Eshelman, Velazquez Lead Titans to Opening Night Win
FULLERTON, Calif. – No. 4 Cal State Fullerton built a nine-run lead after four innings and that was all sophomore pitcher Thomas Eshelman needed as he went seven shutout innings to lead the Titans to a resounding 12-0 opening night victory over Washington State Friday night at Goodwin Field.
The 6-foot-3 right hander tied a career-high with eight strikeouts in his seven innings of work for the Titans (1-0), allowing just three hits. Eshelman struck out five straight Cougars (0-1) at one point.
Senior Greg Velazquez paced the offense with a 3-for-3 night at the plate, including a three-run home run in the fourth inning that put the Titans up 7-0 and essentially put the game away. He finished the night with four RBIs.
Third baseman Matt Chapman started the rally in the fourth inning with an infield single to short. He would go on to steal second with two outs and Tanner Pinkston reached after he was hit by a pitch. Velazquez, who had already recorded two singles, came up to the plate and launched a fastball over the left field fence that just stayed on the right side of the foul pole.
As a team, the Titans pounded out 17 base hits, 14 of them singles. They also received free bases on two walks and four hit batters from four Cougars pitchers. Fullerton sent at least seven men to the plate in three innings, including nine in their three-run fourth inning.
The Titans jumped on Cougars starting pitcher Scott Simon early and he was out of the game by the third inning. Simon took the loss after two innings of work where he surrendered six earned runs on eight hits. He faced 16 batters.
Every Titans starter and 11 of the 12 players who had an at-bat recorded at least one hit. Sophomore Tanner Pinkston went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored and Jake Jefferies also drove in two after going 2-for-5 on the night. He also scored twice.
Notes: This was the first time Cal State Fullerton and Washington State have played on opening day and the 10th meeting between the teams overall. The Titans are now 4-6 all-time against the Cougars… Eshelman, Chapman, J.D. Davis and Saturday's starting pitcher Justin Garza were named to the Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List on Friday… Freshman Timmy Richards recorded his first collegiate hit on his first career at-bat when he singled through the right side in the second inning… The 12-run victory on Friday night was the team's widest margin of victory since the defeated UC Riverside by the same 12-0 score on May 11, 2013... The Titans came into the game ranked No. 1 in the nation by three polls (USA Today Coaches, National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, Collegiate Baseball), No. 2 by Perfect Game and No. 4 by Baseball America.