March 14, 2010
San Diego, Calif. - Cal State Fullerton's Kyle Mertins went 6.1 innings and struck out six in his first career start, and the Titans connected for a season-high 18 hits on Sunday afternoon as the Titans defeated UAB, 12-2,in both teams' final game of the Aztec Baseball Invitational at Tony Gwynn Stadium.
The Titans won the last three games of the invitational, and reach the .500 mark for the first time this year at 7-7. UAB will return to Birmingham winless in the tournament and fall to 7-7.
Mertins (1-0) was touched for lone runs in the first and fifth, but that was all. He surrendered just six hits, and notched his first win of the year.
It took UAB just four pitches to take a 1-0 lead to open the game. Jamal Austin led off with a triple into the right-field corner and came home on Jonathan Merritt's groundout to short.
The Titans bounced right back in their half of the first for a pair of runs and would not look back. Christian Colon doubled and Gary Brown picked up a bunt single, extending his hitting streak to 14 games, and moving Colon to third. In UAB's attempt to get the speedy Brown, third baseman Andrew Manning's throw went wild allowing Colon to score. A batter later, Brown easily stole second base then came around to score on Corey Jones' bloop single just inside the left field line.
Pender worked six innings allowing five earned runs on nine Titan hits before giving way to Nick Graffeo and Tristan Farrell for the seventh and eighth innings.
UAB saw their last bit of production in the fifth as Luke Stewart connected on a 2-0 Mertins offering for his second home run of the year, clearing the right-center field wall.
Fullerton tacked on a fourth run in the bottom of the fifth and knocked the Blazers' catcher from the game in the process. Brown led off the inning with a double and came around to score on Carlos Lopez's single to right. Right fielder Ryan Ussary's thrown was on line and in time, but a collision between Brown and catcher Digger Towe kept the ball from getting to Towe's glove. Towe was removed from the game after trainers deemed his right leg unfit to play on.
After Austin Kingsolver led off the seventh inning with a sharp single to left and the Blazers lifted their starter, the Titans opened the floodgates batting around scoring six times on seven total hits to break the game wide open at 10-2. Gary Brown (RBI-triple), Lopez (RBI-single), Pill (two-run single), Billy Marcoe (sac-fly), and Matt Orloff (RBI-single) each drove in runs off Graffeo.
The six-run seventh inning was the biggest for the Titans this year.
Jones' fourth hit of the day, a double to left off Farrell, drove home the final two runs of the game for Fullerton, making it their most offensive effort of the year. Jones drove home Jonathan Davis (aboard on his first career hit), and Nick Ramirez (single).
Jones was 4-for-5 with three RBI to lead Fullerton offensively. Brown was 3-for-5 with an RBI and Pill was 3-for -4 with a pair of RBI. Bradley Hicks was the only Blazer with two hits on the afternoon. Cal State Fullerton will return home for a Tuesday-Wednesday match-up with Arizona State at Goodwin Field (both games at 6 p.m.) before they head to Washington for a Non-conference series with the Huskies.