FULLERTON, Calif. – No. 4 Cal State Fullerton came back from four runs down to tie the game but they could not get over the hump despite great efforts from J.D. Davis and Koby Gauna as Washington State scored a 9-7 victory in 11 innings over the Titans Saturday afternoon at Goodwin Field.
The Titans (1-1) fell behind 7-3 to the Cougars (1-1) through five-and-a-half innings before they began to make their comeback. Davis led off the inning with a line drive home run to left field that bounced high of the netting. Tanner Pinkston followed with a single up the middle and eventually came around to score on an RBI single by Clay Williamson to cut the deficit in half.
In the following frame, David Olmedo-Barrera drove in Davis with an RBI single and then the Titans tied the game in the eighth on an RBI groundout by Tyler Stieb, scoring catcher Jared Deacon from third.
Davis went 4-for-6 with a pair of triples to go along with his solo shot in the second. Pinkston was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a RBI and Williamson had two more hits in three at-bats after coming into the game in the sixth inning.
The Titans were able to make their comeback thanks to junior pitcher Koby Gauna. The Torrance-native pitched four and two-thirds innings of solid relief and struck out a career-high seven hitters. He came into the game in the top of the sixth and got P.J. Jones to strike out swinging to get out of a bases loaded jam and went on to retire seven straight hitters and 13 of the 14 batters he faced through the 10th inning.
But the Cougars finally solved Gauna in the 11th, loading the bases with one out thanks to back-to-back singles from Collin Slaybaugh and Nick Tanielu and a walk to Cameron Frost. Willie Kuhl came in to relieve Gauna but, after getting Jones to hit into a fielder's choice, the junior right-hander gave up a two-run single to Jason Monda to put the Cougars up for good.
The Titans had their chance to walk off with a victory in the bottom of the ninth, but freshman Ian Hamilton got Austin Diemer to ground into a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded and one out to send the game to extra innings. Hamilton would go on to record his first career victory after throwing three innings of scoreless relief, allowing just two hits.
Sophomore pitcher Justin Garza drew the start for the Titans and struggled to miss bats. He gave up nine hits in five and two-thirds innings of work and allowed seven runs, four earned. It's the most runs an opponent has scored against Garza in his 18 career starts with the Titans.
The Titans used four pitchers in the game while the Cougars trotted out five hurlers on the night. Tanner Chleborad started for the Cougars and gave up three runs, one earned, on four hits. He walked one and struck out three.
The two teams will face off in the rubber match of the three-game series with Grahamm Wiest getting the start on the mound for the Titans while senior Kellen Camus goes for the Cougars.
Notes: The nine runs scored by the Cougars tied for the most they have scored against the Titans in the 11 meetings between the two squads. The last time they scored that many was in a 9-8, 11-inning victory on March 13, 2012 at Goodwin Field… Garza has still not suffered a loss in 18 career starts with the Titans. Including Saturday, the sophomore has six no-decisions… The Titans did not suffer their first loss of the season until their 11th game of the year in 2013…