FULLERTON, Calif. – Behind a strong performance from Thomas Eshelman and a game-deciding home run from Austin Kingsolver, No. 4 Cal State Fullerton edged Long Beach State, 3-2, on Friday night at Goodwin Field.
With the win, Fullerton (37-7, 13-3 Big West) maintains its one-game lead over Cal State Northridge, while Long Beach State (21-22, 9-7 Big West) remains in a two-way tie for fourth with Cal Poly.
In seven innings of work, Eshelman (8-2) allowed two runs while scattering seven hits and striking out six in the win. He also issued just his second walk of the year.
In the loss, Long Beach State starter Shane Carle (2-8) allowed three runs – only two earned – on five hits while also issuing five walks and striking out three.
Austin Kingsolver led off the bottom of the fifth with a towering home run – his second of the year – as he took Carle's 2-2 offering and deposited it over the right field wall to push Fullerton ahead 3-1.
The home run proved to be needed as Long Beach State closed within 3-2 in the in the seventh after Dirtbag second baseman Colton Vaughn led off the inning with a double over the head of Michael Lorenzen.
The Dirtbags moved him to third on a sacrifice bunt before he scored courtesy of Jeff McNeil's sacrifice fly.
Fullerton entered the ninth with a 3-2 lead, and Lorenzen took the mound to record his 14th save of the year by retiring Long Beach State in order.
Fullerton claimed a 1-0 lead as a leadoff walk and two LBSU errors allowed Richy Pedroza to score the game's first run.
Carle issued a leadoff walk to Pedroza, and he stole second and was able to advance to third on Eric Hutting's throwing error. Pedroza then scored on what should have been a Michael Lorenzen groundout, but the throw was wide of first, allowing Lorenzen to advance to second.
Long Beach State evened the game in the third as Vaughn led off the frame with a single deep in the hole at short. Vaughn moved around the bases on a sacrifice and groundout before scoring from third when Jeff Yamaguchi laced a RBI single to left just over the reach of Pedroza.
The Titans took a 2-1 lead in the third thanks to back-to-back one-out doubles as Carlos Lopez hammered one to right center past a diving Zack Rivera. J.D. Davis then hammered a shot to the same spot as Rivera's dive was once again unsuccessful allowing Lopez to cross cross the plate.
Vaughn finished the game a home run short of the cycle, batting game 3-for-4 and scoring both LBSU runs.
Each of Fullerton's five hits were for extra bases as Lopez led the Titans with two doubles.
Game two of the series is set for an 8 p.m. first pitch from Goodwin Field on Saturday and will be televised on ESPNU.
Notes: The Titans' 37-7 record is the best for the program since the 1996 squad opened the year 38-6…Cal State Fullerton has outscored opponents 47-7 in the first inning this season…the Titans hold a 4-0 record against Long Beach State in 2013…Austin Kingsovler hit his second home run of the season…Thomas Eshelman issued his second walk of the year and recorded his 10th quality start of the year… Michael Lorenzen's 30 career saves rank fourth all-time.