RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton left the bases loaded in the top of the ninth, falling just short of completing a comeback in Sunday's 7-6 loss to UC Riverside at The Plex.
Trailing the Highlanders (11-28, 8-13) by six runs at two different points in the game on Sunday, Fullerton (41-8, 17-4) continued to chip away at UCR's lead, and went into the ninth trailing by just a run.
In the ninth, Fullerton quickly had two base runners on first and second with no outs as Carlos Lopez and Matt Chapman reached with back-to-back first-pitch singles. UCR closer Trevor Frank retired J.D. Davis to claim the first out as Davis' bunt attempt was popped up in foul territory.
Michael Lorenzen then kept the frame alive with an infield single that loaded the bases, bringing Anthony Hutting, who had already recorded three hits on the day, to the plate. But Frank caught Hutting looking at strike for the second out before Jake Jefferies flew out to center field, ending the game in favor of the Highlanders.
With the loss, Fullerton's seven-game winning streak was snapped while UCR's seven-game losing streak was also halted.
The Titans remain at the top of the Big West Conference standings, but coupled with a Cal State Northridge win, Fullerton's lead has been reduced from three to two games.
UC Riverside claimed a 5-0 lead in the first inning after Fullerton starter Grahamm Wiest (8-3) surrendered six consecutive hits – only one for extra bases – and issued a bases loaded walk.
Wiest gave up back-to-back base hits to Devyn Bolasky and Joe Chavez, before Clayton Prestridge drove in the first run with a double down the left field line.
David Andriese then drove a shallow fly ball to left that the Titan defense couldn't locate in the sun, allowing a second run to score. Kyle Boudreau's RBI single through the left side scored the third run of the frame, before Wiest issued a bases-loaded walk to Nick Vilter to push across UCR's fourth run.
With the bases loaded, Alex Rubanowitz grounded into a double play as Francisco Tellez scored UCR's fifth run on the play.
UC Riverside added a run in the second as its lead was extended to 6-0.
In his shortest outing of the season, Wiest allowed a career-high six runs on seven hits, one walk and one hit batter in the loss.
Cal State Fullerton began to chip away at UCR's lead in the fourth as back-to-back base hits puts runners on the corners with one out, and Lorenzen was able to score on a UCR fielding error as the Titans closed 6-1.
UC Riverside matched the Titans in the fourth as Chavez tripled off the wall in right center and scored courtesy of Prestridge's RBI groundout.
Fullerton's two-out rally in the sixth cut UC Riverside's lead to 7-3 as Hutting's two-out double to the wall in left scored Davis, who was issued a leadoff walk. Jefferies then hammered a two-out single back up the middle, bringing home Hutting to cut the lead to four runs.
In five and 2/3 innings of work, UCR starter Zach Valera (4-0) recorded the win after allowing three runs on five hits and four walks while striking out one.
The Titans closed 7-4 in the seventh as Richy Pedroza led off the inning with a single with UCR reliever Mark Garcia on the mound. He moved to second on wild pitch and to third on a groundout, before scoring on Chapman's RBI groundout.
In the eighth, with Frank on the hill for the Highlanders, the Titans added two additional runs to close 7-6 as Jefferies' RBI single drove in a run, and he later scored as Chad Wallach plated the rookie with a double hammered to left center.
Fullerton and UC Riverside totaled 12 hits apiece, but the Titans left 10 runners on base.
Hutting led Fullerton at the plate batting 3-for-5 with a RBI and two runs scored, while Jefferies drove in three of the Titans' six runs with a 2-for-4 effort. Pedroza also had two hits for Fullerton.
Bolasky led UCR batting 3-for-5, while Prestridge drove in three runs. Boudreau, Andriese and Chavez each had two hits apiece for the Highlanders.
In two and 2/3 innings, Frank surrendered two runs on six hits while striking out four.
Notes: Fullerton's 41-8 record is the Titans best after 49 games since 1996…the Titans' seven-game winning streak was snapped…the Titans totaled double-digit hits (12) for the 22nd time in 2013…the Titans scored 32 runs on 46 hits in the series, their second highest marks in a three-game series this season, falling short of 45 runs on 51 hits vs. Pacific ….UCR's five runs in the first inning were the most runs Fullerton has surrendered in a single inning this season…Grahamm Wiest's six runs are the most he has surrendered in his career and his two-inning start was his shortest outing of the season…Fullerton last lost at the Plex, 2-1, on March 27, 2009.