FULLERTON, Calif. – It took 15 innings and five hours and five minutes, but in the wee hours of Saturday morning, Jacob Pavletich managed to slide across home plate following a wild pitch to secure a 2-1 victory over No. 24 Houston in a game that began Friday evening at Goodwin Field.
For Fullerton (1-4), the victory marks its first of the season and its first walk-off win since a 3-2 14-inning victory over UC Irvine last year (April 29, 2017). The 15-inning affair was the longest game the Titans have played in innings wise since playing a 16-inning contest vs. Fresno State on April 23, 2014. The contest was the longest time wise, since the Titans took down Arizona State 3-2 (14) in five hours and 12 minutes during the Fullerton Regional on May 30, 2015.
Tommy Wilson (1-0) was nothing short of heroic in relief for the Titans, as he tossed 5.0 innings of one hit baseball, while striking out nine to earn the win. Houston had runners on third base three separate times from the ninth inning on and failed to score in all three instances. On two separate occasions during that same span the Cougars had runners at third base with less than two outs, and Wilson wiggled out of the jam.
"This win meant a lot to us tonight," said Wilson. "This group is just a bunch of grinders and I was going to do anything I had to do to help get us this win."
Colton Eastman did everything he had to do to give the Titans a chance to win as well. He earned the start for Fullerton and pitched 6.0 shutdown innings and surrendered just four hits and fanned six. He and Wilson combined for 15 punchouts on the night. It marked the first time Titan pitching had struck out 15 or more batters since fanning 16 vs. UC Riverside on May 6, 2016.
Houston's Brayson Hurdsman (0-1) was the tough luck loser, pitching 5.1 innings in relief, while giving up just one run.
Both sides were scoreless through 7.5 innings, but the Titans managed to finally grind one out in the bottom of the frame. Hank LoForte got things started, as he reached base via a hit by pitch. Berryhill then punched one through left side and Jace Chamberlain worked a big one out pinch hit walk in his Titan debut to load them up for Ruben Cardenas. Cardenas struck out swinging, but the run was still able to come in to score thanks to the wild pitch.
However, with Fullerton leading 1-0, the Cougars scored a run to hand Brett Conine his first blown save of his career, as Connor Hollis produced a leadoff double and eventually scored on a Drew Minter groundout. Conine managed to bear down and strand a runner at third base to end the Houston threat.
Six innings later, the Titans finally managed to push across the game winner. Pavletich led off the bottom of the 15th with a walk and then advanced to second base on a pinch hit Jordan Hernandez sacrifice bunt. Ryan Williams was then intentionally walked and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Berryhill was then intentionally walked to load up the bases for Zach Weisz. Without even lifting the bat, Weisz became the hero, as another wild pitch to the backstop on the first pitch to Weisz allowed Pavletich to score from third and send the Titans into a mob at home plate.
Fullerton aims to clinch the series tomorrow, as it'll take on the Cougars at 4 pm PT at Goodwin Field.
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