April 4, 2009
FULLERTON, CA - A three-run homer by UC Irvine's Jeff Cusick in the top of the first inning was all the offense the No. 8 Anteaters (19-7, 5-0) needed in a 6-1 Big West Conference baseball victory over No. 1 Cal State Fullerton (19-7, 2-3) at Goodwin Field, Saturday.
In front of the largest crowd of the season at Goodwin Field (3,056), the Titans lost their first home conference series since May 25-27, 2007 when they lost to Long Beach State.
The story of the night for the Titans was stranded runners. CSF left 10 total runners on base and four times in the fourth through seventh innings had opportunities to score but couldn't capitalize with runners in scoring position.
UC Irvine starting pitcher Christian Bergman (4-1) combined with Brock Bardeen, who earned his first save, to hold the Titans to one run on nine hits while the Titans used five pitchers on the evening. Noe Ramirez (3-1) started the game for CSF and finished the night giving up eight of UCI's nine hits in 7.1 innings of work. He allowed four runs, all earned, and struck out six. Kyle Witten, Kevin Rath, Kyle Mertins and Ryan Ackland all came on in relief.
The Anteaters got the scoring started early when Ben Orloff was hit by a pitch to lead off the game for the Anteaters, then moved to third on a bloop single to shallow left field by Eric Deragisch. Cusick cleared the bases with home run over the left field wall, scoring Orloff and Deragisch, and putting UC Irvine up 3-0. Ronnie Shaeffer grounded out to Gary Brown for the first out of the inning then Francis Larson reached first on a slow grounder that squeaked past Joe Scott at the edge of the right field grass. Casey Stevenson ended the inning when he grounded into an inning ending double.
The Titans had a shot to score in the bottom half of the first when Colon slapped a hard hit single on the ground between first and second base. Josh Fellhauer followed Colon with a single in almost the same spot that rolled into right field, leaving the Titans with runners on first and second with Jared Clark coming to the plate, but Clark couldn't bring them home, grounding into a double play to end the inning.
CSF got its only run of the game in the fourth inning when Clark hit a hard one-out line drive up the middle for a single. Nick Ramirez struck out swinging for the second out, then Davis walked, moving Clark to second and giving the Titans a scoring opportunity with Garneau at the plate. Garneau came through in the clutch and banged a single to left in front of Fisher. Davis moved to second and Clark motored home on Garneau's single to cut UCI's lead to 3-1. A ground out by Scott to Orloff at shortstop ended the rally for the Titans.
UCI got back on the board in the when Noe Ramirez came out to start to the eighth inning for the Titans, and quickly gave up a leadoff single to Orloff. That single got Cal State Fullerton head coach Dave Serrano out to the mound, but after a long conference with Ramirez he decided to leave his young right-hander in the game. Deragisch moved Orloff to second on sacrifice bunt. With the Anteaters threatening, Serrano went back out to the mound, this time to make a pitching change to Kyle Witten. Cusick was the first UCI batter to face Witten and went down swinging for the second out of the inning. Shaeffer hit a rocket that was too much for Colon to handle. The ball bounced off Colon and into centerfield, bringing Orloff home and making the score 4-1 UCI. A fly out by Larson ended the inning for the Anteaters.
In the ninth Kevin Rath took the mound to relieve Witten. After striking out Stevenson, Rath hit Crumlich to give the Anteaters a one-out runner. Rath came right back and hit Bell to put runners on first and second base. That was all Serrano needed to see and he quickly went to the bullpen to call Kyle Mertins into the game. Mertins didn't fair much better and walked Olson to load the bases. Olson would be the only batter Mertins faced and Serrano called down to the bullpen one more time, bringing Ryan Ackland into the game. UCI leadoff hitter Orloff chopped one to a charging Scott but his throw home popped out of Garneau's glove when Crumlich slid into home and popped it out, putting UCI up 5-1. With all the runners moving up, Deragisch sac-flied to center field. Fellhauer's throw appeared to beat Bell at home but Garneau bobbled it and the runner was called safe, giving the Anteaters a 6-1 lead. A walk to Cusick loaded the bases, but Shaeffer flied out to Davis in left field to end the inning.
The Titans take on UC Irvine in the final game of the series at Goodwin Field, Sunday at 1 p.m.