FULLERTON, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton heads south to San Diego, Calif for the Tony Gwynn classic hosted by San Diego State and the University of San Diego where the Titans will take on Missouri State, Fresno State and Oklahoma.
Fullerton is coming off a successful opening weekend at the inaugural MLB4 tournament, going 2-1 with wins over No.19 TCU and Virginia with its only loss coming against No.1 Vanderbilt.
The Titans had a strong start to the 2019 season, going 2-1 against top-ranked competition at the inaugural MLB4 Tournament. Fullerton started out with a shutout victory over No.19 TCU on Friday before falling to No.1 Vanderbilt in what was a high scoring affair, 14-9. The Titans did as Titans always do and bounced back in the final game of the tournament with a four-run comeback victory over Virginia, scoring three runs in the top of the ninth to close the weekend out on a high-note.
HAVE A COMING OUT PARTY ROOKIE… ROOKIE'S
Freshman Jason Brandow had himself an eye-opening weekend at the MLB4 Tournament, going 3-for-6 with four runs and six RBI including a grand slam in his first collegiate at-bat. Brandow's grand slam against No.1 Vanderbilt was the first for the Titans since David Olmedo-Barrera hit one against Cal Poly on April 4, 2015.
The youngster wasn't done there as he went 2-for-4 against Virginia with two runs and two RBI on two doubles, including an all important double in the ninth inning to put runners on first and second with no outs to put Fullerton in prime position to complete the comeback. His two-run double down the left-field line in the fifth inning got the Titans on the scoreboard after going scoreless in the first four innings. Brandow also scored the Titans game-tying run in the ninth inning on a sacrifice fly to left field.
Jackson Lyon was impressive in his opening weekend with the Titans as well after going 4-for-10 with two runs and two RBI. Lyon made appearances in both left and right field and showed he was a strong defender in the outfield for Fullerton. Lyon's biggest play of the weekend also came in the ninth inning against Virginia, hitting an infield single to the shortstop the allowed Jacob Pavletich to score and bring the Titans within one run before later scoring the game-winning run.
Kameron Guangorena had a bit of a slow start but came up big when the Titans need him most. After four scoreless innings against Virginia, Guangorena started the fifth inning with a double to left-center field to get the Titans offense rolling. Two batters later the freshman scored on a double from Brandow.
Jacob Pavletich showed his senior leadership throughout the weekend, taking great at-bat after great at-bat to make the opposing pitcher work. Pavletich went 4-for-10 over the weekend with a double, home run, three runs, two walks and three RBI. The senior had an impressive showing against No.1 Vanderbilt as he hit 4-for-5 with one run and three RBI. In the ninth inning against Virginia Pavletich worked the count to eventually earn a walk and get the Titans four-run comeback started.
The Titans Friday starter Tanner Bibee showed he can live up to the long list of great Friday night starters in Fullerton's history. Bibee started the first game of the season against No.19 TCU and had a quality start as he went six innings, giving up just six hits while allowing no runs and striking out four batters.
GET IT GOING GAVIN
After missing most of last season with an injury, Gavin Velasquez proved to be in midseason form as he pitched a total of 4.2 innings in two appearances, allowing just two hits and giving up no runs while striking out five batters. Velasquez made his first appearance against No.19 TCU in relief of Bibee and went two innings with, giving up his only two hits of the weekend.
He then came in the game against Virginia in a tight situation with runners on first and second with no outs. Velasquez able to work out of the jam and keep the Titans deficit to just two runs. The righty gave up no hits in the game and looked unfazed in the bottom of the ninth inning with the Titans up one run, getting three consecutive flyouts to end the game and give Fullerton the comeback victory while earning the win.
Mitchell Berryhill might have had the two most important plays of the weekend. In the first game against. No.19 TCU, Berryhill made a great sprinting catch against the wall in right-center in the ninth inning to secure the 2-0 victory for the Titans. In the Titans comeback 6-5 victory over Virginia, Berryhill's speed was once again all-important as he beat out a throw to second base on an infield single to keep the bases loaded with no outs.
The Titans showed what Titans baseball is all about and made sure that Virginia will remember the Titans. Down 4-0 heading into the fifth inning, Fullerton scored three runs to bring the game within striking distance. Virginia added one run seventh, leaving the Titans to score two runs in the final three outs of the game in the ninth inning and the Titans did just that and more.
Pavletich started the ninth off with a walk before Brandow hit a double in the next at-bat to runners on second and third with no outs. Berryhill was then hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs and was followed up by an infield single from Lyon to bring the Titans within one. Hank LoForte then come up and hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Brandow and tie the game at 5-5.
Berryhill stole third and Lyon stole second to put runners on second and third with one out which was followed up by a walk from Brett Borgogno. Two batters later Daniel Cope singled to the shortstop to score Lyon and give the Titans the 6-5 lead before Velasquez came in to shut down the Virginia offense and clinch the game.
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