NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – For the fourth time in as many games, a home run plated the game-winning score for Cal State Fullerton as the No. 3 Titans defeated Cal State Northridge, 6-4, on Friday afternoon at Matador Field.
With the win, the Titans (47-8, 22-4 Big West) win their 14th series of the season, becoming the first Fullerton team since 1995 to win every three-game weekend series during the regular season.
And it was Matt Chapman who was responsible for driving in the game-winner against the Matadors (31-25, 15-11 Big West), taking DJ Milam's 2-0, two-out offering and launching it over the left field fence as the solo round tripper broke a 4-4 tie in the top of the eighth.
Willie Kuhl tossed an inning of relief in the eighth, striking out the side in order, while Fullerton added an insurance run in the top of the ninth as Matt Orloff's sacrifice fly drove in Michael Lorenzen.
J.D. Davis was credited with his second save in as many days (fourth of the year), retiring the Northridge side in order in the bottom of the ninth.
By a sweep of UC Irvine last weekend, the Titans have already claimed their 27th conference championship, including their fourth consecutive Big West title. The championship also clinches the Titans the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament as Fullerton will be making its 35th postseason appearance, including its 22nd in a row.
Regional hosts will be announced on www.ncaa.com/CWS at approximately 6 p.m. (PT), Sunday, May 26. The 2013 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship Selection Show with regional pairings, will be revealed in a live, one-hour telecast on ESPNU at 9 a.m. (PT), Monday, May 27.
Thomas Eshelman (11-2), making his first relief appearance of the season, was credited with the win after allowing two runs on six hits in four innings of relief while fanning five. Eshelman's 11th win now ties teammate Justin Garza and former Titan Tyler Pill (2009) for the Fullerton freshman record of 11 victories.
Milam (4-1) was charged with the loss, allowing two runs on three hits in two and 1/3 innings of relief.
Cal State Northridge starter Calvin Copping allowed four runs on five hits in six innings of work while walking one and striking out four.
The Matadors took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first as Michael Livingston led off the frame with a single, and a walk was issued to Nate Ring. Fullerton starter Justin Garza quickly retired the next two batters, but Alexis Mercado drove a two-out RBI single to left that dropped in front of Anthony Hutting and brought in Livingston, granting Northridge a 1-0 lead.
In the third, Garza had struck out five in a row before Ring broke up the streak with a single up the middle. Another shallow single to left did damage, as the Matadors had runners on the corners with one out. Garza was then charged with a balk as Ring scored from third to give Northridge a 2-0 lead.
In the start, Garza tossed three innings and allowed two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out six, including five straight from the final out of the first through the first out of the third.
After retiring nine of the first 10 batters that came to the plate, Copping got into trouble in the fourth facing the Titan lineup for the second time.
Fullerton began its comeback as Carlos Lopez led off the inning, slicing a double down the right field line off Copping's 2-1 offering. The Titans then put runners on the corners with no outs as Chapman's bunt single was pushed past the pitcher, drawing first baseman Josh Goosen Brown over to make the play and forcing Copping to cover the bag as he was just a step too late. Copping then walked Davis to load the bases and bring Lorenzen to the plate.
The Big West's RBI leader earned his 50th of the year to cut Northridge's lead in half as Copping's offering plunked Lorenzen in the hip to force in a run. Hutting then drove a sacrifice fly to the warning track in center as Chapman scored to tie the game at 2-2.
With runners on the corners, Chad Wallach knocked a RBI single through the right side as Davis scored and Fullerton claimed a 3-2 advantage. Jake Jefferies' RBI groundout brought in Lorenzen from third as the Titans took a 4-2 lead.
Northridge got back a run in the bottom of the fourth as Eshelman took the mound in relief. Chester Pak drove a one-out single to left and moved to third on a passed ball before scoring courtesy of Miles Williams' sacrifice fly.
The Matadors tied the game, 4-4, in the fifth as Cal Vogelsang drove a one-out single to left and moved to second on a wild pitch. He scored the tying run as Goosen-Brown drove a RBI single to right field.
Chapman led the Titans with a 3-for-4 effort as Lorenzen and Wallach also picked up two hits apiece.
The series finale is scheduled for a 1 p.m. first pitch from Matador Field on Saturday afternoon as the Titans close the regular season.
Notes: Fullerton's 47 wins are the most since 2009 when the team finished the year with 47 victories…Fullerton's 47-8 record is the best for the program after 55 games in Division I history which dates back to 1975…Fullerton's 22 conference wins are the most for the program since 1999 (25)…the Titans will finish the regular season with single-digit losses for the second time since 1975, after the 1995 squad ended the regular season with a mark of 46-9…Cal State Fullerton clinched its 14th three-game weekend series of the year, and has won 15 consecutive weekend series since dropping two of three to UC Riverside at Goodwin Field (May 18-20, 2012)…the 2013 Titan squad is the first since 1995 to win each of its three-game weekend series during a season…Fullerton is 15-5 when the opponent scores first… Fullerton has overcome a two-run deficit on six occasions in 2013….the Titans have scored at least four runs in an inning on 24 occasions in 2013…for the first time this season, Eshelman made a relief appearance for the Titans. He has appeared in 15 games, making 14 starts. Eshelman also earned his 11th win, tying the freshman record shared by teammate Justin Garza and Tyler Pill (2009)…the Titans are 15-0 when Garza starts…Garza struck out five in a row from the final out of the first through the first out of the third…a Titan home run has scored the game-winning run in Fullerton's last four games.