LONG BEACH, Calif. – It certainly wasn't easy, as no rivalry game should be, but Cal State Fullerton rallied and then managed to hang on to defeat Long Beach State 10-9 in the regular season finale, Saturday afternoon at Blair Field.
The Titans (32-23, 18-6 Big West) finish the regular season winners of 13 of their last 16 ballgames and with the win, Fullerton finished conference play winning all eight of its final league series. Fullerton ends the regular season with a16-13 overall road record, winning nine of their final 10 games away from home to end the year.
Another monster game from @HankLoForte today, but he's actually giving @Sahidv04 all the credit for the way he's been playing this season.... ������������— Titan Baseball (@BaseballTitans) May 27, 2018
Listen in ��#TusksUp | #EverythingTogether pic.twitter.com/iPELb4zvAR
Hank LoForte extended his on base streak to 39 consecutive games and his hit streak to 16 straight contests, after producing a career-high for RBI and equaling his career-high in hits with four. He went 4-of-5 from the dish, with two run scored including a bases clearing triple. He's also collected hits in 27 of the last 28 contests.
Landon Anderson (W, 1-0) was superb out of the bullpen, earning his first win of the year. He pitched 3.0 scoreless innings in relief, surrendered just one hit and fanning one.
The Titans wasted no time getting on the board in the finale, as they began the game exactly as they began the previous two contests. LoForte led the frame off with a single to left field, then advanced to second on a balk. Berryhill did what he does and laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move LoForte to third base. Cardenas followed suit with an RBI single through the left side to spot Fullerton the 1-0 advantage.
Long Beach State responded in its bottom half of the first, striking for three runs on three hits, including two squeeze plays to take its first lead of the game at 3-1.
Fullerton struck back with a run in the second to bring it within 3-2, as three straight one out singles led to a run. Richards punched a single to right field, followed by a Borgogno dribbler through the left side to put runners at the corners. LoForte then came through with a line drive knock up the middle to score Richards and make it a just a 3-2 ballgame.
The 49ers extended their lead to 4-2 after recording a run off a hit in the fifth. Two hit by pitch's led to another LBSU run in the fifth to make it a 5-2 ballgame.
Just when it looked like Long Beach State was going to take control, the Titans showed what they're made of, as they batted around to put up a six spot on three hits, capped off by a LoForte bases clearing triple in the sixth take retake the lead at 8-5.
Cardenas got things started innocently enough, reaching on a throwing error by Santino Rivera. Cope then singled to right center and Valenzuela was plunked by a pitch to load up the bases with no one out. Chamberlin kept the merry go round rolling, as he blasted one to left field to score Cardenas from third to make it 5-3.
Then the 49ers made a risky move going to closer Chris Rivera in the sixth, and it didn't pay off. After an initial strikeout, Richards was then plunked with the bases loaded to force in a run to make it 5-4. Borgogno took four consecutive balls to walk in another run to equalize things at 5-5.
Then LoForte came through with the bases clearing triple to left center plate three more runs and put the Titans in front 8-5.
Fullerton left no doubt, it plated two more insurance runs in the ninth. LoForte collected his fourth hit of the game with a single up the middle. Berryhill forced a four-pitch walk, while Cardenas then laid down a nice sacrifice bunt to put runners at third and second with one away. Cope then put the nail in the coffin with a rocket base knock to right field to extend the Titans advantage to 10-5.
The 49ers made it interesting in the ninth, striking for four in the frame, but Brett Conine was able to close the regular season out.
The Titans look forward to Monday, as they'll find out where begin their postseason journey. The Titans will gather as BIGs Bar and Grill in Fullerton to watch the NCAA Selection Show at 9 am PT on ESPNU. The team will arrive around 8:15 am PT. All Titan supporters are invited to join in on the fun.
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