April 15, 2012
Irvine, Calif. - Freshman JD Davis' two-run home run in the top of the sixth, broke a 2-2 tie and propelled No. 12 Cal State Fullerton to a 5-3 Big West Conference series victory over UC Irvine at Anteater Ballpark Sunday afternoon.
For the second straight season the Titans took the series from the Anteaters in front of a national ESPNU television audience. The win bumped the Titans to 23-12 overall and 7-2 in Big West play. They are now tied with Long Beach State atop the conference standings after week No. 3. Irvine, who needed a series win desperately for postseason consideration, dropped to 18-14 overall and 4-5 in league action.
Grahamm Wiest (3-3) didn't have his best stuff on Sunday, but held the Anteaters to their only three hits of the day over 5.1 innings to earn the win. Dave Birosak, Willie Kuhl and Michael Lorenzen worked a perfect 3.2 innings in relief. The Fullerton pitching staff retired the last 12 and 16 of the last 18 Irvine batters of the game. Lorenzen recorded his 12th consecutive save of the year after getting three groundouts in the ninth.
Phillip Ferragamo (3-4) suffered the loss in a valiant relief effort that saw him give up three of the five runs including the two-run blast to Davis. Davis' home run was the first Titan round-tripper since Mar. 13 (Anthony Hutting vs. Washington State), and just the fourth of the year for the Titans. Davis has two of the four.
Irvine took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on a hit, two walks and an error. Connor Spencer led off the inning with a single to right and moved to second when Kris Paulino drew a walk. Christian Ramirez laid down a bunt to move along the runners and Titan catcher Chad Wallach forced a throw to third that went wild into left field. That scored Spencer and moved runners to second and third with no out. Shortstop Matt Chapman gunned down Ramirez at third on a fielder's choice by Jeff Stephens, but the grounder scored the second run of the inning.
Chapman's bases-loaded, two-run double over the third base bag in the third tied the game. The hit drove home Austin Diemer and Wallach, who both picked up hits in their first at bats.
Fullerton took the lead for good after two outs were recorded in the sixth. Anthony Hutting hit an opposite-field bullet into the left field corner for a double and scored when Davis deposited the Ferragamo offering well beyond the leftfield wall. Going into the at bat, Davis was 0-for his last 7 at bats and was just 2-for his last 16.
Jordan Fox doubled to lead off the bottom of the sixth off Wiest and moved to third on a deep fly ball to center. The Titans went to their bullpen in Birosak, who did his job and got two outs, but the Anteaters' scored their third run on a groundout by Paulino to make it 4-3.
Fullerton added an insurance run in the eighth to extend its lead to 5-3. Davis picked up his second hit of the day and was replaced with pinch-runner Ivory Thomas. Thomas stole second on the first pitch he saw, moved to third on a passed ball that got far enough away from Jerry McClanahan and then scored on Diemer's second knock of the afternoon ¬- a chopper over a drawn in third baseman.
Kuhl got six fly balls (five pop outs and a line drive) out of the six batters he faced and Lorenzen worked a 1-2-3 ninth to move to into a tie for seventh all-time on the Titans' single-season saves list with Chad Cordero's 2002 effort.
The Titans return home this week to face Pepperdine on Tuesday and Cal Poly from Friday to Sunday at Goodwin Field. The game against the Waves will be at 6 p.m., the series against the Mustangs goes back to a traditional 7 p.m., 6 p.m., 1 p.m. format.