FULLERTON, Calif. – Freshman Phil Bickford had his longest outing of the season and Matt Chapman's RBI double in the sixth gave No. 9 Cal State Fullerton the lead for good as they defeated Saint Mary's 4-2 Sunday afternoon at Goodwin Field.
Bickford drew the start for the Titans (10-7) and earned his second win of the year. He went a career-high six innings and allowed two runs on four hits, walked two and struck out seven, which also matched his career high.
For the Gaels (8-10), reliever Thomas Cortese took the loss after going two and 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on one hit and four walks. He relieved starter Jake Valdez, who managed to go just two and 2/3 innings while allowing two runs on two hits and five walks. Gaels pitchers allowed 10 free passes on the afternoon.
Chapman went 2-for-4 with an RBI double and two runs scored and Tanner Pinkston added two hits in five at-bats to lead the Titans offense. J.D. Davis went 1-for-4 at the plate with a walk. He has now reached base safely in 12 consecutive games.
The Titans broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning after Keegan Dale led off the frame with a walk. Chapman stepped up and bounced a double down the left field line that evaded the reach of Gaels third baseman Anthony Villa and Dale came all the way around to score and give the Titans a 3-2 edge. Davis would make it 4-2 Titans a few batters later with a line-drive single to left that plated Chapman.
The Titans bullpen made it hold up as Willie Kuhl went two and 2/3 innings of hitless relief before J.D. Davis came in to earn his first save of the season after Dale made a spectacular play on a ball up the middle with the bases loaded to get the final out of the game.
The Titans got the scoring started in their half of the first inning after Chapman, leading off for the first time this season and the second time in his Titans career, broke out of an 0-for-15 slump with a single up the middle. Pinkston followed with a single to center, sending Chapman made to third. One out later, Clay Williamson pulled off a successful squeeze bunt along the first base foul line and Chapman plated the run standing up to give the Titans a 1-0 lead.
They made it 2-0 in the third thanks to some control issues from the Gaels pitching staff. After getting the first two outs of the frame, Valdez issued a pair of consecutive walks to Austin Diemer and Jared Deacon and then fell behind 2-0 to Timmy Richards. The Gaels then went to the bullpen, bringing in Cortese, who proceeded to walk Richards to load the bases and then walked Tyler Stieb on five pitches to bring in the run.
The Gaels got one back in the fourth thanks to some two out hitting. After Bickford had retired the first two batters of the inning, Anthony Villa blooped a double down the right field line just out of the reach of J.D. Davis. Catcher Ian McLoughlin followed by lacing a double to right-center on the first pitch to cash in Villa and cut the Titans lead in half. They would tie the score in their half of the sixth on a sacrifice fly.
The Titans will return to action on Tuesday night as they host UNLV at Goodwin Field. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Notes: Bickford is now tied for third on the team with 26 strikeouts this season in 22 innings pitched… Davis' save was the third of the season for the Titans pitching staff, with the other two belonging to Koby Gauna… Kuhl set a new season high with three strikeouts on Sunday afternoon and the Titans pitching staff fanned 10 batters on the day, the first time since they struck out 12 batters at Oregon on Mar. 2nd… Chapman's RBI in the sixth was his second game-winning RBI of the season.