 from the plate with an RBI and a run scored. Richards extended his on-base streak to 16 straight games and his hit streak to six, going 2-of-5 from the plate with a run scored. Scott Hurst scored a career-high equaling three runs, while recording a home run.
Hunter Cullen went 2-of-4 form the plate, while plating a team-high two RBI. He's now batting 11-of-22 (.500) with two outs this season.
The Bruins (11-11) struck first, plating one in the bottom of the first, but the Titans quickly responded in the top of the third frame.
Hurst led off the inning with his second jack of the season, crushing one over the right field fence to tie things at 1-1. Valenzuela and Richards then followed with back-to-back singles to continue the Fullerton threat. Taylor Bryant laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third. Persinger then recorded an RBI groundout to score Valenzuela from third to make it 2-1 Fullerton.
The inning continued after Zach Weller reached on a fielding error by the shortstop to bring in another run, then Cullen came through with an RBI double to right field to score Weller all the way from first, capping off the four-run frame for the Titans.
The Titans tacked on one more in the fourth, as Hurst turned a leadoff walk into a run, as he stole second then advanced to third on a balk before Valenzuela singled to right field to bring him home.
However, Fullerton's 5-1 advantage quickly evaporated, as the Bruins struck for eight in the fourth, forcing three different Titan pitchers into the game.
Cullen came through with a two-out RBI single in the seventh to score Persinger to cut the Titan deficit to 9-6 before eventually making it a 9-7 ballgame in the eighth in what might have been the most dramatic inning of the season.
Fullerton now shifts its focus to Big West play, where it'll open up the conference season at UC Riverside, Friday at 6 pm PT.
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